January 19, 2020

Spirit Filled Parenting

Pastor:
Passage: Ephesians 6:1-4
Service Type:

James Montgomery Boice wrote, "It is a conviction of mine that no man has a right to tell other people how to raise their children until he has children of his own." By the way, James Montgomery Boice was the pastor for years and years and years of 10th Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia until the Lord took him home with cancer in 1988. "No man has a right to tell other people how to raise their children until he has children of his own and has tried to raise them. As a corollary, I am convinced that no wise man will give advice. Even then, until his own children have grown up and turned out well." To which I would add, the wise man will also tread very carefully, as he approaches the apostle’s instruction to parents and children. But it is my responsibility to deal with this text. And so I approach it humbly, cautiously, with great fear and trepidation because great damage can be done. Great damage has been done through a misunderstanding. And a misapplication of this text. This text like all other texts of Scripture must be kept, understood and applied in context. If you as a parent, are not fulfilling Paul's command given in chapter five, then you will not be able to properly understand these truths. Nor will you be able to properly apply these truths presented here in chapter six. And what God has given as a means of help for your family could very well turn out to be a means of doing harm to your family.

Now, let me begin by reminding you that these verses this biblical instruction: The Holy Spirit didn't give these truths to be used by parents to launch verbal missiles at their children. Nor did the Holy Spirit give these trues for children to launch verbal missiles to a provocative parent. The intent of the Holy Spirit was not to provide ammunition for parents against their children or to provide ammunition for children against their parents. In other words--and I'll speak directly to mom and dad at this point--the Holy Spirit did not instruct the Apostle Paul to pen these words, in order to provide you with a verbal club, to bring your children into submission. You are to use Paul's words, to teach your children to submit and obey in light of the overall teaching of the Apostle Paul here in Ephesians as well as the rest of Scripture. Please listen carefully to what I'm about to say: If you want to drive your children away from Christ, then use the Bible as a verbal club. If you want to drive your children away from Christ, use the Bible as a means of punishment. The Bible is God's means of drawing us to Christ. But when it is misused, it holds the potential to drive us from Christ.

Now, as I said last week, this is part of my fear in preaching this text. It is not my intention, it is not my calculation, certainly, it is not my goal to inflict guilt or condemnation upon any parent. That is not at all what I'm driving at. As I said last week, you can do everything right as a parent and still, your children turn out wrong. Okay? But remember this mom and dad, your kids are people too. They're not your property to do with as you please, they are God's gift to you for which you are to be a good steward of. Okay? Because kids are people they are known for making bad choices and poor decisions. That's the reality of life in a fallen world. And your responsibility as a Christian parent is to raise your children who are God's gifts to you. You are you're to raise them in such a way that they are just drawn to Christ, and not driven away from Christ.

One of the dangers that preachers and parents, and to a certain degree children, face is not taking into consideration the context of these verses. That's why I went back and began reading Ephesians 5:15. We have to keep in mind that when the Bible was originally written, there were no chapter and verse divisions. So when Paul sent this letter to the believers at Ephesus, when they got it and they unrolled the scroll, it didn't say chapter one at the beginning. It just had his greeting and had his salutation. Now, the reason I bring that up is because there's a danger in thinking because, in our English Bibles, we get to chapter six and verse one, we may think, because there's Chapter division there, that there is a change in the flow of Paul's thinking; there is not. It would have been acceptable to not begin chapter six here. I understand why it was done to some degree. But that's why I wanted to read it this morning without any reference to verses or chapters to show you the flow of thought. There is a very real danger in thinking that Paul is beginning a new line of thought here in chapter six verse one, but that is not true. And if we make that mistake, I want to emphasize that, if we make this mistake, we are in danger of missing the flow of Paul's instruction.

Now we know from our English Bibles in chapter five verses seventeen and eighteen, Paul wrote, "therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." And what is the will of the Lord? Verse 18, "and do not get drunk with wine for that is debauchery but be filled with the Spirit." So following Paul's command, and by the way, verse 18, is a command. It's a command for every believer to be filled with the Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit is different from possessing the spirit. It's not an option for you as a believer to not be filled with the spirit. It is a command. And following the command, Paul begins to work out what the lifestyle of a spirit-filled believer looks like. And if you could go home this afternoon before the AFC and NFC Championship games, and take some time to read these verses in context, you will see that Paul describes how every real every relationship in your life as a believer should be, will be impacted, touched and changed by the fact that you are filled with the Holy Spirit. Relationship with people around you and your relationship with your church members, the relationship with your spouse, your relationship with your children, your relationship with your employer, all of these relationships are impacted when you are filled with the Holy Spirit. Now listen again, please. If I could have preached anything else today, I would have. I say none of these things with malice. I say none of these things with ill intent, but it is my responsibility to equip you to live biblically.

If there is a lack of harmony in family relationships, where Mom and Dad and both the children profess to be believers there's a problem. Somebody in that relationship is not filled with the Spirit. Do you think that when people are filled with the Spirit, they are not going to be in harmony with others who are filled with the Spirit? That would be a contradiction, apart of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Okay? So if there is that kind of problem, you can write it down that somebody is being disobedient to the command to be filled with the Spirit. And one of the relationships has to be lived out and be lived out under the authority and the control of the Holy Spirit is the relationship of parents and their children.

Again, let me directly address mom and dad. You have two options as a parent: You can either raise your children in the power of the flesh, which when I say that means apart from being filled with the Spirit, or you can raise your children through the power that comes from the filling of the Spirit. As far as I can tell, for a Christian parent, there are no other options. You're either going to raise your children in the power of your own flesh, your own wisdom, your own resources, your fallen flesh, I might add, or you're going to raise them according to the power, the wisdom and the strength of the Holy Spirit. You cannot do both at the same time. Are there times when we raise our children in the flesh? Yes. But please understand this: that is to be the exception and not the rule. for a professing Christian. The professing Christian, the Rule of Life for every believer is to be filled with the Spirit. Why? Well, the Bible tells us because we live by the Spirit, spiritually speaking, our source of spiritual life comes from the Spirit and correspondingly, what do we do? We live or we walk by the Spirit. Meaning that the Holy Spirit is to govern, every thought, every action, to govern our conduct, it is all to be brought under the authority and the control of the Holy Spirit. And yes, that includes your parenting. And your intelligent people so let's think this through. Why would you not want to raise your children with the help with the aid and with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit? Why would you not want to do that? The Holy Spirit was given to you, by Lord Jesus, to guide you into all truth. The Holy Spirit will never lead you astray. The Holy Spirit will never, in fact, it is an impossibility for the Holy Spirit to lead you in ways that are contrary to scripture, in ways that would violate God's law in ways that would violate God's will. The Holy Spirit will always lead you in the paths of righteousness. So ask yourself this, mom and dad, will your flesh do that? Has your flesh ever led you astray? Has your flesh ever led you to act in ways that are contrary to Scripture and by the way, when I say contrary to Scripture, it's a nice way of saying sin.

Something else to keep in mind... This is all introduction, which you want to be over quickly I know but.. When you as parents begin to think biblically about raising your children, you need to understand that there's a much larger issue at stake than just how your children turn out. Let me explain what I mean by that. The goal of many parents is to simply make sure that their children don't embarrass them. Right? As long as they don't embarrass mom and dad, they're kind of happy with that. That's understandable. But that is not the goal of child-rearing. That's a benefit of being a godly parent. But It's not to the goal. Say, "Well, what is the goal?" The goal is to raise your children for the glory of God. We like to quote that verse, "whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do, do all for the glory of God." So let me ask you this, does parenting fall under the "whatever you do"? I believe it does. It has to.  By definition, it has to. So that means that we are to parent our children in such a way, we are to bring them up in such a way, we are to raise them in such a way that God is glorified in our parenting, even if God's plan for them is not our plan for them. Say "I don't like that." I didn't expect you to. You may have goals and aspirations for your child, say, say vocationally, but God may have a bigger goal in mind for your child and that is full-time service being on the mission field someplace. To not raise your children by the power of the Holy Spirit is to rob God of His glory. And to open yourself up to the possibility of making mistakes and poor decisions and your parenting mistakes and decisions which can harm and damage not only your children but rob god of the glory he's so richly deserved. So the question that you have to come to grips with is are you raising your children for the glory of God or for your own glory? And there's a world of difference. Are you trying to conform? Please listen carefully. Are you trying to conform your children to your image or the image of Christ

Well, as I tried to show last week, there are several complicating factors that parents have to deal with. And the overarching factor that negatively impacts parenting is the fall of Adam and Eve. Now let's think about the fall this way: If we want to describe the fall how would we do it? Well, we could do it this way. It was God's children, Adam and Eve, rebelling against their Heavenly Father. Could we not say that? So their act of rebellion became the default setting for every person who followed them. That's why parenting is challenging. You have a set of rebels trying to raise another set of rebels. That's why parenting is such a challenge. Every person beginning with Cain and Abel has come into this world with the heart of a rebel.

now, there's only a few of us here old enough to remember the song born to be wild and probably I'm probably the only one stupid enough to admit that I know the song. You know, "get your motor running, get out on the highway. looking for adventure, and whatever comes my way." But do you know, I know you don't, but I'll tell you anyway, you know what the chorus says, here's what the chorus says: Can we edit this out? The chorus says "like a true nature's child. We were born born to be wild. Now Steppenwolf, I don't know where they got their theological degrees, but they're pretty good theologians. They're spot on, aren't they? And it's because we come into this world with a nature that we were born to be wild. That's what makes parenting such a difficult job.

Parenting is a difficult job. But for the believers it's not a hopeless job, nor is it an impossible job. It does require some help. So, therefore, to raise your children, so that they are drawn to Christ and not driven from Christ requires wisdom. It requires faithfulness. It requires patience. It requires selflessness, and it requires a tremendous amount of love. In short, it requires parents to be filled with the Spirit to parent properly, to bring your child up and the discipline and instruction of the Lord, you must be filled with the Spirit. Say, "I don't see that any place in Ephesians six, one through four," Correct. That's why we go back to Ephesians five and continue the train of thought. You can't get off the hook by chapter division. To parent properly to bring your children up and the discipline and instruction of the Lord, you must be filled with the Spirit. The place to learn to parent biblically is to learn what it means to be filled with the Spirit, to understand what it means to be filled with the Spirit, and to examine yourself to make sure that you're operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. I'll say this for the third time. Your responsibility as a parent, as a steward of God's children, is to raise them in such a way that they are drawn to Christ and not driven away from Christ.

End of introduction, the text answers the how. "How do I do that? How do I raise my children in such a way that they are drawn to Christ and not driven from Christ?" Well, the text gives us three answers. This may be good or bad, we only get the answer one today and two and three to follow. Here's the three answers. Number one, you must be filled with the Spirit. Number two, you must not provoke your children to anger. And number three, you must bring your children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Number one, you must be filled with the Spirit. So the first question that comes to mind is "how do I know if I'm filled with the Spirit? How do I know if I'm filled with the Spirit? "Well, I won't take the time to develop that very much this morning, because already in our series of Ephesians, I went back and checked, I've dealt with this subject three times and all three messages are on the website. So if you need a refresher, you can go back and listen to them. But I will say this a sure sign of whether you're filled with the Spirit is to examine your attitude or attitudes. If you're negative all the time, if you complain all the time, if you grumble all the time,  hate to break it to you, you're not filled with the Spirit. If your life isn't characterized by joy, peace, love, gentleness, kindness, patience and self-control, you're not filled with the Spirit. How about this? Do your social media posts reflect a tone, a life, an attitude that demonstrates submission to and being under the control of the Holy Spirit. I've said this before, I'll say it again. It's not all that difficult to determine whether or not you are filled with the Holy Spirit, just ask the person closest to you.

Well, suffice it to say that the means to be filled with the Spirit is to be filled, as Paul teaches in Colossians, which we read in prayer meeting this morning, is to be filled with the words of Christ, or, as Paul says, "to let the words of Christ dwell in you richly," to let the words of Scripture dwell in you richly. And I've said this before and I'll say it again, it means much more than reading. Should you read the scriptures? Yes. Read them frequently. But I'm afraid that we have substituted reading with letting them dwell in us richly. Certainly includes reading, but it also includes meditation. You can pray and ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit but he's not going to answer that prayer apart from you making much of his word in your life. He's just not going to do it. We can say it this way. We want the power, apart from the pain. And the pain is going beyond the reading, to studying, to memorizing, to meditating on the scriptures. Could it be that that is why we see such little demonstration of the Spirit's power in our lives and in our churches? Because, yes, we may be faithful readers of Scripture but we don't take the time to meditate on scripture. We don't take the time to study the Scriptures. We don't really internalize the scriptures. And so we kind of have this false security that just because I've done that, that means that I am filled with the Spirit. Nothing could be farther from the truth. So why is it important to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Why is it important for you as a parent to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

One sure way of driving your child away from Christ is hypocrisy. I realized it's a strong word and I really would like to have used a different word. It's not a word that we like to think applies to ourselves. But let's think about this for a moment. What is hypocrisy? It's saying one thing and then doing another. Hypocrisy is when our practice does not match our words, or words do not match our practice. And Mom and Dad you may be able to get away with this when your children are little because let's face it, their reasoning skills have yet to develop and you can follow them pretty easily. But I promise you this once they get a little bit older, especially when they reach the teenage years, they will know you're a hypocrite. They will clearly see that your actions are not matching your words.

Say "what are some signs of hypocrisy?" And again, I don't say any of these things. I say them with a broken heart. Are you demanding things from your children that you're not doing yourself? I'm not talking about chores. I'm not talking about developing a work ethic in them. I'm talking about something I think would be obvious: Do you demand that your children read their Bibles? Yet they never see you read your Bible? Do you demand that your children pray but they never see you praying? Do you demand self-control from your children? How many times have you said as a parent "control yourself. Learn to control yourself." Well, that's your job mom and dad to teach them how to control themselves. Do you harp on them all the time "control yourself, control yourself, control yourself," then you don't have any self-control yourself? You're a hypocrite. Say "I don't like this message." I don't much like preaching it.

Isaiah identified the Holy Spirit as the spirit of wisdom, Isaiah 11. Two, does it take knowledge to raise your children? Yes. Again, Isaiah 11. He identifies the Holy Spirit as the spirit of knowledge. So so I think a lot of parents need a reboot. They need a reset. They need to ask themselves this question Where does parenting begin? Or to say it another way? Where do I learn? Where do I best learn to be a parent?

Not online with the latest insight from a mommy blogger. Go back to James Montgomery Boice’s quote. By the way, what he said there, it's an axiom of life. You don't ever go to somebody and ask them for advice if they have not done what you need to do. So we don't learn a parent from the latest mommy blogger. We don't learn a parent from the latest best selling book on parenting proper parenting begins on your knees with An open Bible before you, soaking in the words of Christ, saturating yourself with the words of Christ, meditating on the words of Christ. Proper parenting begins, continues and ends with being filled with the Spirit. Do you like joy in raising your children? Don't answer out loud. The fruit of the Spirit is joy. Do you lack patience raising your children? The fruit of the Spirit is patience. Do you lose your cool and raising your children? The fruit of the Spirit is self-control. See to be a good steward of God's gift of children to you to raise them in such a way that they are drawn to Christ and not driven away from Christ. You must be a spirit-filled parent. I don't know if you Look at it this way. But parenting is a spiritual issue. It's a spiritual issue. Therefore it must be done with spiritual means. It must be done in the power of the Holy Spirit. And when you begin to think about parenting in these terms, I honestly believe it simplifies parenting. Don't make the mistake of equating simplified with easy, they're not the same. What I mean by the fact that it simplifies parent making it simplifies it in the fact that you begin with the one ultimate source of truth. You begin with the one ultimate source of Knowledge. You learn what it means you understand what it means. You apply what it means to be filled with the Spirit. That simplifies the task is shuts out a lot of other voices. The problem with parents today is like all of us, you're overloaded with too much information.

You're confusing yourself.

This is where you find the best source of parenting advice, marriage advice, relationship advice, any kind of advice, decision making. Advice. It's all right here. Now, that's not to say that you can't supplement your parenting knowledge by learning from those who have successfully done what you're seeking to do. Of course, you can. What I'm saying is don't start there. Don't start there. Start by learning what it is to be a spirit-filled parent. Start by Understanding how to be filled with the Spirit, do your part and being filled with the Spirit. That was a big What if question that needs to be answered. What if you haven't been a spirit-filled parent? What if Well, here's where the gospel comes into play. You apply the gospel to your parenting mistakes. I really Is that a message such as this could cause a parent to despair? Parenting is tough enough, without some yay who standing up in front of them, and for 40 minutes banging on about what a bad job they've done. That's not my goal. That's not my intention. But perhaps this morning the Holy Spirit has confronted you with the mistakes you have made in the past or that you're currently making. Your stewardship of the children God has blessed you with do not despair. Do not beat yourself up. But there is something you do need to do. Confess, repent. seek forgiveness, appropriate the grace and the mercy that is available to you through the gospel. Do your part from this point forward and being filled with the Spirit. saturate yourself with the scriptures. Meditate on the scriptures. study the Scriptures, purpose in your own heart to bring your children up in the power of the Holy Spirit. And finally, remember this the gospel replaces despair with hope, with hope. And as long as your children are alive, there is hope for them. Never, ever forget that.

Who did Jesus reserve his most scathing words for? Pharisees. In Matthew [23]:13, Jesus said, "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" Verse 15, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" (Matt. 23:15a). Verse 23, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" (Matt. 23:23a) Why did Jesus repeatedly call them hypocrites? Well, Scripture tells us, "For they preach and do not practice" (Matt. 23:3b). That's the definition of a hypocrite. So, what will keep you as a parent from becoming a Pharisee, who is characterized by hypocrisy? Being filled with the Spirit. What will keep your kids from being able to label you as a hypocrite? Being filled with the Spirit. Jesus taught the disciples that when the Holy Spirit would come, he would guide them into all truth. Now, listen carefully, please. The ministry of the Holy Spirit in you, the professing believer... He will not allow you to consistently act in ways that are contrary to Scripture without bringing conviction of sin to you. And if you continue down that path, if you continue to ignore his conviction, he will bring judgment. Okay. There's no way that a genuine believer can go on acting contrary to Scripture, and the Holy Spirit doesn't care. Every genuine believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, which means He will convict you of sin. The Holy Spirit will lead you to repentance and confession in order to bring your actions and your words back into alignment. A Spirit-filled hypocrite is a mythical creation of the uninformed mind. Like the unicorn, it doesn't exist.

Let's work, let's continue to work through this. Earlier, I said that every believer is commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Again, let's keep this in the context of parenting. If every Christian parent is commanded to be filled with the Spirit and they are not, what does that make them? It makes them a disobedient Christian. Or to put it in parenting language: that makes them a child not obeying their heavenly Father. Most parents that I know that I've come into contact with, they all want their children to obey. I mean, after all, who likes to be around kids who don't obey and are completely out of control? I don't. Now, mom and dad: if you're not obeying the Lord's command...By the way, the command to be... All of God's commands are for your good. God's command to you to be filled with the Spirit is for your good. But if you're not obeying that command to be filled with the Spirit, you know what you are? You are a disobedient child of God. Say, 'Well, what does any of this have to do with hypocrisy?' It has everything to do with hypocrisy. If you're not obeying the command of your heavenly Father to be filled with the Spirit, while at the same time you're demanding obedience from your child, I ask you, what does that make you? You're saying but you're not doing. What does that make you? Are you a better parent when you're filled with the Spirit or when you're operating in the flesh? The answer is obvious. Does it take wisdom to parent your children? Absolutely. Well, Isaiah identified the Holy Spirit as "the Spirit of wisdom", Isaiah 11:2. Does it take knowledge to raise your children? Yes. Again, Isaiah 11:2. He identifies the Holy Spirit as "the Spirit of knowledge". See.

So, I think a lot of parents need a reboot. They need a reset. They need to ask themselves this question: Where does parenting begin? Or, to say it another way, where do I learn? Where do I best learn to be a parent? Not online with the latest insight from a mommy blogger. Go back to James Montgomery Boice's quote. By the way, what he said there, it's an axiom of life. You don't ever go to somebody and ask them for advice if they have not done what you need to do. So, we don't learn to parent from the latest mommy blogger. We don't learn to parent from the latest best-selling book on parenting. Proper parenting begins on your knees with an open Bible before you, soaking in the words of Christ, saturating yourself with the words of Christ, [and] meditating on the words of Christ. Proper parenting begins, continues, and ends with being filled with the Spirit. Do you lack joy in raising your children? Don't answer out loud. The fruit of the Spirit is joy. Do you lack patience raising your children? The fruit of the Spirit is patience. Do you lose your cool in raising your children? The fruit of the Spirit is self-control.

See, to be a good steward of God's gift, of God's gift of children to you, to raise them in such a way that they are drawn to Christ and not driven away from Christ, you must be a Spirit-filled parent. I don't know if you look at it this way, but parenting is a spiritual issue. It's a spiritual issue. Therefore, it must be done with spiritual means. It must be done in the power of the Holy Spirit. And when you begin to think about parenting in these terms, I honestly believe it simplifies parenting. Don't make the mistake of equating 'simplifying' with 'easy'. They're not the same. What I mean by the fact that it, it simplifies parent-making: it simplifies it in the fact that you begin with the one ultimate source of truth. You begin with the one ultimate source of knowledge. You learn what it means you understand what it means. You apply what it means to be filled with the Spirit. That simplifies the task. It shuts out a lot of other voices. The problem with parents today is, like all of us, you're overloaded with too much information. You're confusing yourself. This [the Bible] is where you find the best source of parenting advice, marriage advice, relationship advice, any kind of advice, decision-making advice. It's all right here. Now, that's not to say that you can't supplement your parenting knowledge by learning from those who have successfully done what you're seeking to do. Of course, you can. What I'm saying is: don't start there. Don't start there. Start by learning what it is to be a Spirit-filled parent. Start by understanding how to be filled with the Spirit. Do your part in being filled with the Spirit.

There's a big "what if" question that needs to be answered. What if you haven't been a Spirit-filled parent? What if? Well, here's where the gospel comes into play. You apply the gospel to your parenting mistakes. I realize that a message such as this could cause a parent to despair. Parenting is tough enough without some "yay-who" standing up in front of them and for 40 minutes, banging on about what a bad job they've done. That's not my goal. That's not my intention. But perhaps, this morning the Holy Spirit has confronted you with the mistakes you have made in the past or that you're currently making of your stewardship of the children God has blessed you with. Do not despair. Do not beat yourself up. But, there is something you do need to do: Confess. Repent. Seek forgiveness. Appropriate the grace and the mercy that is available to you through the gospel. Do your part from this point forward in being filled with the Spirit. Saturate yourself with the Scriptures. Meditate on the Scriptures. Study the Scriptures. Purpose in your own heart to bring your children up in the power of the Holy Spirit. And finally, remember this: the gospel replaces despair with hope, with hope. And as long as your children are alive, there is hope for them. Never, ever forget that.