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Colossians 3:20-21 & Ephesians 6:1-4 by Robert Dean
The purpose of Biblical family roles in our culture has taken a back seat to personal agendas. This is one of the causes of the breakdown of the family. The percentage of stay-at-home mothers is way down. Radical feminism, increase of national debt, teenage motherhood, absence of fathers in the home and reduction of the amount of time parents spend with their children are the results of the deterioration of the family. It is the job of the parent in the home to train a child to function in every area of life. From Deuteronomy 4 understand the emphasis on instruction in the home as the way God thinks about the first line of education in a culture. What is the parent’s first duty with regard to his own education before he is qualified to competently educate his child?

This lesson also includes Deuteronomy 4:25.
Series:Colossians (2011)
Duration:50 mins 59 secs

Parents, Children and the Home. Colossians 3:20-21; Ephesians 6:1-4 Deut. 4:25

 

Our culture, the general belief system that dominates western civilization, is a culture that has basically excluded God from having anything significant to say directly to us in terms of what we do behind closed doors. Usually that phrase is used with reference to sexual intimacy but when we are using it today we mean what goes on in your family and your family dynamics between the husband and wife and of the children as you focus on your role as a family unit. Why do you exist as a family unit and what is the role and responsibility of children, and specifically, what should you be thinking, what should you be focusing on, what are your goals and objectives as a parent?

In our culture we have seen a significant and dramatic shift in how we view the role and purpose of the family. The purpose of the family has taken a back seat to personal agendas in the last fifty years. A hundred years ago the family was a tight unit. There was Mom and Dad and there were children raging from usually two or three to as many as sixteen or seventeen. That seems odd today and there are those today who condemn having that many children, but that came out of a biblical worldview on the one hand, that people were to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. And that it was through the influence of your children that you proclaimed the gospel and reared them on the basis of the Word of God that you could influence a culture as you trained your children biblically and then they went out and built their families.

That is just the opposite of the self-centered view today. People are more concerned with achieving their personal goals, their success in business, education or whatever it may be; whatever their personal agenda is that take the primary seat. This leads to the breakdown of marriage and the breakdown in the family. There are many reasons you can come up with to justify not being profoundly involved in the lives of your children but the bottom line is that is the objective and each one of us has to determine how we are going to achieve that objective.

In this passage we see in a reference at the end (Colossians 3:25) that there will be an evaluation, a judgment; it is part of the judgment seat of Christ. There is an evaluation of everything we do in life with reference to rewards and punishment, and there will be an evaluation in terms of our roles and responsibilities as parents. So as Christians we need to think about family from a biblical perspective.

We need to point out some facts from some recent research on understanding the deterioration of the family in our culture. In 2010 there 5-million stay-at-home mothers in the US. That was a decline from five and a half million in 2007. One reason many women choose to remain in the workforce when they start to have children is because of the recession and financial pressures. Financial pressures had been one of the ways in which the world system has pressured women to conform women to the ideals of the feminist agenda.

Remember that back in the sixties and seventies as radical feminism was beginning to establish a foothold in American culture there was an emphasis on what was called the equal rights amendment and there was an emphasis on trying to make this a part of the Constitution. That ultimately never came to pass but there were numerous conservative Bible-believing Christian women who took a profound stand against that. They were married, they were going to have children and they were going to stay at home. They understood that their primary responsibility as a mother is to be at home, not to have a job, not to have a career so that they could be there for the children; someone needs to be at home as a frame of reference for the children.

But then in the late 1970s we had a period not unlike today where the nation went because of its increased debt—double digit inflation, interest rates on mortgage loans went up to 12-15%, etc.—and because of that there was a financial pressure where many women had to go against their beliefs and work outside the home in order to survive and to pay the bills. That is one way we think that Satan has used the world system to attack the family. It is happening again in our culture today. We need to understand the dynamics there to fight against that. 

Looking again at the statistics where we saw that in 2010 there were 5-million stay-at-home mothers, that is nearly a fifty per cent decrease from the 10-million stay-at-home mothers in 1969. That shows how these things have changed. And along with this the attitudes have changed, so that even in the late 60s and 70s there were a number of mothers who worked outside the home they didn't believe that they should be working outside the home; it was something that was imposed upon them. It has completely reversed itself now so that a large majority of women who are mothers believe that it is better for them to work outside the home than to be in the home with the children.

Children with absent fathers are reported to be the most vulnerable and problematic children in our society. They frequently have problems in school and at home due to behavioral issues and educational challenges. The number of families with absent fathers has increased significantly from a little more than half a million in 1971 to 1.6-million in 1996. Now it is probably much greater than that.

Another observation is that a white teenage girl from advantage background is five times more likely to become a teen mother of she grows up in a single mother household with an absentee father than if she grows up in a household with both biological parents.

So all of these indicate that there are studies after studies showing that as far as society is concerned the idea is two parents in the home, and ultimately both parents spending as much time as possible with the children.

Another study indicates that in the middle class the whole concept of mothering has shifted and now the preference is to work outside the home where much of the formative years when the child's development occurs they are being taken care of by someone other than the biological parents.

According to a book called Freakonomics the US Census Bureau states that the share of children living in mother-only households has risen from eight per cent in 1960 to twenty-three per cent in 2010. This is a radical shift. Freakonomics has a longstanding interest in the role parents play in the lives of their children and they say that research indicates that a father's involvement with his children is linked to all manner of beneficial outcomes, from better academic performance, improved social and emotional stability, and lower instances of delinquency and other problem behaviors. Daughters generally require a level of quality interaction with the father figure but sons benefit from quantity of time. Sons respond to simply having a father around the house.

The study by Freakonomics also notes that a child growing up with a father who lives outside of the home not with the child, and spends time with him without living there, also leads to an increase in delinquent behavior. They point out that for both young men and women delinquent behavior decreases if their mother simply spent time doing things with them—especially with the daughters—during adolescence. So it comes down to spending time with your kids developing that relationship and adding to it. You are not building a relationship that is a friendship. As a parent you are not a friend, you are a parent; your job is to prepare your children to be able to function independently of you by the time they are eighteen years of age or when they leave the home. Your job as a parent is to train the children, and this is clearly an emphasis in the Scripture.

Colossians 3:20 NASB "Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord." The word there that is translated "well-pleasing" is the Greek word euarestos  [e)uarestoj] which simply means doing that which is acceptable. It is not the idea of bringing pleasure but the idea of doing that which is acceptable or that which is correct. It is used in Acts 6:2 NASB "…It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables." The word translated "desirable" is really something that is "pleasing." In other words, it is an idiom for "this isn't the right thing to do" because it is not the best use of our time. So the term well-pleasing is often used as a synonym for doing the right thing in light of a situation. Jesus used it that way in John 8:29 NASB "And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him." We see here that Jesus views the Father as being a separate person. Here "pleasing" the Father is tantamount to doing the right thing.

The word that is used often in the Scripture for doing that which is right, that which conforms to the character of God, is the Greek word dikaios [dikaioj] which means righteous, righteousness, or sometimes justice. And this is the word that is used in Ephesians 6:1 when it is talking about children. NASB "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right [dikaios]"—just or right, or that which conforms to the character of God.

It is important that we understand the concept of righteousness here. The New Testament terminology is always based on its precedent in the Old Testament. All of the writers of the New Testament are Jewish, their framer of reference was the Old Testament, and in the Old Testament the corresponding word for righteousness in Hebrew is tsedeka. It was a very important word in the Old Testament and it is an important word in Judaism. In the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament it often refers to the righteous character of God, i.e. absolute perfection. So when we look at this concept of righteousness it shows up in a family passage back in Deuteronomy. 

Deuteronomy was actually a sermon as it was originally given by Moses; Moses' last word to the Jewish people before he left them and went to be with the Lord on Mount Nebo. In Deuteronomy there is a rehearsal and a reminder of all that God has done to provide for the Jewish people, to protect them, and delivering then from slavery in Egypt, watching over them and providing for them in the wilderness, and then it is a reminder to them that this new generation that is going to go into the promised land needs to be obedient to God so that they will not suffer the divine discipline that their parents' generation did.

Deuteronomy 4:1 NASB "Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, so that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you."  The word "listen" doesn't just mean to have your ears stimulated by auditory vibrations, it means to obey: to listen, to understand, to put into practice something that they are being told. "Statutes" and "judgments" are different words that are used to describe the mandates, the legal precepts of the Mosaic Law. What is the purpose of obedience to the law? "That you may live." He is not talking about life eternal here; he is talking about the quality of their life once they go into the promised land. God has promised that if they were obedient then He would bless them, they would enjoy prosperity in the land, but if they were discipline He would bring discipline and judgment, military conquest, and economic collapse upon the nation.

Deuteronomy 4:6 NASB "So keep and do {them,} for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples [nations/Gentiles—their testimony to the world] who will hear all these statutes and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.'" Note the response of the Gentiles. They've observed the prosperity and the stability of the nation Israel and their response is that there is no other nation that is wise and understand and stable and prosperous as this nation. [7] "For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him? [8] Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today? [9] Only give heed to yourself…" pay attention to this; be diligent in the application of this. "… and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons."

The context here is talking about how to have life. To have life is to take the framework of thinking, the whole body of God's revelation through the law and how to experience real life—"and teach it to your children and your grandchildren." There is this heavy emphasis throughout history among the Jewish people on education: teaching again and again and again is emphasized. The reality is that all through the law there is this emphasis on teaching and education. Jewish tradition is that among the Jews as far back as the time of Moses there was a one hundred per cent literacy rate. Why? Because they were to know the Word of God. And throughout the generations the Jewish people have always valued education more than anyone else, and it is dues to the influence of the Mosaic Law.

In Deuteronomy chapter six we see Moses explaining ion more detail how that teaching to your children and grandchildren was to work itself out.

Deuteronomy 6:1 NASB "Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded {me} to teach you …" Emphasis on instruction. That is one of the things that distinguishes us from other churches. We don't believe in just having sort of exhortational homilies on Sunday morning, or any other time; we put our emphasis on really explaining and teaching the Scriptures verse by verse, going through each book of the Bible so that you can understand what has been written for our benefit. " … that you might do {them} in the land where you are going over to possess it, [2] so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God …" That is the beginning of wisdom, according to Proverbs and the Psalms. "… to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. "You and your grandson"—the family is responsible for educating the next generation.  Parents, you cannot expect the school to do the job for you. The school is merely an adjunct to your responsibility as a parent.

Deuteronomy 6:3 NASB "O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do {it,} that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, {in} a land flowing with milk and honey." In other words, the key to prosperity is to learn how God thinks, passing that on from one generation to the next.

Deuteronomy 6:4 NASB "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!" Recent studies on the use of the word "one" indicated that this is not the concept of a Unitarian sort of God, a singularity, but it is talking about a unity. It is the same word that is used in Genesis 2:24 when Moses writes "he shall leaves his father and mother and cling to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh." The two shall be one; that is a unity. Not a singularity but a but a oneness in unity. The context here is not talking about God as a singularity but that the Lord of Moses, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is to be worshipped in exclusion from all idols and all other things. So this is a verse that is saying not that the Lord is one but the Lord alone, and that there are no other gods but the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 

Deuteronomy 6:5 NASB "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might [strength], i.e. everything that you have, that your relationship with God is the most important element of your life. 

Deuteronomy 6:6 NASB "These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart [thinking]." What do you do with that? [7] "You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up." So first of all parents, your responsibility is to make sure that the dynamic, significant aspect of your life is your relationship with God and your emphasis on learning and applying the Word of God; being in church Sunday morning, Tuesday night and Thursday night in Bible class where this is exhibited and you are an example to your children just by watching you that you make this a priority. From your relationship with the Lord and the strength of that relationship with the Lord you influence your children.

Some parents are too wimpy on this. They want their four, five or six-year-old kids to make up their minds spiritually. When they are 35 or 40 let them make up their minds spiritually; when they are between the age of zero and thirty you don't put up with anything less than 100 per cent positive volition, and you can only start that from day one. By the time a child is speaking his first ten or twelve sentences need to be complete verses that you have taught them from the Bible. That is the focal point, your job as a trainer and a teacher; anything less is a compromise with the world. As a parent your job is to teach them "diligently." This is a word that means you make this a high priority. What you like to do in life once you have children is not important until your children are out of the home. What is important is how you train that child to grow. It is your job to train them; nobody else is going to do it.

How do we do that? By taking them to church on Sunday morning and maybe during the middle of the week? No. It is a 24/7 responsibility, it happens in the course of life as you spend time with your children. Your job as a parent is to train your children how to think biblically, to have the divine viewpoint in their life. 

Deuteronomy 6:8 "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead." The idea is that this becomes part of what you do and produce with your hands (sign on your hand), and frontlets before your eyes is your brain, it dominates your thinking as a parent. [9] "You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." The significance of writing them on the doorposts is that everything within the boundaries of the home is going to be influenced by the Word of God.

So there is this understanding here that if you are going to rear the next generation and train them so that they value what you value this will take up 100 per cent of your time as a parent.

Luke 2:52 NASB "And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." This is a verse that is describing the growth of the Lord Jesus as an infant. There are four categories in this verse. Wisdom relates to His intellectual development, stature relates to His physical growth and development, His favor with God relates to His spiritual growth and His favor with men relates to His social development as He matured and grew up.

Regarding the first area, wisdom, we have to understand that when children are born they do not know right from wrong, they do not know good manners, they do not know how to focus on the needs of others. They are self-centered; everything is about them. They are ignorant and do not know anything. They do not know how to behave or how to face any issues of life. They don't know how to make decisions; they don't have any frame of reference for this. It is your job as a parent to train them, to teach them, to teach them right from wrong, to teach them to not be self-centered, to train them and discipline them so that they learn. So children are born without wisdom and they need to gain wisdom and knowledge as they grow.  

Second, they lack stature. That is, they are helpless. They can't do much and they need to grow physically. That involves good nourishment, healthy diet, and then as they grow it involves developing physically in terms of exercise and activity.

In terms of favor with God, we know that we are born spiritually dead without a relationship with God. And so children do not have that relationship with God and the only way to grow in favor with God is to trust in Jesus Christ as their savior. Our job as a parent is to begin to communicate the gospel to them as early as we can.

It is the responsibility of both parents to train the children but as we see in Ephesians it is primarily the responsibility of the father. Ephesians 6:4 NASB "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger …" That means don't be tyrannical in the exercise of your authority. "… but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." This is addressed primarily to fathers but it does involve both parents. Nothing is more significant in the life of your child. If you are a father then your emphasis on the spiritual life, your example, comes across very clearly.

It is the home that God has designed as the training ground for the next generation and it is our responsibility as Christians and as parents to emphasize the importance of the home and the role of parents.