“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). Christian parents have repeated these words to their kids countless times because their kids have failed to heed these words countless times. So, we parents use this verse to expose the wrongness of our children’s choices. This verse cuts it straight – for children, the right choice is to obey their parents… period. Therefore, we ask our kids, “Did you obey Daddy when you I told you to stop pummeling your brother?” “No”, they say, “Then according to God, you made the wrong choice because God tells us obeying our parents is right.”
The above is an aspect of good parenting. We need to reveal to our kids their disobedience so that they see they are not righteous before God (this sets us up to point them to the Savior). But there’s more to their sin on these occasions than simply being wrong. As parents, we must also help them understand that their failure to obey is an act of unbelief. Each time they disobey, our kids are making a wrong choice because they refuse to believe that God’s way is the right way and the best way; the way of truth, goodness and blessing. We need to take our kids back to Eden and explain to them the reality that when God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden and told Adam and Eve not to eat from it, he was not holding out on them. He was not playing games with them as if to say, “Here’s what you really want, but you can’t eat it or you’ll die.” May it never be! Rather, God was communicating to Adam and Eve, “I made you and I know what brings you perfect joy… it’s Me, and I’m not going to deny you that joy! So trust me when I say, ‘Don’t eat from that tree.'”
Our kids need to know that sin is the same today, it comes from an unbelieving heart that thinks God’s way is not what is right and best for us. This primes the pump for gospel conversation with our children, because while we ruined the way of perfect joy in the garden by disbelieving God, he has made another way for us to have that joy through the life, death and resurrection of his only Son, Jesus. But here’s the rub… as it was in the garden, so it is with Jesus: we must believe God. Since we blew it in the garden, the way for us and our kids to get back to perfect joy in God is through believing that his Son died in the place of sinners and rose again conquering death and sin.
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