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If you haven’t take the opportunity to check out The Celebration of God Podcast, you’re really missing out. We’re having such a great time over there, and it makes all the sense in the world.
We’re talking about the most amazing Person in the universe and beyond, and we’re not only talking about how infinitely awesome He is, we’re discussing the miraculous and gracious and merciful and loving and life-giving and powerful things He’s done for us. And we’re talking about all of it within the framework of the perfectly sufficient Word He’s given us.
And we’re talking about all of that so that — every single day — we can give Him the honor and admiration and worship and respect and praise that He’s due.
How could you possibly plan a better way to spend 20 minutes of your week? I don’t know what could be better.
You should totally subscribe to The Celebration of God and join us in our Year Long adoration of Yahweh.
But, I’m also glad you’re here with us today. We’re currently in the middle of a continuing series. I think this may be the first time we’ve done something like this.
A while back we studied A Parent’s Five Jobs, and now we’re deepening that study.
So, be sure to check out our blog, Taking Back the Family, so you can access all of our episode notes and transcripts for today’s show as well as additional study resources for the series.
And — with that — it’s time to talk about what it means to correct our children.
Here’s the thing. We need to start this discussion by completely going back to square one and addressing the fact that modern Christians don’t approach this topic the way God does.
That means we need to empty ourselves of preconceived notions and a priori assumptions and just allow God’s Word to instruct us.
What do I mean about modern Christians not approaching this topic the right way?
Well, according to Merriam-Webster, there are two general ways to approach the topic of correction.
One of those ways is “to point out the errors or faults of, and/or discipline or punish for some fault or lapse.”
And that’s how the gigantically vast number of people understand the concept of correcting children.
To correct a child is to tell them they’re wrong and give them the earned consequences.
But, even if you only paid half-attention to our last episode, then you will quickly recognize that definition to be nearly identical to the definition of reproof.
The reproof stage is where we tell our children that they’re wrong and give them the necessary consequences.
However, biblically speaking, the correction stage is a very different stage.
Now, before we discuss Merriam-Websters other definition for correction, and — more importantly — look at God’s definition of correction, we need to take a step back.
You may remember this from our original study, but it bears repeating.
I can teach you and reprove you without your participation. I can talk to you all day about what’s right and wrong, and if you don’t do your part to actually learn the information, I’m going to eventually have to confront you about your sin.
And I can do those two things over and over and over without any interaction on your part. And — honestly — that’s where far too many professing Christian parents spend their time.
All of their parenting is consumed with teaching and reproving, teaching and reproving, teaching and reproving. I call it the Unfortunate Parenting Circle.
We’re supposed to do it. It has immense eternal value if we do it the right way, but when our kids refuse to participate, it becomes extremely unfortunate. All of the biblical wisdom we’re pouring on our kids is being wasted by them. And — as we all know — God hates waste.
But that’s where so many of us spend our time. We cycle through teaching and reproving all day long and think were doing our part of Proverbs 22:6. We’re training our children, but they’re not only departing from it, they’re not really embracing it in the first place.
The problem is that “training” is not the same as teaching and reproving. It’s also not the same as correcting. It’s a completely separate step to which most parents never make it.
Of course, we’ll talk more about training next time, however, for now — before we can really appreciate what it means to correct — we have to recognize that we are literally completely incapable of correcting our kids if they don’t participate.
But this shouldn’t surprise you. You may be able to teach your kids, but they won’t learn if they don’t participate. You may be able to tell your kids they sinned, but it won’t matter if they don’t choose to agree with God’s interpretation of their choices.
But we cannot move on to the correction stage of our parenting until our kids actually acknowledge and accept our reproof.
Here’s how it works.
Our child sins, and we open God’s Word to help them understand that what they did was wrong and that there’s a much better way to respond. Of course, we share with them the all-important reason we should do right is not to avoid discomfort or trouble — which is idolatry — we help them understand that we need to obey God because He’s worthy of our worship.
And — depending on the situation — we will likely give Secondary Consequences to our children so that they can better understand and recognize the Primary Consequences that God gives them.
I talk about Primary and Secondary Consequences in a couple different episodes, but I’ve never done a show about them. I really need to do that.
Anyway, so after I’ve done the reproof stage — shown them from God’s Word how what they did was wrong, teach them to submit to God, give any appropriate Secondary Consequences, and invited them to believe that God knows best — I have to wait.
For what am I waiting?
I’m waiting for them to respond. They are either going to believe that God’s way is best, or they’re going to continue leaning on their own understanding.
If they directly or indirectly reject the truth they’ve been taught, I will find myself continuing the Unfortunate Parenting Circle. They won’t be able to change their behavior, and we’ll find ourselves in the same position later.
There’s also the possibility that — as an act of worship to themselves — they will decide to put on superficial actions and words for selfish reasons. They may not repeat the same behavior for which I just reproved them, but that doesn’t mean they’ve actually accepted the biblical reproof. They may be doing the right things in the right ways, but if they’re doing it for the wrong reasons, they’re still sinning, and they still need to be reproved.
By the way, this is where a lot of parents lead their kids. By only ever teaching them what to do and how to do it, they create well-behaved idolaters. In order to truly reprove our kids from the Bible, we must include what God has to say about our motivation.
But this is another topic we don’t have time to dig into today.
However, if after biblically reproving my child, they submit to God and accept His interpretation of life, a couple things are going to happen.
First, they will confess their sin. To confess one’s sin is to verbally agree with God that He is right and we are wrong. It will sound something like, “I was wrong. I shouldn’t have done ________. When I __________, I was sinning.”
Second, they will ask for forgiveness. Jesus beautifully illustrates this step in the Disciple’s Prayer. “And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” (Luke 11:4) We often refer to this as apologizing. We have a two-part episode called Teach Your Children to Apologize. You are welcome to listen to those in order to help your children appreciate what it means to biblically ask for forgiveness.
By the way, the confession and apology can happen at the same time. “Will you please forgive me for telling you that you were stupid?” The fact that they’re asking to be forgiven for their unkindness shows that they recognize that what they did was wrong and in need of forgiveness.
But there’s a third step. They need to confess and apologize, but they also need to repent.
Here’s the thing, too many people think that repentance is confession. It’s not. Other people think that repentance is the same as asking for forgiveness. It’s not.
Repentance is a separate step all-together and involves changing one’s behavior.
It’s not until a person is ready to repent of their sin — ready to put off the sin and put on righteousness — ready to stop leaning on their own understanding and submit to God — it’s not until that point that we can correct our child.
And here’s where I want to look at Merriam-Webster’s main definition for correction: “To make or set right, to alter or adjust so as to bring to some standard or required condition.”
Correction is the process of changing from the wrong to the right. It’s not something we say, it’s something we do.
But it’s something they will need help doing, and it’s something the Bible was designed to do. II Timothy 3:16 says that the Bible is profitable for correction. It gives us what we need to correct — to change — our behavior.
Now, that may have seemed like a huge introduction, but it was actually necessary for us to be able to understand how this parenting step works. Unlike instruction and reproof, we cannot correct our kids unless they participate.
But when they do participate, this is where parenting starts to be really fun. This is where a Christian parent has the joy of helping their child submit to God — either in justification or sanctification. And that is a gloriously wonderful step.
So, let’s look at just a couple biblical words and ideas that are part of the correction step. And the first is . . .
The Greek Word epanorthosis is only used one time in the Bible — here in II Timothy 3:16 — and it refers to “a restoration to an upright or right state.” Did you catch that. It doesn’t refer to me telling you how you’re supposed to live. It doesn’t really have anything to do with punishing you. It’s the process of being restored to your correct state. It refers to the improvement of your life and character.
I’ve often used the illustration of a ship that’s left harbor and gone out to sea and encountered a terrible hurricane. Correction is not the process of my radioing from shore to tell you to come back to the harbor. Correction is not being being hammered by the wind and waves. Correction occurs when then ship actually turns around and heads back to the safety of the harbor. That is what the Bible helps us do. And that’s what we parents are supposed to help our kids do.
But there’s another Greek word translated . . .
The word paideuō is translated in the following ways: correcting, discipline, disciplined, disciplines, educated, instructing, punish, punished, taught.
This word is interesting because it contains parts of each of the four parenting jobs — instruction, reproof, correction, and training.
Titus 2:11-12 shows us the instruction element. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.”
But there’s a reproof facet to this word as well. In I Timothy 1:20 we read, “Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.” They’ve been confronted and received consequences in the hopes that they will learn, confess, ask for forgiveness, and repent.
Luke 23:22, “And he said to them the third time, ‘Why, what evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death; therefore I will punish Him and release Him.’”
II Timothy 2:25 shows us the shade of meaning we’ve discussed today. “With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.” Though the order may seem incorrect, all of the concepts are there. The individual repents and embraces correction so that they may live in the training of the truth.
Along these lines, I love the wording in Acts 7:22. It reads, “Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds.” But this word doesn’t refer to a passive sitting under one’s teaching. It shows that Moses participated in the education and came out educated. This is the picture of biblical training.
So, this word is unique in that it can refer to multiple stages in the parenting process. But what I want us to see, though, is that biblical correction involves actual change.
And this leads us to the word . . .
The Greek word most often translated “repentance” is metanoia, and it has the idea of changing one’s mind.
Again, please notice the idea of something being changed. It’s not something we promise, repentance is something we do.
Luke 5:32 reveals one of Jesus’ main goals for coming to this earth, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
In order to repent, though, the individual must recognize that they actually are a sinner. They need to embrace the reproof stage.
This is reflected in II Corinthians 7:9. Paul says, “I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us.”
Paul reproved them, and they accepted that reproof. That is a joyful situation. Though reproof may be very uncomfortable, when our children accept God’s reproof and actually repent, it’s a glorious experience.
And this leads us to our final biblical word for the day.
The Greek word sōzō is one that has many different uses.
It can refer to being made physically well as in Matthew 9:21 where the woman thought to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.” In a similar way it can refer to being “cured,” “made well,” “recovered,” and the like.
But more often than not it’s translated save, saved, saves, and saving.
Of course, this saving can be a physical saving like in Matthew 8:25 when the disciples thought they were going to die in the storm, they cried out “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!”
But it also refers to spiritual salvation as in Matthew 1:21 which reads, “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
In the Scriptures the idea of being saved can refer both to justification as well as sanctification. We’ll look at an example of the latter in a moment.
Before that, though, I need for us to recognize that the idea of saving someone spiritually is not merely an act of God. I know; saying it that way sounds heretical. Of course, God is the one Who saves. No one can save himself, and no person can save another person.
But, God does invite Christians into the process of saving other people.
In Romans 10:13-15 we read, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But then Paul asks a very important question. “14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?” Then he answers his questions with a question, “And how will they hear without a preacher?”
The preacher — which we learned before is someone who teaches God’s Word. Specifically, here it refers to the Gospel — which we’ll see in a second.
The point is, a person is saved by God when they call upon His name, but preachers are an important part of the process.
Paul continues in verse “15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!’”
So, yes, God does invite us to participate in the process of justifying people. We introduce people to God, and He justifies them.
But this works in our sanctification as well. Consider a passage we’ve often discussed. James 5:19-20, “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
Here we have an example of a believer straying from the truth, but another Christian engages in reproof, the sinning brother repents, and God says that the reproving Christian has helped turn a sinner from the error of his way and saved his soul.
He helped correct the sinning believer.
The correction stage of parenting requires that our children submit to our teaching and reproof. But when they’ve confessed their sins and asked for forgiveness, they will likely need help putting off their sinful ways and putting on righteousness.
During the Parent’s 5 Jobs series, I referred to this as the Counseling Step.
In my biblical counseling, I frequently teach and reprove. Those are necessary parts of the job. But — just like in parenting — real joy only comes when the counselee submits to that reproof and decides to change.
However, what makes biblical counseling so challenging is the correction stage.
The Bible says a lot about what is right and wrong. Using that information, it’s relatively easy to reprove when we see someone engaging in what the Bible says is sin. But using the Bible to help people correct their trajectory is more difficult.
Consider this very extreme example. Let’s say — God forbid — that one of your children engages in homosexuality. Most Christians who know their Bible can teach their child that homosexuality is a sin and reprove them if they engage in it. The Bible is clear about the action and motivation being sinful, and the Bible explains what our actions and motivations should be.
But, what are we to do when the child confesses their sin but then asks how they’re supposed to change? Sure, we can tell them, “Well, don’t engage in homosexuality.” But how do we help the child with their questions about the practical steps they’re to take when they’re tempted? What are they to do when they feel an attraction to someone of the same sex? What are the implications for their friend group and entertainment choices?
The Bible does give guidance for these questions and many more because it’s sufficient for our life and godliness. But it takes someone even more mature in the Word of God to be able to help with those applications.
It’s not too hard to read Ephesians 4:28 to our kids: “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.”
That provides the general trajectory for correction. But what do I tell my child about how to respond to the temptation to steal?
Searching for the word “steal” in my Bible isn’t going to provide that answer. I have to know what the Bible says about temptation in general.
I can start with James 1 to teach them the difference between temptation and sin. I can then move to I Corinthians 10:13 to help them learn that God will always provide a way to escape temptation. And then — depending on the unique needs of the individual — I may take them to Philippians 4 to help them address their thought life. Or I may take them to Proverbs 1 which details the consequences of sinful companions and then guide them to Ecclesiastes to learn about the joy of Christ-honoring friends.
It’s this correction stage, this counseling stage, that will require something new from us parents.
Sometimes correction is easy and straightforward and the child — by the grace of God — will renew their minds, put off their sin, and put on Christ’s righteousness. But often there are many questions and related topics that will be involved in correction. We’ll have to be able to guide our children to those biblical truths in order to help them genuinely return to the safety of God’s harbor.
As you can tell, this is a really big topic. Effective correction involves the participation of our child as well as an ever-growing Parenting Bible.
If we want to help our child stop lying and start telling the truth, we’re probably going to need to know more than simply what the Bible says about truth and lies. Liars have a worship problem. They have an idolatry issue.
We need to know what the Bible says spiritual adultery, the role the heart plays in our communication, and we’re going to have to be good at helping our children understand their unique temptations and how to respond to them. We’re going to have to help them break their lifelong habits and replace them with God-empowered habits instead of self-strengthened new behaviors.
The Correction Stage really is a glorious part of parenting, but it requires a lot of us.
I think often we don’t get to enjoy the Correction Stage with our kids, not simply because they’re not participating, but too often our kids are happy to participate. They’re glad to confess and apologize and repent, but they need help repenting, and we — the parent — aren’t prepared to actually help them correct their trajectory. We have no idea about what the Bible actually says to help them put off sin and put on righteousness.
So, let me ask you this, if you don’t know how to biblically help your kids correct their lives, please call me at (828) 423-0894. You can also email us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com.
We want so badly to equip dads and moms to do every stage of parenting well.
Please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets so other Christin parents can learn how to biblically correct their kids.
I hope you’ll join us next time as we once again open God’s Word to discover how to parent our children for life and godliness.
To that end, we’ll be asking the question “How Does God Want Me to Train My Child?”
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