This morning I was up early running. As I was enjoying the cool, beautiful morning I was pondering parenting. The past couple stories have been almost discouraging. Time and again the children of Israel sin, and over and over the Lord punishes the sin with death. As I was mediating on that the verse that came to mind was Romans 3:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Sin deserves death nothing else, it doesn't deserve mercy or grace, it deserves death. From the smallest lie to the mass murder it all deserves death. That little sin, that is so cute when the 3 year old is doing it, is still sin: it deserves death. It doesn't matter why the child is sinning, it doesn't matter how the child is sinning, it doesn't matter if the child was lead astray into the sin it is still when you boiling it down it is still SIN. It is a very sobering fact, but we can't escape it! When we understand that fact it helps to understand why the sin of Israel was punished with death.
Fortunately that verse doesn't end with that sobering fact, it continues telling us the wonderful gift that God has given us. He gave us His son to pay the ultimate price for sin, so that we could have eternal life through Christ.
So what is our responsibility as parents? Deuteronomy 6 is a great chapter about the responsibility of parents.
Deu 6:1-9 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: 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. 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. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 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. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
The children of Israel have been given all the commands, all the statutes, all the judgments from God. Now it was time to put them into practice. We see that the fathers, theirs sons, and their grandsons, basically every generation was suppose to obey the commandments. The words should be in their hearts and they should be taught diligently to their children. When the family is sitting together, when they are traveling together, when they are lying down, when they are getting up. For all practical purposes the commands of the Lord should be taught to their children all the time. The teaching of the commandments of the Lord should be a constant endeavor. The next couple verses tell us the why.
Deu 6:10-12 And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
The "why" is one simple reason: forgetfulness. When things were going great, when the Lord was blessing, the children of Israel would have to be careful not to forget the Lord.
Deu 6:18 And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, To cast out all thine enemies from before thee, as the LORD hath spoken. And when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD our God hath commanded you. Then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were Pharaoh's bondmen in Egypt; and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand: And the LORD shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes: And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers. And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.
When the Lord was blessing the children of Israel and the sons asked about the commandments. The fathers were to tell them about how the Lord delivered them from Egypt, how He did miraculous works, and brought them into the Promised Land. They were suppose to teach their children that the Lord commanded them to do the statutes for their own good, so that the Lord would preserve them.
I can already hear the argument, we aren't under the law we are under grace so we don't have to follow the law. Very true, so lets look at what the NT says about this topic.
Mat 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
The disciples here are commanded by Christ to go into the world and teach all nations. Notice they were commanded to teach them to do all the things that Christ had commanded. So everything that Christ taught we are to teach others-including our children. A great framework for teaching those commandments is found in Deut. 6. The same way the children of Israel were instructed to teach their children, is a great way for us to teach our children.
Gal 3:21-26 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
Galatians is a great book to read about our relationship to the law. The law can not save us, teaching our children how to obey will not save them. However, the law does have a very important function: it brings us to Christ. Parents, our role in teaching our children is extremely important. As we teach them how to obey, as we teach them that the sin they commit has consequences we are teaching them the law. That law is so vital, it is what brings us to Christ. It is what causes us to realize that we are sinners, that no matter what we do we cannot measure up to God's standards and we need Christ's work on the cross to justify us. Parents do you understand what an great responsibility we have been given as parents? We have the opportunity to teach our children the law so that in essence we can bring them to Christ.
Parents of unsaved children have an essential task, teaching their child what is sin, to help them understand the seriousness of their actions. If they do not teach them, who will?
Do we really get it though? Sin is serious, it deserves death! We must teach our children that, we must teach our children that the sin they commit is serious and that it is a reason that Christ died on the cross. Using distraction, redirecting, talking about why the child did what they did is NOT teaching them that what they have done is sin, in fact some of those techniques basically ignore the sin. When our unsaved children sin, it is vital that we take that opportunity to teach them.
Working in church with unsaved children from non-Christian homes, we often talk to kids that have no understanding of what sin is. Even after explaining that things like disobeying your parents is sin, because the Lord tells us to obey our parents, the children often still don't understand. If a child does not understand sin, then the child does not understand their need for a Savior. Contrast that with a child from a home were the parents label sin as sin, and give consequences for that sin, the child more easily understands their sin and their need for a Savior.