We live in a sexual cesspool of a world, and the lies of the devil combine with real guilt and shame to cripple and handicap God’s people. No one in this room is untouched by sexual sin: the harm and damage and guilt and shame of pornography and lust, fornication and adultery, homosexuality and sexual abuse of every sort. And on top of all of that, we have the audacity to get married and have kids teach them to do better than we did. And the temptation is despair. How can I teach them to do better when I wasn’t innocent, when I made mistakes, when my parents made mistakes? And in that despair, many Christians wallow in their past sin and frequently end up teaching their children to despair: there’s nothing to be done, we all fail, and lo and behold they do, a sort of self-fulfilling prophesy.
The other temptation is to pretend to have extremely high standards, and enforce them legalistically and perfectionistically, with a harsh and heavy hand, even though everyone in the room knows they are impossible standards to meet. But this just creates another form of despair. Since no one can meet the standard, the kids give up trying, and lo and behold, they fall into sin.
What we are aiming for as Christians is gracious excellence – high standards built in the only place where high standards actually work, on the blood and righteousness of Jesus. The only way high standards are real gifts is when they are built on grace. This grace is the grace of forgiveness, but it is also the grace of sanctification, the grace of true obedience from the heart.
So how has Christ loved you? He came for you. He took your sin and guilt and shame, and all your romantic failures, sexual sin, all of your parenting failures, and He died for them all. There is now therefore, no condemnation, for those who are in Christ Jesus. You are clean. You are righteous. You are pure. And God rejoices over your purity because it is the purity of Jesus.
The devil says, how can you expect your kids to do better than you when you were no innocent dove. And the answer is: Jesus died for all my sin, and He died in such a way that I might stand completely innocent before my God and therefore completely innocent before my kids. That doesn’t mean lying about the past, but it also doesn’t mean acting like your sin still clings to you. It really is gone. And therefore, you can teach your children to be more faithful, more honorable, and wiser than you were because we stand in God’s grace.