Do your children struggle obeying? If you want to teach your children to obey, you’ll have to understand what it is first. Join AMBrewster as he discusses God’s definition of obedience and helps Christian parents equip their children to obey.
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Welcome to TLP. I want to start by saying how humbled TeamTLP and I are that you spend this time with us.
We know there are a lot of things you could be doing right now; there are many podcasts to which you could be listening. There are a lot of priorities wrestling for your time. And the fact that you would share it with us is greatly appreciated.
I don’t know if this is a regular occurrence for most podcasts, but recently we haven’t had a week go by without every single one of our episodes being listened to multiple times over the course of the week. Sometimes, every episode we’ve published is listened to over the course of one day.
That’s a lot of dedication and study on your part, and I congratulate you for taking the time.
You’ve made TLP the number one podcast on iTunes for Christian parents because you care to know God’s Word, and you’ve shared it with others.
By the way, I welcome all of you from Montana. Recently, a number of Montanans have subscribed to the show and followed us on Facebook. Welcome!
Alright, moving on . . . let’s jump into today’s topic.
It’s a big deal, and it’s so incredibly important!
We’re gong to discuss what obedience is and how we can help our children grow in their obedience to God and man.
Let’s start with a little review from our study in love.
One of the most profound truths from that study that smacked me upside the head is that love demands obedience. Do you remember how many passages we read where Jesus made it perfectly clear that there is no way we can love Him if we’re disobeying Him?
Well, the same is true with you and your kids. They cannot say they love you if they’re disobeying you.
There’s another foundation stone we have to lay as well. The first is that obedience requires love. The second is that obedience must be learned.
Hebrews 5:8, referring to Jesus says, "Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” Referring to the same situation, Philippians 2:8 tells us, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Think about that.
This is similar to Luke 2:52 that tells us, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”
Now, we don’t have time to discuss how it is that the perfect God-man, Jesus Christ, increased in anything or learned anything. The simple point I want to make is that — like love — obedience must be learned.
Your children do not come hardwired to agape and — then by extension — to obey.
And — no doubt — this truth does not surprise you. Your children are likely the shining example of the fact that children do not burst from the womb loving and obeying.
So, this series is called “Teach Your Children to Obey,” but today’s subtitle is “What Should They Do?”
Over the next four episodes, we’re going to build a working definition of Obedience. That definition is going to have four vital parts. I’d argue that “obedience” that doesn’t conform to all four parts of our definition, isn’t true obedience. And I believe that most of us are functioning off an amputated understanding of Biblical obedience.
Now, with all that said, the first part of our definition isn’t going to seem that surprising.
1. Obedience is doing the right thing.
Again, that sounds simple enough, but — let me tell you — just that one sentence causes a lot of trouble.
What is right? How can we know what’s right? What if parents tell their children to do something that’s not right? Who’s right when mom and toddler disagree? Does the fact that you’re older make you right?
Let me start by saying that you cannot — it impossible for you to teach the concept of true obedience without first teaching biblical doctrine. Your children won’t be able to understand what obedience is unless they learn some apologetics.
It’s always been the Christian parent’s highest calling to teach their children the varied and deep truths of God. We saw that in episode 92, “Christian Parenting 101.”
Thankfully our Christian culture seems to be catching back up with that calling. We’ve seen the importance of teaching children apologetics coming back into the church.
Now, if you want to learn more about teaching your children how to know, understand, and explain the Truths of God, I strongly encourage you to read anything Natasha Crain has written. That includes her two books and her blog at christianmomthoughts.com. I’ll include a link to her blog in the description.
And you can learn more about Natasha and her work by listening to episodes 66 and 105.
But here’s the reason your children will need to learn some doctrine before they can truly understand obedience: if obedience is doing what’s right, we must grapple with the doctrine of Truth.
This is Philosophy 101. Do you remember my definition of philosophy from The Merest Christianity series? I said that philosophy is “why you do what you do.”
In that series we discovered why people in general — and your children in particular — do what they do. We learned how to determine what their philosophy of life is. We learned how to know what they believe.
In John 18:38, Pilate looked into the eyes of the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and he asked, “What is truth?”
That question has echoed down the annuls of time as it has been asked and re-asked by every human who’s ever lived. And until Christ comes back, that question will continue to be asked. It must be asked.
Whether or not Truth exists — whether or not right exists — and what that Truth happens to be will directly and powerfully affect every human alive today. It will affect your children.
So, what is truth? What is right?
We don’t really have time to discuss this question at length — to get super-apologetical — so let’s answer it by making one observation: without God, right and wrong cannot exist.
If we are the product of evolution, if there is no absolute truth, if everyone does what’s right in his own eyes, then there can be no objective definition for truth or right.
The best you can hope for is to hang out with people who think like you do. But you likely will be out-shouted by any group that’s larger than your’s and believes differently, so you’d better collect as many people to your side as possible if you want to be able to live the way you want in this life.
But you likely won’t find anyone who thinks exactly like you do, so you’re either going to have to convince them or threaten them to agree with you. Eventually, when your group is big enough to legislate your definition of right and enforce obedience to your definition of right then you should congratulate yourself, because you’ve done exactly what every culture and government has ever done.
Of course, the same fate of every other nation will also be yours. Eventually another group of people who believe that truth is different from your definition, they will overthrow you, or their ideas will outlive you.
And once you’re gone, every other human will have to do what you did. They’ll have to figure out what they think is right, and hopefully find others who agree with them so they can live out the rest of their lives in some shallow semblance of peace.
So, basically, truth will have to be what you make it, because there can be no objective, absolute truth without there being an objective, absolute authority.
But . . . since God is Who He says He is, then — as the Creator of the universe — He gets to decide what is right and wrong. And since He never changes, His definition of right and wrong will never change.
All Truth then is God’s Truth because all truth — everything that is right — is anything and everything that God says to do.
Why do your children have to do what you say? What makes what you want them to do right? Well, if it conforms to God’s commands or principles, then you know it’s right.
Let’s look at some biblical examples of this:
In Genesis 4:3-7 we read, “In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.’”
Here we see that God is the one who decides what “doing well” is. He also gets to decide the consequences for doing right and wrong. And He helps us know how to overcome the temptation to do wrong.
In Leviticus 10:1-2 we read, “1 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.”
God gets to authorize what’s right. And — again — He gets to prescribe the consequences for not doing right.
And in Acts 5:1-11, we learn about a couple named Ananias and Saphira. Most of you will be familiar with their story. They sold a piece of property and decided to give a portion of it to God. But when they presented it to Peter, they lied and said they were giving the whole amount.
There would have been nothing wrong with keeping the property. There would have been no problem with keeping all of the money, let alone only giving some of it to the church. But they lied. They lied to God, and He gets to decide what’s right and wrong. And lying is wrong.
Now, before we move on, this truth may concern some people. I believe it’s one of the reasons many thoughtful individuals reject the conclusions to which I’ve come.
If God gets to choose what’s right and what’s wrong, and if God were like us, we wouldn’t have any more confidence in God than the Romans did in their capricious deities.
But God is not only the ultimate authority who get’s to choose what’s right and wrong, He’s the ultimate, loving authority. That love compels Him to do what’s in our best interest. He’s also the ultimate, loving, holy authority. He will never change. What’s right will always be right, and what’s wrong will always be wrong.
We have no need to fear the fact that God defines Truth. In fact — as we saw earlier — that reality gives us purpose and peace and the ability to know that we’re doing right and asking our children to do the same.
Again, I suggest that you read Natasha’s first book, “Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side.” Part two is all about truth and worldviews, so it deals with the question of Truth in far more detail than we can here.
So, if obedience is doing what’s right, then there are two responsibilities: the first one is on us as parents. We need to only ask our children to do what’s right. That requires knowledge of God’s Word and consistency on our part.
Listen, my friends, if you want to be the best parent you can be, you need to douse yourself in the Bible. You need to swim Its length and breadth and wash in Its purifying fathoms. You need to lead your children by following God. You need to command what He commands. You need to be His Ambassador.
And if you’re confused because the Bible doesn’t say anything about whether our children should have to make their beds, then I highly suggest you listen to our last episode. I believe we did good job of answering the question, what should our children love to do.
The second responsibility lands on our children. If what they’ve been asked to do is right, then they must do it. To not do it would be disobedience. To not obey is sin.
And based off what we learned today, a mature child will love to obey. If they love God, they’ll obey Him. If they’re obeying Him they’re going to love and obey you. It will be a joy.
Of course, our children aren’t mature, that’s why God gave us to them.
Now, our first Big Question was “what is the first part of our definition for obedience.” Obedience is doing what’s right. Our second Big Question is, “How do I teach this to my children?”
But before we answer that second question, I want all of us parents to understand the severity of the issue we’re discussing. It’s not okay to let your children disobey. It’s not loving to let them do whatever they want to do.
Let’s consider Romans 6:16-18.
"Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”
Paul presents this as something we should all know. If you present yourself to someone as a slave, you belong to them. With that seemingly obvious metaphor, Paul tells us that if enslave ourselves to to sin, we will earn death, but if we enslave ourselves to obedience, we inherit righteousness.
Do you see how important this is? We are not loving parents when we encourage our children to enslave themselves to sin.
How can we allow our child to throw a temper-tantrum or listen to music that doesn’t glorify God? Why would we let our daughter date that guy whom we’ve told her to stop hanging around? How can we can it loving when we don’t correct our children’s unkind speech?
Every time they disobey they’re enslaving themselves to sin. They’re earning death.
And Then he goes on to give us the hope that should embolden us to teach our children to obey: “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”
Praise God that those of us who were slaves to sin and death can become servants of obedience!
Human slavery to humans is a terrible thing, and nearly everyone listening to me today has some very strong opinions on the subject — and rightly so.
We all understand that it was nearly impossible for slaves to become free. Wars have been fought on this battleground.
Generally, the only way a slave could gain a new master was if their previous master sold them.
And that’s exactly the picture we have in Scripture. God graciously offers to buy back those who submit to Him.
Still, this idea — no matter how beautiful and amazing it is — won’t sit well with some of you. You don’t like the idea of being set free from one master only to be enslaved to another. That flies in the face of our inherent desire to be our own god.
And your kids are in the exact same position.
But the reality is that there is no such thing as the “freedom” defined by Hollywood. We are always subject to someone. There are few humans who are genuinely free from any responsibility to other men. But we’re all responsible to God.
We’re either a slave to sin or a slave to God. There are no other options.
But the joyous reality is that we get to be a slave of God! And when we stop being disobedient, we inherit righteousness and life!
There is hope for all of us. There is hope for your children. And that’s why we teach them to obey. God is worth it. He deserves your children’s love and obedience. He wants to give them righteousness and life.
We need to bless our kids by teaching them the joys of obedience to the right Master.
So, how do we do this?
1. It starts by teaching them who God is and how Truth cannot exist without God. The atheist worldview is a depressing one indeed.
2. We need to introduce them to God in a way that they are in awe of Him. He is an awesome God!
Do you remember last time when we discussed teaching your kids how to love something? Do you remember the importance of passion? Are you passionate about the awesomeness of God? Do you want your kids to be passionate about obeying you, but you’re not passionate about obeying Christ?
We need to model for our kids the unfathomable amazingness of God.
3. We need to teach them what love is. Have you taken your family through The Four Family Loves study yet? You have to do that. Our kids need to understand what love is.
4. As they study love they’ll learn that God demands obedience to Himself and to their parents.
5. And then teach them what biblical obedience is. And we learned the first part of that today — Obedience is doing the right thing.
Have them learn that sentence. They should be able to quote it before we meet again.
“What is obedience?”
“Obedience is doing what’s right.”
“Were you doing right?”
“Were you loving God and loving Daddy?”
“Okay, so what do you need to do now?”
Along these lines, please listen to episodes 115 and 116. They’re all about Speed Parenting. They build off the principles learned in The Merest Christianity series and teach us how to get to the most important part of our parenting even when there’s very little time.
But before we go, I want to posit one more question:
I think that question is so important to this discussion, and hopefully by the time we’re done, our understanding of obedience will deepen to such a degree that it — first — impacts our relationship with God, and — second — equips us to teach our children what true obedience is.
That’s why our next episode is entitled, “How Should They Do It?” We’ll see that it’s not enough to do the right things if we don’t do them the right way. I plan to not only help us understand the second facet of true obedience, but we’ll walk away with a number of super practical helps for teaching it to your children.
And I think it would be awesome if you shared this episode. What parent doesn’t want to help their children obey better? Throw this up there on social media and see how God uses it to bless some family.
And — as always — we have episode notes for you over at TruthLoveParent.com. Feel free to click the link below.
And if today’s show as a blessing to you and you’re interested in learning how you can be a blessing to us, please click on the “5 Ways to Support TLP” link down below. We’d love for you to partner with us in our ministry to parents and families all over the world.
Did you know that The Four Family Loves series has been listened to by families in over 30 different countries? Make sure you don’t miss that great family study.
As I observed before, your children may not know how to obey now, but they can learn, but we won’t be able to teach them if we don’t know what it is.
So, I’ll see you next time.
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