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How to Talk to Your Kids About Sin




Few things can leave parents grasping for words like deep theological questions from our kids

They can surprise us and usually come at comically inopportune times; think while you’re at Home Depot or in the middle of an important phone call. Mine came as we pulled into the school parking lot last year, running late with everyone stressed from the morning my daughter asked me to explain the Trinity! ‘Just give me the overview, Mom.’ It makes me laugh recalling that moment because I’m not too proud to tell you that I completely froze and told her we could talk about it after school that afternoon!

Significant theological questions are scary, but they are a beautiful sign of God’s active work in our kids’ lives. These ponderings and questions show that they desire answers. And not just answers but insight and wisdom. These are the stirrings of the Holy Spirit in the next generation’s hearts. You don’t have to know all the big words and theories, but we must understand what Scripture says.

In Romans 3, Paul lays out a three-step map for a conversation about sin. 

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 

Romans 3:22-24

1.‘Only faith in Jesus Christ can give us righteousness.’ 

Righteousness simply means “right standing.” And right standing is only offered through faith in Jesus. It doesn’t matter how good your grades are or what records you broke on the track team; what matters is faith in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Help your child understand that God isn’t looking for a flawless performance; He already loves who they really are.

2.‘There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…’ 

Kids understand how a social hierarchy works. Most have come up against someone who ranks higher or lower than them on the popularity scale. This reference is a helpful tool to explain how it doesn’t matter how popular or unpopular you are, how much of a star, or if you have a quiet disposition. Everyone falls short—parents included! Sin is a separateness that cannot close the gap between God and us without Jesus. Take a minute to pause and remind your child that mistakes will happen. This could be a good time to tell a story about a few you made! Mistakes aren’t the problem because we have faith in Jesus, who puts us in Right Standing with God the Father.

3.‘… all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.’

God creates us with value and purpose. Our sin creates a divide that we cannot cross without Jesus. Confessing that we can’t cross the divide on our own and we need Jesus to redeem our sins frees us from the weight of our mistakes. This freedom makes us righteous but also Just in Christ Jesus. To be justified means we’ve accepted the gift of faith that makes us clean and one with God. We’ve been justified because we are made to have a relationship with him!

Our sin is heavy. Being honest and age-appropriate with your kids about that weight is the first step in a Biblical explanation of sin. Romans 3 reminds us that its level ground when we come to Jesus. And aren’t we so grateful for that? As you have these conversations with your kids, be reminded and refreshed that you were also called for a purpose. Pray and ask the Lord to show you ways to lead your children in the path of humility that leads straight to the righteousness and redemption of Christ Jesus.

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Lanie Beth Sinclair Lanie Beth Sinclair works as a Creative Consultant and Bible teacher. A communication degree from Samford and a master’s from DTS mean she uses words to tell anyone who will listen about how Jesus changes everything. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, Brad, and their two middle school daughters. She loves reading, hosting dinner parties, and enjoying copious amounts of coffee.