As this series of sermons on "The March Toward Globalism" continues, it is my fervent hope that you will not lose track of this overview. The overview is the march toward globalism; the overall series-subject is not childrearing, but childrearing is, and continues to be, a major building block of Satan's plan for the continued enslavement of mankind.
Please know this: Satan is the enemy. Even in this subject, Satan is the enemy who is using men to use this childrearing approach that is wrong. God calls things what they are, and Satan means adversary, enemy. God makes this very plain. He is the enemy of God and man. He is the ruler of this world. He is the one most of mankind worships. He is the first rebel against God and His purpose. He led one-third of the angels in rebellion against God.
The Earth is the original holding of the angels that Satan led against God, and he and they are still here, seeking to destroy man and God's purpose, and at the same time retain possession of the Earth. His spirit, and therefore his attitude, belief, and way of life, is deeply rooted in all of mankind to a greater or lesser degree. By his spirit mankind is unknowingly led into rebellion against God, and unwittingly becomes his ally as co-enemy against God.
Now just as we all have been entrapped in his religious misdirection, we also have been enslaved in his child-training misdirection in order that the kind of adults that he desires to be strongly under his influence begins to be produced as early in life as possible.
I believe that I said in the previous sermon that childrearing can be understood as a form of war between us and Satan over control of our children's behavior, because if we do not take a firm hand in this responsibility, he surely will through this world and peer influences of our children.
Also, in my previous sermon, one of the points I made was that in order to blunt his success with our children, our pattern of childrearing must follow God's model that He is using with us if we are going to have much hope for success.
Let us set an overall goal to accomplish in childrearing by turning to I Corinthians 13, verses 1 through 3.
I Corinthians 13:1-3 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
These first three verses are used by the Apostle Paul to register these things into the minds of those people to whom he was writing at that time. These things he mentioned were important to those people, such as being able to speak a different language, being able to prophesy, whether foretell or forth-tell under the inspiration, to have great understanding and knowledge. That was something that really appealed to the Greek mind, and they thought they were really people of great faith, and that great things could occur if they had the faith to do them.
There were also others who were proud of the gifts that they no doubt spread out to the poor, and maybe even they did some really severe self-sacrifice. If the Apostle Paul, in a sense, slopped all of those out...in comparison to love, he says, "without love, these things are nothing." The lesson for us, is what is important to us? How important are these things in comparison to love—that is, these things we hold to be great gifts?
I am going to read the rest of this chapter to you from The Living Bible. I am doing this because of the modern language and because of the clarity with which they translate the terms.
I Corinthians 13:4 [The Living Bible] Love is very patient and kind. It is never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty, selfish, or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. If you love someone you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him. All the special gifts and powers from God will some day come to an end, but love goes on forever. Someday prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge, these gifts will disappear. Now we know so little, even with our special gifts. And the preaching of those most gifted is still so poor, but when we have been made perfect and complete, the need for these inadequate special gifts will come to an end and they will disappear. It is like this: When I was a child I spoke and thought, and reasoned as a child does, but when I became a man, my thoughts drew far beyond those of my childhood, and now I have put away the childish things, and in the same way we can see and understand only a little about what God now is as if we were peering at His reflection in a poor mirror. But someday we are going to see Him in completeness face to face. Now all that I know is hazy and blurred, but then I will see everything clearly, just as clearly as God sees into my heart right now. There are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.
Now there in one brief chapter is the goal. It is the aim of childrearing. Paul wrote this epistle to a congregation in a city that was probably the most morally corrupt of all of his time, and he expected these members, because of their love for God, to follow what he said.
Our children cannot have the love of God because they are not converted. It takes conversion to be the instrument of creating that love in us, but they can be started in that direction, and that is the parents' responsibility.
In a morally corrupt milieu of Corinth at that time, love had lost its meaning, even as it has today, where it is almost totally confused with sex. Love is unselfish, serving, and caring for others, and thus the well-spring of behavior. The keys are unselfishness, serving, and caring for the well-being of others. We must show the children this in our example, and we must work to make it happen in our training of them.
This chapter then clearly states that the most important quality or characteristic or virtue one can have created in one is the love of God, and therefore, without directly stating it here, we can thus safely conclude that we must aim at producing love as close to Godly love as we can in our children.
Love is the keeping of God's commandments with qualities or refinements such as we see given here in I Corinthians 13. In other words, if love is broken down, it begins to separate these qualities that we see listed there and others besides that. That is not a complete listing at all. One can see from this chapter that godly love has many individual actions to it, and each of these facets of behavior is an objective for parents to reach toward within the overall goal of love.
Satan promotes self-centeredness, which is the opposite of love. Love is outgoing concern.
We use the term "love" so carelessly. We express it as a feeling, a sense of pleasure, and so we say things like, "Oh, I just love baseball," or "I love sweet potatoes," or "I love good thick juicy steaks, nice and red in the middle." Why? Because these things give us a sense of pleasure. But—and this is very important—the Bible limits love to the highest and most important of all circumstances: relationships. Biblical love contains a measure of feeling, such as caring, sympathy, empathy and concern, but its major portion is an action. It is keeping, doing, practicing the commandments of God.
Now biblical love can be costly to our pride, or costly in terms of time, costly in our feelings, or costly in our pocketbook. Giving biblical love can be painful. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." He sacrificed Him. Jesus' crucifixion was a painful act of sacrifice, but it was an act of love. Childrearing presents parents with many opportunities to express love in terms of sacrifice, and brethren, it is not always fun. The feelings can be quite mixed.
Turn to Proverbs 13, and verse 24—a very familiar scripture. You will recognize it right away.
Proverbs 13:24 He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
This clearly shows that correcting, spanking a child for an infraction of a rule, is an act of love. Assuming that it is justified, if parents neglect to do it because it is emotionally painful to them, the failure is in reality a form of hatred because it denies the child instruction he very much needs for a proper outlook on life.
I ended my previous sermon by giving you an overall principle. I will repeat it here. Children must learn that they cannot always do what they want, when they want, how they want, and with whom they want, and spanking is a major deterrent to these things if the parents are moved in that direction.
The dominant approach to childrearing in our time is permissiveness, which posits the idea that human nature is good and that parents can draw that good out of a child without the pain of spanking; that is spanking, strong correction. That is a direct contradiction of God's word, because God says that foolishness, not wisdom, and not love, is bound up in a child. "Bound" gives you the sense that it is firmly rooted there. Now if we love a child, how can we let the child do foolish things without doing what it takes to keep that child from possibly not doing that thing that is going to hurt him the next time?
The dominant approach to childrearing in our time, as I mentioned, is permissiveness. I believe that perhaps the most important concept one can draw from my previous sermon is that most folks in America have the childrearing procedure completely up-side-down.
In America, the object of childrearing is to please the child, and of course the idea being to bring forth these good things that are there. But that thing has been completely turned on its head. It should be redirected to pleasing the parents. After all, brethren, is it not logical that the parents should have the wisdom to know the difference between right and wrong? They have had experience in life, and they should know what helps or what does not. When all you are trying to do is please the child, then the child is going to continue in a life of doing the wrong things, acting foolishly.
The most perfectly-reared child in the history of mankind—Jesus Christ—said, "I always please My Father." He had it right.
One more thing from this summary here is we are going to add that the primary responsibility of keeping the Fifth Commandment falls on the children, not the parents. Does not the Fifth Commandment begin with "Honor your father and your mother"? To whom is He speaking? He is not speaking to the parents there, He is speaking to the children in regard to their parents. Whether He is speaking to them as young, or whether He is speaking to us at our age, it is still our responsibility to take care of the parents. So the commandment is directly addressed to the children. How much clearer can this be as to whom it is addressed?
Let us go back to that chapter in Ephesians that we have been in so frequently through Martin's sermons and now in my sermons as well. We are going to be spending a bit of time here in Ephesians 6, verse 4.
Ephesians 6:4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
Let us go to Colossians 3:21 where he says almost exactly the same thing.
Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
Most first of all, this admonition is addressed to the fathers. God addresses the one directly under authority to Him, and the father is the one directly answerable to God for leading and carrying out this important responsibility. The wife and mother must be in submission even though she has the most direct, closest, and frequent contact with the children. Even though she is in this closer position with the children, God does not excuse the father being detached from the child training. The father must directly involve himself as well. He is not going to be there every minute, every second of every day, but he is still responsible for overseeing that things are being carried out, and at times taking a direct hand in those things.
This verse then—"Do not provoke your children to wrath" directed to the fathers—is a direct warning from God that fathers had better be judicious in their relationship with the children. "Provoke" means to arouse, to stir, to incite, to impel, and can even be used in this sense to indicate enrage, and so this is an abrupt warning to remember, fathers, that God's spirit is sane, sound-minded, and controlled.
This is an unspoken acknowledgement from God—the God who created us, who understands the male mind—that the general tendency of a man is to go to an extreme of severity when disciplining. This does not mean that the mother is somehow naturally incapable of going overboard. She might go overboard in being permissive; and that, too, can be a provoking in its own unique manner, but it is a subtle acknowledgement that she, being made differently by God, is less likely to go to an extreme. So, whether male or female, do not go overboard, or the very thing you do not want to happen to the child may indeed come to pass. The result of that would be you will harden them, because they may eventually find out they can take anything you can dish out.
Permissiveness in childrearing is the natural result when the major focus of childrearing is in pleasing the child. It just happens naturally. In a generation or two after today's permissiveness began and then became entrenched in our culture, it spread to become duplicated in the entire society. One result of this has been that today's permissive attitude toward punishing criminals by the courts matches the same approach as was carried out in the home. It is an outgrowth of the revulsion to the severe strictness of the Victorian era.
Having a sound-minded approach, the punishment does not mean no punishment at all. The opposite of wrong discipline is not no discipline at all. God's counsel is, "Do not provoke them to wrath." We will change one word there. "Do not provoke them to resentment." "Do not drive them to exasperation."
Let me approach this in a more spiritual way. Any doctrinal position that teaches law only or grace only is wrong. Both are carnally extreme positions. The correct approach is a good mix of both law and grace.
There is grace in the Old Testament, and there is law in the New Testament, and to take the position that one is under grace and not under law is an unbalanced spiritually permissive position. In practical application, it ultimately translates into the carnal reality that sin does not matter; and that, brethren, is a biblically horrific concept because it does not take into consideration that we are commanded to come out of sin.
We are going to turn to I Corinthians 9, verse 21, and we are going to look at some things that Paul wrote. Remember, this was a church with all that trouble about keeping the commandments.
I Corinthians 9:21 To those who are without [or apart from] law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ...)
Now without going to a much wider context there, Paul is directly saying Christians are to be under the law to Christ. He is not saying the law is done away. We are to be under the law to Christ.
Let us go to I Corinthians 7, verse 19. There it says something very interesting.
I Corinthians 7:19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.
Paul is saying that these things (circumcision and uncircumcision) are of little matter spiritually, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. This is a man who supposedly did away with the law. No he did not. Paul is saying there is a right balance in regard to keeping the law.
Let us go to the book of Romans. This is addressed to Christian people.
Romans 6:13-18 And do not present your members [the members of your body] as instruments of unrighteousness to sin [Do not use your hands to steal. That would be using your hands to unrighteousness.], but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. [Use your hands to do good.] For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. [People misunderstand that.] What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! [Christians are not supposed to sin.] Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
That is pretty clear. Laws carry punishment, whether that law is broken under God in terms of us being His children, or by your children being under your authority and breaking a law that you have established for them. Punishment is part of the picture of childrearing.
We were made free of the penalty of sin in order that we might become slaves of keeping the commandments.
We are going to come back to this area in Ephesians 6 again, but first we are going to go back to Proverbs once again and touch on some verses that have directly to do with childrearing.
Turn to Proverbs 22, verse 13. Now put childrearing into this picture.
Proverbs 22:13 The lazy man says, "There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!"
Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him.
That is pretty clear, is it not?
Proverbs 23:13 Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.
Thus, when Ephesians 6:4 is joined with what God says regarding the spanking in Proverbs, it should be easily seen that it is necessary for driving foolishness from the heart of a child. That principle, brethren, is a reality.
It is also true that not all children need as much spanking as others. It takes wisdom to rear children. Some do not need it as much as others. They are corrected more easily, and that is wonderful if it happens that way, but God is showing that it is still needed everywhere, at least sometimes. It is a reality.
The spirit of this world—Satan—has convinced some, maybe even many, that spanking is cruel and unusual punishment, and Satan has convinced the world not to keep the Sabbath. Put those two together. He is a liar, and if he sells something to the public, it is very likely that he is lying about what God has said. This is just another area his deceptions are at work, twisting things in order to produce evil over the long haul. Permissiveness is a form of the extremism Satan subtly advocates.
Please understand this, because I am sure that there are some, hearing the sound of my voice, hearing my words, who do not spank their children. It is not unforgivable, so repent before God, and go on with life and with a changed outlook. Just do not go overboard and drag your child into resentment, sullen anger, and exasperation.
Let us go now to another very familiar scripture in II Timothy. This principle in II Timothy 1, verse 7 is so important so that we see in a right approach and with appreciation what God has given us. Just understand that what God is saying here is just the opposite of Satan.
II Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Just as an example, Satan has convinced much of the American culture that spanking a child is not sound-minded. The reality is that what he is teaching is a form of extremism. Now learn this. The mind that God has given us—the mind of Christ by means of His spirit—is sound. It is balanced. It has a tendency not to go to an extreme position. It tends to go toward the center of things, to go in that direction, and that is good. Extremism is a fruit of the spirit of Satan the Devil; and where you see extremism, there has been influence from the wrong spirit there. I am heading for something here. Right now we have the spirit of a sound mind.
Back now to Ephesians 5:18. There is a very important principle that leads right on through all this instruction on relationships.
Ephesians 5:18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,
When we understand this, we know that what Paul is teaching is to not be spiritually drunk. He is using physical drunkenness as a metaphor as a springboard for the instruction he is giving to us. So to be spiritually drunk is to be given over to extremism spiritually, but to be filled with the spirit is to be given over to a balanced behavior, conduct, in every area of love. The drunken metaphor represents a symbol for out-of-control carnal excess, and that excess has deprived the drunken one of balanced converted nurturing.
Permissiveness is not balanced. The carnality may erupt. Just think of someone physically drunk. It may erupt as being easily irritated, lacking judgment, and easily taking offense at mere triviality.
Now transfer this metaphor into childrearing, and thus Paul is teaching that spiritual drunkenness sets a person up for excessive reaction, and that the spiritual drunkenness results from not having as good a relationship with God as one needs. Thus the lesson is that when disciplining a child, one of the major rules for the parent is that he must first control himself or he will approach the child in a spiritually drunken condition. He may not be physically drunk, but spiritually drunk, and that spiritual drunkenness will show up in extreme behavior, extreme attitudes, extreme reactions, or whatever.
So in childrearing now, control of one's temper is a prerequisite. That is what will drive a father to be extreme in his punishment because he does not have himself under control. We should never allow the child and what the child has done to establish our attitude as being out of control. The tendency in such a condition is to lose one's objectivity, and one may very easily chastise in a rage, and the result of that is the child is going to be provoked to exasperation. Remember this. It is so clear. Violent reactions are motivators of war—war between you and the child.
A second principle regarding provoking is to check yourself as to whether you are just a little bit different acting capriciously in regard to the child. This often happens because one had no plan regarding what one wants to produce in the child. One's reaction then to the child and what he does is one day indulgent, and he gets away with anything he does, and the next day you come down on him like a ton of bricks for exactly the same offense. So what are you as a parent doing? You are blowing hot and cold depending on what your mood is at the time. Not good. In other words, capriciousness is inconsistency, and if one is capricious, he is unpredictable, and that is a drunken condition. Get the picture?
Another thing that is important here is always be willing to hear the child out before the punishment. This is only fair. It is what you would want. You would want to be heard, and you would extend that same gift to your child. Now, you hear them out, and they may lie. Then again, maybe they will not lie. They might even tell the truth. But after hearing them out, then decide the severity of punishment, because it is very likely they are guilty of something. My father-in-law said you need to spank your child every time you see him, because if he is not just coming out of trouble, he is going into it. He meant it as a joke, half serious, but you get the point.
Right along with this is, do not punish every crime with the same level. There are some situations that deserve maybe a lesser punishment. Always remember that every offense does not deserve the death penalty. So, Ephesians 6:4 is telling the father to be judicious. Be a good thorough judge of the situation.
It is good to remember Psalm 127 which we sing so frequently. Hold it in your mind. God puts it right in the way it should be held and understood by us.
Psalm 127:3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
What is a heritage? It is something you did not earn. It is something you inherit. In normal sense we use it as gifts from our parents, because they have done something and it passes on to us. "Behold, children are a heritage from God." They are a gift from Him.
Psalm 127:3-5 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.
This is a good rule to remember. All too often it is overlooked. The child is God's creation, and that child is on loan from our Creator. In the larger sense, we need to ask ourselves a question, or maybe explain it. They are not really ours in the larger sense. God has blessed us with a living gift, and He wants to see whether we will lovingly, judiciously govern it. It is our responsibility to make that child's first step toward eternity as good as possible, and the care with which we prepare that child is going to tell God a great deal about how responsibly we will treat what He has prepared for us.
Now besides correcting harshly and capriciously, there are a few more things that may provoke a child to wrath; and these, incidentally, are addressed in the scriptures, sometimes not very thoroughly. Sometimes they are barely touched on, but they are there.
Overprotection: Remember, a child has to be prepared to leave the home and be standing on his own two feet when he leaves, prepared to contribute to a new family in which he is involving himself in marriage. Overprotection really hinders the growth and maturity of the child.
Capriciousness: Capriciousness has very bad psychological problems.
Favoritism: Sometimes one child may be really endearing to either father or mother, and it is very easy to go in the direction of blessing that child above others like Jacob did with Joseph, and look what it caused in the family: bad fruit. God took advantage of it and used for His end, but it was not good [what Jacob did].
Nagging: Nagging is another one that creates the provoking of a child to exasperation and wrath. You know what I mean. Beating a horse to death all the time.
Neglect: Neglect is a big one. This is a hard one to overcome in our time. Mom and dad are very frequently gone from the home because both are working, and that is neglect. Brethren, that is a hard one for us in these times to deal with. Again, we can somewhat blame this on Satan, because he has created a world that is so expensive to live in, and track us into avenues where we spend our time earning the living to maintain the level we feel needs to be ours, and the children are neglected.
Let us go back to Ephesians 6:4, because this verse is really loaded. It is only a few words long, but there is a mine here.
Ephesians 6:4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
We are instructed to bring them up in the nurture or training (as the NKJV says) and admonition of the Lord. We will first pay attention to the word "nurture." First we will separate them. "nurture," "admonition," and "of the Lord" are each modifiers of the original charge—"Do not provoke your children to wrath." What they do is define and provide a balanced counsel from God as to how to avoid not confusing and exasperating one's child to a tendency toward carnal extremism.
Nurture has the sense of feeding and helping to grow. Nurture applies to body, mind, and spirit—all three. Nurture is related to words that we are more familiar with, like nurse, nursery, and nourish. Let us look at the word "nurse." It gives good insight to nurturing.
A nurse is one who oversees the care of one in order to bring one to good health. You can see that in the word "nurture" as plain as anything. The Reader's Digest Oxford Complete Word-Finder Dictionary defines nurse as: "a person employed or trained to take charge of young children (as in wet-nurse)." That was an interesting choice that they chose to illustrate, because a wet nurse then would be directly involved in the feeding. Is it not the feeding of the one they are taking care of?
Regarding childrearing, nurture is the actual process used by a care-taker. It more specifically means, "that which nourishes." It is the process, system, and activity that develops the body, mind, and spirit and therefore the knowledge, personality, and character of the child.
Now here is a very simple statement by which you can understand nurture: Nurture refers to what is done to help the child grow. It is the process used. It is what is done to help the child grow, and in childrearing it most literally corresponds to the English word "training."
Now notice what God said He did with Israel, and of course what He does with us as well, because this is what a father should do. We are going to go back to the book of Deuteronomy and we are going to see it listed there so plainly and clearly. Remember the context here. They are just days before going into the land, and here is last minute instruction.
Deuteronomy 8:2 And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, . . .
Fathers, do you get it? The father leads. Now we step into areas. . .
Deuteronomy 8:2-6 . . . to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger [That is a pretty strong test.], and fed you with manna [Notice that. He nourished with manna. Manna is a type of the word of God. It is a type of Jesus Christ. The father feeds.] which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make [He is creating] you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD. Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you. Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him.
That is pretty clear, is it not? It gives good direction and instruction to the father in the family. So what do we see there? Nurture is the broadest of the three terms there in Ephesians 6:4. It includes such specifics that parents would use in child training: discipline, instruction, correction, chastening, testing, and drilling—"one two three four; one two three four"—until they get it. In other words, it includes all the activities used to feed, develop, and cultivate the child toward the goal of maturity, including toward the goal of the love of God.
Now we are going to move on to "admonition." We are going to go to Deuteronomy 4, verses 9 and 10.
Deuteronomy 4:9-10 Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren, especially concerning the day you stood before the LORD your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me, 'Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.'
Here it is, right in the basic instructions for living in the land: "that they may teach their children."
Now "admonition" is somewhat narrower in application than nurture. It has the sense of prevailing in teaching. It also implies a sense of correction within it; but in addition, it can also imply serious encouragement. It is not limited to correction. It includes encouragement.
Now admonition has to do with what is said to the child. Remember nurture is what is done to the child. Admonition has to do with what is said to the child, and very importantly, how the words are said. The words can be delivered earnestly, but they must neither be hash nor cruel. One commentator said "admonition corresponds to well-intentioned seriousness whose purpose is to influence the mind in things regarding judgment." That is important. We want our kids to make right decisions, and it takes word-instruction; thus admonition has to do with verbal instruction.
Let us move onto "in the Lord." This is the third of the modifiers here.
Regarding admonition, another commentator said, "It indicates putting into another's mind with a sense of warning." And so the overall sense of this instruction to parents in Ephesians 6:4 is to put the Lord into the mind of the children, urging them to pay attention, above all things, to Him.
This next series of verses we are going to look at are bell-ringers regarding "admonition" and "in the Lord."
Turn to Deuteronomy 6:4-12. To a Jew these are the most famous verses in the Bible; and unfortunately, a Christian church has not used them as they could be used. Notice verse 4.
I want to remind you at this point about the lawyer who came to Jesus and asked Jesus, "What is the most significant law in all the Old Testament?" "What is the foremost, the first of the commandments?" And this is what Jesus replied: "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." From our Savior's own lips this is the foremost law in all of the Bible.
Now listen to the instruction that follows immediately on the heel of this foremost of all laws in the Bible.
Deuteronomy 6:6-12 "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. "So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full— then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
God is speaking directly to the parents—to converted parents. I have said to you so many times that child training is certainly one of the foremost of all responsibilities that God gives to His children for them to rear their children according to the way He does.
Let us go a little bit further to show why this has to be done. We will go to Psalm 34, verses 8 through 11. We are to do this in the overall sense so that it might be well with our children. In Psalm 34:8-11 David had this to say. This is why God put such emphasis on childrearing by His own converted children. Remember, our children are unconverted. David says this to these people:
Psalm 34:8-11 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; [They really do not know that. They have not had experience that way.] Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. [Our children have to learn this.] The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing. [Our children do not have experience with that.] Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
The fear of the Lord is not something that a human being has by nature. It must be learned, and the first step children get God expects is going to come from His converted children giving teaching to our own unconverted children—teaching them to fear God, to respect God, to honor God. It is not natural. It has to be done.
We learn these things through the school of hard knocks, and even if we do a good job of teaching our children the right way, by and large our children are also going to learn through the school of hard knocks as well; but God wants us to get them started in the right direction by teaching them about Him.
Now just so you see the importance of this, we will end on this verse in Hosea, chapter 4. To me, this is really sobering.
Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
We are receiving that knowledge Sabbath after Sabbath. God wants us to pass this knowledge off to our children and get them started in the right direction. So God says to Israel:
Hosea 4:6 Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.
What a punishment! That, brethren, is sobering. I know that you wish every good thing for your children, but God wants us to know that He holds us responsible for getting our children started on the road to fearing Him, and that does happen right in the family. That is what He tells us there in Deuteronomy 6. That is the place to take care of it.
He is saying to us, His converted children, "If you forget Me, I am going to forget your children." Tit for tat. There is a reciprocity at work with God. Remember, He said in Chronicles, "I am with you as long as you are with Me." So there is a reality there, and what I am saying is grace goes only so far, and God is going to have to act in order to impress it.
So to anybody who really loves their children, that warning in verse 7 is almost too terrible to contemplate, so make a special note that both nurture and admonition are to be done "of the Lord," and "of the Lord" is the narrowest and most important counsel in this verse of Ephesians 6:4.
Why is this admonition necessary? Here is an angle maybe you did not think of. It is entirely possible for an unconverted couple to do a pretty good job in rearing their children; however, Paul is letting us know that the children of God's children are to be reared in a distinctively Christian way. The important word is distinctively Christian way. This is why I said at the beginning of this sermon that we are to follow God's way of doing the rearing of our children even as He is doing to us. As the narrowest of instruction, these four things should prevail:
In other words, we are to imitate Him and reflect His approach in all things before our children, and this, brethren, is a specific of being "filled with the spirit."
Here is a summary of Ephesians 6:4.
Number One: Childrearing is a continuous responsibility, and father must be in charge.
Number Two: It is a loving responsibility, and children are to be nourished, fed tenderly. Even though corporal punishment is involved, they are to be reared tenderly.
Number Three: The training is to cover body (health wise); mind (directing how life is to be lived); and spirit (which is the overall God connection).
We will stop there for today. Have a good remainder of the Sabbath.
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