Walking Worthy of the Gospel: The Family: Children Obey and Honor / Fathers Instruct in the Faith

Ephesians 6:1-4

Walking Worthy of the Gospel: The Family: Children Obey and Honor / Fathers Instruct in the Faith


The message from today’s text is for all children (RK and those in the service), children who are grown and still have their parents, students and parents who, as Christians, must have these expectations for your home.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’ Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:1-4 ESV)

To Children: It is Necessary to Obey and Honor Your Parents

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’”

This passage is a quote from Exodus 20:12.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12 ESV)

There is a slight distinction in the original and the quotation of it in Ephesians 6:2-3. The reason for the distinction is the gospel eyes interpreting the Old Testament text.

Land / Earth / Adamah – All words used to describe where the children would long dwell if they honor their father and mother. For Exodus 20:12 the implication is that they would live long in the Promised Land that was to be for the global advance of the gospel to make the people of Abraham from all nations. Moses is writing from within the first portions of the restoration. For Ephesians 6, the implication is that children would dwell long on the earth, as offspring of Abraham’s faith, because the earth is our inheritance. Paul is simply applying the full scope of the restoration as he is writing in the last days and looking to the restoration of all things.

The point of speaking to the latter half of the passage first is to see the implication for those children who do obey and honor.

What’s at stake, children, is the kingdom of heaven. The promise for those who do obey and honor is that they will be in the eternal kingdom. The implication for those who don’t obey and honor is that they won’t be in the eternal kingdom.

Why? Because the divine order set up in the home is a reflection of the divine order set up in the Trinity. We discovered this last week. To rebel against the authority set up over us as children is to rebel against God. To live in rebellion against God is to not be Christian and to not enter the eternal kingdom of heaven. So, the stakes are high.

  1. Don’t buy the lie that it’s normal to be rebellious at any point in your life
  2. Submission to godly parental authority is an evidence of a transformed heart
  3. Obey your parents

This is simple, yet super difficult when fighting sin, the kingdom of darkness and perhaps being unregenerate.

To obey is to acknowledge God’s authority over you. To disobey is to pull an Adam and Eve at the tree with Satan all over again.

  1. Obey the first time
  2. Obey with a good heart
  3. Matthew 21:28-32

“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today. ’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him”

  1. Obey your parents as long as they live and request good things

There is no command to disobey God by obeying men’s evil requests. Of course we are not talking about rebelling against God by blindly obeying evil requests just because they came from a parent.

Obeying your parents when you are older does not mean putting them ahead of your husband or wife. When you marry leave and cleave. But that does not mean you neglect your parents. We learn to leave and obey while cleaving and having clear boundaries defined by what is good and what is not good.

This requires us to walk by the Spirit and obey the Lord’s clear direction.

  1. Honor your parents

Honor – esteem, reverence, bestow special marks of honor; fix a value to; reason for boasting

When I was coming up it was more en vogue to ridicule one’s parents and reject them through the teen years.

This is an unfortunate byproduct of a fake level of development called adolescence. That is simply a made up stage of life to justify the delay of responsibility and to justify rebellion as normative.[1]

Honor is not something we are used to being aware of in a “right, wrong” culture as opposed to an “honor, shame” culture. This is probably due to blurred lines of right and wrong.

An example of honor would be having your guest sit next to you at a dinner because they are your guest. You display honor by moving your guest close to you.

Something we consider valuable we usually treat differently. So, the same idea applies to our parents. We value them, so we treat them differently.

  1. For us older children honor is due them even if they do dishonorable things

We do not have to receive wrong from our parents, and we don’t have to agree with their decision making, and we don’t have to expose ourselves to their folly, but the way the treat them and speak to them can have an honorable tone.

To Fathers: The Instruction of the Faith is Necessary

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:1-4 ESV)


This is not a neglect of the mother and her role in the daily execution of taming the household. However, Proverbs 31 says nothing of the mother being the primary instructor on the faith.

Of course mothers have a place in the instruction of the faith, but it’s not as the primary teacher. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is for all of Israel. So, don’t be mistaken in thinking mothers have no role. Their role is to be in agreement with and support and massage deeper the instruction coming from the father.

Fathers, if you are not the primary doctrinal instructor in your home, then you must become that primary doctrinal instructor.

There is a dual command here in our passage. One is in the negative and the second is in the positive.

The Negative: “Do not provoke” is a compound word: “parorgizo”: “para” – unto, implying movement toward: “orgizo” – to irritate or anger: Synonym: “cholao” – bitterness, gall

So the idea is moving your children, through whatever you are doing, to irritation or anger or bitterness as opposed to discipline and instruction in Christ.

What I find interesting here is the contrast of provoking our children to anger or bitterness with discipline and instruction in Christ.

What happens if proper discipline and instruction seems to be making them angry or bitter?

  1. There is a nuance to “provoking to anger” we need to explore.

Could it be that non-biblical discipline and instruction is provocation to anger/bitterness?

In other words, could it be that if we don’t properly instill kingdom disciplines and instruction that we are actually doing the opposite of what we think we are doing? Could it be that the passive action of not instilling the disciplines of walking with Jesus and the instruction of the truths of Scripture is actually an active provocation to unbelieving anger and bitterness?

Example: They don’t like going to church, so rather than make them angry by making them go we are actually feeding the rebellion that will result in more of what is truly producing the anger and rebellion. It’s not “church” making them angry. It’s sin and rebellion, and rather than give in to sin and rebellion we engage in rooting it out.

Illustration: Drill Instructors at Paris Island get boys every day who are angry with them for screaming at them, calling them names, and waking them at 3 am to do PT etc. But it’s really not “anger at the DI”, it’s laziness and a lack of discipline producing the anger because he does not understand the rigors of combat. When that Marine is fully trained, he loves his DI because his DI’s instruction will save his life when they are down range. That Marine will look back fondly on his DI for preparing him for war.

It could be that the temporary war of instilling proper discipline and instruction is better than the anger and bitterness of the rebellion carried on into life.

  1. So, do not move our children to what is actually producing the rebellion

by giving in to the rebellion because of some slight “push back”. Don’t

provoke them to anger by letting the rebellion win. If the rebellion wins then

we have provoked them to anger passively by letting sin win.

Be aware, be prepared and fight the good fight of the faith for our children.

The Positive: “Bring them up”

“Bring up” – to “nourish” and “nurture” and used also as “train” and “educate”.

The positive command is to nourish, nurture, train and educate our children.

What is to be the content of our nourishing, nurturing, education and training? In other words: what are we to nourish them with?

The discipline of the Lord and the instruction of the Lord!

It’s interesting to note that discipline and instruction are called “nourishing”.

The reason we find this interesting is that discipline and instruction are kingdom words of the restoration and the pre-fall perfection. Post-fall and pre-restoration of all things, we view those words as negatives, particularly if we are un-regenerate.

  1. Discipline – to instruct; “It evolved to mean chastening because all effectual instruction for the sinful children of men includes and implies chastening, correction.”[2]

The word, however, means to instruct.

To live out the disciplines of the faith is to train the body/mind to come in line with the new heart given to us in the powerful good news.

  1. Instruction – to admonish, to warn, to exhort. “Nouthesía is any word of encouragement or reproof which leads to correct behavior.”[3]

This is the “if you do this, then…” work. This is the “don’t do this…” work.

This is intensely theocentric. Our instruction is firmly rooted in the metanarrative

of the gospel. Our reasons for doing or not doing lies in the character of God not

merely in the cause and effect.

Example: “If you don’t pray, then you won’t see some kingdom work done.” This statement is a warning that work is not merely putting your hands to a task. In the kingdom, work is done also by asking the Lord of the harvest to work.

We don’t simply instruct that if we don’t do it the work won’t get done.

So, we are to instruct in what is right and we are to warn of the consequences of what is not right.

In other words, our homes are to be a constant training ground on what is right and learning of the consequences of what is wrong so as to produce intelligent and discerning adults who will be able to raise intelligent and discerning adults in the community of the kingdom.

A cross-saturated instruction of the 10 commandments would be a nice tool to use here.

Worship Together

We have RK because we believe that the whole body shares a role in training and equipping our children in the community of the kingdom. It’s also great for us as parents to have the opportunity to learn the material as well. It’s great for being interdependent and growing the fellowship as our children learn to love other moms and dads in the fellowship.

But we provide opportunities for older kids to be in worship and the younger kids to be in worship every so often because they get to hear the preaching of the word and they get to learn from you and the community of the kingdom how to corporately worship.

So, teach them and worship the King.

Psalm 147:1 “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting…”

[1] Read “The Myth of Adolescence” by David Black http://www.amazon.com/The-Myth-Adolescence-Responsible-Irresponsible/dp/1891833510

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

One comment

  1. Mitch, this was the best sermon on this subject that I have ever heard ! This sermon should be published !


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