Families today are facing many direct attacks of the enemy. There are growing temptations toward materialism, humanism, immorality and even a growing disregard for traditional marriages. It seems that one of Satan’s primary targets is the family. But we know that God is greater than the enemy (1 Jn. 4:4), and that the foundation of the Christian family is Jesus Christ. Consider, for instance, these verses: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord ... Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her ... Children, obey your parents in the Lord” (Eph. 5:22,25; 6:1 NKJV). Speaking of foundations, we are reminded that in digging one, the hole might be deep and ugly, which speaks to us of death. Building up from that foundation reminds us of resurrection. This tells me that the family must be grounded in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is first the going down before the coming up – a need for family members to die to self before we can live in the power of His resurrection.
The First Family
Let’s look briefly at the first family, that of Adam, and identify some of the symptoms and solutions for family situations. It is always good to keep in mind the first words in the Bible: “In the beginning God” (Gen. 1:1). We need always to begin our family with God. He established the family, and is able to maintain it.
We are reminded that “in the beginning” Adam and Eve had a perfect marriage. They were a perfect pair, living in a perfect place, and in perfect peace. Adam met every expectation of Eve, and she responded to his needs. But then Satan confronted and shattered the harmony of the family, and this has impacted every family since that time. In Adam’s family, as a result of sin, there was intense anger and jealousy among the siblings, which resulted in the first murder.
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And He said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate (Gen. 3:1-6).
These verses from Genesis present some of the underlying causes for marital and family conflicts. Satan is cunning, confusing, convincing, and carnal – and will deceive us if we listen to him. He questioned the authority, accuracy, and acceptability of God’s Word. Eve, having listened to him, succumbed to his seeds of doubt, disobedience to God’s Word, and the dethroning of God in her life. As a result, many symptoms became visible which are still prevalent in the family today.
Some of these symptoms include: a barrier in fellowship with God, for Adam and Eve were conscious of their disobedience; a breakdown in communication, for they were not communicating with God because they were hiding; and in hiding there was no true communication with each other because of fear and guilt.
There was a cover-up with fig leaves by their own effort so that they could make themselves acceptable. There was displacement of the blame and refusal to take responsibility for their actions. (Gen. 3:9-13). Then there was anger among the siblings, sensitivity to rejection, jealousy, hatred and then death. They both brought an offering to the Lord. Since Cain’s heart was not right with God, God refused his offering.
And in process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the first-born of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell … Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. (Gen. 4:3-5,8).
Some of the symptoms in the family today that form a barrier to fellowship with God include: our disobedience, being too busy, a breakdown in communication (in our prayers and reading God’s Word), a tendency to cover-up family issues or brush them under the rug, a tendency to blame each other, feelings of anger, jealousy, and attacking each other (even to death, psychologically). Sin comes to us as a friend and entices us, but if we continue in sin, it becomes our master to enslave us.
But we need not despair, as there is deliverance from above in the Lord Jesus. There is no problem too big for God. What might seem big to us is small to God. Oh, the matchless grace of God! In spite of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, God provided new clothing for them – through a sacrifice, which was all of God and none of Adam and Eve. God did not overlook Cain’s sin, for He made him know he was guilty of his brother’s death. Yet He did not pass the physical death penalty on him, but even protected him. “And the Lord said to him, ‘Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him” (Gen. 4:15).
Briefly, some of the solutions to the above symptoms include an intimate fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. In spite of our busy schedule, we need to spend time in prayer and reading the Bible. In all our situations, prayer must be our first response, not our last resort. We must continue to grow and not decline spiritually in the home. God has a purpose for every family – to reflect the family of God, the relationship between Christ and the Church.
Do we have intimate communion with God, with nothing between our heart and His? Do we pray together as a family? Do we have open and honest communication in the family without any hidden agenda? There is a tremendous need to listen to each other. We need to recognize and deal with such issues as insecurity, anger, losing control, jealousy, verbal abuse, selfishness, etc. in our family. If Christ resides in our hearts, He should also preside in our home. Perhaps, it would be helpful to have periodic family meetings to identify and resolve issues.
Answers to the following questions might help reveal the source of some of our family problems: Do we perceive our children as gifts that have been loaned to us by God? Do we respect our children and are we teaching them to respect their parents and others? Are we exercising discipline in a loving, consistent, decisive and respectful way? Are we bringing our children up without tearing them down? Are our life goals for our children consistent with God’s?
Someone wisely said that loving words fall lightly, but weigh heavily. Therefore, in winning our family for the Lord, we should weigh our words carefully, and be a good example to our children by walking in line with God’s Word, which says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 Jn. 4). There is hope, healing and help for every hurting family today – in the Lord Jesus.
By Emanuel John
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org