1 Corinthians 4:21 says, "What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness?" Paul said that a rod (a rod you rule with or strike with) is the opposite of a SPIRIT of gentleness & love. Perhaps if someone comes to you with a rod it is not done by the leading of the Spirit of God.
The reason why the Old Testament talks about using a rod on your child was because sin was infinitely more powerful back then & much more dangerous. Extreme measures had to be introduced to prevent the destructiveness of sin. That is also why the law had harsh punishments. Jesus broke the power of sin on the cross. Only those who put themselves under law or believe sin still has power over them will see themselves overcome by sin. Letting sin shame you or direct your actions is like giving your wallet to a man using his fingers under his coat as a fake gun. While we all have behavior patterns that can be improved by walking with God sin itself is unarmed. You have to believe it is armed or, as many do, put the gun in its hand in order for it to have power over you.
"Christ died for all, therefore all died" (2 Corinthians 5:14). The old sinful spirits (what you could call sin natures) that reigned in mankind from Adam to the cross all died at the cross. The next verse however suggest that only some people live. Those who live are those who have trusted Christ & have been reborn, they live in the spirit. So children don't have a "sin nature" but they do have free minds that will learn from the good & the bad in this world. We are not sinful from birth like David was, but we are humans from birth. Our flesh will sin & is bound to die.
Jesus took sin away from the world. The whole world had sinful spirits & he took them away. The whole world had records of sin but he put them away. The flesh of mankind is just as free as Adam & Eve's were. They were the first people on earth, they didn't have mountains of religions, institutions, traditions, & falsehoods. They had one serpent lie to them. Liars & deceived people are everywhere today & the serpent is still out there. But every child has a fresh start in a fallen world.
Christians have unrenewed flesh called the "old self" or "old man," because our new man, our new identity is our spirit. But all people have unrenewed flesh. All flesh is corruptible but a Christian's spirit is incorruptible (1 Peter 1:23). Ephesians 4:22 says that the flesh gets corrupted by "the lusts of deceit." This means natural & positive desires, tendencies, & emotions of the flesh are stirred up by falsehood & the lies misuse these desires bringing corrupted thoughts & destructive actions. But only when you believe in the deception is it able to bring harm into your life.
Children are blank slates of believe. They will learn & believe things as they grow. Their beliefs will come by what they observe others doing (by example) & by what ideas they are presented. They don't have a tendency to "sin," an infant does not try to manipulate you. There are easy, natural answers to this supposed manipulation if you just put yourself in their booties. If you believe your child has a sin nature & is a "wretched & sinful human being" the minute they come out, like many Christians are taught to, you're going to screw their life up & never see them through the true eyes of God.
How do you respond to being controlled? How do you respond to rules with punishments tied to them? Now think about how your kids might feel similarly to you regarding those things. Mankind was made to be loved & be free. And of course that doesn't mean we just throw up our hands and forget about guiding, instructing, & protecting our children. That is love. God's goal is love & freedom. Even God had a command for Adam & Eve to protect them in the garden before sin entered into the world. What so many miss is that God wasn't protecting them from punishment for disobedience, He was protecting them from a consequence. He said "if you eat of the tree you will surely die" He did not say "if you eat of the tree I will surely kill you because you disobeyed me."
Good & Evil
The Hebrew words for "good & evil" mean "functional & dysfunctional." Good works, good is lasting, giving, & free. Evil doesn't work, evil destroys & enslaves. Several times scripture says "the Lord gave an evil spirit." It wasn't a sinful or wicked spirit, it was a "spirit of dysfunction" to make the wicked plans of men not come to pass, to make what they were doing no longer work. The "evil spirit" was stopping what we would call evil. In Isaiah 45:7 the Lord says, "I make peace, and create evil." That does not mean He creates sin or causes wickedness. It means He limits or stops (makes dysfunctional) the wicked plans that men devise. Essentially He was saying, "I make peace & I throw things into disarray" (the Tower of Babel is a perfect example of this.) But it also means He decided what works & what doesn't work. The wisdom of His love determined what works & what doesn't work.
God created the tree of the knowledge of good & evil. Genesis 3:22 says God knew & knows good & evil. Does this mean God has sinful thoughts swimming around inside of Him? That He had an eternal repository of disgusting & wretched wickedness & sin in His mind? No! God is good. In Him there is no sin. Jeremiah 32:35 says, "They built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they would do this abomination." This clearly says that the abomination they did never entered into God's mind. So what "knowledge of evil" does God have? God has the knowledge of dysfunction, of what doesn't work, of what limits, stops, decays, or destroys what is good. God never knew the gory details of every sin ever committed. He is good! He works!
While evil can succeed in coming to pass it will destroy or take people captive. Evil doesn't work because it ultimately wrecks things. Good never destroys good unless good is destroying itself for the benefit of someone else. Good does destroy evil. Evil destroys whatever it can & will eventually destroy itself. A dysfunctional car, say with a flat tire, will do more & more harm to the car as it is driven on. Things that don't work break & harm & waste or they just leave you stuck.
Now back to the lusts of deceit. Deceit takes what is good, truth, & twists it or denies it thus creating evil. Truth works because truth is reality. Deceit doesn't work because it is based on falsehood & unreal things, deceit is dysfunctional. The deception of evil is that some seems to work for a time. That is why deceit is the ultimate evil, it covers over & makes excuses for the dysfunctionality. Deceit is self-justifying. The results of evil range from immediate to ultimate. Evil decays, it is not perfect or lasting.
So the choice of mankind is to know God, the personification of good, & walk in a trust based relationship with Him or to know good & evil as concepts, to find out what works & what doesn't work through suffering on your own without a loving Father to guide you with His perfect knowledge. "The lusts of deceit" make it impossible for mankind to know evil without choosing it. One example is the idea that "I want to do good.. but faster." "Good" intentions can be "evil" intentions because they seek to use short cuts & exploit people in the name of "doing good." But exploitation doesn't work, it corrupts & decays people. God is good. Love is good. God is love. Love works! Let's live loved, live free, & love freely.
Why the Knowledge of Evil is Dysfunctional