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Welcome back to part 4. Today we’ll consider the final piece for our definition of obedience.
We’ve been building a very profound expectation for obedience, one that’s — admittedly — impossible to achieve.
Can we be honest? How many of us consistently do the right things in the right way for the right reasons?
When I present this information to the boys at Victory Academy, I point out that when we learn that obedience is doing the right thing, we all knowingly nod our heads as we realize that our obedience isn’t that pretty.
But then when we understand that even the right things we do aren’t obedience if we’re doing them the wrong way, we cringe because we’re starting to realize how little we actually obey.
And then when we learn that even when we’ve done the right things in the right way we still weren’t obeying if we did them for the wrong reasons, and most of us wonder if we’ve ever truly obeyed.
And — if you’re being honest — some of you may have had the same feelings.
So, it’s likely making you wonder how any child could ever live up to this expectation.
Well, the reality is that it doesn’t matter what we think. The Bible says, “Children obey your parents,” and then God defines what obedience is.
But, God — knowing that we sinful humans would be incapable of fulfilling His law — made a provision for us.
And it’s that provision about which we’re going to talk today.
And this is going to be a short episode with very cut and dry application for all of us.
The first step that must be taken before a person will get help is that they have to acknowledge that they need help.
Alcoholics need to acknowledge they have a problem. Drug addicts need to realize they’re not in control of the situation. And humans in general need to realize that they are completely incapable of obeying.
And that’s the first thing we need to teach our children: it’s impossible for them to obey God.
Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
The first facet of is to understand that true obedience matches with the glory of God. Obedience is truly a God thing.
Second, Isaiah 64:6 says, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”
Left to ourselves, our goodness is nothing better than clothes polluted with menstrual fluid. And before you think I’m being unnecessarily dramatic, that’s exactly to what the Hebrew word is referring.
And then we see Proverbs 21:4: “A high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.”
When an unbeliever is working hard to provide for his family, he’s still sinning.
Now, that may seem strange to you, so consider Romans 8:6-8: “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
The fleshly mind — which is referring to an unregenerate mind — is an enemy of God.
I’ve used this example before — it doesn’t matter how adorable it is when a terrorist tucks his daughter into bed and sings to her, he’s still a terrorist bent on the destruction of our nation. He’s still our nation’s enemy.
The same is true with unsaved humanity. We’re all born enemies of God. But that reality is actually amazing because it underscores the awesomeness of God’s love.
He doesn’t love us because we’re lovable; He loves us when we’re rebels against His rule — enemies of His kingdom — and He loves us simply because He’s awesome.
This is what your children need to understand. We can’t obey the way God commands because we’re all born His enemies.
But . . . He has a plan for that too.
Knowing that we couldn’t save ourselves, the Father sent His son. Knowing that we couldn’t obey ourselves, He sent His Spirit.
The second thing we need to teach our children is the plan God designed to help us in our inability.
In I John 1 we learn that we cannot be “in the light” without a relationship with God. We cannot live righteously (which includes obedience) if we don’t have a relationship with God — if we’re not His followers.
How does having a relationship with God enable us to do right?
I John 4:13-15 says, “13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”
Those who have a relationship with God have the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:9-11 then describes the benefits of submitting to the Holy Spirit: “9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
And Philippians 2:12-13 wraps up this whole concept with a beautiful bow: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."
That, my friends is the answer.
Here’s the fourth part of our definition: Obedience is doing the right thing in the right way for the right reason in the right power.
I’ve used this example before, but we’re all like vacuum cleaners. We’ve been created to do a job, but we’ve been created to need power to do the job. If you don’t plug the vacuum in, it won’t work no matter how hard you try to drag it across the carpet.
It must be connected to a power source before it will be able to clean.
We all need to come to the end of ourselves and realize that we cannot glorify God without His help. Help your children learn that as soon as possible.
Then we need to submit to Christ as the head of our lives. We need to follow Him and be born again. Encourage your children to accept the Lord’s salvation from their own puny god.
And for those of you whose children are genuinely born again, when it comes to disobedience, remind them who their sin actually attacks.
In Genesis 39:9, when Joseph was being tempted to commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife, he said, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”
Yes, your children are sinning against you when they disobey, but regardless of whether they’re saved or unsaved, their sin is ultimately against the Lord.
This is my first go-to with everyone in my house. Only after they’ve proven themselves to be a scoffer do I start leaning more heavily on the pragmatic motivations for obedience. But please understand, I continue preaching and witnessing and testifying of God’s awesomeness and how no true success can be had in life without Him, but there are some guys with whom I work who are scoffers through and through. They act like the swine in Matthew 7:6 and they try to rend me to pieces when I give them pearls.
So, I tell them, “Listen, you know you need God — in fact — you need Him so badly you’re blind to the fact that you’re the reason your life stinks so much now. If you simply did what you’re told, you’d enjoy life that much more because you wouldn’t have all the extra consequences with which to deal.”
But again, doing right isn’t obedience if you’re not doing it with the right motive. These guys know how obedience works; it’s one of the first things we study at Victory. I simply try to do what God does throughout Scripture, He points out how our behavior is going to destroy us, not to pragmatically motivate us to do right for our own blessing, but so that when destruction comes we can proclaim, “God was right!”
And as He proves Himself right over and over, the prayer is that we would realize that He knows what He’s talking about and submit to His rule in our lives.
So, in conclusion — I told you this would be short --
We need to show our children their need. Another great way to do this is to open about how badly we too need the Lord.
We need to lead them to God in salvation.
Once they’re born again, we need to lead them back to God when they stray. This involves teaching them to be filled with the Spirit like Ephesians 5:18 commands. This will also involve teaching them about the power and purpose of prayer. This will involve teaching them about the necessity of accountability.
All of that to say, there are many things we can do to mature in our submission to the Holy Spirit.
If you feel like you’ve tried all of this and your child is still not responding, I want to encourage you to seek help. If your pastor is a Bible-believing man, he should be able to give you guidance. The same goes for any God-worshipper who is mature in Christ.
And you can also send us an email to counselor@TruthLoveParent.com. We’d love to help in any way we can.
And — as always — I’ll encourage you to share his episode because it contains the very answer to any and all spiritual success in our lives.
And you can download our episode notes from Taking Back the Family.
And our next episode is going to put the capstone on this study of obedience by discussing the obedience of Jesus. We touched on it briefly in our discussion of motivation, but there is so much more to learn.
I believe that episode will be very helpful for parenting your christian kids.
And don’t forget to like and follow us on social media. Share our posts too. We all need more truth in our lives.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed studying obedience with you. We need it. Our kids need it. We’ll get to spend eternity doing it together perfectly. Let’s just make sure all of our families are there.
See you next time.
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