Raising Children for the King Part 3
Another issue that I’d like to ask you to consider with me is “What is discipline for?” Where are we going with all of this, what is the end product that we desire? Let me develop for a moment why those are important questions; they are not as shallow as they may seem at first. Here is a radical thought to chew on…
I think we do our children a tremendous disservice by just innocently singing with them all the years of their youth “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so,...” and “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine all the time. I won’t let Satan poof it out,…” When we do those things, when does the time come when “this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,” and “Jesus loves me, this I know,” and “Jesus loves the little children,” turn into a scandal (Greek word: “skandalon”)? When does it turn to “cut to the heart” and a crushing need to repent and “be reconciled” to a Holy God that we were at war with (biblically—Jas 4:4; 2 Cor. 5:16-20)? How does that happen when they’re busy being told all of the time how much God loves them? And certainly He does, but you must see the dilemma!
Falling On The ROCK
Now, all of a sudden, they have to become converted. They’ve got to be cut to the heart. They have to stumble on a stone and fall on a rock and be “crushed” (l Pet. 2:8; Matt. 21:44; Luke 2:34-35, 9:57-62, 14:25-35; Gal. 5:11). How does that happen when they’re “good little children” all the time? There’s something that we’re going to have to work through in our own lives as we’re dealing with our own children and showing them that they need a Messiah. Do they really need a Savior, or do they already have one in their hip pocket from the time they are little babies?
I recognize that these are very delicate issues and I’d like to suggest to you that as our children are growing up, their hearts are alien to God; their hearts are innately selfish and hostile to God’s law and hostile to the dominion of parents and of God and of any authority. There’s something there that is a little bit hard to describe. I’m not talking about the doctrine that I grew up with, where I needed to be sprinkled as a baby in order to be forgiven of my sin or I’m going to hell (or a man-invented purgatory). That clearly, biblically speaking, is not the case. I’m not speaking of that, but of a nature in which, from the time we’re very little, our minds are on ourselves. We revolve around, “me, me, me, me.” That is Satanic according to the Bible; to say “my will, my will, my will,” “me, me, me,” “gimme, gimme, gimme.”
The nature of Jesus Christ is not to be served, but to serve. If we teach our children when they’re very young just to “Booster, booster, be a booster, don’t be grouchy like a rooster… boost our Bible School” and “I am a ‘C’, I am a ‘CH’, I am a ‘CHRISTIAN’” throughout their young lives, when does the time come for recognizing that “my sins—my specific sins—have murdered the Lamb of God, Jesus!”
Is it at camp sometime when everybody else is getting dunked, when all of a sudden everything in the universe culminates in, “Hey, I think I’ll become a Christian!”? It’s a fad, it’s a gimmick; it’s not the scandal, it’s not cut to the heart, it’s not a ‘‘Godly sorrow” that works repentance; “What indignation, what alarm, what fervent desire to be cleared” (Acts 2:37, 19:18-20; 2 Cor. 7:8-11), an immense knowledge of our own sinfulness. “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
When does it become… “I recognize my poverty, my emptiness, my alone-ness… my inability to feed my own desires, to fill my heart and satisfy my heart. I can’t do it with money. I can’t do it with sex. I can’t do it with drugs or alcohol. I can’t do it with popularity. I can’t do it with possessions. I can’t do it. I’m trying to feed my appetite. I can’t do it with a shopping spree. I can’t do it with a good-looking “date.” I can’t do it, I can’t do it, I can’t do it! I can’t get enough; it’s an insatiable appetite, and I’m wrecked. I’m destroyed from my lack of ability to find what satisfies the spirit.
Only Daddy’s Love
It is only the love of God for us in Jesus Christ, absolutely nothing else but the touch of the Father’s Love for us, that will fill that desire and those appetites and needs. All sin is simply an attempt to fill needs and clothe a “nakedness” that only the Love of Father can satisfy. Every sin you can imagine from A to Z, every single sin is simply a desire to fill a need that only the love of God in Jesus, His Son, lavished on us by the Holy Spirit, can fulfill. If we really knew that love and could look up and see our Father’s eyes, and if we could see His arms stretched out and see Him running towards us with a ring for our finger, we would have ALL WE NEED! Though we’ve been living in a pig pen and eating corn husks, squandering His wealth as the prodigal son did, if we could only see the love of the Father, all of our needs, every last one of them, would be met. All of the law and the prophets are fulfilled as our love for God consumes “all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength” and as we “love our neighbor as ourself.” The love of Jesus Christ meets every single need. And sin is absolutely irrelevant, unnecessary, a disgusting waste of time, and a loss of inheritance and a loss of fellowship with Him and one another (1 Jn. 1:3-7) when we really know the love of God.
Don’t Rob Them
As we spiritually train our children, we’ve got to make sure that we don’t cheat them and rob them of the “scandal,” of the stumbling block, of “the offense of the cross”—a skandalon. We mustn’t rob them of their Calvary, and the climax of celebrating His love on Calvary, by padding them with little Bible stories all along, while their little hearts are still alien to God.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”
An interesting and crucial point to pick up on is that some children hide their sinful nature better than others. “Some sins go before” (l Tim. 5:24), and some “lag behind,” if you will. With some children, our first response is to say, “What an angel!” With others, it’s more like, “What a terrible, angry, sinful child” The truth is that there is no difference and we need to get that very straight because all of their hearts are alien and foreign to God. Some children are better manipulators, some children have a mindset that’s sharper and more able to hide and mask and to modify their behavior to please us externally, but their hearts are still far from Him. Some could even mask the rolling of the eyes, which is a supreme test since “the eye is the lamp of the body.” The truth is that all of their hearts are far from Him, apart from Jesus Christ and the life that’s in His Spirit. For that reason, judge not a child by “this is a bad child, this is a good child.” The fact is, “Apart from me, they can do nothing,” Jesus said.
There Is No Other Way
“No man comes to the Father but by me.” There’s no other name in heaven, or on earth by which men must be delivered except the name of Jesus Christ. There is no other Way, but through Jesus. “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life.” “And this is eternal life, that they may know, intimately, the Father, and Jesus Christ, whom He sent.” And there’s a “scandal” that’s necessary to encounter that kind of Salvation.
As Simeon told Mary and Joseph on the day Jesus was circumcised in accordance with the law, Jesus was “destined to cause the fall and rise again of many.” He’s going to rip open the hearts of men and cause them to fall that they might rise again.
Every child has to go through that, and if their sins go before them and they look like a bad child, that’s the way it goes—they need a Messiah. If their sins lag behind—if they’re so sly, they’ve got Dale Carnegie built in as part of their sinful nature so they can hide their selfish nature—well, guess what? They are still very, very separate from God and their hearts are alien to the love of the Father and the fellowship in Him until they are born again, “translated into the kingdom of the Beloved Son from the kingdom of Darkness.” Again, as for the time-line (how all these things fit together), I don’t even know anyone who has an airtight understanding (though some think that they do). Fortunately, I really don’t think you even need to know everything, but what you do need to know is that apart from Jesus Christ they are nothing and they have no fellowship with the Father, and even their motives are a pretense.
They may try to do the “right thing,” just as the Israelites tried to do the right thing, but Romans 7 says we cannot “do the right thing,” in keeping with the Holiness and Righteous expectations of God. We are not going to be able to make it on that basis. Peter said, “No one ever has” (Acts 15:9-11). The law says, “Do not covet,” and our hearts immediately crave to covet. The law, as Paul testified (Rom.7:7-25), causes the sinful nature to lustfully spring up. All the law that we give to our children, all the law God gives to us, simply makes them and us want to sin all the more. That’s just the nature of the law and our flesh (Gal.5:16-18). But, for those that are in Christ Jesus, there’s no condemnation. “Who will free me from this body of death?” Who will free me from the decay of this corpse that’s strapped to my back? Who will free me from slavery to sin, and its penalty? “Praise be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” I can “put to death the misdeeds of the body by the Spirit”! (Rom. 8). I can, in the mortal body, fulfill the righteousness of Jesus Christ by the Spirit, by a love affair with Jesus Christ, by a marriage to Jesus Christ (Rom. 7:1-6). I could live in a way that I could never conceive of when I tried to approach the Father through the keeping of “do’s and don’ts.” I can fulfill His Word in my mortal body (here and now, with “ever-increasing Glory”—2 Cor. 3:18; l Jn. 3:3-10; Rom. 8:3-4). I can live by the Spirit and put to death the misdeeds of the body (Gal. 5:16; Rom. 6:11-14; 8:9-14), and I can “reckon myself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
But, it can only be done that one way—by a love affair with Jesus Christ. And our children need never be taught that there is any other Hope than “Christ in you, the hope of Glory,” even from their earliest days.
Be At The “Window”—Among Them
The moral of this story is that we need to be, priority one, at the “window” where we can see the “transgressions of the Law” in our children’s lives. We can’t be mindless. We’ve got to look. We have to see into our children’s life transactions (as they play, as they are being instructed, as they “rise up, sit down, as they walk along the way”) and address that carnality which will kill them if the “Law” is not brought to bear and the Hope of the Messiah not held out before them. Because some are better able to hide it, we’ve got to be right there with the children (“among them”, “with them”—remember Jesus’ way?) in the pressure cooker of life. We need to be there in the instruction and training in every area of life—be it education or team sports or family relationships or table manners or relationships with their peers. We’ve got to be right there with them to see that carnality so we can bring the law of God to bear on it, testify to the Law of Sowing and Reaping, and then say: “Behold! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!
If their anarchy or selfishness goes on unnoticed and unchallenged, they’ll never see the law and authority of God, and they’ll never know that they need a Messiah. You see, the law is a “tutor” and a “schoolmaster” to bring us, to drive us, to Jesus Christ. They’ve got to see the law; they must see the law. The law is to “make us conscious of sin,” as it says in Romans 3. Our children need to know that every mouth is an “open grave” and that we’ve “all together become worthless”; we’ve “all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” And it’s only by faith in Jesus Christ and the free gift of God in HIM that we can be delivered. They’ve got to see that. But if we’re not right there “at the window,” seeing when they “fall short of the Glory of God” because we’re not present mentally or physically due to our other “priorities” (we’re just letting them run their own lives any way they please by not being right on top of it all), then we can’t bring the law. And, if we don’t bring the law, then they won’t see the need for Jesus Christ as Messiah...
I must repeat, because it’s just that important. We’ve got to be right there “with” them—not in a “programmed” section of life, but “as they rise up, as they sit down, as they walk along the way,” as they play, as they work, as they make decisions. And not, of course, “looking over their shoulders,” babying them and keeping them on “apron strings,” but sensitive, watching and praying and as one “called along side” (Hebrews 3:12-14). If they don’t see the Righteousness of God and become conscious of sin because we are somewhere else in our hearts, they’ll never have the tutor that drives them to Jesus Christ as their Messiah, their only hope and the delight of the Father. Our children, if left to the normal paths of this present world without the consistent challenge of the Word of God applied to and confronting their specific actions and attitudes, will always believe they can approach God on their own merit.
Messiah Is Coming! Messiah Is COMING!
Everything in the law and prophets said, “Messiah is coming! Messiah is coming!” and “I will give you a new heart and pour out my Spirit and allow you to have the ability to keep my law for the first time.” And that is the place to which we want to lead our children (Jer. 31:31—34; Ezek. 36:26—27; Heb. 8:10, 10:16; Luke 3:16—17). All the “law” and the prophets, if truly of God, must testify of the Messiah and of the gift of His Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “Moses and the prophets testify of Me. You diligently study the Scriptures thinking that by them you have eternal life, but these things testify of Me.” “The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.” “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”
As we discipline our children, we’re disciplining them to see that there’s a law of sowing and reaping. We are helping them to see that they fall short of the glory of God. We are training them to see that when the law comes what they want to do they can’t do and what they’re not supposed to do they always do—to see that the law must drive them to Jesus Christ, and to see always that there is hope! And that Hope is the Messiah. All the law and prophets point to Jesus, the Anointed One, Our Messiah!
As we discipline our children, (and don’t miss this point), as we discipline our children—we’re not just simply slapping them on the hand and teaching them not to do a certain thing, we must teach them that Messiah is coming. We’re teaching them that there’s a Day coming, Glory to God, “There’s a day coming that you will see the need for a Messiah and you will have an opportunity to be translated from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of the Glory of His Son. And, guess what? Then, as you’re baptized into His death, you’ll rise to walk in newness of Life. As He was crucified and as He died to sin for you, so also reckon yourselves dead to sin. And as many as have been buried in the likeness of His death shall also be raised in the likeness of His resurrection.”
That’s the testimony. When we’re disciplining our children and training them, our heart is to constantly put before them, “The day is coming, the day is coming when a Messiah will come into your life and you’ll be translated from your inability to keep the law. I know, I understand, I sympathize, I shed tears for your inability to keep the law. I understand. But the law is holy and righteous and blameless according to Romans 7. The law cannot be altered, it’s right. The law is right, but guess what, Messiah is coming. And by a love affair with Him and by the gift of His Holy Spirit, you can have the ability to walk in the light as He is in the light. You can put to death the misdeeds of the body by the Spirit; you can keep in step by the Spirit and not be driven by the carnal nature, by the flesh. Messiah is coming. Messiah is coming.” All the law and prophets (specifically, our “discipline” and consistent “application” of the Law of Sowing and Reaping) are testifying: “Messiah is coming. Messiah is coming.” As we teach our children, as we train them, that needs to be what we’re always pointing towards—JESUS, not “behavior modification.”
When that day comes that they see the wretchedness of their life apart from Him, when finally it breaks forth and they see the light—then they’ll be ready. A revelation of who Jesus is and who they are apart from Him will cut them to the heart. And they’ll know right where to go because the law has driven them to Jesus, the Anointed One. They’ll know right where to go with no despair, because “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.
Please meditate on these things, pray through them. I know it’s not easy to capture all of that, but it has everything to do with who you are and it also has everything to do with who your children are becoming. The hearts of the fathers will be turned to the children and the children’s to the fathers. And we’re going to see children as Joel prophesied—the Sons and Daughters speaking forth the utterance of God. At age 12 they are about their Father’s business with a jealousy for His House and a fervency and a wisdom that exceeds anything that we can imagine. They can gain twenty years on us when we’ve not consumed their earliest years by teaching them vain ritual that they have to unlearn as well as a futile sense of righteousness by behavior modification rather than by the Blood of Jesus and the gift of His Holy Spirit.