Learning and Modeling Sinful Behaviour

We learn to model the weaknesses/sins or iniquities of the previous generations.

e.g. – parenting – we parent the way we were parented unless we make a conscious effort to change the pattern.


What are the things that we inherit from our parents?

  1. Health problems are passed on by parents – heart failure, stroke, diabetes etc.

We have a greater pre-disposition to these health issues.

  1. Physical features are given by parents – colour of eyes, hair, stature etc.

There are dominant and recessive factors in their genes.

  1. Character weaknesses are also transferred by parents – temperament, emotions

We inherit the tendency to do wrong from our forefathers. The greatest example of this is the sin of Adam.


The iniquities of our forefathers:

Meaning – Not being subject to God’s Law; lawlessness or willfulness; doing our own will even if our will appears to be “doing good”.

Isaiah 53:6 – “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

Bible References

Exodus 20:5, 6; Exodus 34:7; Deuteronomy 5: 9, 10 and Numbers 14:18

“I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” Ex. 20: 5, 6

Biblical Examples of Iniquities:

1st generation – Abraham and Sarah – “Sarah is my sister” = partial lie

The iniquity of Abraham was deception

2nd generation – Isaac and Rebekah – “Rebekah is my sister” = full lie

The iniquity of Isaac was deception and lying

3rd generation – Isaac and Jacob – “I am Esau” = full lie plus a conspiracy to steal

The iniquity of Jacob was deception, lying and stealing

4th generation – Jacob and his twelve sons – “Is this Joseph’s coat?”

The iniquity of Jacob’s sons was deception, lying, plotting to kill (selling their brother)

Sarah and Hagar – Hagar despised Sarah; Ishmael openly mocked Isaac; descendents of Isaac and Ishmael are involved in the Jewish-Arab conflict even today.


Acknowledging Iniquities:

1. We tend to imitate parents - When fathers do that which is wrong, it is quite natural for children to justify the same action.

2. We often justify sin by what the parents did – However, the sins get worse with every generation.

3. We are commanded by God to acknowledge the iniquities of our forefathers.

   (Leviticus 26: 40-42) By doing this we are recognizing that it is our choice to continue in the iniquity or to choose to change our behavior.

4. We need to develop precautions against these iniquities.

5. God shows mercy to all who repent of their iniquities.


Let’s take a look at the sinful modeling of anger

Four factors that influence the way you handle anger:    

  1. Your genetic predisposition – women – wider range of emotional responses, men -more aggressive, get over it quickly
  2. Your family – is a source for learning how to manage anger. – (express it or clam up)
  3. Your culture – anger is more readily sanctioned for boys and men.
  4. Your thoughts – influence your feelings especially when your needs and expectations are not being met

We heard in the presentation

Anger is a God-given emotion. Anger in and of itself is not wrong. However, we can have a wrong response to anger which is sinful. We can give place to the devil. (Eph. 4:26, 27)

What does modeling sinful behavior mean?

   - It is a sinful way of dealing with something that should be dealt with in a Christ like way. (e.g. lying)

- It often comes from the fact that we learned it because it was modeled by someone in our homes.

   - What we learned in our family of origin is what we will do when we begin our own families unless we make a conscious effort to change.

   - Sinful behaviors can be passed on almost inadvertently if we do not have the right relationship with God or if we are not aware of the whole truth and of the consequences of our sinful actions.

   - The sin of deceit was passed on from Rebekah to Jacob and then to Jacob’s sons.

We can continue modeling a sinful way of dealing with anger by putting the blame on someone from the previous generation. However, we need to recognize and confess our own personal sins in the way that we have been dealing with anger.

Lou Priolo, in his book, “The Heart of Anger” has a list of 25 ways to provoke your children to anger. Please read through the list and then print it out. Give it to your children (preteens and older, even to those that are married) and have them evaluate you. It’s a very humbling experience. Then ask forgiveness from your children if you have provoked them to anger.

Ways that Parents Provoke their Children to Anger

  1. Lack of Marital Harmony –

A child becomes more susceptible to acquiring those bitter thoughts, motives, attitudes, and actions that he has seen modeled by them.

  1. Establishing and Maintaining a Child-centered Home –

Parents should strive to establish a home that is Christ centered where everyone is committed to please Christ rather than self. If husband and wife do not work at being closer to each other than to the child, the child may view himself as equal to, rather than as a subordinate to them. Children tend to get angry when their desires do not get placed on equal status with the desires of the parents.

  1. Modeling Sinful Anger –

When you or your spouse model sinful anger, you may inadvertently teach your children that the only way to solve problems is to win.

  1. Habitually Disciplining While Angry –

When you are angry it is easier for you to over discipline. Your anger may be perceived by your child as a personal attack. He will likely suspect that your motive for the discipline is vindictive rather than corrective. If he concludes that this is your motive, he will find it difficult not to get angry. The emphasis of your thinking should be what the child has done by sinning against God, not on how the action has caused you some personal discomfort, trouble or embarrassment.

  1. Scolding –

Scolding is always an expression of a bad spirit and a loss of temper.

  1. Being Inconsistent with Discipline –

Parents commonly discipline inconsistently in two ways. The first is having different standards of discipline. The second is by vacillating from day to day on either what is or what is not punishable behavior or how severe the chastisement will be. They should know that each offense will be treated justly and equitably.

  1. Having Double Standards –

“Do as I say, not as I do” is communicated more often by actions than by words

  1. Being       Legalistic –

Legalism elevates man made rules to the same level of importance and adherence to as those commands which God has given in His Scripture. If these man made traditions are taught as though they were as obligatory as God’s Law, parents become bound up in legalism. This can provoke anger in your child. God’s Law can never be appealed, parental laws can be appealed.

  1. Not Admitting You are Wrong and not Asking for Forgiveness –

A parent’s failure to acknowledge offenses committed against his children often discourages the children from practicing open biblical communication.


How to ask for Forgiveness:

  1. 1.Acknowledge that you have sinned.

“I was wrong.” or “God has convinced me that I was wrong…”

  1. 2.Identify the specific sin by its biblical name.

“What I did was selfish,” or “What I did was dishonest.”

  1. 3.Identify a biblical behavior to demonstrate your resolve to repent.

“I should have clarified what you meant before I jumped to that hasty conclusion.” “The next time I will tell you the truth no matter how afraid I might be of the consequences.”

  1. 4.Ask for forgiveness.

“Will you forgive me?”

  1. Constantly Finding Fault –

Parents have the responsibility to point out sinful behavior. However, a critical, condemning, accusing and judgmental attitude leads a child to believe that his parents are never or rarely pleased with him. Parents need to praise, commend and acknowledge biblical achievement with greater frequency than they reprove.

  1. Parents Reversing God-Given Roles –

When God’s order in the home is violated it creates a home environment that promotes frustration. Wives become embittered over husbands not managing their homes as the Bible directs. Husbands become embittered and lose respect for wives who are not fulfilling their God-given roles. Both may then struggle with guilt. Children tend to view their parents’ relationship as a double standard. They may even resent the parents for this. They may be uncertain and confused about their p\own gender roles.

  1. Not Listening to Your Child’s Opinion or Taking His or Her “Side of the Story” Seriously –

If you are going to lead your child into the truth, you will need to understand his perspective. By not listening you may communicate sinful attitudes such as: arrogance, impatience, apathy, or lack of love. Children should be taught how to receive reproof biblically and learn not to equate rejection of one’s ideas as personal rejection.

  1. Comparing Them to Others –

God gives every child unique gifts and talents. A child should learn at an early age “not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think. Proper biblical comparisons should be made in the following two directions:

  1. a)Forward looking – by comparing where the child is today to the biblical standard of maturity.
  2. b)Backward looking – by comparing the child’s spiritual maturity today to his own spiritual maturity at various points in the past.
  1. Not Making Time “Just to Talk” -

Relationships are impossible to build without communication. We need to reveal who we are to have effective relationships.

  1. Not Praising or Encouraging Your Child –

Too often parents focus only on the wrong and consequently, their children tend to evaluate themselves inaccurately. Their self-perceptions become distorted. Parents need to praise their children so that when reproof and correction are administered, these measures will be perceived as one more element of balanced biblical love.

  1. Failing to Keep Your Promises –

When promises and commitments consistently are not kept or forgiveness is not sought from a child for breach of contract, his disappointment turns into anger.

  1. Chastening in Front of Others –

The circle of confession and correction should only be as large as the circle of offense. If the sin is not public it should be handled between the parent and child.

  1. Not Allowing Enough Freedom –

Children should not expect to be simply handed freedom but they ought to be willing to earn it by demonstrating that they are faithful. Faithfulness involves demonstrating to God and others that they can be trusted with increasing freedom based on successful fulfillment of specific responsibilities and competence to make biblically wise decisions. If children demonstrate the above and are not given increased freedom for the trust that they have earned they can easily become exasperated, discouraged and even give up.

  1. Allowing Too Much Freedom –

Children who grow up in homes with too much freedom and not enough discipline may quickly conclude that they are not truly loved.

  1. Mocking Your Child –

Parents should never ridicule or mock especially about inadequacies about which the child can do nothing such as intelligence, athletic abilities, physical features and motor coordination. Sinful behavior, especially those that are habitual, should be addressed seriously and not in a teasing manner.

  1. Abusing Them Physically –

Parents should not jump to hasty and unfounded conclusions and discipline for the wrong reason. The motivation for discipline should be biblical because of sin and not for selfish reasons such as embarrassment or unfulfilled expectations. This kind of discipline is vindictive and abusive. Parents should discipline children only when their own anger is under control.

22. Ridiculing or Name Calling -

Only biblical names to describe sinful behavior should be used. The biblical name should be used as a tool to motivate the child to change not as a weapon to embarrass shame or antagonize the child. Punitive name calling provokes anger in children.

  1. Unrealistic Expectations –

Children should be developmentally capable of performing the task which has been assigned to them. The emphasis of the task should be on character development not on achievement.

  1. Practicing Favoritism –

All siblings are different from each other and should be treated as individuals.

  1. Child Training with Worldly Methodologies Inconsistent with God’s Word –

All means and methods of child training that is being used should be scripturally validated.

Repenting From Provoking Children to Anger

  1. Identify the specific ways you have been provoking your children to anger.
  2. Confess these sins to God.
  3. Ask your child’s forgiveness for your sins against him.
  4. Develop a plan with your child’s assistance to replace those sinful behaviors with their biblical alternatives.
  5. Consider specific ways you can provoke your children to love and good works.

Remember, the anger is your child’s sin, but you are 100% responsible before God for the sins which provoked him to that anger.

   Rather than continuing to model sinful behavior to our children we need to change the negative impact of our words, spoken in anger, so that we can have a positive effect on them. It has been said that for every negative comment made we need to make 7 – 10 positive comments to balance out the effect of these harsh words. Wouldn’t it be better to bless our children rather than have a curse follow them throughout their lives?


   The old adage “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me” is not true. There is power in the spoken word.

Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof”.

Unchecked anger turns into wrath which does not work the righteousness of God         (Jas 1:20). There is power in the tongue to do much damage but also to do good.

How can we, when provoked, rather than be angry and ‘just not sin’ (Eph 4:26) turn it into something positive?

In Mat 5:44,45 Jesus exhorts us:

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

We can not do this on our own, we need that God works this in us (Phil 2:13). However it is our responsibility to submit to His leading and exercise us unto godliness (1Tim 4:7). When we bless it is not our power but we invoke His power to do the good. Only God can truly bless and the blessing we say has to flow from Him. It is a good practice to use words and pattern God gives us in His Word.

Let us begin by blessing those that are near us: our spouses, children, brethren, and friends. In due time, we will be able to bless those that are not so close, even those that dislike us.

What is a blessing? We can identify the following principles in blessings:


Imparting of purpose and vision. Affirmation of God’s long range plan

         for the one being blessed.

Imparting personhood. Encourage to answer the call to take your proper

         place and make use of the gifts God has given you.


Imparting security. Affirmation of right relationships and invocation of

           spiritual protection.

Imparting peace. Bring about reconciliation and affirmation of peace.

Imparting Rhema’s. Specific sayings in the Bible that increase our faith

         so we can claim them in time of need.

The act of giving a blessing is an exercise in spiritual discernment and genuine sincerity. The one who blesses another should ask God for wisdom and understanding, as well as keen sensitivity and discretion. The spoken blessing encourages and builds faith in the recipient as well as the one that speaks. Whenever God is honored his blessings will flow.

The Lord gave us in Mat 6:9-13 a pattern of how to pray. Also in the Bible, the Lord gave us a pattern of how to bless:

Nu 6:22-27     And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, on this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them,

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:

The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:

The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.

Using this pattern we have an unlimited number of potential blessings that can be used in appropriate times and places. Here are some examples:

The Lord bless you …

            With the fullness of His salvation (Eph 1:23).

            With the spirit of wisdom (Eph 1:17).

            With the hope of His calling (Eph 1:18).

            With the riches of His glory (Eph 3:16).

May the Lord keep you …

            Strengthened with might by His Spirit (Eph 3:16).

            Rooted and grounded in love (Eph 3:16).

            From falling and present you faultless before the

     presence of his glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24).

From the corruption that is in the world through lust (2Pet 1:4).

Make His face to shine upon you …

            With a zeal for good works (Mat 5:16).

            To turn many to righteousness (Dan 12:3).

            To make His way known upon the earth (Ps 67:2).

            With a path that grows brighter each day (Pr 4:18).

Be gracious unto you …

            That you may receive all that pertains to life and Godliness (2Pet 1:3).

            So that you can abound in every good work (2Cor 9:8).

            To turn suffering into the power of God’s love (2Cor 12:9).


Lift up his countenance upon you …

            That you may have the fullness of joy in His presence (Ps 16:11).

            To cause your face to shine with His glory (2Cor 3:7).

            To give you good things that will bring you gladness (Ps 4:6-7).

And give you peace …

            By being yoked to Christ (Mat 11:29).

            That surpasses human understanding (Phil 4:7).

            That comes through the Lord Jesus Christ (Ro 5:1)

            That overcomes all human fear (John 14:27)

Thus far we talked about man invoking a blessing upon man. However the Bible teaches that man has the privilege to bless God, in which case the blessing is a praise and adoration. Examples of blessing God:

We bless His Holy Name (Mat 6:9 “…Hallowed be Thy Name…”)

We bless His Righteous Character (2Cor 1:3 “Blessed be God … Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;”).

We bless his Mighty Deeds (Ps 150:2 “Praise Him for His mighty acts …”)

Psalm 150:6 “Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord”.


   The next time you are tempted to lash out in anger, stop and think. “Do I want to hurt my child and have these negative words haunt them for years to come? Wouldn’t it be better to give them a blessing instead?”

   Practice giving blessings to your family members and those that are close to you. You will be richly blessed in the process!

ED Anger Resolution workshop, Nov 2008, Windsor

See Also:

The Anger Scale


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