Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
It is important to remember that God created man. It is important to remember that God instituted marriage. It is also important to remember that God created man to be fruitful and multiply. In order for that to happen there needed to be a male and a female. God created both of them. He gave them all the wisdom they needed to be able live for God’s glory and to raise children for His glory.
We have also learned that man did not appreciate God’s rule over him for very long. Adam decided that he could deviate from God’s will and still be good. He knew better than that. God had warned him that disobedience of His command would be disastrous. Adam found out the hard way that God does not make idle threats. He says what He means and He means what He says.
This past week the president of Russia threatened the west with a nuclear attack if they continued to push against him. There have been reports of people who are questioning whether Putin would actually do such a thing. The west has been asleep with all the threats and activity in Iran as it develops a nuclear bomb. They do not think Iran would ever use the bomb against others. The west is blinded because it is spiritually blind.
Most people today still doubt that God means what He says. We have a Bible that gives us so much truth. The Bible is truth. Yet people still doubt what God says.
In our text God directed the apostle Paul to teach about parent/child relationships. He was directed to begin with the responsibility of children to obey their parents. This obedience is not optional. It is required. It is also important that this obedience is not in all things. Parents should not command their children to go and steal or lie or any other sinful activity. Parents need to train their children “in the Lord” and children need to obey “in the Lord”.
God further tells us that this is right. Parents have an obligation to teach their children to obey them. Too often parents will tell their child to do something, but they do not follow through to make sure the child actually does as they are told. Then when the child does not obey, they ignore it, rather than following through with teaching the child the necessity of obeying them.
In verse 2 we are taught that obedience to parents is how we honour our parents. Notice that parents are defined here as a “father and mother.” Parents are not two mothers or two fathers. God further reminds us here that honouring father and mother is the first commandment with promise. Verse 3 tells us what the promise is.
The first part of that promise is ”that it may be well with thee.” God wants to prosper people. God wants people to be at peace with Him. That peace is only possible when a person knows Him and follows Him according to His Word. A child needs to understand that they cannot know God’s peace if they are disobedient to His commands. They also need to understand they cannot keep His commands unless they are saved. It is expected that children will disobey parents. It is expected but it should never be acceptable. The commands given to children need to be reasonable according to God’s Word. Then they need to be fulfilled according to God’s Word.
The second part of the promise is that the child may live long on the earth. There are many people who exist on the earth. They go through life, but they never enjoy God’s blessings while on earth. They do not know His peace and they do not know His joy. Living begins with being given the gift of eternal life.
Psalm 119:144 The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live.
God wants us to know Him and to enjoy His blessings while on this earth. Those who are saved look forward to being in heaven one day. However, we do not live as escapists. We do not get up every morning dreading the day. We look forward to the blessings that God wants to give us for the day. As we do that we also have our ears and heart attuned to the truth God wants to teach us. There may be the need to confess some sin or to get rid of some false teaching. The true child of God is alive spiritually and desires to grow stronger and closer to his God and Saviour.
In verse 4 God addresses the need of the fathers. Fathers are called to be the head of the home, under Jesus Christ’s headship. Fathers are called upon by God to set the spiritual direction for the home. It should not be Mom that is the spiritual leader in the home. She may be the one who opens the Word of God at the breakfast table because the father is at work. When the father is home, he needs to take the lead and show the importance of God’s Word in all things.
I can still remember my grandfather reading the daily Bible reading whenever I would visit their house for an overnight visit. At our house, my father would read the devotional at the breakfast table and as we learned to read, we as children were given the opportunity to read it for all to hear. At that time, I did not appreciate that, but I can still remember doing it.
Fathers need to lead in such a way as to not be guilty of provoking the children to wrath. When we go back to Genesis 4 we see that Cain became angry with God because He would not accept his faulty offering. God did not provoke Cain to wrath by rejecting his false religion. A godly parent does not provoke his child to wrath by teaching him the truth. A parent does not provoke his child by correcting him or her. A father will provoke his child to wrath when he is hypocritical or unreasonable in his leadership.
Unreasonableness is not determined by society. It is determined by God. The book of Proverbs has much counsel regarding parent/child relationships. The father needs to instruct his son in the Word of God faithfully. He needs to be faithful in his teaching and also in his walk. We see this in the last half of this verse. The father is to bring up his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Nurture is education and training. Admonition is rebuke and warning. It is not good to admonish if you have not taught first. God taught Adam what He required of him. When Adam rejected God’s nurturing, He had to admonish him. Adam likely did not like the admonition, but he could not accuse God of not nurturing him first. The same is true for Cain and every other person.
Fathers need to take the time to instruct their children in the right way to live. In Deuteronomy 6, God commanded the fathers to teach their children at all times throughout the day. Whether they were lying down or getting up, whether they were walking in the way or sitting, God’s Word was to be in their heart and in their mouth. They needed to live in such a way that the children could see what obedience to the Lord looks like.
When children choose not to obey, they need to be admonished. They need to understand that this is not just the father’s law, but it is God’s law. If parents do not set the proper example before their children, they cannot really expect their children to choose wisely. This is why it is so important to choose a good local church to attend. The true local church will teach the Word of God. It will not teach worldliness. Godly parents will not need to grit their teeth as they go to a church that has a track record of undermining God’s authority. Godly parents need the help of a true local church to help them to guide their children the right way. That is God’s design. A true local church is very important. This generation of professing Christians too often fails to see the importance of a true local church. It is wrong to assume there are no good churches left so I will just stay home and teach my children myself.
Jesus made a promise in Matthew 16:18. That promise still holds today. It will be true until the Rapture takes place. It is imperative for godly parents to do what is necessary to be a part of a true local church where they can grow and where their children can be encouraged to grow in the Lord.