John MacArthur’s Ten Crucial Lessons We Must Teach our Children


Jordan Standridge of The Cripplegate has posted Dr. MacArthur’s list. Number one on the list: Parents must teach their children to fear God so that they will fear sinning against Him.  What many children don’t realize is that all sins committed against men are first and foremost done against a holy God. And because God is holy and just, sin must be punished.

According to Dr. MacArthur, there are nine more lessons we must teach our children that are found in Proverbs 1-10.  Here they are:

Recently as I was reading John MacArthur’s book Brave Dad, I found a section in which He gives “Ten Crucial Lessons Every Father Should Teach”. Obviously, MacArthur is known for his expository, verse by verse teaching. But sitting under his preaching for almost ten years I always loved his “lists” many he came up with while sitting at a restaurant writing on napkins. Obviously, it wasn’t the bread and butter of his ministry, neither should it have been, but when you’ve preached through the whole New Testament and know the entire Bible so well, you are bound to see patterns in Scripture and are able to come up with lists like these.

MacArthur takes these lessons out of Proverbs 1-10 and though he directs it from fathers to sons, it is obvious that mothers and daughters can benefit from this list as well. He also adds a warning at the end of this section showing how our failure to teach each of these areas gives the devil the opportunity to teach the exact opposite.

  1. Teach Your Children to Fear God

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 1:7).

Macarthur talks about the fact that we must teach our kids the attributes of God. When we do so properly they will come to fear him. Not only will they fear Him in a reverential way but also they will fear sinning against Him, this will help your children to recognize that God is worthy of honor and invokes in them a desire to live righteously. In order to teach this properly the parents must fear God as well and in turn, sin will be hated in the family. If we don’t teach our children to fear God, the devil will teach them to reject and hate God.

  1. Teach Your Children to Guard Their Minds

Proverbs 3:3-4 says, “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So, you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.” The word “heart” here refers to the mind in the Hebrew. The mind is the seat of thought, emotion, and will, this passage then is calling parents to teach their kids to guard their minds. MacArthur goes on to say that as a father you are the guardian of your children’s minds. Our duty is to protect them from the world. But it doesn’t stop there. We must then do our best to fill their minds with truth, kindness and ultimately God’s word. We are to tell them, “Guard your mind, for out of it comes your conduct.” If we don’t teach our children to guard their minds, the devil will gladly teach them to have an “open mind”.

  1. Teach Your Children to Obey Their Parents

The proverbs are filled with statements like, “Hear my son your father’s instruction.” In doing so the writer of Proverbs is reinforcing the “first commandment with a promise,” namely, to honor your father and mother. MacArthur goes on to say that when your children learn to obey you, they will learn to obey societal authority, and more importantly this is how they learn to obey God. A child who is taught to obey will be a child who learns self-control and true wisdom. If we don’t teach our children to obey their mother and father, the devil will teach them to rebel and break our hearts.

  1. Teach Your Children to Select Their Companions Carefully

This parental responsibility is one where you go on the attack. We can’t sit back and wait to see how our children turn out and what friends they naturally choose. We need to teach them how to choose their friends. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:33 that “bad company corrupts good morals.” The friends our children hang out with will have a direct influence on who they will become and that’s why we go on the attack in helping them choose the right type of friends. Proverbs 1:10 says, “My son if sinners entice you, do not consent.” Excitement, adventure, and ill gain are what worldly people will entice our sons and daughters with, but we are to train them to resist such enticements. We must equip our children with wisdom so that they will develop the discernment they need to choose friends wisely. If we don’t teach our children to select their companions carefully, the devil will gladly choose their companions for them.  Continue reading

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17 Responses to John MacArthur’s Ten Crucial Lessons We Must Teach our Children

  1. jwskud January 5, 2017 at 12:26 pm #

    I always found it ironic that MacArthur has a radio (and TV) show called “Grace to You,” and yet the man teaches very little, if anything, about the grace of God, which is the only way to change hearts and bring about real change. Here we (seemingly) have more of the same. It seems he has some good things to say but they are all steeped in Law/obedience, mirroring his penchant for teaching the false gospel of Lordship Salvation. But he seems to get a free pass here at BR?

    I recommend reading Charles Bing’s excellent (though not 100% biblical) “Lordship Salvation: A Biblical Evaluation and Response” ( before reading any MacArthur, who seems intent on thrusting us back under the works-righteousness of Rome.

    I’m sure people will disagree with me, so I’ll close by quoting CFW Walther’s 23rd Thesis from “The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel.” It would be great if people would read more Walther and less MacArthur…

    Thesis 23: In the [nineteenth] place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when an attempt is made by means of the demands or the threats or the promise of the Law to induce the unregenerate to put away their sins and engage in good works and thus become godly; on the other hand, when a endeavor is made, by means of the commands of the Law rather than by the admonitions of the Gospel, to urge the regenerate to do good.

  2. Pastor Greg January 5, 2017 at 8:09 pm #

    Actually Charles, you nailed it. Mac has become so hyper calvinistic that anything less stellar fruit means no loot in regard to salvation. If, by his definition, one is not living under the Lordship of Christ, he was never saved and probably isn’t able to get saved b/c he is not one of the elect. How do we know? If he WAS one of the elect, he’d be living under the Lordship of Christ by Johnny Mac’s definition and have stellar fruit. It’s circular reasoning; just self-perpetuating logic that lacks the grace of repentance and faith. Don’t misunderstand, me, I’m into Christ’s lordship, kingship, savior hood, Godship, and all the rest-ship in my life. But keeping another list as the stethoscope for getting into Heaven is more legalism to you, not GTY.

  3. Sola Scriptura January 5, 2017 at 8:46 pm #

    The power of God unto salvation is not sovereign election or some strained definition of predestination. Paul explains exactly what has the power to save, and he says it perfectly:

    Romans 1:16
    16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

    …And as for Mr Mac’s comments on the blood of Christ meaning nothing since it is simply bodily fluid, I offer this from Revelation 1:
    5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

    …And this from Colossians 1:
    14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins..

    I’ll stick with the word of God over any big name preacher any day….especially if they are calvinist, which destroys the meaning and value of Christ’s life (and ours, really), death and resurrection for sin

    jwskd may just be on to something when he mentioned Rome….

  4. jwskud January 6, 2017 at 11:31 am #

    Sola, you sound like a fellow Lutheran. God Bless.

    I’ve heard many a (confessional) Lutheran pastor describe the similarities between American evangelicalism (under which tent I’ll here place MacArthur, based on his teaching of LS) and the Roman Catholic church. It’s funny, since the two groups seem to have genuine dislike for each other, and yet their teaching is very similar when you actually examine it.

    • Sola Scriptura January 6, 2017 at 12:33 pm #

      Yep…a unity in darkness, masquerading as unity in light…is coming. We are being set up on every side and from every angle.

      I’m not Lutheran. I’m simply a Bible believing Christian

      • jwskud January 6, 2017 at 12:50 pm #

        haha. That, of course, is what makes you Lutheran, whether you realize it or not. We believe what the Bible says, no more (this part is key and where most churches go off course) and no less.

        Peace and God Bless.

        • Maggie January 6, 2017 at 4:14 pm #

          There are different segments of Lutherans, as there are in other denominations. Some believe in sola scriptura; others do not. You sound like you might have a problem with the ELCA, for instance. :o)

          • jwskud January 6, 2017 at 8:27 pm #

            Yes, some have absconded with the title of Lutheran (ELCA) yet are anything but…and they have the largest membership! What a sad testimony to American Christianity.

        • Q January 6, 2017 at 4:37 pm #

          That’s silly, I’m a bible believing Christian and not a Lutheran let alone a confessional one. I don’t know which Lutheran body you Identify with but I don’t believe –

          1. That Identifying as of Luther biblically obedient.

          2. That I have to agree with the book of concord or use it to interpret scripture.

          3. That Law and Gospel is a sufficient way to view scripture.

          4. Consubstantiation.

          5, Formal clerical robes.

          6. Infant baptismal regeneration.

          7. Lutheran Confirmation.

          8. Other things.

          I do agree with much of what the Missouri Synod teaches, but believing the bible and making it the only rule for faith and practice does not make one a Lutheran.

          • jwskud January 6, 2017 at 8:25 pm #

            Well Q, first off, that was a joke, a tongue-in-cheek comment. Although, admittedly, if you ask a confessional Lutheran about this, they’ll say not everybody who goes to heaven is a Lutheran, but once they get there, they’ll all be Lutherans. Again, a joke, but based on our convictions of properly discerning the Word.

            Second, you’re wrong about a great many things in the list above with regard to confessional Lutherans, especially 4-7. But that’s not surprising to me given the many Lutheran bodies floating around out there. The ELCA, for instance, has very different and liberal and non-confessional views on much of Lutheranism.

            All that being said, I am a Christian (i.e. Lutheran, as in #1) because I believe it to be the only Christian church that properly confesses the Word. Christ at the center, Law and Gospel, and taking God at his Word (i.e. the sacraments, as instituted by Christ, rightly administered).

            I’d recommend D. Preus’ “Why I am a Lutheran” but it doesn’t sound like you’d read it…

            By the by, if you don’t properly distinguish between Law and Gospel, what hermeneutic do you use to read the Bible?

          • Q January 9, 2017 at 7:10 pm #


            I use the Literal Method of hermeneutics (the customary, socially-acknowledged designation of a word) also called the grammatical-historical method.

            I would read the book if I had it or at least part of it.

          • jwskud January 9, 2017 at 10:13 pm #

            Ahh, yes, I misspoke when I used the term hermeneutic above, because I was lazy. Because the distinction between Law and Gospel is most definitely NOT a hermeneutic, it is simply the two words delivered to us by God in the scriptures.

            In any event, what I meant to convey is, if you don’t distinguish Law and Gospel in the text, what do you do? How do you understand God’s Word and all of the apparent contradictions? When Jesus says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” (Mt 5:48) is that meant to be taken literally, as in “ought implies can”? Is Jesus laying down the gauntlet? Or when you read James 2:10, which condemns every living person of sinning against the whole Law, how do you make that jive with Deut 28:1-2 and 28:15-16 (or hundreds of other verses), for example?

            I’m just trying to understand how you view scripture if not through Law and Gospel? I know Rome views Law (as set out in the Sermon on the Mount) as “counsels,” if memory serves…i.e. general, loose laws that only the holiest are expected to keep…

          • Q January 10, 2017 at 3:06 pm #


            I take a Dispensational view of scripture in that I believe God revealed his plan of salvation progressively (although always based on grace through faith), that Israel and the church are separate entities in the bible (yet salvation is provided to both through faith in Christ) but the new covenant was made to Israel and Judah but gentiles can partake in it through faith. I also believe Systematic Theology is important in understanding the bible.

            While I believe Law and Gospel theology is good in that it points out man’s total inability to save himself and emphasizes God’s grace towards sinners I think it is impossible to fit Law and Gospel into every verse and it seems it can lead to a license to sin or rely on grace when obedience is required.

          • jwskud January 10, 2017 at 10:20 pm #

            “rely on grace when obedience is required”

            And when is obedience to God’s Law required of man? Is it at our discretion? God’s? Does our disobedience at these specific times, when obedience is required, keep us out of heaven? Are we cast out of the kingdom of heaven by our lack of obedience at these specific times?

            The only thing that keeps us out of heaven and the kingdom of God is unbelief. Not sin. Otherwise we’re all ultimately damned.

            Yeesh. I think we’re done here. Godspeed.

          • rascott247 January 10, 2017 at 10:38 pm #

            Is obedience to Christ not required for spiritual growth? My experience with Lutherans is that nothing turns them off more than hearing “I take a Dispensational view of scripture” because that word has been thoroughly trashed and misrepresented by academia” —people much smarter than I—except they are far from convincing.

          • Q January 11, 2017 at 1:17 pm #

            That’s another problem with Lutheran Theology, they have trouble distinguishing what law when not rightly dividing the word.

  5. Q January 6, 2017 at 4:45 pm #

    Having raised children to adulthood I think teaching children to love God’s word, know how to interpret it for themselves, and how to build discernment is very valuable.

    JM’s 10 are good and whether you teach your kid’s these or not the world will tell them differently. The above will help them overcome the world and the flesh.