Sermon: Children and Parents for the Glory of God (Ephesians 6:1-4)

Children and Parents for the Glory of God

Ephes. 6:1-4 (ESV)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  [2] “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),  [3] “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”  [4] Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

We continue through the practical aspects of the Letter to the Ephesians.  Paul can call us to proper Christian living because he has taught us proper Christian doctrine.  Without right understanding it is wrong to ask someone to behave or live correctly.

In chapter two of this book, the great apostle reminds us of the simple fact that we were dead in trespasses and sins prior to our conversion.  He goes on to state that before we met Christ we walked according to Satan’s plans.  We followed hard after him.  He wrote that we followed the passions of our flesh and carried out the desires of the body.  But now these former truths must die because we are no longer slaves to sin and slaves to Satan.  Now we belong to a different master.  Now we belong to Jesus Christ.  He purchased us by His very own blood.  Now we are slaves to Christ.  With these great truths in mind, we are told how to walk.  We are told what following Christ looks like in specific situations.  We are told what it’s like to be a Christian at home.

Many today live dual lives.  They play the part of a Christian while at worship on the Lord’s Day, but when they go home or when they go to work on Monday morning they are back to their old self.  In the Lord’s mind, there is no such thing as a Sunday Christian.  We either are believers all the time or we’re not.  It’s in these verses that we are shown just how vital it is to behave as a believer everywhere and all the time.

We looked at what a wife walking in the Spirit looks like.  Then we saw what a godly husband is all about.  Today, we come to the place in this section of Scripture that looks at the proper behavior of converted children and how parents are to raise them.  What does a child who is walking in the Spirit look like and what does a godly parent look like??

1. Children, Obey Your Parents

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  [2] “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),  [3] “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

To begin with, it’s import for us to see that all across various cultures children are to obey their parents.  The Apostle tells us this when he says, basically across the board, this is right. It’s right on a natural level.  Virtually every culture in existence has as its foundation the family relationships between parents and children.  Across the board also, children are to obey their parents.  For a child to rebel against the parents is to even go against natural law.

Secondly, when a culture experiences this, it is a signal that God is in fact passing judgment.

The relationship between child and parent is a very important one to God.

Leviticus 20:9 (ESV)

For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him.

Proverbs 1:8 (ESV)

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,

and forsake not your mother’s teaching,

Proverbs 6:20 (ESV)

My son, keep your father’s commandment,

and forsake not your mother’s teaching.

Proverbs 30:17 (ESV)

The eye that mocks a father

and scorns to obey a mother

will be picked out by the ravens of the valley

and eaten by the vultures.

We have to be careful here in declaring that God is passing judgment or that we know why some things happen but in this case we have Scriptural proof.

When we think of God’s judgment, we often think of Him leveling mountains and opening up the earth and devouring thousands.  Sometimes however, it’s not as dramatic but just as serious.

Romans 1:24 (ESV)

Therefore God gave them up

Romans 1:26 (ESV)

For this reason God gave them up

Romans 1:28-30 (ESV)

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.  [29] They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,  [30] slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,

A form of God’s judgment is that He simply lets sinful people do what they want to do.  He removes His restraining grace and allows them to go their own way.

We see that not only in pagan cultures is it right for the child to obey the parents… we call it the natural law but it is right on a more important level.  It’s right in God’s Law.  The Lord here in this text has brought into Paul’s mind the fifth commandment…

Exodus 20:12 (ESV)

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

It’s clear that the reason children are to obey is because it is commanded.  The fifth commandment is a command that has a promise attached to it.  It says that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

We know that often children die at a young age, even the ones who are obedient.  However, in general, an obedient child will be spared from many harmful situations.  An obedient child will be warned about harmful acts.  Often an obedient child is spared from bad habits, bad friends and may even be spared from a bad spouse.

Here, the Greek used for “obey” means that a child is to listen and to be under the parent.  Literally, it means to listen under.

As we learned about how a Christian wife is to submit to her husband, here we see that a Christian son or daughter is to submit to their parents.  The motivation to do so must come from reverence for the Lord.  God will bless obedience.

Children should obey their parents not to get what they want or to somehow manipulate them but because it is something that honors the Lord and brings glory to Him.  Children should obey parents out of reverence for Christ.

Kids, if you love Jesus you should also love your mom and Dad.  The best way you can love them is to listen to what they say and to obey their words.  Children, sometimes mom and Dad tell you things you don’t like to hear.  Mom might say “No cookies until after you’ve eaten your dinner”.  Dad might tell you to “come inside because it’s getting dark”.  They aren’t being mean, they’re being loving to you.  They are caring and protecting you.  Listen to what your parents say.

2. Parents, Instruct Your Children

[4] Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Here we have laid before us a negative warning and then a positive.  First, Paul writing through the Holy Spirit commands fathers and also mothers to not provoke your children to anger. What is in mind here in this text is that parents are not to lay such strict guidelines on their children that rather than promoting godliness, they actually work in the opposite direction.

Another twin text found in Colossians helps us clarify what Paul is getting at here.

Col. 3:21 (ESV)

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

There are ways in which instruction and discipline occur that can and should be done in an encouraging way.  Like it or not, when discipline happens, it’s usually never a pleasant experience.  Anyone can be provoked to anger through discipline, children and adults alike.  So, Paul is not saying that if discipline angers a child you shouldn’t do it.  You should expect it to anger a child.  What he is getting at is that the methods you use should not be too exasperating that it provokes anger.

Hebrews 12:11 (ESV)

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Sometimes parents can discipline to the extreme.  Most children that come from a home in which discipline is a part of it will probably think that they’re being disciplined too excessively.

Here is an area where parents may be guilty of going too far:

– Over-protection…

When parents are fearful that harm may come to their children in certain circumstances they may be guilty of overprotection.  Parent must use common sense in this area.  Where danger is likely, put your foot down and say NO.  We should never tempt God or just haphazardly think He will protect our children regardless.  We are probably not going to agree to our four-year-old’s request to climb to the peek of the roof.  Where consequences exist, guidance must also exist.  When consequences are extreme, protection must be extreme.  As parents however, we can often dream up consequences that really don’t exist or not to the level we imagine.  One parenting tip is that while your children live under your roof, it’s a positive thing when they can make mistakes because you’re there to guide and teach them.  It’s better to allow them some freedom to make small mistakes while they’re under your care than holding their hand through everything and never allowing them the chance to fail.  It’s better for them to fail in small ways while you’re there than to fail in big ways when they are out on their own.

In a positive way Paul tells parents to…

bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Here, the original language has in mind tender instruction.

Let them be fondly cherished-John Calvin

At the same time we should not exclude firmness when it is called for.

Proverbs 13:24 (ESV)

Whoever spares the rod hates his son,

but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Susannah Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley had seventeen children and had these words to say about raising children: “The parent who studies to subdue [self-will] in his child works together with God in renewing and saving a soul.  The parent who indulges it does the devil’s work, makes religion impracticable, salvation unattainable, and does all that in him lies to damn his child, soul and body forever” (John Macarthur, Ephesians Commentary) p.319.

Case Study-

In the history of Israel before the Israelites demanded a king, they we ruled by Judges.  During this time, the prophets and priests were also important in ruling the people.  In the Book of 1 Samuel there is a story about a priest named Eli and his two sons.  His two sons were not disciplined as children and when they grew they were evil in God’s sight.

1 Samuel 1:3 (ESV)

Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord.

1 Samuel 3:10-14 (ESV)

And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”  [11] Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.  [12] On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end.  [13] And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.  [14] Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

We see from this text of Scripture just how serious rebellious children are in God’s sight.  He holds parents accountable for disciplining their children.  A parent cannot determine how their children will turn out.  Here in this text God did not hold Eli accountable for what his children were doing but he did hold him accountable for not taking steps to disciplining his children.

[13] And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.

Because Eli did not restrain his sons he did not love them like he should have.

As our Father, God restrains us.  He teaches us and disciplines us, most of the time we don’t like it when He does His disciplining.  But it is always for our Good.

Hebrews 12:5-11 (ESV)

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,

nor be weary when reproved by him.

[6] For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,

and chastises every son whom he receives.”

[7] It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  [8] If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  [9] Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?  [10] For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.  [11] For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

One way to tell that God is our Father is that He disciplines us when we need it.  If there is no discipline, then we should wonder if we are really God’s children.

We must thank the Lord for the discipline He lovingly administers.

Children you should also thank your parents for loving you enough to discipline you.

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