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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published Weekly on Friday
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:3-4)
Welcome to HBS, and thank you for your faithful attendance.
This section of scripture (beginning at Ephesians 4:1 and ending with Ephesians 6:11) has several commands from the Lord to each true Believer so they can walk worthy of the calling with which they have been called. Most recently we examined those commands concerning the God-given roles within the family that are all within the context of “walking in wisdom” (Ephesians 5:15).
Let’s also remember in the opening of this letter (epistle) Paul lists many marvelous blessings from God the Father to each true Believer in Christ Jesus. You and I were once dead in our trespasses and sin, but now we have been made alive through Jesus Christ. We were given a new nature when we received the Holy Spirit God’s earnest payment guaranteeing our inheritance, and furthermore, the Spirit of God dwells within us. In case you’re not aware of what this means for each true Believer, it means the same power that raised Jesus Christ from His tomb dwells within us (Romans 8:11; Ephesians 1:19-20). One of the many benefits of the indwelt Holy Spirit is a quickened mind and the ability to discern the spiritual things of God. Thus the true Believer has the ability to walk in Godly wisdom, and Paul is calling on all of us to do just that: “be careful how you walk (insert your name here), not as unwise, but as wise” (5:15).
The fragmented American family is a great tragedy, and I’m sure it saddens the Creator God. Instead of following His Blueprint for a Successful Marriage, people continue to turn to the vain opinions, philosophies, and worldly wisdom of men for answers rather than to the One who designed mankind and the family. When people reject the Creator and His design, they prove the scriptures true:
…in professing to be wise they have become fools (Romans 1:22).
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this (present evil) age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world (1 Corinthians 1:20)?
…in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).
It’s not enough to be aware of God’s design for saved families, you must also follow (obey) those instructions (and not just the one’s you find favor with). This is not possible unless you are first filled with the Spirit (5:18). Figures like Enoch, Noah, and Abraham are remembered to this very day because they walked with God. Israel’s evil kings of the O.T. (Israel’s first king Saul being one) are remembered because they did not. Thus, the true Believer’s walk is characterized by humbly walking in the Truth, and they maintain their worthy walk by filling their minds and hearts with the Word of God routinely (Psalm 119:10-11). You know you’re walking with the Lord when you obey His commands:
“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word…” (John 14:23).
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete (1 Corinthians 10:5).
…through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; (Romans 1:5).
What Does “Led by the Spirit” Mean?
The phrase “led by the Spirit” only occurs twice in the N. T., and both instances are frequently misused today. The first is in Romans 8:14, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” The immediate context is the Believer’s battle with the flesh through the empowerment of the Spirit. The second occurrence is in Galatians 5:18, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Again, the immediate context is the Believer’s battle with sin. In both instances, the larger concern is to show us how to live joyful, obedient lives that produce holiness and glorify God.
Let’s explore this more deeply by focusing on Galatians 5:16–25. In this passage Paul addresses two problems that plagued the Galatian church and continues to plague the church today: legalism and immorality. Some people in the Galatian church urged observance of parts of the Mosaic Law, and others were disregarding moral constraints. So, our Apostle Paul gives this church (and us) a command with a promise: “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (5:16). The word Spirit refers to the Holy Spirit, who dwells in every true Believer. The word flesh is Paul’s term to describe fallen human nature and its self-centered attitudes, desires, and behaviors. The word walk is commonly used in Scripture to refer to one’s daily conduct. Thus, to walk by the Spirit means to live one’s daily life by the Holy Spirit’s guidance and empowerment. To walk in the flesh is to live a life characterized by various sins and selfish behaviors.
Paul goes on to talk about how the flesh and the Spirit oppose and contend against each other, something every Believer can identify with. This struggle is a part of our lifelong battle against the world, the flesh, and Satan, as the Holy Spirit works to make us progressively more like Jesus. Sometimes people grow weary and discouraged with this constant struggle within and it may cause some to doubt their salvation, but actually it is a sign of our new life. Walking by the Spirit is the pathway to overcoming the desires of the flesh and living a life pleasing to God.
Practically speaking, how do we walk by the Spirit and overcome the desires of the flesh? We must allow ourselves to be “led by the Spirit.” The word led indicates we should continuously surrender and yield ourselves to the desires of the Spirit, whose leading is always diametrically opposed to the desires of our sinful flesh (our old self). Our surrender to the Spirit’s leading is an act of the will, a choice you and I must make; it is saying yes to the Spirit’s leading and no to the desires of the flesh. We always have a choice. So, let’s be clear, as we allow the Spirit to influence, direct, and empower us, we can overcome the flesh.
I thought it would be a good idea to pick up our Bible lesson at Ephesians 6:4 before moving on to the section:
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
As we continue to look at this practical section of Ephesians, I think it is clear Paul was not instructing society in general. He is specifically addressing the Believers in Ephesus on how husbands, wives, children, and parents are to live out their lives, bearing in mind their worthy walk is about bringing honor and glory to God, and setting an example for those people who are outside of Christ. Paul is making the Ephesian saints (and us) aware of how Believers are to live under Jesus Christ's Lordship in the most intimate relationships of life.
The simplicity of Paul's instructions offers clear guidance for family relationships. Paul addresses each member of the family individually with a one word command that if followed will make a profound impact in our families, our church, and our nation. Think this through. How great would it be to live in an Eden-like environment? Everyone seeking the other person’s highest good (Galatians 6:4, 10). This won’t be realized until the Lord returns to establish His earthly kingdom, but the Bible says it will be a time of unprecedented peace for wherever Jesus Christ is, there is peace.
The one word command from Paul to the wives is “submit;” to the husbands he said, “love,” to the children he said, “obey.” Today we’ll review Paul’s divine directive for the fathers, “Bring them (the children) up.”
Ephesians 6:4 can be broken down into three parts. First there is the address, "Fathers." Second, there is the negative command, "Do not provoke your children." Third, Paul follows with the positive command, "But bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."
In this verse our Apostle Paul addresses his command to “fathers.” But the term “fathers” does not mean only dad is responsible for raising the children. It should not escape anyone’s attention both parents are responsible and will be held accountable to the Lord for in the context of 6:1 Paul said “children obey your parents.” In addition, this same term for “fathers” is translated in Hebrews 11:23 as “parents” (Pater) because it refers to both of Moses’ parents.
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents (Pater), because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict (Hebrews 11:23).
In 6:4, it's better to accept the translation as "fathers," (Pater), because Paul has already made us aware the father is the head of the home, as Christ Jesus is the head of His church. Fathers bear the ultimate responsibility. He will answer to the Lord Jesus Christ at the Bema Seat Judgment. Therefore, the father sets the tone and the direction of the home, including how the children are to be raised. We see this same design being employed in the O.T.
“For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should teach them (the LORD’s commands) to their children, That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children, That they should put their confidence in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments, And not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that (perished in the wilderness because the nation of Israel) did not prepare its heart, And whose spirit was not faithful to God” (Psalm 78:5).
So, let’s be clear, although Paul addresses this command to the “fathers,” the responsibility of parenting the children includes mom and dad. The book of Proverbs supports this teaching:
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 (Proverbs 1:8-9).
“My son, observe the commandment of your father, And do not forsake the teaching of your mother; Bind them continually on your heart; Tie them around your neck. When you walk about, they will guide you; When you sleep, they will watch over you; And when you awake, they will talk to you. For the commandment is a lamp, and the teaching is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life,” (Proverbs 6:20-23).
The following verses shows us how the child is raised reflects on both parents:
“A wise son makes a father glad, But a foolish son is a grief to his mother” (Proverbs 10:1).
“A foolish son is a grief to his father, And bitterness to her who bore him” (Proverbs 17:25).
“Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy truth, and do not sell it, Get wisdom and instruction and understanding. The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who begets a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her rejoice who gave birth to you” (Proverbs 23:22-25).
This book says children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who has a quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed… (Psalm 127:3-5a). Children are a gift from God and they are to be a blessing, but if parents do not fulfill their God-given responsibilities properly, their children will not be a blessing to God, to their parents, or to anyone else.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children (Teknon) to anger” – the Koine Greek word for children here is Teknon. We looked at this word before while studying verse 6:1. It still means “offspring;” a child is the Teknon of their parents no matter their age. I’m in my 60’s and still the Teknon of my parents. But remember, Paul’s speaking of those children who are under their parent’s authority here. Once the children grow up and leave home, the authority structure changes.
I don’t believe you need me to tell you this nation’s current mode of parenting their children isn’t working. Either the vast majority of people are not aware of God’s Blueprint for a Successful Family or they simply choose not to put it into practice, as epitomized in this article by Denise-Marie Ordway:
Among juvenile delinquents, boys with hostile fathers commit more crime and use a larger variety of drugs and alcohol than boys with absentee fathers, a new study suggests.
The issue: extensive research has focused on the consequences of single-mother households. For example, an often-cited study from the University of California, San Francisco and Princeton University found that teenage boys raised by single moms are at a greater risk for incarceration. Relatively few studies, however, have looked at how certain qualities in fathers affect children who live with their moms.
A group of scholars representing five universities decided to investigate the influence of hostile fathers and uninvolved fathers on their teenage sons’ behavior.
A study worth reading: “The Difference Influence of Absent and Harsh Fathers on Juvenile Delinquency,” published in the Journal of Adolescence, 2018.
About the study: the authors examined data collected through a longitudinal study of 1,216 male juvenile delinquents from the Philadelphia area as well as Jefferson Parish, Louisiana and Orange County, California. All had been arrested on misdemeanor charges such as vandalism and theft. Almost half the boys in the sample were Latino while 37 percent were black and 15 percent were white.
The boys were asked a series of questions about their household and relationship with the individual they considered to be their father. They also answered questions about their criminal behavior and use of alcohol and illegal drugs.
Fathers are described as “harsh” if they rated high in hostility and low in warmth. They are characterized as absent if they are completely missing from the boy’s life or if the child did not identify a father figure. Sons’ relationships with their dads are considered “high quality” if they rated high in warmth and low in hostility.
The key findings:
Most of the boys with harsh fathers were Latino while most with absentee fathers were black.
Boys with harsh fathers had a higher rate of delinquency than those with uninvolved dads. The sons of hostile men reported committing more crime and using a larger variety of drugs and alcohol.
Kids with harsh fathers or absentee fathers reported engaging in more offending behaviors and using more substances than kids with “high quality” relationships with their dads.
About 29 percent of youth in the sample did not have a parent with a high school diploma. About 36 percent had a parent who went to college or received some level of training after high school.
“Father absence is widely acknowledged as a key contributor to delinquency, leading to efforts to promote father involvement with youth to deter juvenile delinquency. However, not all involved fathers develop positive, high-quality relationships with their sons, and father presence in some cases can be more detrimental than father absence” (End of Article).
This article doesn’t address all the issues children are facing in America but it is an eye-opening study revealing the current child crisis due to absentee parents and overbearing fathers.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger – The Koine Greek word for anger is Parorgizo (Par-org-id’-zo), Verb, Strong’s Greek #3949, meaning: to rouse to wrath, to provoke, exasperate, anger. Father’s are not to “irritate” their children causing them to become angry.
How do fathers make their children angry? I’m glad you asked. Children may become angry due to excessive discipline, unreasonably harsh commands, the father’s abuse of his God-given authority, or as we read earlier in the article above by neglecting their children. Simply said, whatever causes your child to become angry should be avoided.
There’s a parallel passage in Colossians that says: Fathers, do not exasperate (infuriate) your children, so that they will not lose heart (Colossians 3:21).
The word Paul uses for "exasperate" means: to provoke or to irritate. This same idea is expressed in Ephesians 6:4 "Don't make your children angry."
Then Paul gives us the reason for not making them angry, "So that they will not lose heart"—"lose heart" is from the Koine Greek word Athumeo. This is the only place in the N.T. where you’ll find this word. It’s a compound word from "a" which means: without and thumos, which is: passions, desire, spirit. It means: to become disheartened to the point of losing motivation, to be dispirited or to be broken in spirit.
I’m reminded of the time I bought my wife a horse for her birthday. Beautiful animal, however it was only green-broke, i.e. not ready to be ridden. The horse wouldn’t permit a blanket to be laid across her back, let alone a saddle with someone sitting on it. So, I began training her based on advice from people I knew who owned horses and I read a couple of books on the subject. I remember one person’s comment from one of these books that said, “Breaking a horse is to climb on and when you’re thrown off, get back on; repeat until the horse gets bored.” I discarded that information because my Father-in-law had a horse too and she was mean-spirited. I learned the hard way not to turn my back on this horse because she would bite or kick you, if given the opportunity. What worked for my horse did not work for this animal because they were as different as night and day.
Children are not all the same, so they should not be treated as though they are. What works for one child, may not have the same effect on the other. Each child has their own personality and this needs to be considered as you exercise these three tools of parenting: patience, understanding, and above all, love.
Cruelty is never permitted in the Believer’s household “So that they will not lose heart.” You don’t want to “break the child’s spirit.” We might think of this as throwing cold water upon their flame for life. It implies a parent is so cold, stern, harsh, and rigid that a child's strength is sapped, his or her drive for positive achievements gone and their hope for the future shattered.
The Lord wants us to encourage our children. One of the ways we accomplish this is by praising them for those things they do right. This is positive reinforcement. If the only thing a child receives from his parents is constant criticism, they will become discouraged. They may become so disheartened they will quit trying to please their parents altogether and in some cases they vent their anger upon their siblings or they opt to take it to the streets bullying some unfortunate individual.
but bring them up – Paul’s saying bring your children up actually means “to feed.” It’s a word used in the Bible primarily of nurturing children or providing a climate of spiritual growth and development. Thus, Paul is informing fathers they have a very important role in the raising of their children.
How important is this command? Let’s consider the statistics re: fragmented homes in America. Today, almost one out of two children goes to bed each night without a biological father in the home. Fifty percent of our children today will spend at least some time before age eighteen with only one parent. The poverty rate for children born to mothers who finished high school, got married, and waited until they were 20 to have their first child is 8%. The poverty rate for those who don't do those things is 79%. The average poverty rate for children of single mothers is currently 47%; it is 65% for black children. Sixty percent of America's rapists, 72% of adolescent murderers, and 70% of long term prison inmates grew up without fathers. In another social study, I discovered greater than 70% of prison inmate are repeat offenders. Do the math; what conclusions do you draw?
It is impossible to deny. Despite the world’s message, having a biological father in the home to help protect, provide for, and raise the children in the fear of the Lord is an essential element of public health and happy, well-adjusted children.
…in the discipline and instruction of the Lord - discipline is from the Koine Greek word Paideia, which means: tutorage; education or training; by implication disciplinary correction. Paideia is a broad term, signifying whatever parents and teachers need to do (within the parameters of scripture) to correct, cultivate, educate, and train their children in order to help them mature spiritually.
God wants parents and their children to be like His Son and discipline is necessary to bring this about:
…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." (Hebrews 12:5-6).
Since children have a tendency to gravitate toward the things of this world, they must be trained to obey the things of God. To that end, the Lord uses temptation, tribulations, and trials, i.e. our pain and suffering in this life to train us up in the way we should go. These things are to help the inner man mature. It's the idea of learning through discipline, and it's talking about correction that may be verbal or corporal. But here’s the thing, if you dare to apply corporal punishment today you’re likely to find yourself in “hot water” with most children's counselors, educators, psychologists, and social workers. These folks adamantly oppose any type of corporal punishment. They say it is an archaic practice.
What’s more, many people today say corporal punishment is a form of physical abuse. However, by declaring this they are accusing the Lord Jesus Christ of sin. We just looked at Hebrews 12:6 that said, "Whom the Lord loves, He disciplines, and He scourges"—the word "scourges" is from the Koine Greek word Mastigoo, which means: "to skin alive with a whip." If you saw Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” you saw a depiction of Him being scourged by a Roman soldier. Most people didn’t survive a scourging in Jesus’ day. But from this passage we learn the Lord’s discipline can include corporal punishment, but we remember the Lord disciplines those He loves, in a loving manner:
He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently (Proverbs 13:24).
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 12:11).
Too many Christian parents view family counselors and psychologists as the experts when it comes to raising their children. But the problem with that plan is, these "so-called experts" dispense a lot of anti-biblical nonsense, such as, "You need to build your child's self-esteem." The other problem with this plan is these psychologists prescribe medications such as antidepressants, when what the child really needs is a healthy diet and good, old-fashioned biblical discipline. Our Apostle Paul said scripture is adequate to equip us for every “good work.”
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16).
Certainly "every good work" includes the very important work of bringing up your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
And so, Paul's command implies a father will lovingly encourage, exhort, and correct his children with God's Word as the standard. This is what Paul means to say at the end of verse 6:4: "bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."
It is the father’s responsibility to ensure his children learn and follow all of the Lord’s instructions. This has been the duty of parents, but especially the fathers, throughout history.
(To be continued)
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