Excerpt from Chapter 5

Your Stance:
Remember the Log in Your Own Eye

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2. Acknowledging your own sinfulness will make you a realistic model of how a needy person can acknowledge his failures and move on to make better choices.

When we know someone understands our experience the way we understand our experience, we are open to confide in him and ask for help. The writer of Hebrews makes it clear that Christ is one who understands.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16).

Jesus was drawn to every type of sin we are drawn to, yet he never sinned. His experience and his identity as the Son of God, one who is our high priest, give us reason to go confidently to him for his help in our needy times. Obviously, we don’t have the same blamelessness as Jesus, but we do have the same temptations as our teens. In many cases, although the details may differ, we also have the same kinds of failures. Most importantly, we have received forgiveness, pressed on in the strength God supplies, and gone on to make other choices that God has blessed.

Establishing with our teens that we unquestionably see ourselves as sinners in need of God’s grace will makes us far more approachable. We must be adults who fully embrace the words of Paul as he acknowledged in Romans 7, “…when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand” (7:21). This is so true of his experience that it calls it a “law.” As a law, it is not just something that happens occasionally but regularly, predictably, in an almost inescapable, hard-wired kind of way. As with Paul, “the flesh” is part of who we are all the time. It is not all of who we are, but it is a very real part of our make-up.

Are you there? Do you accept this undeniable biblical reality about yourself? This is what John has in mind when he indicates that there is never a time that we can say “…we have no sin” or that “…we have not sinned” (1 John 1:8, 10). Our present and our past are riddled with sin. But that is why verse 9 is so precious to believers: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Parents who are Christian and understand this teaching don’t have to be defensive or self-righteous. They can be confident, even while being open about their failures and sins. They are acceptable to God not because they are sinless, but because of the blood of Christ and his sinlessness, for “…the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

This open acknowledgment doesn’t excuse your teen’s sins any more than it excuses your own. But it may enable you to approach your teen in a way that gives him hope that he can be accepted, flaws and all, by you and by God, and still go on to make better, more mature choices.

Read an excerpt from Chapter 6

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