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Spiritual Warfare in the Family

Truth in Love Episode 283

No one claims parenting to be an easy task, but we often forget it's actually a crucial arena of all-out war.

Nov 2, 2020

Dale Johnson: Today, I have a familiar face and voice on the podcast with us, Dr. Stuart Scott, who many of you know and love. We certainly love him around here. He’s professor of biblical counseling at the Masters University, and he is actually our Director of Membership Services here at ACBC. So, many of you have had interaction with him, you’ve heard his teaching over the years. He’s been married to Zondra for 40 years, and we are so grateful for their life and ministry. 

Today, Stuart, I want us to talk in this direction of spiritual warfare as it relates to the family. There are so many ways in which we could shape this particular podcast. We could talk about it from the perspective of the counselor, we can talk about it from the perspective of so many pastors even that we see where there’s difficulties and struggles in the home in raising children and what that what all that entails, or you know so many members of our churches that are struggling to raise kids particularly in this world that we live in, so many difficulties and struggles. So, as we jump into this, just several things that I think are important for us to consider. Let’s talk about some of the things that you see in our culture, what’s going on that are distractions in the world in which we live. 

Dr. Stuart Scott: Thank you, Dale. It’s great to be back here with you, and to be talking about this particular topic. It’s one that I need to keep reviewing constantly because I forget that I’m in a war. I’m in a spiritual war 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s sort of like living on red alert, and I don’t always have that mindset each and every day, but I need to. The Bible calls us, God calls us, to have that kind of a red alert. There’s an enemy, but we must walk with the Victor. Walk with Christ and trust, not in fear of the enemy. One of the passages that I was reading through some months ago was 2 Corinthians 11. The Spirit of God through Paul, he writes in verse 3, “But I’m afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” So, it says people come and talk about different Jesus,’ talk about different spirits, different gospels, and that deception distraction. Satan is a master of that to get our attention away from Jesus. I remember reading one theologian who said he doesn’t even mind if we talk about the cross, we talk about the word gospel, we talk about all kinds of things, just don’t talk about Jesus. And we can, as parents, get fixed on working, providing, school work, and then we just get fixated. What happens is that they’re good things, but it can distract us away from Christ. I think Martha and Mary is probably one of the best used illustrations. Mary was focused and Martha got distracted. As parents, it’s a daily temptation. 

Dale Johnson: I think it’s so important, Stuart, that we pay attention to the deceitfulness and cunningness of the evil one. To be honest and frank, even we who believe know how difficult it is, for our hearts in the flesh naturally tend toward things that are irreligious or ungodly, that are pleasing to the flesh. So, it’s simple, I think, for us to move in that direction. 

Maybe we see several different difficulties. I think with parents it’s not that they want the wrong thing, but somehow we’re seeing on the other end lots of children who are struggling in life as they grow up. Maybe they’re not believers, maybe they’re not walking solidly in the faith. There are a lot of different reasons that we could talk about as to how we get there, why we’re in a situation like that. Talk for a second about how we’re lulled to sleep in some of these ways: not talking about Jesus, not talking about who he is, or how he relates to every aspect of our being.

Dr. Stuart Scott: Well, think of what Christ said about how all of the commandments can be summed up in love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, then love your neighbor. It’s when we start pulling away from those two pursuits, we turn inward. We get our sinful flashes, self-serving, and we want independence. We don’t want anyone telling us what to do. It’s interesting, in Romans 13, he deals both with authority and loving your neighbor. Both directions are right there in Romans 13, you know, submit to your authorities and then, love one another. Right after that is a way of showing that. He says in verse 11, “Besides this, you know the time that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep.”

So, believers, your question is how do we get there? I think it’s when we start focusing more on ourselves, not our neighbor, not our children, not our spouse, but more on our self. We don’t like authority, we don’t want anyone telling us what to do. We move away from authority. We’re going to go to sleep spiritually speaking. This is talking to believers here, and it says, “Wake up!” You need to wake from sleep. The night is far gone. The day is at hand. Cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light. The sinful flesh will take us right into works of darkness. Let us walk properly in the daytime, not in orgies, drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for your flesh to gratify its desires.

When I am not thinking about my wife, I’m not thinking about my children, then I’m going to start going to sleep spiritually. Then, the deeds of the flesh will start coming out when you focus on self. I don’t want anyone telling me what to do or getting in my life. You’ll want to isolate yourself from any authorities in your life. The whole context is, “Wake up! The Lord’s going to return soon,” and that’s what should snap us out of a spiritual lethargy. 

Dale Johnson: Well, I think it’s interesting because we as believers, especially when we’re committed to the things of the Lord, we’re vigilant about some major things. We’re waiting on some really terrible thing to happen, some massive issue, when all the while a part of the scheme of the evil one is we could be lulled to sleep. My children sometimes go to sleep to background rain noises and things like that, and oh man, it’s so soothing. Sometimes the common focus of good things without intentional pursuit of the things of God can make us very lethargic, make us very sleepy. This is the language interestingly that Paul uses here. 

Sometimes the common focus of good things without intentional pursuit of the things of God can make us very lethargic. Click To Tweet

Now, let’s bring this into the counseling room, because I think this is important. How do we see this when we’re relating as a counselor and we’re talking to families who find themselves in this situation? Bring this into the counseling room for us. 

Dr. Stuart Scott: What I want to find out is, what are the people — my brothers and sisters in Christ who are maybe there being counseled — what are they thinking? You know, what are they wanting? Because that’s their heart. That has to be guarded above all else. So, I want to find out what that is. Oftentimes, there are, what 2 Corinthians 10 talks about, strongholds of philosophies that they believe. They don’t have to get involved with their kids that much, the kids will bring themselves up. Rather than, they need to be bringing up their children. There are philosophies and ideologies that are ingrained, that are a habitual way of thinking. That’s what I’m trying to find out. What are they thinking and wanting? Praise God, He has given us the resources to renew our minds, to change the desires of our heart in Christ. So, there’s victory there, there’s hope and help for real problems, but they’re often ingrained in that kind of rationalizations and erroneous thinking.

Dale Johnson: I think that’s so important because when parents start thinking in the wrong directions, often influenced by the cultures that we live in, we hear parenting advice. We hear good ideas that people float around that are socially acceptable and that sort of thing, and we want the best for our children. Sometimes we find ourselves following parenting books that have the right goal in mind. We want to see kids who do the right things, who engage in civil activity, who are positive, who are contributors to society, and so on and so forth. We want them to be godly, and often some of the parenting books that we see on Christian bookshelves is quite lacking in some of that. They have some of the right goals, but the means by which they get there is often a deterrent. So, we have to be cautious.

Talk about some of the misconceptions that you see in the counseling room that parents walk in the door assuming that these are good ideas or this is sort of a baseline by which they engage in parenting, and they’re engaging in the wrong battlefront. 

Dr. Stuart Scott: Well, some of those may be if I just homeschool, that’ll solve all of the problems that all the other kids are having out there in public schools and Christian schools. That’ll be the solution. It’s a good means, but it’s not the solution. Another one is the church is really supposed to handle every issue with your children in youth group. The church is supposed to bring up the kids and deal with all of that, and not the parents. I have found the desire among many parents, now they won’t state it like this, but they’ll look around the church and see children, and go, “I want children like that. So, just tell me what to do, a Paint-by-Numbers approach to get that product.” They won’t state it like that, but that’s what they’re doing. They’ll follow curriculum like that Paint-by-Numbers. I used to color like that with the different crayons or pencils, but you get the finished product. It’s not that way in Scripture, and I find that’s a common thing in trying to help families. It’s more about God helping you to be a faithful parent, then, faithfully following God’s Word in the care of your children, and leaving the results up to the Lord.

Dale Johnson: Yeah, that’s right. And you know as I sit and listen, I’m a parent. I have six kids and we’re in the process of this deep spiritual warfare. No question about it, engaging in the discipleship of children who we know the Scriptures tells us are born sinners. We ourselves are sinners who have been redeemed. We are now saints trying to fight the flesh consistently, and that’s a battle, that’s a struggle. So, hearing you say some of the warnings that are given, even my engagement sometimes, this task seems huge and insurmountable at times. Maybe a response would be to fear? That would be a very natural response certainly because we start to feel, “Oh, man, I’m not in control. What am I going to do? I thought it was this step and stage type of thing, like parenting is a vending machine. I put my money in. I press the button and out I get a good parent, a good child.” That’s sort of how we think about it. We get overwhelmed with fear. So, how do we not live in fear, knowing that the task is great, and the responsibilities that God has given us is immense?

Dr. Stuart Scott: Well, I think any parent would attest to those times when they have been very afraid, maybe numerous times. It’s not just stopping the fear, but it’s replacing. As the Lord has told us over and over again, it’s putting on a trust in the Lord. You think of the Psalms, you know, don’t fear, but trust in the Lord. I don’t know the outcome of what God’s going to do in each child’s life, but it’s about a loving trust that the Lord is in control. He’s all wise. He will give you wisdom and grace for the place that you’re in. I can’t stop giving in to fear if I’m not actively and intentionally drawing near to the Lord and loving trust. 

Dale Johnson: So, as counselors we engage in these types of family dynamics when we’re counseling families in difficult situations. What are some final recommendations that you would give as we try to be sober-minded in recognizing the hurt and pain that can be caused with familial issues, but then also having the hope and wisdom of Scripture to engage? So give us some some final recommendations. 

Dr. Stuart Scott: Yeah, when you’re dealing with the spiritual warfare in the family, I can’t put hope anywhere that God doesn’t promise hope to be put. So, you can’t put your hope in your marriage. You can’t put your hope in your children, or in your health, or in possessions, or provision that you’ll have a nice home and car. You can’t put your hope anywhere but in the Lord and His promises. I think over and over again, it’s a reminder really to all of God’s people to fix your hope on the Lord. Stay in His Word. Keep your eyes on Jesus. We don’t know the outcome of everything around us and in everyone’s life, but He’s promised and is faithful that the work He has begun in our life, He’ll perfect it until the day of Christ. 

Dale Johnson: This has been helpful. Thank you so much for letting us sit in just a little bit on how you understand the family, some of your experiences as a counselor to engage in this type of ministry. I know this is going to be an encouragement to our people. 

Dr. Stuart Scott: Thank you, Dale.