Sometimes at Children Desiring God we are asked why we repeatedly present the concept of sin, even in our preschool curriculum. Or, when presenting it to young children, why do we define sin in such “dark” terms? Shouldn’t we be more concerned about encouraging and protecting a child’s self-esteem at this age? While it is true that we must be careful in our tone and demeanor when teaching children about weighty things (i.e., not overly morbid, frightful, or humiliating), that does not mean we should avoid teaching difficult truths such as the truth of their own sin. Furthermore, how we define these truths must be accurate if we are to build in them a right thinking, understanding, and desired response to these truths—”I am a desperate sinner. I need a great Savior. I need Jesus!”
In his sermon titled “Help the Children Love the Different People,” Pastor John Piper connects the need for a right definition of sin in order to point our children to their desperate need for the Gospel.
Sin is not an innocent mistake or a funny blunder or a noble flaw. Sin is ugly rebellion against God. Paul calls this sinful generation “a crooked and perverse generation” (Philippians 2:15). The Bible uses words like “abomination,” and Paul describes fallen man in Romans 3:13, “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips.” Sin is abhorrent and ugly.
If our children are ever to grasp the gospel, they must grasp this about themselves. And we parents must! They and we are sinful—dreadfully sinful. Until this is seen and felt in some significant measure, the gospel will not be cherished.