For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king. (1 Samuel 15:23)
I got a chuckle from the letter I recently received from the exasperated mother of a 3-year-old girl who is in constant motion, gets into everything, won't stay in her bed at night, doesn't seem to understand the word "no," and so on. In the midst of her description of this little hellion, mom writes, "I know she's well-intentioned."
Today's parents, you gotta love 'em. Many of them seem to think misbehavior is nothing more than a mistake. Their children don't mean to misbehave, they just didn't understand or they're trying to express themselves or whatever. Anything but "My child is a defiant hellion who is determined to have her way in all things."
Well-intentioned? No, Mom, your daughter is not well-intentioned. She intends to have it her way, and she intends to prove she can outlast you, and she intends to prove she runs the show, not you. And you will not be able to discipline her properly until you stop thinking she is well-intentioned.
Every child has "inherited" Adam's sin. Two sins, actually, both named in 1 Samuel 15:23. First, the sin of rebellion, committed when Adam ate the fruit offered by Eve; second, the sin of stubbornness, committed when Adam refused to accept responsibility for his wrongdoing and repent, asking forgiveness. Every child since has come into the world inclined to do not the right thing, but the wrong thing in any given situation - the rebellious, self-indulgent, self-centered, stiff-necked, stubborn thing.
A child "wakes up" from the relative unconsciousness of infancy (during which he has probably lulled his parents into a sense of false security) sometime during his second year of life. He immediately begins to demonstrate that far from being a "little angel," he is born determined to get his own way in everything. Furthermore, he is a born believer in the nefarious notion that the ends justify the means. Untutored in stealing, he begins to steal. Untutored in lying, he begins to lie. Untutored in defiance, he begins to defy. Untutored in violence, he begins to hit and bite when he doesn't get his way. Psychological explanations fail here. The only explanation is one based on a clear vision of human frailty, a vision that is rooted in a Scriptural understanding of the truth concerning mankind. To wit, we are not good. We are bad. Bad to the bone.
And we are hard to discipline. God has had one heck of a time disciplining us, hasn't He? He succeeds with some, but not with others, and most of those with whom He succeeds resist His discipline with all their might for years and years before giving in. The truth of what we are all about explains why behavior modification works on dogs (and other animals), but doesn't work on humans. Train a dog to do something, and the dog will never do the wrong thing again. From that point on, every time the dog's master gives the dog the command in question, the dog will do the right thing.
But humans are different. No matter how well you train a child to do something, the child may continue doing the wrong thing on some regular basis. The child might even do the right thing for years, and then begin doing the wrong thing, defying his parents to do anything about it. Why is this? Simple. Whereas dogs come into the world inclined to obey their masters, humans come into the world inclined to rebel against any and all authority. Whereas dogs come into the world wanting to please, humans come into the world wanting to be pleased.
This is not the stuff of good intentions. This is the stuff of "witchcraft, iniquity, and idolatry." Wake up, parents! The goblins will get you if you don't watch out!