Christ in The Parent - Part Two
Scripture: Psalm 78:4–8
Christ In The Parent—Part Two
Sunday, July 28, 2019
Pastor Randy Smith
As you know, we are enjoying a topical summer series entitled, “Christ In.” With the intent of being very practical, we have looked at Christ in the Home and Christ in the Marriage. The last time we were together we examined, Christ in the Parent. I subtitled it, “Seventeen Ways to Raise a Pharisee.” Then we covered ways 1-6. This morning after a brief review I would like to conclude with points 7-17.
If you missed part 1, let me remind you what I am trying to achieve. We know that our Lord’s fiercest opponents were the Pharisees. They promoted religious man-made legalism. We know that is bad. And we also know that our Lord advocated for just the opposite – Christ-centered, grace-driven, God-honoring true heart spirituality. That is good, right?
Yet if that’s the case, why do many professing Christians raising their children according to the playbook of our Lord’s greatest opponents? Why are we seeking in our homes and churches to produce a new generation of Pharisees?
As you can tell from the subtitle, much of this sermon will be delivered in a sarcastic way, indirectly teaching from a negative perspective of what we should not be doing. We will be moving quick so stay with me because at times I’ll be switching from the sarcastic approach to the serious approach. I trust you will be able to tell the difference!
So if you want to raise a Pharisee, just follow these simple seventeen steps.
Here is a quick review from points 1-6
1. Make the Christian home all about rule-keeping (do’s and don’ts), but never explain to them why they should follow God’s Word.
2. Do you want to raise a Pharisee? Then add your own rules to God’s Word and make those rules more important than God’s Word.
3. Strictly enforce the rules on your children, but give yourself a pass (hypocrisy).
4. Show your children nothing about grace, forgiveness, mercy and love.
5. Never pray for them.
6. Preach at them until they are blue in the face and never listen to what they have to say about God’s Word.
Now the new material (points 7-17)
7. Make Jesus a burden rather than a blessing – make God’s Word a bondage rather than a liberation.
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matt. 11:28-30).
Here is the big question – Do our children really see in us that following Jesus is a blessing and not a burden? Who would want to follow the God of the Pharisees? No wonder Jesus heaped His greatest condemnation on these guys! Do our children want to follow the God of their parents? Do they see Christ as our delight?
I love Titus 2:10 – “Showing all good faith so that [we] will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.” Do we adorn Jesus, make Him look attractive? Or do our children see from us a Jesus that keeps us from hell, but creates a hell on earth because of the apparent burden and joylessness that comes from following Him? Do they see Jesus as an unwelcomed taskmaster with unfair, meaningless and despicable rules?
8. Give them no opportunity to think spiritually for themselves.
Here are the two pitfalls many Christian parents fall into: In their desire to raise godly children, they act like a Pharisee and establish a rule for every conceivable action. They make brainless, check-off-the-box rule keeping scenarios. That’s legalism! Or in their desire to avoid adding more rules to the Bible (and not raise a Pharisee) they teach nothing about living all of life for the glory of God. That’s licentious. The classic line – “If it’s not specifically condemned in the Bible it’s fine for me to pursue it.” 1 Corinthians 10:23 – “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.”
Yes, our children must learn about Christian Liberty – the freedom we have in Christ regarding nonbiblical matters. But by all means we must teach them how to make decisions for themselves in the gray areas of life using the Scriptures, prayer, the Holy Spirit, wise counsel and conscience.
For example here is an easy test: What does your child think about television? Do they say, “All television shows are to be forbidden for every Christian.” That’s Pharisaical legalism filled with judgmentalism and self-righteousness. Or do they say, “All television shows are fine because TV’s are not condemned in the Bible.” That is mindless living with a total insensitivity to personal godliness and the leading of the Holy Spirit. The best response would be, “I personally choose to avoid these types of shows as a result of biblical principles and a conscience shaped by the Holy Spirit through prayer.” That’s what we are shooting for!
9. Fail to guide them in a spiritual worldview – teaching them how to process life with the Bible.
We teach our children about the World and the Bible. We teach them that the world is bad (1 Jn. 2:15). And we teach them that the Bible is good (Pr. 16:20). That is true, but our children are rarely taught (guided) as to how the two intersect with each other. The result is that they will either be seduced by the World or they will be cocooned from the world. Both are useless to Jesus. The desired biblical mindset is when Christians reject the influence of the world (see it for the deceptive garbage that it is), but desire to love and influence those trapped the world.
Here’s an example: Let’s say there is a house on fire (signifying the world) and a child inside your child can easily and safely help. Would your child join the other child in the burning house because it looks like fun and die with him? Would your child run the opposite way and condemn the child for playing with matches? Or would your child rise above the evil with no attraction to the evil and try to rescue the child?
10. Pharisaical parents praise their externals regardless of their heart.
This is where society is today. Since there are no objective standards, the end goal can justify the means.
Consider the recent Justice Cavanaugh case. Did Ms. Ford lie though her teeth in the Senate hearing to prevent his confirmation? It appears so. But for the sake of this argument, let’s pretend she did. Many would justify her lies and the vicious slander of this man, because of their desire to see one less pro-life justice on the Supreme Court. Therefore if the end goal is noble in your mind, the means you employ to reach it are noble too if they help you attain it.
But in God’s economy, does the end result matter, is it justified, if the means to get there are corrupt and contrary to His Word? Parents, is your child motivated to act by and for God’s honor from their heart from beginning to end? In the end result, Pharisees care only for the praise of men. Christians care only for the glory of God – and desire it every step of the way, guided by the Holy Spirit and His inspired Words.
Listen, it is never right to do wrong in order for a change to do right. Are we teaching our children to develop godly end goals in their lives and are they choosing godly means to attain them – even down to their specific motives? “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Col. 3:17).
11. Correct them more than you encourage them.
Even in a secular university, future educators are taught to criticize and encourage with a 1:4 ratio.
12. Teach them to obey only because they have to and not because they should also want to as God’s commands come from a loving and trustworthy Father.
Remember Luke 11:11, “Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?” Of course not because parents know how to give good gifts to their children! As parents, our children may despise our commands, but within time they realize they are all for the child’s good (eating vegetables, bedtime hours, doing homework). We give commands because we love our children and want to see things go well for them. Do your children see God’s commands in the same, ever better, light?
God’s commands are always protecting us from something bad, by providing something better. Do they understand that disobeying God’s commands always brings some form of self-inflicted consequence?
13. Make your disciple punishment rather than correction.
Pharisaical discipline often happens with the child inconveniences or embarrasses the parent. It’s then inconsistent and enacted as retribution in a form of revenge. That’s not discipline, but punishment.
Christian parenting rather sees disobedience as an affront to the lordship of Christ and thus a danger for the child. Discipline then is an opportunity to correct a child, have them associate pain with sin and bring him or her closer to Christ for grace. Discipline when done this way is not a form of revenge, but rather a form of love.
14. Teach them to obey you as God rather than to obey God by obeying you.
There are two ends of the spectrum: At one end is teaching your children to fear you more than they do God. At the other end is not disciplining and wanting to be their buddy.
15. Use Scripture and church as punishment.
Here’s an idea. The next time they dishonor you, have them write Proverbs 30:17, 100 times – “The eye that mocks a father and scorns a mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it.” That will teach them to love the Word of God! Or better yet. If they dishonor you make them miss “children’s church” and make them sit in “big church” as a form of punishment. Listen, avoid using something good as punishment.
16. Pound your kids into external conformity, often to simply make yourself look good and do nothing to shepherd their hearts.
It’s not difficult to control the externals of little ones through power and reward. Play just those two cards and you’ll have the most behaved children in the supermarket, church and social gatherings. This works great for about the first eight years. Unfortunately everything will collapse after that when their rebellious heart shines forth and you can no longer externally restrain them through your intimidation and meet their deepest needs through your trinkets.
17. Demand self-reformation, rather than pointing them to Christ-transformation by grace.
Nearly every parent wants their child to do well – decent morals, good behavior. And Christian parents ultimately desire to see their children pursue God’s virtues. As a result we need to gently expose their sin. We need to point them in the right direction. But we act like a Pharisee when we take them back to themselves for change. We use sayings like, “You need to clean up your act.”
Rather, God wants us to point our children to Christ whereby He might internally change their hearts. In the former we as parents and the child get all the credit. Pharisees like that attention. In the latter God gets all the credit. The former is superficial and condemning. The latter is deep and rewarding. The former is continued and increased idolatry. The latter is renewed God-worship. Let’s remember James 4:6, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”
I know I presented a lot over the past two sermons. Please review this message again and again via the post on the website. My friends, no parent has arrived in these areas. We are all growing and always learning. And remember, your role as a parent is not just for the benefit of your child. God is using this special relationship to sanctify you as well! And take it very seriously because despite the hard word and discouragement, it would be hard to find a more noble investment.