SIN OF WHICH WE MUST REPENT IF WE TRULY WANT GOD TO HEAL OUR LAND
(Part 3) By David MaddoxThe third sin of which we (Believers) must repent is hard – and personal – and will hit most of us right where we live. But before you “race to escape a guilt trip” get Biblical and remember what Jesus said, “Those whom I love I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19). Guilt is not a bad thing. When the conviction comes from the Holy Spirit it is Jesus showing that He loves you and wants to draw you into a deeper and purer relationship with Him. It is Jesus seeking to make right wrongs in our lives for which He knows there are consequences. So set aside Satan’s guilt tool and seek to hear what God is saying to you. I will share some personal examples, but the meat of this and any teaching must be what God says in His Word.
The third sin of which Believers must repent has to do with who we perceive our children to be – how we raise them – how we discipline them – how we train them – and how we provide for them. Scripture is filled with instruction which modern culture does not simply ignore – it ridicules. Unfortunately many Believers are either unaware of what Scripture teaches – or they ignore it. The result – the fruit of ignoring what God’s Word says is really ugly. I am not going to go into proof of that fact because where I am going to focus is how we have been commanded to raise our children. That is what is important for if we obey – God blesses – we have His promise. We are to “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). The opposite is equally true – if we do not train up a child in the way he should go there will be no foundation and as they get older we will find that they have become like the people at the time of the Judges – “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in His own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
For Believers – children are not a right – they are a gift from God. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3). Like all gifts from the Lord – He retains ownership and we are merely stewards – caretakers – entrusted with – what is His – accountable to Him for what we do with His gift. Children are like the talents in the Parable of the Talents where the master distributes as he will – and then returns to hold the steward responsible for what he/she has done with the gift (Matthew 25:14-30). Here this please – for married Believers – the husband’s first responsibility is to disciple his wife to be used of the Lord to bring her to the place where together “you may stand mature and fully assured in the will of the Lord” (Colossians 4:12). For both the husband and the wife (although the principle responsibility goes to the husband – that is what it means to be the Spiritual head of your house) is similar for each child God gives you. You are to disciple them (Matthew 28:19) so that they “may stand mature and fully assured in the will of the Lord”. The specific instruction to Fathers is to bring your children “up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4b).
A simple way to picture this is a gift my eldest daughter gave me. She had saved Xerox pictures of my hand and hers which we use to copy for fun at the office when she came down with me for a Saturday morning. She had written on the picture – “Thank you for taking my hand and putting it in Jesus’ hand”. That is it. As parents or grandparents our primary purpose is to place our children and grandchildren securely in Jesus’ hand so that they will allow Him to be their Savior – Shepherd – and Lord. That is the definition of “success” as a Christian parent or grandparent. The great sin among many is that they have a different definition of success which always carries terrible consequences (often eternal consequences).
How then can we reach this goal that each of our children “stand mature and fully assured in the will of the Lord”? Proverbs tells us how – “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). God warned us of what is required – “Be careful to obey all the words I command you, that it may go well with your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God’ (Deuteronomy 12:29). There are two very important teachings here – first the responsibility to train our children is ours. It cannot be delegated to a school, a church, a day care etc. We must train them. Secondly, we cannot train them if we are not walking before them in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is word and deed. Here again the great sin of so many is that training our children is left to others and we do not walk with Jesus before them. If they don’t see that a relationship with Jesus Christ is real in your life – they never will accept your attempts to train them. They will see you as what you are – a hypocrite.
How are we to train our children? The answer is the same as it would be anytime God calls you to be a disciple maker. You “shall teach them (God’s Word) diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:7). It is however there is more than God’s Word that our children must learn from us. They must also learn that they must obey God’s Word – and there are consequences for disobedience. This begins with the admonition that “Children (are to) obey your parents in the Lord for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). We must discipline our children and punish willful disobedience – rebellion – or they will never understand that there is accountability – consequences – for disobey God. Some Christian parents have made the decision not to discipline their children – a totally non-Biblical approach that will result in great sorrow and teaching your children that rebellion against God or any authority is acceptable. The most difficult thing for me to watch is when a child openly defies a Christian parent by screaming “no” or throwing a fit and they are not punished. They have just been taught that they don’t have to obey or respect their parents – and by extension God – and the future price for that lesson will be high.
Is this important to God? Consider the reality that people who seek to lead in a church are disqualified to lead if that Believer does not “manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive” (1 Timothy 3:4) or if “his children are (not) Believers” (Titus 1:6). Scripture tells us that there is a place for physical discipline (Proverbs 22:15, 23:13, 29:15). Not simply to cause pain – never to express anger – but to teach by one of the means God uses to teach us as adults (Hebrews 12:5-6).
How can we discipline in a Godly manner? When we were searching to understand how God would have us discipline our children someone pointed us to James Dobson’s wonderful book, “Dare to Discipline”. That book opened God’s Word on how to discipline – when to discipline – and the purpose of discipline. We learned the difference between willful disobedience and childish play – how to be sure that a child understood before the conduct for which they were punished that they would be punished if they disobeyed – how to discipline in love and end with a time of expressing love and forgiveness. In our home God taught me first that I was never to spank a child when I was angry – that I only spanked a child with an open hand to eliminate the risk of unintended physical damage to the child – and that the child understood that there was certain conduct for which they would be spanked no excuses accepted. There were five – disrespect of Mom – willful to refuse to obey – telling a lie – physically striking one of their brothers or sisters – or throwing a fit of anger. We also would not allow our children to run around the church sanctuary after the service ended. We wanted them to understand that God is holy and that we come to church to meet with Him. There are many others personal examples I could share but they are not important. What is important is that Christian parents assume their responsibility to disciple their children and see God’s guidance (not the world’s) in how that is to be accomplished. We will never see the world change – and people reach out to learn of the Lord – if we lose our own children to the world. Your family is the ultimate picture of whether Christ is real. He either makes a difference – or it is all a lie – but He only makes a difference if He is Lord and you obey and cause your children to obey.
About David Maddox – After a legal career in both Texas and Arizona that spanned over 40 years as a civil litigator, God called David to leave his law practice and work full time as Discipleship Director for Time to Revive. That call is really the fruit of decades of prayer for revival and teaching God’s Word, writing discipleship materials and seeking to make disciples. David married Janet Whitehead in 1976 and they minister together from their Phoenix home. God has blessed them with four children and thus far seven grandchildren.