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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.
I decided to “park” on Ephesians 5:22-33 for three consecutive weeks in order to glean as much knowledge as humanly possible from the Lord’s commands to His church, specifically, the responsibilities of the husband and wife. I don’t believe we accumulated every scrap of information from this particular passage of scripture, but we did cover it well enough for the believing spouses to live out their life in step with the Holy Spirit. However that all important first step in their journey together in life begins with demonstrating the willingness to be led by the Spirit; i.e. be under the Holy Spirit’s control (Psalm 143:10; Romans 8:14; Ephesians 5:18).
Outline of Ephesians Chapter 6
The duty of children towards their parents (6:1-4); the duty of servants towards their masters (6:5-9); expect spiritual warfare if you’re walking in the Spirit with Christ Jesus, not only against flesh and blood, but also spiritual forces of wickedness (6:10-12); therefore put on the full armor of God (6:13-17); how this godly armor is to be used (6:18-20); Tychicus is commended (6:21-24).
Please open your Bible at Ephesians 6:1-3.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH
(Exodus 20:12). Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline of the Lord (Genesis 18:19; Colossians 3:21).
What was the first command from the LORD to the man He created? Most people say, “Do not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil,” but that’s not it. Let’s all take a look at this; please turn with me in your Bible to Genesis 1:26-27:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion (authority) over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. (Here’s the first command) And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth (with their offspring) and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
There are a few noteworthy items in this passage worth studying, but we’re here specifically to review the LORDs first command to the man. In verse 1:27 the man received the authority to subdue the earth and fill it with his offspring (children). Why? This book says children are the Lord’s inheritance, i.e. every child born into this world is His reward.
Turn with me to Psalm 127:3-5:
Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: And the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; So are children of the youth. Happy (blessed) is the man that hath his quiver full of them: They shall not be ashamed,
But they shall speak with the enemies in the gate (KJV).
The words is His is italicized which tells us they were added by the Bible translators, but by doing so they have obscured the meaning of the text. Left alone the verse implies children belong to God as His reward for all the things He does for us, resembling a “quid pro quo” kind of thing. However, if you remove these two words the text reads thusly, “And the fruit of the womb is (a) reward.” This means children are a blessing (not a burden) with which God rewards or favors His people.
In this passage David compares children to arrows in the hand of a mighty man (2 Samuel 23:8-39; 1 Chronicles 11:10-47); they demonstrate the strength of his youth, while advancing the fulfillment of God’s purpose to fill the earth with god-fearing children. David speaks in general terms because not every married couple experiences this blessing from God. Yet if you’ve been blessed with one or more arrows in your quiver God expects you to raise them to be instruments of His praise and thanksgiving.
In David’s day a quiver held about twelve arrows. God’s not saying every married couple should get busy and produce twelve children; He is saying every child they bring into this world is to bring glory and honor to God, the Father of us all:
Paul writes: There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:4-6).
Returning to our Bible text, God’s command for the children is actually quite simple -they are to obey their parents (6:1). As straightforward as this appears, I’m not seeing obedience to God’s will lived out in our society today. People and children have opted to go their own way (without God) instead of walking with Him. What’s more, the negative activities occurring outside the home have a way of infiltrating our homes, as well as the church. This leads me to conclude this scriptural directive has been forgotten by most and ignored by the rest. True Believers should not be counted as followers of either one of these extremes. Instead, true Believers desire to obey all the Lord’s commands, remembering it’s not about us or what we want; it’s about glorifying God:
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, But to Your name give glory because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth (Psalm 115:1).
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought (redeemed) at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
The Blame Game Continues
I don’t believe it’s escaped anyone’s attention that people’s perception of children has changed over time. Most people in this nation no longer view children the way generations before the 1950s did. This is due largely to the shift in secular philosophy’s view or understanding of people in general and children especially. No longer are people and children seen as responsible for themselves. Plainly said, instead of being held accountable for one’s conduct, there is always someone else or something else to blame; some other factor in our society is the reason for the child’s bad behavior. In short, atheistic sociology claim society determines our consciousness and actions. The Bible’s viewpoint is quite different in that it teaches us we are free to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, and we shape society rather than society shaping us.
When you follow the Rule of First Mention in scripture, you’ll find the very first “blame game” incident occurring in Genesis 3:8-13; the woman blamed the serpent for her indiscretion and the man blamed the LORD because He brought her to him:
They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
So, if were to believe the man and the woman here, they’re not responsible for their behavior, someone else is. I don’t believe this is a learned response it’s humanity’s natural response to the “finger of shame” being wagged at them. Permit me to give y’all an illustration: my siblings and I occasionally used our parents’ bed as a trampoline or in a game we played where you had to circumvent their entire bedroom without your feet touching the floor. When mom came home and found her bed in disarray, she immediately approached each one of us asking, “Who’s to blame?” When it was my turn I said, “Not me,” implying someone else was guilty. Mom knew “not me” wasn’t the culprit and the lies only made the matter worse. Since no one admitted to disobeying my parent’s rule, all of us were punished. She did not blame other people or our society for our misbehavior.
However, our Apostle Paul isn’t talking about people, in general, here; he’s specifically addressing the children in the Ephesian home. But is he speaking to all children or just a particular age group? Paul is addressing those children who have reached the age of accountability, i.e. they’re old enough to understand good and evil; right behavior vs wrong conduct. We know we’re on the right track because of what Paul’s doing here; he’s not speaking to the parent’s, he’s addressing children directly.
“Children obey your parents…” - the Koine Greek word for children is Teknon (tek’- non), Noun Neuter, Strong’s Greek #5043, meaning: offspring. It conveys the idea of: a readiness to hear and has in it the sense of obeying orders. It is also a present tense verb which means they are obey continually; this is to the pattern of your child’s life.
Teknon (children) is used 91 times in scripture. I have one example taken from Paul’s letter to the Believers in Philippi for your review:
“…so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children (Teknon) of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom appear as lights in the world, (Philippians 2:22).
The word “obey” in Koine Greek is Hupakouo (hoop-ak-oo’-o), Verb, Strong’s Greek #5219, meaning: to listen attentively, to harken, obedient. My father told us children, “As long as you’re living under my roof, you’ll do as I say.” That’s not a scripture quote, but he wasn’t far from wrong. As long as the children or child remains at home, they are subject to their godly parents. Now, when the children are of age, and they’ve opted to establish their own homes, I believe this command from Paul no longer pertains to them. However, as long as the child or children are dependent upon their parents for their livelihood, they are obligated to obey their parents. Why? Order in the home, the church, and in the community depends on it (Proverbs 1:8, 23:22; Colossians 3:18).
The Lord’s command for children to honor their parents has no expiration date.
Training Your Child
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is (the) right (thing to do) – I mentioned earlier people are not born into this world with a willingness to obey any authority; instead they’re born disobedient and rebellious. I don’t believe I need to remind parents of this truth. Who hasn’t experienced a child’s temper tantrum, their sass, and their stubbornness? The first word most parents hear their child speak is “No,” after he or she has received their instruction(s). This is due to the fact they’ve heard their parents say “no” to them multiple times each day. Since children aren’t inclined to listen and obey, they must be trained by their parents.
How do the husband and wife “train” their child? I’m glad you asked. First, know you’re up against the world’s way of thinking, i.e. the humanistic approach of our day that basically says “Let children express themselves.” And whatever you do don’t spank them; if you do you’ll scar them for life! This unbiblical approach to child-rearing has resulted in the child becoming assertive and demanding at an early age. Who hasn’t seen a mortified parent in the grocery aisle or at the check-out counter, admonishing their child for misbehaving? I had one of these experiences just the other day. I was behind mom and her child at the check-out counter when I saw the little girl reach out and take several items from the display. As soon as mom noticed she was removing a candy bar from its wrapper, she took it and all the other items away saying, “These things aren’t good for you… we’ll eat lunch when we get home.” The child immediately went ballistic. Nothing mom said soothed her or stopped the bawling. The temper tantrum ended when mom gave in and returned the candy bar to her. What just happened? This child manipulated her mother – she won the battle of wills, proving children are training their parents instead of the parents training their children.
We learned earlier children are the Lord’s heritage; they are a blessing from God. Thus, children should not cause you to make an appointment with your psychiatrist.
The wise King Solomon wrote:
Train (In Hebrew the word Na’ar means infancy to adolescence) up a child in the way he (or she) should go; And when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).
There are two things I want to talk about from this verse. First, there’s a time element in this passage that must be obeyed. If you’re going to properly train your children, this must be done during their development years, from birth to about ten years of age. If you choose to reject his wisdom, y’all need to be prepared to face the consequences of your unwise decision.
Parents today believe they have a better plan because they read a self-help book on child-rearing or because they intend to raise their child differently than they were raised by their parents. But look at society today; do you honestly believe that plan is working? One discipline tactic I’ve encountered more than a few times over the years is the parent trying to change their child’s unruliness by reasoning with them. Permit me to illustrate. One married couple with children I’m acquainted with uses the lecture method when one of their boys gets into trouble. They pull the child aside and they begin to reason with him, teaching him to share the toy with his brother; instead of hitting him on the head with it! From what I can see this plan isn’t working. The one thing they have taught their children is you won’t be punished for your wrong doing; we’ll just sit down and chat instead.
I don’t believe discussing the problem is punishment. If they found this suggestion in a “How To” book, I’d return it and get by money back, because this plan is not working. The oldest child continues to get what he wants, when he wants it, by bullying his younger brother. And, the younger brother has learned to hit back, usually when his brother has his back turned! Words alone won’t train up a child in the way they should go. Most children learn to tune their parent’s voices out when it is something they don’t want to hear – like “Eat your vegetables” or “Help me pick up your toys.”
The second thing I want y’all to notice is King Solomon said, “Train your children,” and not teach them. The couple from my illustration above is doing exactly what Solomon said not to do; they are “teaching” their children to behave. But here’s the thing, children, like adults, must be trained to obey.
The Hebrew word for train is Chanak (khaw-nak’). It expresses the idea of molding the character, to drill (militarily speaking), to make obedient to their parent’s commands. I know people will disagree with what I’m about to say, but again; this does not alter God’s Word one iota. Scripture says the proper way to discipline a child is by using the rod:
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; But the rod of correction shall drive it far from him (Proverbs 22:15).
Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you beat him (or her) with the rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with the rod, And deliver his soul from Sheol (Proverbs 23:13-14).
The Hebrew word for rod is Shebet (shay-bet). It was a stick used for measurement and as an instrument of discipline or punishment by shepherds and others. I witnessed this type of punishment while attending parochial school. The nuns were responsible for teaching us and most of them walked the classroom with a 12” ruler (a rod) in hand. When someone was caught misbehaving, the nun would slap their hands with their ruler; a few opted to use the metallic edge to show their disapproval. Someone caught doing harm to another child was taken out into the hallway and spanked on the rump.
Spanking used to be a discipline tool in the schools. If a child misbehaved, ignoring the teacher’s warnings, they were taken to the principal’s office for a spanking. The parents were notified afterwards that discipline had been applied to their child’s backside. This isn’t being done today, which is one reason the schools have turned into a field of battle, i.e. bullying, drug abuse, fighting, sexual harassment, children literally being shot at or killed by other students - what a mess! Children must be disciplined at home first, and then in the school setting, if it’s necessary.
But let’s be clear, Solomon is not saying pick up a rod and beat your child. The verses are saying disobedience comes naturally to children and it’s the parent’s responsibility to train them to overcome their natural inclination to sin. But abusing a child is never warranted. Parents learn this truth in Ephesians 6:4 where Paul wrote, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline of the Lord. Children are to respond obediently to their parents out of love and respect and not fear.
Paul’s command is directed to the father’s but the passage is not saying only the fathers are to discipline the children. You could insert the word “parents” here and be right with scripture. You see there was a time when fathers went off to work each day and the mother stayed at home, tending to the needs of the children and their home. They were called “housewives,” but many people believe this is a degrading term today. Although the mother spends more time with the children then the father, the fathers must remember the Lord is watching; they will be held accountable at The Judgment Seat of Christ in regard to whether or not their children were raised in the things of the Lord.
This verse also says the parents are not to discipline their children out of anger, but in love. Anger is a turn-off (negative emotion) while love is a turn-on (positive emotion). I was punished once by my father in anger, and I remember the details vividly. It was a sad day in our relationship. Dad had a bad day at work and in anger punished me for my wrongdoing. But Paul is saying parents NEVER discipline your child when you’re angry. Don’t let your emotions control you; you control your emotions (Galatians 5:22-23).
I pray you can see there’s wisdom in the phrase, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” Yet some people argue, “If you love your child, how can you discipline them this way?” My response is, “If you truly love your child, how can you withhold proper discipline?”
If you’ll apply the proper discipline when it occurs (not hours, days, months, or years later), it not only gets their attention, it awakens them to the fact they will suffer the consequences for their disobedience.
Next, many people wonder if discipline should be applied in private or in public. My parents employed the spanking protocol when the situation warranted it. Furthermore, the spanking was administered in public and in view of my siblings. Adding public embarrassment to one’s stinging behind was a very effective tool and it made the other children sit-up and take notice. It was definitely an attention-getter! By the way spanking in our home was not a matter of routine. My parents used other forms of punishment such as grounding, no T.V., washing our mouths out with soap, if we took God’s name in vain or used a curse word, and we were confined to our room if we couldn’t get along with each other. Spanking was reserved for serious offenses and not just because we didn’t eat our spinach…
Let’s look at verse 6:2-3.
“HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH (Exodus 20:12).
Both parents have the God-given responsibility of training their children in the ways of the Lord. This doesn’t mean you beat them over the head with your Bible, or drill them with scripture and Bible facts, instead you are to encourage them to make the Word of God a part of their daily lives; just as you are doing, I pray!
How important is this? God said it’s very important. The phrase “HONOR YOUR PARENTS; your father and mother” is repeated eight times in scripture which means it’s there for our learning:
For whatsoever things were written (in times past, or) aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope (Romans 15:4; Ephesians 2:1-13 - KJV).
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for (what) training in righteousness, so that the man (or child of God) may be complete, fully equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16).
“HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER” is a command from the Lord. It expresses the idea both the mother and father are worthy of being honored. This tells us, among other things, the parent’s God-given responsibilities in the home are vitally important to God’s plan and purpose for His one Church.
Although the parent’s roles are deemed honorable here, I would not be fulfilling my role if I failed to mention women today do not see eye-to-eye with God; they do not consider motherhood honorable or something to be desired. This is evidenced by all the activity going on at Planned Parenthood. I’m not going to sugar-coat the truth; Planned Parenthood’s main role is to abort children, black children preferably; not my opinion, you’ll find the majority of their clinics are in located in black neighborhoods by choice. Most of the population today chooses to ignore the facts. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, as it’s known since 1952, was a leading advocate of the Eugenics Movement, specifically, of negative Eugenics, which promotes the reduction of sexual reproduction and sterilization of people with undesired traits or economic conditions. On a radio show, Sanger is reported to have said, “Morons, mental defectives, epileptics, illiterates, paupers, unemployables, criminals, prostitutes, and dope fiends ought to be surgically sterilized.” If they wish, she said, “…such people should also be able to choose a lifelong segregated existence in labor camps.” Adolph Hitler and his followers held the same view.
Instead of listening to the “talking heads” about this subject, I choose to examine the facts. Planned Parenthood has a long and well-documented history of racism beginning with its founder, Margaret Sanger. It’s also a fact more African-Americans have died from abortion than from AIDS, accidents, violent crimes, cancer, and heart disease combined. And in America today, a black child is three times more likely to be killed in the womb than a white child. Since 1973, abortion has reduced the black population by more than 25%.
“When will people wake up and smell the coffee?” It’s not a “choice;” it’s a child! Although millions of women do not see motherhood as a blessing or honorable, and willfully disregard the Lord’s commands, God has spoken plainly. Any way you want to look at it, the sin of abortion does not bring honor and glory to God! It’s murder and people will be held accountable.
“HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH” (Exodus 20:12).
This promise from the Lord is both general and specific. In general, the natural consequence of honoring your parents and the skills learned from doing so lead to a good life and a good life is usually connected to a long life. Sin characteristically shortens life while virtue extends it.
The promise here is also specific in that it is a direct promise from God. He extends a blessing to those who honor their father and mother. This does not mean God cannot have a different plan for specific individuals even if they do honor their father and mother – Believers who are persecuted for their faith in Christ is but one example. However, obedience to God’s command brings His blessings.
What does it mean to honor your parents? Primarily it means “to place value upon” them. It is demonstrated in consideration, love, and respect. This is something all of us are to do regardless of our age. Remember, earlier I mentioned the command to Honor your father and mother has no expiration date attached to it. Young children honor their parents through their obedience to them. Older children transitioning into adulthood honor through submission – they willingly follow the instruction and advice of their parents out of sincere devotion.
When you become an adult and live independently of your parents you are no longer under their authority. Our obedience and submission are no longer required because the authority structure has changed. Men, you are to leave your father and mother and cleave to your wife. Ladies, your husband is now your head and not your father. But even so, as adults, we are still to give honor to our parents. If the parents have done their job properly and the children are walking with the Lord this arises out of love and heartfelt devotion.
However, some people have been bad parents. Their children suffered at their hands. Their past is full of pain, trust has been broken and their current relationship is strained at best. But regardless of the past, you are still responsible before God to honor them. I haven’t found an escape clause anywhere in this book, which at minimum means you must honor even the bad parents: by not speaking evil of them, slandering them, letting them go hungry or ignoring them in time of need, for at worst they are still your neighbor which we have been commanded to love as ourselves (Mark 12:31). Honoring them will be a difficult duty instead of a joyful devotion. Even so, you can still honor them out of your love for Jesus Christ and desire to be obedient to Him.
(To be continued)
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