Purpose of Guarding the Treasure

The purpose of this blog is to encourage readers to invest their time into the Word of God and "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." Paul wrote these words to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:14) in his presumed last letter before his execution. May we be those who see the word of God as a treasure, guarding it with our lives, investing in it with our hearts and minds, and reaping the fruit of an abundant life while getting to know the God who loves us and created us for His marvelous pleasure and glory.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Biblical Study on Disciplining Children


  • What significance does the Bible give to disciplining children? 
  • What does the Bible have to say about why disciplining children is important? 
  • According to the Bible, what are the consequences of NOT disciplining children?
  • What biblical examples can you find for what happens when children are not disciplined?

  • Let me start out by saying that this project is very personal to me.  The questions above were provided by my spiritual father on earth who challenged me to consult my heavenly Father on matters of parenthood especially the discipline of children.  The following is a critical look at what the Scriptures tell us about parenthood and the importance of disciplining children by their parents.  This study is by no means exhaustive and contains commentary on Scriptures that I personally found challenging and edifying in my own life.  I have put the Scriptures highlighted in teal to segregate them from my own thoughts.  My hope is that this study will challenge you as much as it has me to be a better parent and walk in closer obedience to what the Lord intended, as those who “bring [their children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

    Advise for Parents from Proverbs
    The book of Proverbs is a treasure chest of wisdom for anyone afforded the privilege of being a parent.  Solomon, a man gifted with great wisdom from the Lord, uses this book of Scripture to pass on godly wisdom to his son.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.  Hear, my son, your father's instruction, And do not forsake your mother's teaching; Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head, And ornaments about your neck.” (1:7-9)

    Solomon wrote various proverbs regarding the significance and importance of discipline and reproof of children with some written directly to parents and others written directly to children.  

    Proverbs to parents: He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.  Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death.  Stripes that wound scour away evil, And strokes reach the innermost parts.  Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.  Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you beat him with the rod, he will not die.  You shall beat him with the rod, And deliver his soul from SheolThe rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. (13:24,19:18, 20:30, 22:15, 23:13-14, 29:15)

    Parents who love their children will diligently discipline them.  Parents are given a finite amount of time to discipline their children in godliness.  Using the rod for discipline and reproof will aid in removing the evil and foolishness inherently bound up in their heart, quite possibility delivering them from death while at the same time instilling within them godly wisdom and self-restraint as they ultimately learn to relate to the Lord.  Allowing a child to run a household brings shame upon a family, revealing that the parents have been disobedient and neglected their role in bringing up the child in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

    Proverbs to children: My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord, Or loathe His reproof, For whom the Lord loves He reproves, Even as a father, the son in whom he delights.  A wise son accepts his father's discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.  A fool rejects his father's discipline, But he who regards reproof is prudent.  Cease listening, my son, to discipline, And you will stray from the words of knowledge.” (3:11-12, 13:1, 15:5, 19:27)

    A wise child willingly accepts the discipline of the Lord as well as his father, knowing that a father who disciplines him is actually a father who loves and delights in him.  A foolish child hates and scoffs at reproof and rebuke, not knowing that it is because of a lack of discipline that he is indeed foolish.

    General instruction regarding the importance of discipline: For the commandment is a lamp, and the teaching is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life.  He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, But he who forsakes reproof goes astray.  Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, But he who hates reproof is stupid.  Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline, But he who regards reproof will be honored.  Stern discipline is for him who forsakes the way; He who hates reproof will die.  He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof Will dwell among the wise.  He who neglects discipline despises himself, But he who listens to reproof acquires understanding.  Understanding is a fountain of life to him who has it, But the discipline of fools is folly.  Listen to counsel and accept discipline, That you may be wise the rest of your days.  Apply your heart to discipline, And your ears to words of knowledge.  A man who hardens his neck after much reproof Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.” (6:23, 10:17, 12:1, 13:18, 15:10,31-32, 16:22, 19:20, 23:12, 29:1)

    Discipline is God’s way of teaching us about the way of life.  A wise man will heed instruction along the way and find his way in life, but a fool who despises it and tries to make his own way will only lose his way.  With a love of discipline comes a wealth of knowledge, wisdom and understanding as well as honor and the preservation of life.  Those who neglect discipline are stupid, impoverished spiritually, shamed, guilty of self-inflicted depravity, subjected to brokenness and ultimately headed for death.

     Old Testament Examples of Discipline or Lack Thereof

    Moses is an example of someone who chose to accept the discipline of the Lord.  He allowed God to mold his character and teach him how to be a servant.  God spoke to Moses saying, Out of the heavens He let you hear His voice to discipline you; and on earth He let you see His great fire, and you heard His words from the midst of the fire.  Because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them. And He personally brought you from Egypt by His great power, driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in and to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is today.” (Deuteronomy 4:36-38)  Moses was disciplined through the hearing of God’s voice, seeing His presence in the burning bush, watching His mighty actions in bringing out the Israelites from Egyptian oppression and delivering on His promise of providing the land promised to Abraham.  Parents who seek to successfully discipline their children should not only have a voice of authority, but also a life of authority that exemplifies the value of discipline providing and promoting dependability, consistency, stability and trustworthiness within the home.

    God used Moses to reaffirm His discipline of Israel.  Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.  Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him.” (Deuteronomy 8:5-6)  Notice that Moses wanted the Israelites to know God’s heart behind the discipline.  God was the Father of the Israelites and any loving father will discipline his children.  Moses exhorts the people to obey God’s commandments, walking in reverential obedience.  Parents must instill within their children a reverence for their authority which compels them to obedience.  Reverence is obtained through consistent loving discipline which provides the child with the heart knowledge that they are indeed loved by their parents.

    The Israelites of the Exodus
    Before Israel entered the Promised Land, the Lord clearly laid out the ground rules and consequences of both obedience and disobedience, promising to reward obedience and punish disobedience.  "You shall therefore love the Lord your God, and always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments.  And know this day that I am not speaking with your sons who have not known and who have not seen the discipline of the Lord your God-- His greatness, His mighty hand, and His outstretched arm, and His signs and His works which He did in the midst of Egypt to Pharaoh the king of Egypt and to all his land; and what He did to Egypt's army, to its horses and its chariots, when He made the water of the Red Sea to engulf them while they were pursuing you, and the Lord completely destroyed them; and what He did to you in the wilderness until you came to this place; and what He did to Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben, when the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, their households, their tents, and every living thing that followed them, among all Israel--but your own eyes have seen all the great work of the Lord which He did.  You shall therefore keep every commandment which I am commanding you today, so that you may be strong and go in and possess the land into which you are about to cross to possess it; so that you may prolong your days on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give to them and to their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey.  For the land, into which you are entering to possess it, is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, where you used to sow your seed and water it with your foot like a vegetable garden. But the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year.  And it shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil.  And He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you shall eat and be satisfied.  Beware, lest your hearts be deceived and you turn away and serve other gods and worship them. Or the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 11:1-17)

    In this passage, the Lord is calling the Israelites who came out of Egypt to enter the Promised Land in obedience.  They had clearly experienced discipline through the Egyptians and had experienced firsthand the mighty works of the Lord and His deliverance.  He was not speaking to the children of this generation, but rather directly to their parents.  The Lord was a Father to these parents.  He had rescued them from slavery and was now offering them freedom to live with Him in a new land reminiscent of the days in the Garden of Eden.  The Lord spoke of a land flowing with milk and honey, a land that God would essentially care for and garden Himself by providing the necessary rainfall and provisions to harvest grain, wine and oil as well as green lands to feed their cattle to satisfaction.  However, in order for these blessings to be showered upon the land, the people were required to be obedient to the Lord.  To be sure, the land was a gift, but the blessings of the land were contingent upon the obedience of the people.  In much the same way, eternal life is a gift, but experiencing the benefits of eternal life is contingent upon a believer’s obedience to God.

    The Lord again reminds the Israelites of their need to stay true to Him and teach their children His words.  You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.  And you shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.  And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth.  For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you, to do it, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him; then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-23)  The Israelite parents were to impress the truths of God upon the hearts and souls of their children by talking, walking, standing, sitting, lying down, rising up and writing them everywhere.  By heeding this instruction, the life of future generations would be preserved and prolonged and they would dwell freely and securely within the Promised Land.  The Apostle Paul echoed this promise to the church in his instruction to the church at Ephesus, Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.  And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-4)  Children are told that not only is obeying and honoring one’s parents the right thing to do, it also contains a promise of well-being and life preservation for those who heed the command.  Conversely, failure to obey and honor surely will result in a lower quality of life and the potential for an untimely death, not to mention a reckoning on the Day of Judgment.

    In the midst of his conquests, Gideon and 300 of his men were weary from pursing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.  Gideon requested bread from the men of Succoth to feed the famished men.  When they refused, Gideon said, All right, when the Lord has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, then I will thrash your bodies with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers." (Judges 8:7)  Gideon and the men then went to Penuel to request bread, but they also refused.  As such, Gideon said, When I return safely, I will tear down this tower." (Judges 8:9)  With the help of the Lord, Gideon and his 300 men routed the remaining 15,000 men within the armies of Zebah and Zalmunna.  Then Gideon, captured a youth from Succoth and questioned him. Then the youth wrote down for him the princes of Succoth and its elders, seventy-seven men.  And he came to the men of Succoth and said, "Behold Zebah and Zalmunna, concerning whom you taunted me, saying, 'Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your hand, that we should give bread to your men who are weary?'"  And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and he disciplined the men of Succoth with them.  And he tore down the tower of Penuel and killed the men of the city.” (Judges 8:14-17)  Gideon had the God given authority to back up his words with action.  He used some powerful switches to discipline the men of Succoth for their selfishness in hording their bread from his needy soldiers.  In the same way, parents have the God given authority to back up their words with action in the instance of disobedient children.  While it is not always necessary to warn a child, when a child intentionally fails to heed a warning with a show of open rebellion to parental authority, that rebellion must be disciplined immediately and with a swift memorable method of discipline.  A switch applied to the buttocks will surely suffice.

    Eli and Samuel
    The priest Eli is an example of someone who failed to discipline his sons.  Samuel is very blunt regarding Eli’s sons, Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the Lord and the custom of the priests with the people. When any man was offering a sacrifice, the priest's servant would come while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand.  Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. Thus they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there.  Also, before they burned the fat, the priest's servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, "Give the priest meat for roasting, as he will not take boiled meat from you, only raw."  And if the man said to him, "They must surely burn the fat first, and then take as much as you desire," then he would say, "No, but you shall give it to me now; and if not, I will take it by force."  Thus the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for the men despised the offering of the Lord. (1 Samuel 2:12-17)  The sons of Eli were worthless and ignorant in their knowledge of the Lord and the customs of the priesthood.  In fact, they didn’t even care about the priesthood and had no respect for the Lord or the sacrificial system, treating it with contempt.  The silence of Eli and his lack of discipline toward his sons is shocking and contemptible.  Apparently in his old age, Eli finally decided to say something to his sons although it was ultimately too late, Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.  And he said to them, "Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people?  No, my sons; for the report is not good which I hear the Lord's people circulating.  If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?" But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the Lord desired to put them to death.” (1 Samuel 2:22-25)  The priesthood under Eli was so corrupt that his own sons were committing sexual immorality with women serving at the tent of meeting.  Eli’s adult sons were out of control and an abomination before the Lord who “desired to put them to death.”

    The Lord used Samuel, a young boy at the time, to deliver a stern message to Eli, holding him accountable for choosing the favor of his sons rather than preserving the holiness of the priesthood of God.  Then a man of God came to Eli and said to him, "Thus says the Lord, 'Did I not indeed reveal Myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in bondage to Pharaoh's house?  And did I not choose them from all the tribes of Israel to be My priests, to go up to My altar, to burn incense, to carry an ephod before Me; and did I not give to the house of your father all the fire offerings of the sons of Israel?  Why do you kick at My sacrifice and at My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling, and honor your sons above Me, by making yourselves fat with the choicest of every offering of My people Israel?' Therefore the Lord God of Israel declares, 'I did indeed say that your house and the house of your father should walk before Me forever'; but now the Lord declares, 'Far be it from Me-- for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed.  Behold, the days are coming when I will break your strength and the strength of your father's house so that there will not be an old man in your house.  And you will see the distress of My dwelling, in spite of all that I do good for Israel; and an old man will not be in your house forever.  Yet I will not cut off every man of yours from My altar that your eyes may fail from weeping and your soul grieve, and all the increase of your house will die in the prime of life.  And this will be the sign to you which shall come concerning your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas: on the same day both of them shall die.  But I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul; and I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed always.  And it shall come about that everyone who is left in your house shall come and bow down to him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread, and say, "Please assign me to one of the priest's offices so that I may eat a piece of bread.” (1 Samuel 2:27-36)  The fruit of Eli’s complacency in adequately disciplining his sons and bringing them up in ways of the Lord and the priesthood was the overall destruction for his sons, the stripping of his family authority as a priest and disgrace for his family.  Failing as a parent is detrimental and inexcusable in the eyes of God.

    King Rehoboam
    Rehoboam is an example of a king who abused his power in Israel to inflict unrighteous discipline upon the nation.  Rehoboam refused the counsel of his elders to lighten the work load and accepted the counsel of his young friends to increase it.  This abuse of power ultimately led to the strive among the sons of Israel and the house of David.  Rehoboam said, My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions." (1 Kings 12:14)  While whips provide a temporal, yet painful reminder to those defying authority, using scorpions for discipline is not only harsh, but downright cruel, especially when exercised in anger and for selfish motives.

    Eliphaz, the “Friend” of Job
    Eliphaz the Temanite, despite failing to accurately diagnose the current plight of Job, offered a statement of truth regarding discipline.  Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, So do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.  For He inflicts pain, and gives relief; He wounds, and His hands also heal.” (Job 5:17-18)  Eliphaz says that a man should be glad when he receiving discipline from the Lord.  For one, this would indicate that such a man is not illegitimate (Hebrews 12:8).  In addition, a painful reminder that wounds the flesh teaches a man that he was out of line and provides the opportunity to come to terms with the mistake, learn from it and in the end find spiritual relief and healing.

    Through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord spoke a message of judgment on the nation of Judah.  The nation was rebellious, abandoning God and His commandments and was prostituting itself to worldly idolatry.  Despite their wickedness, God promised to preserve a remnant in Judah, through which the Messiah came forth.  With this promise, came a message of impending judgment for the nation at the hands of the Babylonians in 586 B.C.  ’For I am with you,' declares the Lord,' to save you; For I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you, Only I will not destroy you completely. But I will chasten you justly, And will by no means leave you unpunished.'” (Jeremiah 30:11)  Notice that God’s chastening was completely just and warranted given the open rebellion of the nation.  God was merciful and yet loved Judah enough to not let them get away with idolatry.  As parents, we must punish our children when warranted and “by no means leave [them] unpunished.”  Mercy without discipline is foolishness and promotes a lighthearted attitude about sin.

    Discipline in the Psalms
    David on a least two different occasions pleaded with the Lord to withhold his discipline in the midst of his struggles with sin and adversity.  David declares, O Lord, do not rebuke me in Thine anger, Nor chasten me in Thy wrath.  Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am pining away; Heal me, O Lord, for my bones are dismayed.  And my soul is greatly dismayed; But Thou, O Lord-- how long?  Return, O Lord, rescue my soul; Save me because of Thy lovingkindness.” (Psalm 6:1-4)  David knew God and trusted Him in the midst of this time of trouble.  God also knew the heart of David, that he was a man seeking to be aligned with the heart of God.  David later declared similarly, O Lord, rebuke me not in Thy wrath; And chasten me not in Thy burning anger.  Thine arrows have sunk deep into me, And Thy hand has pressed down on me.  There is no soundness in my flesh because of Thine indignation; There is no health in my bones because of my sin.  For my iniquities are gone over my head; As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me.  My wounds grow foul and fester. Because of my folly, I am bent over and greatly bowed down; I go mourning all day long.  For my loins are filled with burning; And there is no soundness in my flesh.  I am benumbed and badly crushed; I groan because of the agitation of my heart.  Lord, all my desire is before Thee; And my sighing is not hidden from Thee.” (Psalm 38:1-9)  David acknowledges his sin before the Lord and again pleads for mercy.  When a parent has successfully disciplined their child, the child will likely develop the heart of the parent and be grieved and convicted when falling short of the standards established.  In certain instances where a child clearly understands their guilt, acknowledges their sin before God honestly and then pleads for mercy, it may be prudent as a parent to grant it, leaving the consequences of the sin itself as a satisfactory punishment.

    Psalm 39:11 states, “With reproofs Thou dost chasten a man for iniquity; Thou dost consume as a moth what is precious to him; Surely every man is a mere breath. Selah.”  Again, chastening is appropriate for iniquity.  Children must learn from their parents that the wages of sin is death and that only Jesus Christ can bring life and reconciliation.  Notice too that the Lord consumed what was precious to the sinner, meaning something that was more precious to him than the Lord.  Sometimes the withholding of a possession that has caused conflict or rebellion in a child (i.e. not sharing) can be a productive method of discipline.  But first and foremost, parents must seek to instill and model for their children that the most precious thing of all is an abundant living relationship with Jesus Christ.

    Clearly it is the wicked that hate discipline and are ignorant of its life preserving power.  Asaph wrote the words of God to the wicked, What right have you to tell of My statutes, And to take My covenant in your mouth?  For you hate discipline, And you cast My words behind you.” (Psalm 50:16-17)  The wicked choose to ignore the authority of God.  However, God in His grace warns the wicked and offers reconciliation, Now consider this, you who forget God, Lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.  He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50:22-23)

    Psalm 94 exhorts people to know the truth about God.  God knows all and chastens those He loves.  Pay heed, you senseless among the people; And when will you understand, stupid ones?  He who planted the ear, does He not hear? He who formed the eye, does He not see?  He who chastens the nations, will He not rebuke, Even He who teaches man knowledge?  The Lord knows the thoughts of man, That they are a mere breath.  Blessed is the man whom Thou dost chasten, O Lord, And dost teach out of Thy law; That Thou mayest grant him relief from the days of adversity, Until a pit is dug for the wicked.” (Psalm 94:8-13)  A disciplined man who teaches the word of God is promised salvation from the wicked either in this life or the life eternal.  As parents, we must instill a godly reverence for the Lord and teach them the word of God.

    David was no stranger to the discipline of the Lord.  His receptiveness to discipline led to his development in wisdom and authority as one of the greatest kings of Israel.  David wrote, I shall not die, but live, And tell of the works of the Lord.  The Lord has disciplined me severely, But He has not given me over to death.” (Psalm 118:17-18)  This reminds me of the similar words of Paul, For to me, to live is Christ…if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me.” (Philippians 1:21-22)  Those who know the Scriptures should delight in godly discipline of the Lord who seeks to purify our hearts and conform us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29, James 1:2-4)


    New Testament Instruction on Discipline

    Paul among the Corinthians
    The Apostle Paul wrote about the importance of being honest before the Lord regarding sin and not hiding it from him or among men.  The Corinthians were neglecting this examination and not honestly confessing their sins to the Lord before observing the Lord’s Supper.  “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly.  For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.  But if we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord in order that we may not be condemned along with the world.” (1 Corinthians 11:28-32)  Notice that the Lord disciplines those who fail to acknowledge their sin for the purpose of saving them from the condemnation of the world.  As parents, if we fail to discipline our children when they do not take personal responsibility for their actions, we teach them to blame others including God.  We also paralyze them from learning from their mistakes and fail to promote a lifestyle of integrity and humility as modeled by Christ Himself (Philippians 2:3-7).

    Paul and Timothy
    Paul stressed the importance of spiritual discipline, “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8)  Fostering and modeling a life of spiritual discipline before our children is essential for them to also take serious ownership of their own personal relationship with Christ.  If it is important to parents, it will often be important to their children.  The actions must match the message as more is often caught then taught.

    For effective discipline to occur in a home setting, the home must be stable in which the husband and wife are working together as a team in unity and in the Lord.  “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8)  Paul went as far to say that those who fail to provide for their own household are deniers of the faith and worse than unbelievers, meaning such a one would be better off damned to the lake of fire for all eternity!  I think the Lord is pretty serious about family stability, don’t you?

    God has given us His spiritual authority to discipline our lives.  This spirit within us gives us the authority to discipline our children and is best exercised in partnership with the Holy Spirit.  Paul wrote, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)  Any work of man exercised toward another in power, love and discipline is sure to bring life to the recipient.

    When describing an ideal bond-servant of the Lord, Paul mentions among other things the ability to correct in gentleness and truth.  “And the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26)  The combination of these traits in a bond-servant shown toward one in opposition may aid in changing the mind of one without the truth and bring them to their senses causing an escape from the grasp and stranglehold of Satan.  As parents, we must be mature in Christ and be able to patiently and gently train up our children in the truth of the Lord.  To most successfully parent in this way requires an empting of self and a filling of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis while being fully dedicated to faithful service in accordance with the will of God.

    Hebrews on Discipline
    Hebrews 12 is probably the most powerful exhortation on discipline provided in the New Testament Scriptures.  You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives."  It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?  For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness.  All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” (Hebrews 12:4-11)  This entire letter is a reproving exhortation to a people who were “dull of hearing,” in “need again for someone to teach [them] the elementary principles of the oracles of God” and “need[ing] milk and not solid food.” (Hebrews 5:11-12)  These babes in Christ, called sons, were in need of maturity in their faith because they were still choosing to be enslaved to sin and their Jewish traditions under the Law.  The author reminds them of the exhortation directed to them as sons which they had forgotten, “My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord, Or loathe His reproof, For whom the Lord loves He reproves, Even as a father, the son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:11-12)  As believers, we should never consider God’s discipline as a small matter or grow weary from His training through trials.  God’s plan is to use trials and discipline to sanctify us and conform us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).  James wrote, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)  Rather than being proud and unbreakable, we need to see discipline in a positive light and humbly allow ourselves to be trained by it.  In this Scripture, an analogy is given relating a loving father’s discipline of his son to that of God and His relationship with us as sons.  The thought of a father not disciplining his children was out of the realm of possibility and unimaginable.  It is only natural for a father to discipline his children and this was a clearly expected norm.  All legitimate sons of God are partakers of discipline because this is a sign of God’s love for us.  Just as an appropriately disciplined child learns respect for their earthly father, believers must subject themselves to God’s discipline as our loving heavenly Father.  Fathers must do their best with the short time they are given to teach their children spiritual and physical discipline.  Because God knows what is best for us and disciplines us for our own good, we must trust Him so that He can sanctify us and we can share in His holiness.  Admittedly, the author acknowledges that discipline is sorrowful and often times painful.  But the fruit a life trained by discipline is righteousness and peace.  As parents, we must be willing to do the hard work of disciplining our children to prepare them adulthood and more importantly to create fertile ground for a relationship with the Lord built upon the foundations of respectful subjection and loving discipline.  The easy road of giving your children freedom with no boundaries may provide temporary pleasure for parents, but in the long run expect such children to be filled with resentment, mistrust and disrespect for authority including the authority of God.  Clearly, God’s will is for parents to discipline their children so they can learn obedience as stated in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, “And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:1,4)  Interestingly enough, these same sentiments are echoed in the Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20, emphasis added)  As parents, we are to serve in the process our children not only coming to faith in Jesus Christ for eternal life, but more importantly becoming fruitful disciples of Jesus Christ as we teach and model for them obedience to Christ.

    Revelation to the Church at Laodicea
    The message of God in the Scriptures time and time again is that those whom the Lord loves are those whom the Lord disciplines.  This was Jesus’ message to the church at Laodicea, Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Revelation 3:19)  Clearly the reprove and discipline was meant to promote repentance for this lukewarm church.

    The message is clear:  Parents who love their children will discipline their children.  Period.  As Dr. Laura is accustomed to say to her audience and I will say to parents, “Now go do the right thing!

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