We want to continue the series that we’ve been going on for the last few weeks, Shade for the Children; or sometimes we’ve called it The War on Children. I think we are all savvy enough in the culture in which we find ourselves today to know that there is a war on children. It is an educational war on children. It is a psychological war on children. It is a political war on children. But more than that, it is a spiritual war on children. And more than that, it is a satanic war on children. “We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies.”
It is a spiritual war on children; it takes many forms. Right now it is dominated by a mentality that I would choose to call the anti-truth culture. There was a time when we defined human life—post-Enlightenment, post-Reformation—as modern; and that meant we were searching for truth. And that was followed by postmodern, which meant we were no longer searching for truth; we decided there was no absolute truth. You could have your own truth, find your own truth. We’ve gone through that and out the other side into a culture that is bent on lies and anti-truth. It is an all-out assault on the very concept of truth. It is a willful ignorance of reality.
And children are the greatest victims of this because the perpetrators know where they have to go to shape minds. They get them as early as they can, which then raises the stakes for parents because we’re no longer aided by the educational system. We’re no longer aided by the social structures around us. We’re no longer aided by politics. We’re certainly not aided by Big Tech. We’re not aided by entertainment media. We have, in a real sense, no help. We are in full-blown, anti-truth, satanic paganism.
And again, that raises the stakes for parenting your children. “A good man,” says Proverbs 13:22, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” A good man has an impact on grandchildren. In other words he makes a generational impact. Evil men make generational impact also; that’s why the sins of the fathers are visited on the third and fourth generation.
And we’ve been hearing from the Word of God how we are to protect our children. We started in Deuteronomy 6; let me just remind you of it. Verse 4: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might. These words, which I’m commanding you today, shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons,” or your children. There is the first command to parents: Teach your children to love the Lord with all their heart and soul and might, from the heart, and be obedient to all that God desires. That’s the foundation of our responsibility.
We saw in Ezekiel 16 that God said, even of those who were offering their little children to Molech—making sacrifice of their kids, putting them on a fire to appease a false god—that “you are offering My children.” God lays claim to all life: “They are My children.”
In Mark 10, we saw that Jesus said, “Permit the little ones to come to Me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
And I just want to start at the beginning with that because I don’t want to leave anything out. Every life conceived is a life created by God—a life that belongs to Him, a life to be protected and raised to His glory. Every conception produces an eternal person, an eternal person, and how children are treated must start with a recognition of that reality. Conception of every human being is an act of God. God personally creates every life; God alone opens and closes the womb; God alone allows conception; God alone creates life. He superintends the birth, as He superintends the conception.
There are a number of passages that are foundational to our understanding of this. I want to call you, first of all, to one in the book of Acts: Acts chapter 17. Paul is on the Areopagus in the great city of Athens, teaching theology to pagan philosophers, and he’s describing the true God. And he selects a particular idol there, “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD,” and tells them who that unknown god is—and in fact, it’s the one true God; all the rest are not God.
But in Acts 17, just looking at verse 24, in speaking about the unknown god—the God they don’t know, but the one true God—he says, “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.”
How ridiculous is idolatry, where man creates God, when in reality the one true God has created everything, everything. God is the Creator. Psalm 146 says, “God, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them.” Zechariah 12:1, God who “forms the spirit of a man within him.” Twice in the book of Numbers He is called “the God of the spirits of all flesh.”
Many passages of Scripture identify God as the Creator, the Creator of every single life. God did not just set in motion some pattern of reproduction; He literally creates the spiritual being that is encapsulated in human form. Every human being is a creation of God and is eternal. Reproduction can account for the flesh, the humanity. Reproduction cannot account for the soul, cannot account for the spirit; that is a direct creation of God. He is certainly more than an idol made by man.
Earlier in the service—and I’ll have you turn back to it again—I read Psalm 139 because I wanted you to be familiar with it, because I’m going to make a few comments about it. Psalm 139. This great psalm focuses on God’s creation and God’s omniscience. It starts with His omniscience, verse 1, “You’ve searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path, my lying down, are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all.” So, “You know what I’m thinking before I even say anything.” This is omniscience.
“I can’t hide from You,” verse 7, “because of omnipresence.”—“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You’re there; if I make my bed in Sheol”—or the grave—“You’re there. If I take the wings of the dawn”—if I fly—“if I go into the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me.” Not only did God create every single human being at the point of conception, but God knows everything about you and everything about everyone, and is ever-present through all the moments of every life. If you think you can hide in the darkness, verse 11 says, the darkness is turned into light.
How is it that God has such knowledge? Verse 13, because “You formed my inward parts.” “You made me. You formed me.” Literally that says, “You formed my kidneys, my internal organs. You wove me in my mother’s womb.” What an incredible statement. That discusses conception, fetal life, and development.
“I will give thanks to You,” verse 14 says, “for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, my souls know it very well.” What every human being is, from conception on, is the work of God.
Verse 15, “My frame, my structure,”—literally, “my substance” or “my strength”; may well even refer to bones and muscles and sinews. “My frame was not hidden when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth”—in a dark place, metaphorically. “You knew my unformed substance,” verse 16.
Not only that, “In Your book were written down the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” This is really astonishing testimony to God as the Creator. “You shaped me when I was nothing but an unshaped embryonic substance. You took my unformed substance, and You formed it.” Literally, “You rolled it together. And You have planned my life before I’ve ever lived it.” Verse 17 he says, “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” This is overwhelming to the psalmist, that God knows absolutely everything about him because God made him, from conception on.
This is important to say, because you can’t reduce people to simply the product of a process. Every time I hear somebody say, “Well a woman has a right over her body”—maybe she does; but that’s not her body. That’s somebody else, created by God. Job 33:4 says, “The Spirit of the Lord has made me. The Spirit of the Lord has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” God breathed, and man becomes a living soul.
Psalm 22:9 and 10, “You are He”—speaking to God—“who brought me forth from the womb. . . . You have been my God from my mother’s womb.” They say in Iceland there are virtually no births of Down syndrome children—because they’re all murdered in the womb. There are some religious organizations, even “Christian” denominations, who affirm abortion in the case of some deformity. They need to be reminded of Exodus 4:11, where God says, “Who makes mute? Who makes deaf? Who makes the seeing? Who makes the blind? Is it not I, the Lord?”
This is where responsibility begins: It begins with conception. Abortion is the murder of a creation of God. Isaiah 49:15 gives us the normal attitude: “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb?” God is saying it’s normal for women to protect. They have to be very sinful not to do that because it’s the natural, built-in instinct. But it does happen; women do forget. And the next part of that verse says, “Surely they may forget, but I will not forget you.”
The duty that parents have to children is to protect them, protect their life. Beyond that—and that’s where it has to start—beyond that is to teach them to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, and strength. This is so serious that our Lord makes an analogy in Matthew 18 that I think will serve as an illustration. Matthew 18, Jesus says in verse 6, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
Now that’s not talking about children: “These little ones who believe in Me.” In other words this is a warning not to cause another believer to stumble. You’d be better off dead than to cause another believer to stumble into sin, either by directly leading that believer into sin, by indirectly leading that believer into sin, or even setting a bad example. But it’s talking about believers here. But it’s drawing an analogy from something that everybody understood: You don’t harm children. That’s the point. You’d be better off drowned than to harm a child.
And just to give you a context for that, in ancient times, times before Christ and times after Christ, people who killed a family member—a crime called parricide—were frequently drowned in the most terrifying ways. What was most common was to take someone who killed a sibling or killed a family member or killed a child and sew them into a bag, burlap bag, put a few snakes in the bag, a few other animals, maybe a chicken, throw it all in the ocean. Horrible kind of death. But it reflected the normal reality that you don’t harm children, you don’t kill your family members. The Romans were ambivalent on this because they gave patria potestas to the father, who could take the life of his children. But there were others like the Carthaginians, and even the Phoenicians, who made people pay the ultimate price for harming children.
So first of all you have to understand that every life is a creation of God, and you have a responsibility to protect that life; and you would be better off dead than to abuse children. I understand the issue of child abuse, but this culture’s definition of child abuse is far too narrow. While putting some sex offenders in prison for child abuse, the culture is abusing children without mercy every day, patting itself on the back as if it was noble.
Now that gets us to Ephesians chapter 6 again, and this is where we need to be. “Fathers”—we saw this last time: or “parents,” patera—“do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” “Bring them up”—can I just say this? They won’t do a good job bringing themselves up. Proverbs 29:15 says a child left to himself will bring shame to his mother. A child left to himself will bring shame to his mother. It is unavoidable.
It takes a massive effort on the part of parents to bring up a child to love God with all his or her heart. And parent work is heart work, not just behavior modification, not just getting them to conform on the outside. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”
Let me introduce you to your little child’s heart, OK? Mark 7, verse 20, Jesus was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.” Now listen, you have to understand this. There’re only two possibilities: We have a troubled world because something is being done to us from the outside, or we have a troubled world because something’s wrong with us on the inside. The contemporary culture would say all that’s wrong in the world is because somebody has been oppressed; all that’s wrong in the world is because somebody has been treated with inequity; all that’s wrong in the world is because somebody’s not getting their fair shake. The Bible says what’s wrong in the world is from the inside.
There’s only two possibilities, and the statement of verse 21 is clear: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Let me make it real clear: Everything you saw in the riots this summer was unrelated to anything on the outside; it was all a manifestation of the human heart. You can’t fix the human heart in any other way than with the gospel transformation. You cannot blame all the crimes that were listed in what I just read you on something that happened to people. It’s because of who you are on the inside.
It really is a remarkable thing that we don’t destroy each other more than we do. How could this many people sit in a room for this long and not attack each other? Because the default position of humanity is hate. The default position of humanity is selfishness and pride. And when you kill true religion, you have to put something metaphysical in its place. And so you can invent a religion that would fit the culture; and so this culture loves to hate, so you invent CRT, critical race theory, which makes people noble when they hate the right group.
All this nonsense about the fact that what’s wrong with us is some social inequity doesn’t get anywhere near the issue. What’s wrong with us is we are wicked on the inside; and the default position of man is to do damage and sin. That’s why the first commandment is to love God, and the second commandment is to love—what?—your neighbor, because that is alien to the unconverted heart.
Behavior is not the crucial issue with your child. You can control your child for a while; but if you haven’t done the heart work, your child will revert to the default position of the human heart.
Society is bent on teaching children to rebel against authority. This is absolutely devastating because there’s only one command in the Bible for children. What is it? Obey and honor. So what does the devil do? He sells a whole generation of foolish young people on the nobility of hate and rebellion. But this is the default position; this is paganism full-blown.
So you have to bring them up. And you’re going to be working through four categories: Luke 2:52 said Jesus increased in wisdom, stature, favor with God, and favor with man. So there is wisdom—that’s intellectual upbringing. There is stature—that’s physical upbringing. There is favor with God—that’s spiritual upbringing. And favor with man—that’s social. So you’re working on their intellect, their physicality, their spirituality, and their societal skills. And behind the act of obedience is honor. That’s something you don’t hear anymore.
And if you look back at Ephesians 6, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise).” And the promise is if you honor your father and mother, “it will be well with you”—that’s the quality of life—“and you may live long on the earth”—that’s the quantity of life. So if you want a rich and full life, obey your parents, and honor your parents.
Of all things that you want to teach children, rebellion is the last one. Of all the religions that you would want to concoct, a religion that makes hate a noble act is the satanic counterfeit. What shocks me is the folly of evangelical leaders who buy into all of this false religion of hate.
So let’s get specific for a moment. Let’s go back to Proverbs. And if I act like I don’t have an outline, that would be true.
So we said that in Proverbs you have the pattern, you have the manual for teaching children. In chapter 3, for example, “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her. Long life is in her hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.” You want to get wisdom, and you want to hold on to it.
Chapter 4, verse 5, “Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.” This is a father speaking. “Do not forsake wisdom, she will guard you; love her, she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; and with your acquiring, get understanding. Prize her, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a garland of grace; she will present you with a crown of beauty.
“Hear, my son, and accept my sayings and the years of your life will be many. I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths. When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; if you run, you will not stumble. Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life.” Boy, that’s pretty aggressive, isn’t it? And unmistakably clear. Get wisdom.
Now what is this wisdom in Proverbs? Well last time I gave you the first two of a list. First is: Fear your God. Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Everything comes down to fearing God. And fearing God is a broad category. It includes everything from loving Him to being terrified by Him. It includes the full spectrum of what is owed to God—and that is complete comprehension of the full range of His attributes. You need to fear the One who will destroy both soul and body in hell. At the same time, you need to fear the Lord in your joyful worship, as you contemplate the glory of His grace.
So we talked about it; it all starts with fearing God, fearing the true and living God revealed in Scripture, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Set that apart, deny that, reject that, and you will not attain to wisdom. Apart from God, you’re going to be all the time trying to mitigate your default position to do damage and destruction to everybody around you. You’re going to try to mitigate that as much as you can, but that’s the most natural part of being human. “There’s none righteous, there’s not one righteous. The poison of asps is under their lips. None seeks for God, no fear of God before their eyes,” Romans 3.
The father has the task of training the child—along with the mother, as we saw last time—number one: to fear God. And the second thing we talked about: to speak the truth. Chapter 4 of Proverbs, verse 24, “Put away from you a deceitful mouth, put devious speech far from you.” Speak the truth.
Truth is everything. Unless you function within the framework of the truth, you are in high danger. You’re walking through—essentially you’re walking through a cultural minefield that could blow you to bits at any time if you don’t have the discernment to understand what’s going on around you. Speak the truth. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. No devious speech. We talked about how absolutely important that is.
Chapter 6, again I just remind you, verse 16, “There are six things the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue . . .” And then he repeats again in verse 19, “A false witness who utters lies,” and consequently “spreads strife among” people. Teach your children to be truthful. And I pointed out the fact that if you are comfortable with lies, there’s no sin you won’t commit because you’re adept at covering anything up.
If you are not allowed to tell lies, and if the punishment for lying is perhaps even more severe than for doing something wrong, you’re going to know that you are not allowed to lie. And if you’re not allowed to lie, then you’re not used to covering up; and that means you don’t do the things that you would have to cover up.
Now that brings us to a third reality that needs to be taught to children. Fear your God, speak the truth, thirdly, guard your mind, guard your mind. I can’t tell you how important this is. Chapter 3, verse 3, “Do not let kindness and truth leave you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” And again 4:23, as I mentioned earlier, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” The heart obviously means the mind. It means the mind. Guard your mind. Whatever you’re thinking is what is going to dictate your behavior. “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.” Everything comes out of the heart—literally, the mind.
Listen to Matthew chapter 12. I know you’re probably familiar with this, but I’ll remind you of it. Matthew chapter 12, a couple of verses—verse 33, 34, and 35: “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good?” That is the indictment of all indictments. “You’re evil by nature; how can you speak what is good?” “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” All you have to do is hear what they say, see what they do, and you know what their heart is like. Verse 35, “The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.” Whatever is in your heart shows up in your life. So guard your heart, which again I say is your mind. Father has the task of protecting the mind. Mother has the same task.
There’s a very important instruction at the beginning of the book of Psalms—parents need to take this into consideration carefully before you send your young person off to some university where they’re going to be attacked and assaulted, and in some ways defenseless to the machinations and strategies of those who are far smarter. But listen to Psalm 1: “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” You don’t want to even walk with the wicked, let alone stop and have a protracted conversation. And last of all, you don’t want to take a class from them. You want to sit in the seat of a scoffer and be lectured to by someone who is an agent of Satan trying to destroy your eternal soul? Fathers are the guardians and mothers are the guardians of children’s minds. There’s always more to be said, but let me go to another principle.
Fear your God. Speak the truth. Guard your mind. Select your companions, select your companions. Don’t let them choose you, you choose them. Proverbs 1:10, “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.” Well, “If they say, ‘Come with us, let’s lie in wait for blood’”—I mean, this is an extreme illustration, but seducing the naïve—“‘let us ambush the innocent without cause; let us swallow them alive like Sheol, even whole, as those who go down to the pit. We’ll find all kinds of precious wealth, and we’ll fill our houses with spoil; throw in your lot with us, we shall all have one purse.’ My son, do not walk with them. Keep your feet from their path, for their feet run to evil and they hasten to shed blood. Indeed, it is useless to spread the baited net in the sight of any bird; but they lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush their own lives. So are the ways of everyone who gains by violence; it takes away the life of the possessor.” Father, Mother, you have to teach your children not to join every gang, not to follow everyone who entices them.
Chapter 2, verse 11, “Discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you, to deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perverse things; from those who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, who delight in doing evil and rejoice in the perversity of evil; whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways;” even “to deliver you”—verse 16—“from the strange woman,” and “the adulteress who flatters with her words.” Down in verse 20, “So you will walk in the way of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will live in the land and the blameless will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the land and the treacherous will be uprooted from it.” Don’t get seduced by people who do evil, whether it’s in reality or even in the virtual world of the Internet.
Chapter 4, verse 10, “Hear, my son, and accept my sayings and the years of your life will by many. I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths. When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; and if you run, you will not stumble. Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life.” And then this, verse 14, “Do not enter the path of the wicked, do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it; turn away from it and pass on. For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; and they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble. They eat the bread of wickedness, they drink the wine of violence. But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” Follow the righteous because “the way of the wicked is like darkness; and they do not know at what they stumble.” I know for Patricia and myself, raising our children, one of the critical commitments we had was to be the final judge of who their friends were.
In Proverbs 18, that chapter ends with this familiar statement: “A man of too many friends comes to ruin.” Why would you say that? Shouldn’t we have as many as possible? Well the Hebrew word is rea; it means too many acquaintances. In other words, you’re just too welcoming. Your arms are open too wide. The door is open too much of the time.
“A man of too many acquaintances,” would be better, “too many connections, comes to ruin.” Why? Because to maintain all of those connections there has to be—what?—compromise. “But there is a friend”—this is different, aheb, a loving friend. Too many acquaintances, too many connections leads you to ruin. But a friend who loves you “sticks closer than a brother.” A few close, loving friends who are honest and loyal and virtuous and kind and pursuing the path of righteousness will be a protection. That’s what we often talk about as “accountability.” Too many acquaintances will lead you to ruin.
I have to just add one more; we’ll leave it at that. Chapter 5, Proverbs—and I can’t fully develop it, but you can read it for yourself: Control your desires. Teach your children to fear your God, speak the truth, guard your mind, select your companions, control your desires. Chapter 5, verse 22—well verse 21, “The ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord,” as we saw in Psalm 139, “and He watches all his paths. His own iniquities will capture the wicked, and he will be held with the cords of his sin. He will die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he will go astray.” The warning is iniquities will cause you to become a prisoner, trapped in sin.
It can come in a lot of forms. Back in chapter 2, verse 16, we saw that: You need to be delivered “from the strange woman, the adulteress who flatters with her words; that leaves the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; for her house sinks down to death and her tracks lead to the dead; none who go to her return again, nor do they reach the paths of life.” That’s a pretty serious warning to stay away from adulterous woman, strange woman, away from home, no accountability. Teach your children sexual purity and control.
In chapter 5, just quickly, verse 3, “The lips of an adulteress drip honey and smoother than oil is her speech; but in the end she is as bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, her steps take hold of Sheol. She doesn’t ponder the path of life; her ways are unstable, she does not know it. Then, my son, listen to me and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her and do not go near the door of her house.” Control your desires.
Down in verse 12, “You say, ‘How have I hated instruction! And my heart spurned reproof! I have not listened to the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to my instructors! I was almost in ruin in the midst of the assembly and congregation.’”—that happens in the assembly of God’s people. “I didn’t listen.” Verse 12, he says, “I hated instruction! My heart spurned reproof! I was driven by my desire, and I was on the brink of death.”
In chapter 6, verse 20, “My son, observe the commandment of your father, do not forsake the teaching of your mother; let them continually be on your heart; tie them around your neck,” et cetera, he comes down to verse 24, “to keep you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress. Do not desire her beauty in your heart, nor let her capture you with her eyelids. For on account of a harlot one is reduced to a loaf of bread, and an adulteress hunts for the precious life.” It’s deadly. It’s deadly.
Verse 32, “The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense; he who would destroy himself does it.” This becomes the theme then of the entire seventh chapter—lays out the whole hunt of an adulteress and says the man who follows her, verse 22, is “an ox going to the slaughter.”
So verse 24 sums up the chapter: “Therefore, my son, listen to me, pay attention to the words of my mouth. Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, do not stray into her paths. For many are the victims she has cast down, and numerous are all her slain. Her house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death.” That’s the end of that lustful kind of behavior.
So when you teach your children, these are the kinds of lessons; and those are samples of what is available in the book of Proverbs. There are more that I’m not going to take the time to discuss, but let’s just rehearse them quickly: Fear your God. Speak the truth. Guard your mind. Select your companions. Control your desires. If I were to give you another one, you could find it in chapter 6—it would be pursue your work. Another one in chapter 3: manage your money. And there are others.
I want to sum it up by simply reminding you of this: Fail to teach your child to fear God, and the devil will teach him to hate God. Fail to teach your son to guard his mind, and the devil will teach him to have an open mind. Fail to teach your child to obey his parents, and the devil will teach him to rebel and break his parents’ heart. Fail to teach your child to select his companions, and the devil will happily choose them for him. Fail to teach your child to control his desires, and the devil will gladly teach him how to give in to lust. Fail to teach your child to watch his words, speak the truth, and the devil will turn him into a liar. Fail to teach your son to pursue work diligently, and the devil will make him lazy, a tool of hell. The devil does his work, and that work is countered when parents do their work.
Can we do it? Well the key—back in Ephesians 6—to being able to parent like this is back in chapter 5, verse 18: “Be filled with”—what?—“the Holy Spirit.” Yes, you can do it. You can do it in the strength of the Spirit and in conformity to the Scripture.
Father, we thank You for a wonderful hour of worship this morning. We thank You for the ministry that goes on here to moms and dads, and children and young people, teenagers, single people. We thank You for the truth of Your Word. Thank You for the power of Your Holy Spirit who dwells in us. We know that apart from You we can do nothing that pleases You. We can’t overcome the default position of being fallen, hopelessly depraved sinners unless we are transformed by the gospel. And then in the power of the Spirit, we can live to Your honor and live to Your glory, and we can raise godly children. That’s our prayer.
We pray for those families that, perhaps in looking back, are saying, “We failed on so many levels.” We pray that in Your mercy and Your grace You would even yet bring salvation to children and children’s children. And we confess that we all are far from perfect in being what we need to be for our children. Thank You for overcoming our imperfections and making Christ attractive to our children.
Lord, I pray for every parent here. Give them wisdom. Give them the necessary intentionality to be what they need to be. We cannot secure our children’s salvation; that’s Your work. But we know You have called us to be the agents of that salvation by how we bring them up in the discipline and instruction that comes from Your Word.
We pray for the precious children that are in this church, that they would come to love Christ, love You with all their hearts. We pray that You will protect families, children, from the devastating onslaughts of this pagan society that we’re in, which has turned everything upside-down. What used to be evil is now good, what used to be good is now evil. Light for darkness, darkness for light. Sweet for bitter, bitter for sweet.
This is nothing new; it’s what Isaiah spoke about in looking at his own generation. And like Isaiah, we need a vision of You and Your Word. We need to know the truth; and You’ve given it to us. And we need the power of the Holy Spirit to effect it in our own lives by example, and to instruct our children in that same truth.
May Grace Community Church be a light shining in the darkness. May the light increase. May it dawn brighter and brighter as the days and months go by. And may that light attract people who are caught in the darkness, and may they see that shining light in the face of those who are a part of this congregation. May the transforming power of Christ in their lives draw people to You. May the glory that shines through us draw them to Christ. That is our prayer.
And we thank You that we can turn to You for forgiveness for the failures, and for power to renew us with strength for doing what we should be doing. Thank You for giving us the Word and the Spirit. And with that, we go forward trusting in Your good and gracious will. And for Your glory we ask these things. Amen.
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