Calvary Road Baptist Church

“TRAIN UP A CHILD”

Proverbs 22.6

 

Do you believe the Bible? Do you really believe the Bible? Are you willing to prove that you believe the Bible? Are you willing to show that you believe the Bible? Are you willing to verify that you believe the Bible? Let’s see if you are.

The starting point for this message is Proverbs 22.6. Please turn to that passage. When you find that verse, stand for the reading of God’s Word: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

This evening I do not want address the specifics of how a child is to be trained, so much as bringing some things to your attention so we are in agreement about what kind of person you are to train, and then some suggestions about things to train your children to do. As for what kind of person you are to train, consider that the Word of God declares about this person you call child. Are you willing to use God’s Word to define the relationship you have with your child, or do you insist on using the norms of our society, or the opinions of your parents, or the regrets and guilt that you carry along as baggage from your own sordid past?

Are you willing to grant that God is wise, while you and I are foolish? Are you willing to grant that God is the Potter, while you and I, and your children, are clay? What I am asking is, are you willing to alter the relationship you have with your children so that it will reflect what the Bible states to be true, rather than what you have grown to feel comfortable with?

Is the salvation of your own child’s soul important to you?

Do you think every mom can do that which is right in her own eyes and see her child come to Christ?

Do you think dads can do that which is right in their own eyes and see their youngster come to Christ?

As well, what is more important to you, feeling good about yourself and using your child as a tool to make you happy, or raising your child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, which requires an attitude and disposition toward your child that reflects the truths of God’s Word?

Before you get too suspicious, consider my life and ministry in this church. Would I ever encourage parents not to love their children? Would I ever suggest anything that would bring spiritual harm to any child? Could my ministry at this church continue if I was not absolutely committed to the salvation of the lost, which means the salvation of your children if your children are lost? Therefore, relax and consider God’s Word. Try not to be afraid of me. Whom will I hurt?

We know from God’s Word that your children were born evil and sinful. Psalm 58.3 reads, “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” Anyone who has ever read the Bible and been around little ones knows why children are the way they are: They are sinful. They are spiritually dead in trespasses and sins. They are deceitful and untruthful. They are malevolent and manipulative. No matter how affectionate they are to extract what they want from their parents, children are not good, children are not selfless, and children do not love Jesus. Since all have sinned and short of the glory of God, we know that even children fall short of God’s glory. Since the wages of sin is death for everyone, we know that is the fate that awaits every child who does not come to Christ for salvation and cleansing. As well, and perhaps you have never verbalized this in your thoughts, mom and dad, your unconverted child is an enemy of God.

I am not suggesting that you should not love your child or like your child. I am simply pointing out a truth that Paul reveals in Romans 5.10, that until a sinner is reconciled to God through faith in Christ, that sinner, even that sinner who happens to be your son or daughter, that sinner who happens to be your spouse or grandchild, is God’s enemy.

Do you believe the Bible? Do you really believe the Bible? If you believe the Bible, then you must accept as true the Bible’s declaration that sinners are God’s enemies, which means that your unsaved child is an enemy of God. Can you feel where I am going with this?

In Matthew 12.30, the Lord Jesus Christ ruled out the possibility of any gray existing in the spiritual realm. The lines have been drawn in the sand, and a person is either on God’s side or is God’s enemy. Listen to what Jesus said: “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” The deciding factor in whether you are on God’s side or are God’s enemy is your relationship with Jesus Christ. Thus, if you are a Christian and your child is not, the two of you are in opposite camps, on different sides of the conflict, with you embracing the Savior and loving God and him rejecting the Savior and being at enmity against God. Jesus told us your child will not gather, but will scatter. He will not help to advance the gospel, but will work to oppose the spread of the gospel.

Please keep in mind that I am not telling you not to love your child. I am not suggesting that you should not be tender and affectionate with your child whenever you can appropriately be that way. I am just pointing out that if you are a Christian, you and your unsaved child are not on the same side. Further, I would suggest that you not pretend to be on the same side of this great spiritual conflict of the ages, because so long as your child is unconverted you are not on the same side he is on. If you are a Christian, you will be a gatherer of souls, while he will be a scatterer of souls.

It would be wonderful if your child heard the gospel and responded with faith in Christ. Oh, the great thrill of seeing a child come to Christ and to actually talk as though, to actually behave as though, and to seemingly think as though the two of you are at long last on the same side, both loving Jesus and both seeking to serve God. Can you imagine anything worse than giving birth to a child who is God’s enemy, who is Christ’s adversary, who is a danger to the souls of men, who is an ally of Satan and his minions, and whose heart’s disposition and desire is to see you fail, to see your ministry fail, and to see your church fail in her efforts to glorify God, exalt the Savior, and bring the lost to Him? But that is what mothers do, and that is the way children are. Sadly, it is the situation most of the families of this church find ourselves facing. There are members of your family, usually children but sometimes spouses, who are ticking time bombs just waiting to go off at the precise time when the most damage will be done to your Christian life, to the health and welfare of your marriage, and of course to your reputation and testimony as a Christian and in this church.

Depending upon how humanistic your thinking still is, you may be strongly tempted to blind yourself to the truth of your child’s condition, or at least blind yourself to the commitment your child has to harm your Christian life and the part you play in the cause of Christ. Whether it is a lie that is told, something that is stolen, a sexual sin that is committed, or some other terrible sin, your child is not so much a victim as a willing participant in a conspiracy to overthrow the rule of God and tarnish the reputation of the Son of God.

“Pastor, my child would never do that.” You think not? You ignore the clear evidence of God’s Word concerning your unsaved child’s motives? You pretend your child is not a slave to sin and a child who is not joined in the company of every other lost person as “the children of disobedience,” Ephesians 2.2?

I will grant you that your child has perhaps not committed as many sinful deeds as he could have, as he might have, or as he wanted to. But before you foolishly write that off as some innate goodness your child has, let me turn your attention to Second Thessalonians 2.7: “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” The context of Second Thessalonians 2.7 clearly shows us that the “he” referred to in the verse is the Holy Spirit of God. “The English word “let” is derived from the Old English laetan, which, in turn, came from the ancient Teutonic. Our modern word, “late,” is from the same source, which is the original meaning of laetan. Thus, this word, as used in this verse, meant “make late” or “delay.” By a strange permutation of language meanings, it has, in more recent times, come to mean “permit,” almost the opposition of its original meaning.”[1] Thus, the reference to “letteth” is an archaic English word that surprisingly does not refer to permitting or allowing, but to restraining and prohibiting, which is what the Greek word here, katecw, actually means. This is obvious, since the ministry of the Holy Spirit does involve restraining sin.

Here is something many parents fail to consider in their parenting: Mom and dad? It is not your job as parents to protect your children from the consequences of their sins. That is, you do a great disservice to your children, and display profound disloyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ, when you mindlessly rush to defend them, or excuse them, or apologize for them, or grant them victim status, when they have committed sins. Once your child has done wrong, it is not your responsibility as a mom or as a dad to make sure he does not suffer the consequences of his sin. I am absolutely convinced that my father did the right thing when he called the police to report that his son had thrown a rock through the window of a government building. What harm to his child he would have done to foolishly protect him from the consequences of his law breaking. However, even more than that, it is your task as parents to train your child in such a way that the likelihood of committing sins is minimized. To put it another way, the restraining ministry of the Holy Spirit makes use of means to accomplish His work of hindering the advance of sin. Parents are used by the Holy Spirit to restrain the sinful impulses of their children, and the more you restrain your children from committing sin the more you as a parent are being used to this end by the Holy Spirit.

I know that parents are sometimes overcome with guilt and remorse, feeling like hypocrites for trying to stop their kids from committing the sins they committed themselves as kids. However, this is just wrong. Who knows better the damage done and the guilt felt from an illicit sin than mom or dad? Therefore, regardless of how you feel about your own sinning as a child, if you have repented of that sin and trusted Christ, you will vigorously oppose that same sin in your child’s life.

This naturally brings me to your disposition toward your unsaved child. If you have ever read “A Token For Children” by Janeway, then you know the Spirit of God works powerfully in the lives of even the very youngest child, and that there is no excuse besides rebellion and stubbornness for a youngster past the age of ten continuing to reject Jesus Christ. No one becomes a Christian who does not want to become a Christian. So, the fact that your child is ten, or thirteen, or seventeen, or twenty-one, and still rejects Christ, should be justification for real alarm. Think about it. A teenage child who completely rejects your own estimation of the Savior, who has so little respect for your appraisal of the Savior, and who discounts your own testimony of the delight and the thrill of sins forgiven.

My friends, something is very, very wrong. Your child, who is an enemy of God, and who is opposed to the Savior, should not be expected by you to do anything to enhance your effectiveness as a Christian. On the other hand, if we truly are in a spiritual conflict between those of us who are on the Lord’s side and those who are on the devil’s side, the god of this world, then you would be foolish not to expect your children to strike at the very heart of your Christian life and ministry when they can. We have parents in this room whose children have veritably stabbed them in the heart by committing sins of such seriousness that the reason for the children’s actions should be obvious. As lost and subject to the manipulation and influence of foul spirits, unsaved children of Christians not infrequently show themselves to be tools of the enemy to damage the testimony, to discourage, and to defeat their Christian parents. Sins such as lying, cheating, stealing, fornicating, adulterating, using drugs, rebelling against parental authority, and such as that are not engaged in by children who are properly thought to be victims. Any child who does these things is no one’s victim, but is properly seen as a collaborator, and as a conspirator. As well, the only way you will ever be of help to your child to see them rescued from their slavery to sins is to refuse to see them as, and refuse to treat them as, victims. They are not victims. They are sinners.

You see, if you are a victim, the problem is someone else’s fault. However, if a sin is your fault, even if others were involved, then your sin can be dealt with through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. I plead with you not to allow your children to play you as if they are victims of other people’s sins, when their only hope of salvation is to face the music themselves as being responsible for their own sins. It was when the thief on the cross faced up to his own responsibility and guilt for his sins that he turned to Christ and was saved. However, since no one can force any child to come to Christ, what are you as a parent to do with an unsaved child? How are you to go about the business of serving God, all the while having someone in your home who is Hell-bent on opposing your ministry, and who will not lift a finger to help you or this church bring someone to Christ?

Methinks you need to give some serious attention to training your unsaved kids so as to minimize their negative impact on the cause of Christ. For instance, the other day a kid who attends here once a week walked into the church, passing between two of our church kids who are the same age. I watched in horror as the two church kids not only did not greet the other boy with a smile, a handshake, or a greeting, but also as I took note that they did not even so much as look at him as he passed between them.

Does that bother you? Do you pray, and come out for evangelism, and give tithes and offerings, and work to invite people to church, hoping that God will bless our church with guests and new people, only to have your children actively sabotage your efforts, my efforts, and everyone else’s efforts?

Do you realize that we have a boy in the church that refused to look at me, acknowledge me, or greet me, for about ten years? How do you explain that kind of response to a man like me, who is so friendly, who spends so much time and effort interacting with kids? It has nothing to do with the parents beyond their own foolishness, but has everything to do with the fact that that boy is an enemy of God, is opposed to the gospel, and is a kid who routinely rejects the person and work of Jesus Christ. Do you think he will not seize upon some opportunity someday to commit a sin of such seriousness that he can stab his parents in the heart and do great harm to this church? Don’t be naive.

Here is another example: Take some boy who simply refuses to smile. Take anyone who simply refuses to smile, it is all childish. Walk around the church with a sullen look on your face. How can that not be rebellion and stubbornness, working to discourage others and demean this ministry?

Don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating that you try to make your children come to Christ. However, I am advocating that you raise your children in such a way that you minimize their negative impact on your ministry, my ministry, and this church’s ministry. Your children have no right to dishonor you by undermining and opposing your efforts to serve God.

I have some suggestions for you parents concerning raising your unsaved children, who I think you should both love and like, but who should not be allowed to undermine everything you claim to hold dear:

 

First, SOME SUGGESTIONS CONCERNING YOUR CHILD’S ATTENDANCE

 

Do you really think it should be up to your child to decide whether to attend the church you have committed your life to? Do you not see your child’s unwillingness to attend church, thereby undermining your efforts, and diminishing your reputation, as dishonoring you?

I am of the opinion (and this is my opinion, mind you), that your child is still a child so long as he is living in your house. I am also of the opinion that if your child successfully divides his parents so that one or both refuse to see the child’s unwillingness to come to church as an insult to them, then the battle to reach your child for Christ is over.

Keep in mind that I am making a suggestion that I think will help your standing as a Christian. Keep also in mind that your unsaved child does not care what your standing is as a Christian. That is the problem. If your child were not an enemy of God, an enemy of the gospel, and ultimately your enemy, he would come to church.

Hate your child? Not at all. Fight with your child? Please, no. However, as Joshua once said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”[2]

 

Second, SOME SUGGESTIONS CONCERNING YOUR CHILD’S APPEARANCE

 

This is your church, Christ is your Savior, and the Father is your God. Because we are serious about worshiping and serving God in this Church, we do not come to church dressed as if we are headed to Wal-Mart.

Is it legalism for people to dress appropriately in the house of God? I don’t think so. I know Ted Williams insisted on dressing casually when meeting presidents, but most people dress differently for an appearance in the Oval Office than at other times. Therefore, let me suggest that you exercise direct control over the clothes your children wear to church, so as not to undermine your efforts, because I think attending church is more important than showing up for an appointment at the White House.

 

Third, SOME SUGGESTIONS CONCERNING YOUR CHILD’S BEHAVIOR

 

Do you have any idea how your children behave when they are at church? Does it matter to you that they are snubbing the children of the adults you are trying to make comfortable here? Do you care that they could care less whether anyone comes back, because they don’t want to be here themselves?

My suggestion, mom and dad, is that you give explicit instructions to your children concerning how they are to greet people when they come to church, how they are to greet people who come to church, how they should move around the auditorium in friendly fashion, and how they should make the effort make people feel welcome.

After all, you do not want to expend a great deal of effort, only to have everything you are doing neutralized by the negative behavior of your kids. In addition, ask other adults to check up on your kids to make sure they are doing what you have instructed them to do.

 

Fourth, SOME SUGGESTIONS CONCERNING YOUR CHILD’S ALLEGIANCES

 

I think it unwise to allow your children to cultivate allegiances outside their church. I would suggest not allowing a child to join Boy Scouts, to join Explorers, to join Future Farmers of America, or to join the Eastern Star’s group for girls, the Job’s Daughters. I am not sure I would allow my daughter to join the Candy Stripers at a hospital.

“Why not, pastor?” Two reasons: First, the adults who manage those groups seem to always feel themselves qualified to give counsel to young people, though they are typically the least qualified people on earth to give advice to anyone. Proverbs 14.7 declares, “Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.” Sadly, the vast majority of children are too foolish to follow such crucial direction, and end up receiving stupid counsel from foolish adults. Secondly, kids make friends in those kinds of settings. “What is wrong with that?” There is nothing wrong with that if your child is a leader. That is easy to detect, by the number of children your kid brings to church. Leaders bring kids, while followers bring no one, and end up following some kid who has no spiritual qualifications to lead anyone. However, since your kid is a follower, do you think the allegiances he forms in those extracurricular activities will encourage him to come to Christ, will increase the likelihood that he will honor you, or will the opposite happen?

Ask Christian parents who have allowed their children to establish allegiances outside their local church. Ask them if it has ever turned out right. Ask them what they would do if they had it to do over again.

You can do what you want. However, if you want to guarantee that your unsaved child is not saved, determine not to rock the boat and make him or her unhappy. Make sure that kid’s inclination to turn away from church and the things of God is strengthened by outside allegiances. Then, when your heart is broken over your grandchildren’s fate, remember what I said. I am just trying to save you folks some real heartache, along with trying to enhance your efforts to serve God here at church.

 

Fifth, SOME SUGGESTIONS CONCERNING YOUR CHILD’S ATTITUDES

 

I came close to this subject of attitudes when I was commenting about behavior. The link between attitude and behavior is a very strong one, though it is possible to behave correctly without having the right attitude. Parents, not only am I urging you to deal with your child’s behavior, but also this thing called attitude.

I think it was Zig Ziglar who said that your attitude determines your altitude. Though that is mostly positive thinking psychology, there is some truth to it. Attitudes can be felt by other people, while behavior is altogether correct and proper.

Ever ask someone, “What’s wrong?”, and he looks at you, lies, and says, “Nothing”? I get very upset when people with bad attitudes lie to me that way. However, when your children are that way in church it has a compounded effect.

You see, especially among young people, bad attitudes engender more bad attitudes. A guy comes in with a negative attitude and he quickly spreads his negative attitude to others in his peer group, resulting in everyone being affected. Not a problem when you are working on the loading dock of a warehouse, because who cares what their attitudes are?

However, this is your church. This is the place where God has placed you for the rest of your life. However, your kid doesn’t care about this place because he plans to leave as soon as he can. Is that okay with you? Perhaps you cannot directly do anything about your son or daughter leaving, but are you willing to let them soil your nest before they go?

Some of us want to reach our kids with the gospel. Some of us want our kids to marry well and raise their families in this place we work so hard to serve God in. It is okay with you that your kid comes in with a bad attitude that infects everyone else his age thereby virtually guaranteeing that they reject the Christ he rejects?

Excuse me, but that is precisely what ¾ inch, schedule 40, PVC was invented for. Many people think it was invented to irrigate lawns and gardens, but they are mistaken. PVC was given to us by God to spank our children. Parents have authority from God to not only correct behavior, but also to address issues of attitude.

Why do you think Leviticus 19.3 was written? “Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father.” That, my friend, is attitude.

 

Your children are not your children. They do not belong to you. They are on loan to you from God for a determined length of time. During that time you are supposed to properly raise them. To properly raise them you must love them, you must care for them, you must train them, you must correct them, you must feed them, and so on. To exercise wisdom in raising your children you must see them for what they are.

For example: A mother’s daughter is not a little sister, and should never be treated as a sister. Sisters are not required to honor each other, but daughters are commanded to honor their mothers.

Another example: A man’s son is not his little buddy, and should not be treated as his little buddy. He is the boy’s father, and should conduct himself not as someone the boy can now be like, but as someone that boy should grow up to someday be.

The most overlooked aspect of child rearing, in my opinion, at least by Christian parents, is their failure to see their unsaved children as enemies of God and the gospel, and as opponents of their own Lord Jesus Christ. How can you raise a child who is an opponent of Jesus Christ without admitting that to be true?

As well, how can you expect your child to ever honor you as a mother or as a father voluntarily? People, children are sinners. They are never going to honor their parents voluntarily. They have to be forced to honor their parents, with the threat of spankings. In addition, if you are so foolish as to try to reason with a child, ask yourself how you are to go about reasoning with an unreasonable child? No, you cannot reason with a child. You must direct them. You must require them. You must correct them. You must rebuke them. You must chastise them. Explaining is good, so long as you recognize that they will frequently intentionally not understand, thinking they are not required to obey so long as they do not understand.

The purpose of this message that is strong on application is to persuade you concerning the way so many of you allow your children to dishonor you. If you allow your unsaved child to undermine your ministry, to detract from your church, to be inhospitable to your guests, to rebel against your pastor, then you are standing by while your children dishonor you.

They dishonor you by their inattendance.

They dishonor you by their bad behavior.

They dishonor you by their inappropriate attire.

They dishonor you by their wrong-headed allegiances.

And they dishonor you by their bad attitude.

What is the point of raising children just to let them go to Hell without fighting for their souls? In addition, what is the point of pouring your life into a ministry, only to allow your own children to undermine and undercut your efforts? It all seems pointless to me.



[1] See footnote for 2 Thessalonians 2.7 from The Defender’s Study Bible, (Grand Rapids, MI: Word Publishing, 1995), page 1338.

[2] Joshua 24.18

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org