What You Can Teach Your Adult Children About Sin

Last week, as I was sitting in my dentist’s chair getting my regular exam, the dentist said, “Hmmmm…there’s a dark spot on that tooth.” I asked him why that would occur and he explained that a lack of blood flow could cause it. The tooth might be dying. This is my front tooth so I was not too happy to hear this news. He asked if the tooth had experienced trauma. I told him when I was 8, I chipped it when I tripped and fell face down on the sidewalk and I was shocked that after almost 5 decades, that I’d be seeing the consequences of that now. Sparing him my story, I didn’t tell him that I had sneaked out of the house that day after being told by my mother that she wanted me to stay inside. I don’t remember why she told me that, but I remember that my friend came over and I decided to make a run for it. I sneaked out in the front yard, and as I was rounding the corner to run to her house, I tripped and landed face down. The event never became an issue until now. I sat in the dentist chair thinking, after all these years; even though many years have gone by and my mother had long forgiven me and passed away, still the consequences of my disobedience that I considered so insignificant, and never thought of again once I had my tooth repaired, have come back to haunt me.

As much as we’d like to believe that it does, time does not minimize the significance of our sin. Sin is serious. 1 John 3:4 says that sin is lawlessness and everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness.

We have sins we commit everyday that we tolerate such as dishonesty, ungodliness, anxiety and frustration, discontentment, un-thankfulness, self-righteousness, pride, selfishness, anger, judgmentalism, envy, jealousy, sins of the tongue, worldliness and lack of self-control. In “Respectable Sins” Jerry Bridges discusses these sins and tells us that sin is malignant. It can spread through our entire being and contaminate every area of our lives

Sin brings consequences. Sometimes they are immediate and sometimes they may take years to catch up to us, but we never get away with sin. Numbers 32:23 promises us that our sin will find us out.

But wait a minute! Doesn’t the Lord say in Hebrews 8:12 and 10:17 that He will remember our sins no more? Yes he does, but he promises that where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin needed. He doesn’t promise there won’t be any consequences.

Why does the Lord still allow consequences even after we have repented and been forgiven? Discipline. Hebrews 12:5-11 explains that we should be encouraged by discipline because The Lord disciplines those He loves and punishes everyone He accepts as a son. Verses 7-8 say that we should endure hardship as discipline; God is treating us as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? Verse 10 continues that God disciplines us for our good, so that we may share in His holiness. Finally verse 11 promises that sin produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

What is the remedy for our sin? The work of Jesus in His death, resurrection and His work of the Holy Spirit in us. Jesus saves us not only from death because He conquered it, but from the slavery of sin in our lives. When Jesus was hanging on that cross, He was paying your sin and thinking about you. Repent and turn from your sin, whatever it is. Ask The Lord for forgiveness.

How has the Lord shown you the consequences of your sin? What was the result? As empty nester parents we have years of experience with sin and its consequences that we can share with our adult children. Tell them what you have learned from your sin and the discipline for it. Don’t let that wisdom go to waste. No matter how old our children are they are never too old to learn wisdom from a parent. Use their sticky situations as a teaching opportunity. Sharing our wisdom is one way we can love our adult children. Lord willing, we may live to be blessed by seeing the benefits of our sharing.

Whatever happens to this front tooth, it will be a constant reminder of the gravity of sin and its long-term consequences. But also, a reminder of God’s love for me through His discipline while he’s forming me into the woman He wants me to be.