The home where Jesus Christ is Lord is a home where the will of God as revealed in His Word is obeyed in all aspects of life. It is a home where children are taught obedience to parents as representatives of God.
As Christian parents we need to be awakened to the fact that we face tremendous opposition. There are many, many evil forces leveled against our children and they seek to undo all the good that we would do. Because this is so, we must be much in prayer, and we must seek to follow the Scriptures in all things, or we will be in worse trouble as time goes on. Therefore, I want to write on one idea: the greatest thing that you can do for your children.
God said about Abraham, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord” (Gen. 18:19).
How could God say that He knew that about Abraham? Of course, first of all, because God knows all things, and has a plan and a purpose which He will fulfill. Hebrews 11:8, however, explains it: “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”
The key phrase is: when he was called he obeyed. God knew that the man who had obeyed Him from the start, would teach his children to obey.
The greatest thing we can do for our children is to teach them to obey us as parents, promptly, cheerfully and always; not being sullen about it, but being diligent. We must teach them this until they deeply believe and are thoroughly convinced that they must accept the discipline of an ordered way of life. In order to be truly free they must learn always to obey. I do not believe that there is anything greater that you could do for your children than to get that lesson through to their minds and down into their hearts until it is deep, unshakeable, lifelong conviction with them.
Why Obedience Is So Important
If we would know why obedience is so basic and so crucial, we must go back to the beginning. How did man get into all the trouble in which he is today? It was by one act of disobedience. Just one. One disobedience against God and all the misery of fallen man began.
Surely it follows that salvation must be the reversal of this. All the great work God does in our souls which the Bible speaks of as the new birth; all that He does in our mind and heart is to bring us to the place where we cheerfully, and willingly submit to the proposition that God is God, and therefore He is to be feared, worshipped and obeyed.
Any catechism worth its salt certainly has the question in it, “What is sin?” Then comes the classic answer: sin is any want of conformity to the will of God. What then is salvation? Is it raising your hand and coming down the aisle and making a commitment and getting baptized and then joining the church?
No. Salvation has to do with the will of God. Sin is any want of conformity to His will. Salvation from beginning to end must be that one is brought to do the will of God. Not only so, but one is brought to be content with His will, and see it as the secret of one’s pleasure and delight in the life in Christ.
When our salvation is complete, what will that be? That will be nothing less than total, complete conformity to all the will of God, and that will be heaven. That will be the undoing of the curse. That will be paradise lost and now restored. That is what heaven will be eternally – doing the will of God. There we will find perfect bliss because God made us for Himself.
Who is our great example in all of this? Jesus as a little boy of twelve when He said, “I must be about My Father’s business.” (“I must do what My Father wants Me to do.”) We do not read much in the Bible about the beginning of our Lord’s life, but we do read that.
How did His life end? He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. All through His life He could say, “I do always those things which please Him.” It was a life of perfect obedience unto God.
The Bible says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). This willing obedience is to be in us. This is why we should stop and think when we find ourselves in a rebellious mood.
Children Obeying Parents
In our youth we have trouble over this matter of obeying our parents, but the Bible says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right” (Eph. 6:1). As parents, we have trouble teaching our children to obey. But if we do not teach our children obedience, what will be the value of providing them with a nice house, a good education and other advantages to help them succeed in this life?
What is the use of raising children that are so healthy and beautiful if in the end they are lost eternally? Of what value are a few fleeting years in this world enjoying good health and good looks, only to die in unbelief and be separated from God eternally? This is why we have to get our values in line at the beginning.
In training our children to obey there are some things which we absolutely must not do. And there are ideal situations in which our task is made easier just as there are conditions which compound our difficulties. Only God can help us in our task through prayer and through the Scriptures, because children are all different. Moreover, we as parents are all different.
Then, too, circumstances change, and the measures and methods which worked with the first child may not work with the second or the third and so we are cast upon the Lord and His Word constantly.
Parents Must Be Agreed
As parents we must be agreed on what we expect of our children, and how we will handle the problems as they come along. In the event that we do not agree on some matter, there should be no dissent and discussion about it in the hearing of the children. When father is present, he will have the last word, and that should be understood. Otherwise mother has the last word. That too should be understood.
If we fail on this point and the children sense that we are not in agreement, they are smart enough to exploit the situation, attempting to play father off against mother. The child will come out the winner, and make the parents look foolish.
The Children Must Know We Mean What We Say
I am amazed and have been for years, as I hear Christian parents making idle threats. What a terrible habit! They have no intention of carrying out their threats, and the children know it. They know it because the threats are never carried out, so they keep right on misbehaving. Then the threat is intensified and they know that is more bluff.
Why do we do such nonsensical things? Our children must know that we mean what we say. If we have warned them and they continue in their unacceptable behaviour, then we must do exactly as we said we would.
Promises Must Be Kept
We should not promise nice things to our children which we cannot fulfill. If anything, that is even worse than failing to correct them. It is worse because if they do not receive rewards they have earned and deserve, they will think they grew up with nothing but discipline and punishment.
If we fail to keep our word whether of warning or of promise for good behaviour, the day will come when our children discount everything we say, and they may reach a point where they do not believe there is such a thing as absolute truth. They will reason this way: “God’s Word does not really mean what it says. After all, my parents are Christians and they do not mean what they say.”
They may get the notion that God can be manipulated the way they manipulate their parents. They will think that all they have to do is cry or argue or put on a scene or a temper tantrum and God will come around to see it their way – that is how it was with father and mother! They will think they can always get God to change His mind and not fulfill His Word.
Do you believe that could happen to your child? There are many young people in the world today who think such thoughts about God – if they believe there is a God. They think they can handle Him by negotiating. Is it not something that we should be afraid of? We must see that our children know that we are men and women of our word, and that we fear and worship and follow a God who keeps His word.
Obedience and Christian Profession
One of the great burdens pastors everywhere are feeling today is that there are hundreds of thousands of people who profess to be Christians, but they do not think that it matters much if they obey God or not in the details of their Christian lives. They think the thing that matters most is to get saved and to know one is saved.
But if you are not walking in obedience to the Word of God, how can you know you are saved? You say, “I know because of what John 3:16 says.” But you have no right to claim such verses if you do not walk in obedience to the Lord. The proof that our faith is sound is that we obey God.
When a child of God is doing wrong and you show him from the Bible that what he is doing is not pleasing to God, then that is the end of it. He knows that he has to change and he does. That is what Martin Luther was speaking of when he said, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God.” That is how it is when you are a Christian. There is something in your heart that says you must obey the Lord.
Not only that, but there is something there which most of the time, wants to obey Him. When we do not want to obey the Lord that means that we are in a backslidden state and in trouble. We then need someone to help us. When someone comes to help us, and we know that they are doing it because they love us, we have to yield because it is the very principle of the Christian life.
What are we going to say about all of these people who do not really care about the manner of their Christian life? They believe everything other Christians believe. The problem in most cases is that they are not saved.
We must obey the Gospel that calls us to repent and to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Why do we have trouble with obedience? Because we have not learned the meekness and the patience of Christ. Instead, we are self-willed and defiant. We must face up to this, and see that it is completely out of character if we bear the name of Christ. Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).
The Apostle John said, “The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:17). Might we bow to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and be His follower and His disciple in our individual lives and in our homes.