Why Our Children Need to Know About Their Sin

Sin and the Gospel

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.


Written by Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson is a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, and author. She has taught Sunday School for over 20 years and writes God-centered curriculum for Truth78.

3 Responses to “Why Our Children Need to Know About Their Sin”

  1. Phil Norris July 9, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Amen, Jill! Still, the following point (#6) in Pastor John’s message MUST follow the one just cited (#5). If we leave our children with the sin message without the hope-filled and loving remedy of God, the Gospel will be incomplete in their little minds and hearts.

    “Teach the children that God loves them in spite of the ugliness of their sin and that he proved this by sending his Son to die for our sins and give forgiveness to all who would trust him.

    “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This is the heart of the gospel. And it’s the deepest source of power for helping our children love others different from themselves.

    So we say to our children, “You think they are unattractive or unpleasant? Remember, your sin—your sinful heart, just like mommy’s and daddy’s—is more unattractive and unpleasant to God than that person is to you. And God loves you. God sent Jesus, his own son, to suffer and die in our place, so that if we trust him, he forgives us all our sins and starts to make us into new and desirable people.””

  2. Laurie July 9, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    Thank you for the reminder and the link to the sermon. I was saved as an adult and I remember what God has saved me from, but I am concerned my children won’t have that sense of awe at God’s mercy and grace toward sinners. This is foundational to all our knowledge of God. I thank God for His direction provided through your ministry.


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