Sunday Sermon: ‘Raise Them To Know the Lord’ pt 1


audio version

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.  2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

I.  God’s Requirement of Children

Last week we studied the necessity of children obeying and honoring their parents. Though all children should be taught to obey and honor their parents, most agree that Paul is speaking here specifically to children who profess to know Christ as their Savior.

One translation says – “Obey your parents because you belong to the Lord.” (NLT) Another translation says – “Obey your parents because you are Christians.” (GW)

From the moment someone accepts Christ as their Savior, the Spirit of God comes to live within them. That is true even for a child. Scripture teaches us that the Spirit is there to help confirm what is right and to correct what is wrong. Christian parenting is parenting in partnership with the Holy Spirit.

II. God’s Reward for Children

Ephesians 6:3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

This does not mean that Christian children are guaranteed a long life on the earth. As John Phillips writes in his commentary on this passage – “Children who grow up to love, honor, and obey his mother and father lay a foundation for a happier, more stable, and more successful life than does a child who is rude, disrespectful, self-willed and rebellious.”

Wiersbe tells us – “When children obey their parents in the Lord, they will escape a good deal of sin and danger and thus avoid the things that could threaten or shorten their lives.” “But life is not measured only by quantity of time. It is also measured by quality of experience. God enriches the life of the obedient child no matter how long he may live on the earth.”

III. God’s Responsibility for Parents

Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

A. The Need of Children

Children need to know Jesus as both Savior and Lord. Salvation is important, but their spiritual growth must not stop there. A child must learn the value of submitting their life to the will of God. Why is this so important? It is only then that the child will experience the full blessing of God.

How do children learn this? Where do children learn this? According to the Bible, the primary place a child learns to walk with God is in the home. It is in the home that a child is taught these biblical principles. It is in the home that a child learns how to practice these principles. It is in the home that a child sees these principles modeled by their parents.

Children do not learn these principles overnight, nor do all children learn necessarily them at the same pace. Each child has an individal disposition and temperament and it is part of the parent’s duty to know their child so that they can best work with their child in their individual spiritual development.

John Phillips writes – “Every child needs to have a solid moral foundation on which all other biblical instruction can be built. Parents should lay this foundation early.”

B. The Nurturing of Children

Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Paul has something to say both about the negative and the positive sides of parenting:

Negative – provoking a child to wrath

Positive – raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord

1. Negative Side – Provoking a Child to Wrath

Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath…

a.  What does it mean to provoke?

Simply defined it means to arouse or incite to anger. One resource on this passage says – “Stop irritating your kids to the point that it produces resentment” That goes well with what Paul wrote to the Colossians –

Colossians 3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

‘Provoke’ here means to exasperate, to agitate, or to irritate. Here is a simple example. Suppose you had a dog and every day you mistreated that dog. Though at first the dog might try to make up, eventually it would come to the point of where it became angry and would fight back. That’s what Paul is teaching us can happen to a child. Though a parent may not physically abuse their child, there are many ways of provoking them to anger.

Note what can happen from such parental abuse –

Colossians 3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

‘Discouraged’ means to become disheartened and broken in spirit. It’s coming to the point to where someone gives up. Literally it means to lose our passion for life. Someone has described it in children as a ‘blank resignation towards life.’

b. ‘Fathers’ – provoke not your children to wrath

Colossians 3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger …

Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath…

i. Was Paul picking on father and excluding mothers? Are fathers the only ones who can provoke a child to anger?

Scripture teaches us that both the father and the mother share in the duties of raising children. We read from the book of Proverbs –

Proverbs 1:8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother

Godly mothers have tremendous influence over the spiritual growth of their children. Consider the mother of Timothy. Scripture teaches us that Timothy’s father was an unbelieving Greek; yet Timothy’s grandmother and mother were both Christians. The result was that they raised a very godly young man.

The particular word that Paul uses for father is also used in Hebrews 11 to refer to the parents of Moses. With Moses, the emphasis may have been more on his mother than his father.

ii. Yet most likely Paul was addressing fathers in today’s passage. Why the fathers?

(I) The father is to be the head of the home, therefore it is his duty to see that his children be raised properly

(II)  Issue of the Roman Culture

It is important to note that the way Paul originally wrote this indicated that it was a current problem among some of the Gentile fathers. Men within the church were being too harsh with their children.

Often when we study scripture we forget about the culture Paul was originally writing to. During the days of Paul, a Roman father held such power and authority over his family that he could literally destroy them and no one would ever correct him. Consider what Warren Wiersbe writes in his commentary –

“When a baby was born into a Roman family, … it was brought out and laid before the father. If he picked it up, it meant he was accepting it into the home. But if he did not pick it up, it meant the child was rejected. It could be sold, given away, or even killed by exposure.” (Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament)

Paul understood that the natural tendency of a man was to be stern and harsh.This is especially true when a man is not living under the control of the Holy Spirit. Actually Paul’s instructions to fathers links back to things he said in the previous chapter.

Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.

17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Peter wrote that we all are to be ‘clothed with humility.’ The mind of Christ is a man of self-denial and service.

(III) For a man in Paul’s day to sacrificially love his wife and to tenderly love his children was revolutionary. It was a testimony to the world of the power of Christ.

Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

c. How might a parent be guilty of provoking their child to wrath and causing them to give up?

John MacArthur lists a variety of ways in his writings –

– Excessive and inconsistent discipline (demonstrating unfairness)

– Unkindness

– Acting / speaking – abusively towards children

– Condescension (speaking down to the child, belittling, demeaning)

– Constant criticism

– Favoritism  (Jacob, Joseph, older brothers)

– Overindulgence  (spoiling)

– Over-protection (smothering)

– Pressure to Achieve

– Neglect

– Hypocrisy

If I might add one more it would be – withholding love, praise and encouragement. For those who are familiar with Gary Chapman’s ‘The Five Love Languages’, we might say it would be letting our child’s love tank run dry.

d. A child’s sinful behavior cannot always be blamed on the parents

We should also point out that a child’s sinful behavior cannot always be blamed on the parents. Children have an individual will and even though a parent may do all they can to raise their child right, that child can disobey.

John MacArthur writes – “Paul is not saying that every time your child gets angry, you’ve provoked them.”

James Montgomery Boice says – “Children are their own people, and they have their own set of responsibilities both before God and others. Consequently, although they may be taught wisely and raised morally and that instruction be supported by parental example, they nevertheless sometimes do go astray and that is not necessarily the parent’s fault.”

A perfect example of this is Cain and Abel. They were two brothers raised in the same home, yet one is noted for his faith while the other is noted for his sin.

Next week we will look at the positive side of parenting –

Ephesians 6:4 … but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

As a word of practical application, let’s take a look at what Moses taught parents way back in the Old Testament.

Deuteronomy 6:1 Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: 2 That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged . 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. 4 Hear , O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down , and when thou risest up . 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

To summarize Moses’ words on parenting, it must be done:

i. Affectionately

ii. Consistently

iii. Conversationally

iv. Practically

v. Proudly

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