Any time Godís design
is not functioning in your family, it is obvious that it is not His
design. Somebody is not following His design. A functional family is a
family that operates the way God says it ought to operate. Now we come to
6:1-4: "Children," he says, "obey your parents in the Lord,
for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first
commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you
may live long on the earth. And, fathers, do not provoke your children to
anger; but bring them up in the disciple and instruction of the
Lord." What is the responsibility of children in Godís design for
the family? We know the wivesí and the husbandsí responsibilities. Now
children, what are your responsibilities in the family of God and the
family that God has given to you?
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord." Now
even before I get into the outline, we need to qualify the word
"children." A lot of times people misunderstand that word. It is
a simple word, teknon. It is the word that refers to the offspring
of a couple, but it is more than that. It doesnít necessarily refer to a
young child. You need to understand this. In the culture that this was
written, they would stay in their homes until the day they were married.
What it is implying here is that if you are still living under your
parentís roof, if you are still letting Mama and Daddy foot the bills,
then you fit in Ephesians 6:1-3. I know a lot of the older ones donít
like that. I realize there comes a time when you can make your own
decisions and you ought to be making a lot of decisions. The fatherís
responsibility to a child of that age is to encourage him to make his own
decisions. However, if it comes down to it, if one or the other is going
to prevail, Godís Word tends to lean on the fact that if you are still
living under their support, then you are still obligated biblically to do
what they tell you to do.
Letís break this down and see if we can find some
practical things that will help us. How does God design work? You will
find it in Godís Word. What does God say about the childrenís
responsibility in the Spirit-filled family? First of all, there is the
action of children towards the parents that is required. Verse 1 says,
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."
Earlier I was trying to teach you that word hupotasso,
and how wives are to submit to their husbands. That word refers to an
equal submitting to an equal. Paul changes the word here and uses the word
that we said did not apply to wives. He changes it to hupakouo. Now
that is different. That is an inferior. Now in Godís eyes, you are all
equal. But in that family you are an inferior and you are to submit to a
superior, your Mother and your Father. That is what the word means. As a
matter of fact, it is the grace of God if they ever explain to you why
they tell you to do anything because that is what the word implies. It is
like a slave to his master.
Paul uses it again in chapter 6. It is the same word
used when we submit to God. We are not equals with God. In our Christian
walk, we are to obey Him regardless. If we donít understand, that is one
thing, but if He says it we do it, period. There are no questions asked.
It is the same word.
You see, there are a lot of families that arenít
Spirit-filled. They are dysfunctional. What is wrong? Youíve got a wife
submitting to her husband and a husband loving his wife as Christ loved
the church. But you might have a child in that family who says, "I am
not going to do it your way. I am going to do it my way." God says,
"Now you have a dysfunctional family." The problem is not the
mother. The problem is not the father. The problem is that kid not wanting
to submit to his mother and father. God says, "You are
There is a myth going around that says when a child gets
saved he is not as accountable as an adult when they get saved. The Word
of God says, "Listen, whatever you have been given will be required
of you." In other words, God says, "I have given you the same
Holy Spirit that I have given to your mother and your father. If you claim
to be a Christian, you are responsible to meet the design of God in the
family. God will hold you accountable because the Word of God makes you
accountable. The Spirit of God living in your life requires it out of
Thatís the context of the Christian home. Obviously
the Apostle Paul is not including commands that are contrary to the Word
of God. That is not what he is saying. One of the first fears that goes
through a childís mind upon hearing this is, "You mean to tell me
that it doesnít matter what my mother and father tell me, Iíve got to
do it even if it violates the Word of God?" Never, never, never. That
is not even the context of what Paul is talking about. Paul is talking to
Christian families. Paul is trying to give the design for Spirit-filled
homes. God would never have you do anything that would be contrary to His
inspired, inerrant and infallible Word. You are never required to do
anything that would mock the holiness and the purity of God. But when Paul
uses the phrase in verse 1, "Children, obey your parents in the
Lord," he is using it in a sense that says if you want to live your
life as a true Spirit-filled believer, the first thing God says is to obey
There are a lot of Christians, especially young
Christians, who think that, if they love Jesus, the way to show that love
is to get involved in the youth group at church. The Apostle Paul is
saying, "No. You obey your parents in the Lord. If you want to please
Him, donít start at church. Start at home."
Look over in Colossians 3:20. Ephesians and Colossians
are basically commentaries on each other. You canít make that all the
time the absolute, but here I think they are complimenting each other. In
Colossians 3:20 he doesnít say, "Children, be obedient to your
parents in the Lord." He says it a different way. I think he brings
out what he says in Ephesians. Verse 20 says, "Children, be obedient
to your parents in all things." "All things" always refers
to those things that God would be honored with. You are not required to do
anything immoral or outside of the will of God. If a parent ever tells you
to do that, back off and say, "I cannot. I am going to obey my Lord
Jesus and that violates His Word. I will not do that." God doesnít
require you to do that.
"Children, be obedient to your parents in all
things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord." That is what he is
saying in Ephesians. You do this in the Lord. If you want to be
Spirit-filled, if you want to let the Spirit of God control you, then let
the test of that be when you are willing to obey Mama and Daddy.
God says, "You do it in the Lord." This is
well-pleasing to the Lord. Young people, do you want to be filled with the
Spirit of God? Go home and start exemplifying the love of Jesus Christ for
your Mother and Father. Let them understand that you are willing to obey
them. Let them understand that they are important to you because you have
sensed from Godís Word that is the design of a holy God for the
Spirit-filled family. Then everything else you do will have Godís
If you find a young person who is belligerent to their
parents, you have picked up an attitude. Young people, in your dating
life, when you want to date a boy and that boy has those right kind of
eyes, when the stars get in his eyes, he knows how to say it better than
anybody. Ladies, listen to what I am saying. That boy will not obey his
parents. As a matter of fact, he stretches the rules his parents have set
up for him. He is supposed to be in at 12:00 but somehow he got in at
12:30. He always makes it look like there was something else that happened
so he can bend it just a little bit further. His parents gave him so much
money to do something, but he used it for something else. I want to tell
you, ladies, you are acting foolishly if you continue dating that
individual. I donít care who it is. When a young man will treat his
parents that way without the respect and willingness to obey them even
though God has put them in a position of authority over him, then you have
got an individual who either doesnít know Jesus Christ or an individual
who is walking directly opposite from the way God wants him to walk. You
donít need to be in that relationship.
Young men, you had better remember that about the girls
you date. A girl who will despise her parents in any way is telling you
something about her spiritual walk with God. She has no concept of what it
means to be Spirit-filled. It is an attitude. It is an action. The
required action of young people to their parents is that they obey their
By the way, the verb is present imperative. Do you know
what that means? It means at all times. It is a command. You have no
option whatsoever. Yeah, the world says a lot of stupid things, but the
Word of God will tell you what the design is all about. The Word of God is
very straight and narrow. It doesnít give in where we want it to give
in. When you find a young person not obeying his parents, not willing to
respect them enough to where he would listen to them and do what they tell
him to do, youíve got a person who is not walking with God.
What is the action required? A command of children in
the familyóobey your parents. He goes on to say, "for this is
right." Dikaios is the word. It refers to that which is
correct, that which is just and that which is righteous. You could say it
another way. It is that which is exactly what it should be. Isnít that
good? God never tells us to do anything that is not exactly what it should
be. The only time families get dysfunctional in the spiritual sense is
when the design is broken, when a wife wonít submit to her husband, when
a husband wonít love his wife as Christ loved the church, when a child
will not obey their parents. Then you have a dysfunctional spiritual
family. That is all there is to it.
Secondly, there is the attitude of the child. Now I want
you to see this. It is one thing to obey. It is another thing the way you
obey. He says in verse 2, "Honor your Father and Mother (which is the
first commandment with a promise)." Now remember, anybody can go
through the action. It is the attitude that you have before the action
that makes all the difference in the world.
There are three motives for any kind of obedience. One
is fear. I used to say to my son: "STEPHEN." "Yes,
sir!" "You get upstairs right now." Whooom! He would get
upstairs. Do you think he obeyed me because he loved me? Are you kidding?
He obeyed me because he was scared of getting a spanking.
A second way of obeying is when you want something.
Stephen, periodically, would clean up his room. It is always impressive
when he cleans it up. I would say, "Stephen, you cleaned up your
room!" "Yeah, Dad, I just thought I would do what you wanted me
to do." About ten minutes later he would say, "By the way, have
you got an extra $20? I am going out with my friends tonight!" Wait a
minute! Why is he obeying me? Because he loves me? No, because he wants
$20. That is why he did what he did. I wasnít born yesterday. I tried
the same thing with my Dad.
The real way to obey is out of love and respect, out of
honor. Now I want to tell you something, when you do that for your
parents, you havenít got a clue how much that is going to minister to
your parents. You donít realize how much they are going to love you in
return. You donít realize how it works the right way. But you have to
have the purest of motives to honor your Father and your Mother. One thing
that just blesses me is when I come home and Stephen has done something. I
say, "Stephen, I appreciate that. Why did you do that?" "I
just love you, Dad." Whew! I would give him anything he wants. I am
as tender as I can get when it gets to that point because he loves me, not
because he is afraid of me. He loved me, not because he wanted something
from me. He loved me because he wanted to honor me and respect me.
God says, "Young people, you had better put that
ingredient into your obedience or you have missed the whole thing."
That is what He said. How do you do that? The Spirit of God will empower
you to do anything God has ever commanded you to do. God will change your
heart and your attitude. God will change your perspective towards your
parents. Behind the action is an attitude. Honor your Father and your
Paul goes back to the Ten Commandments and pulls out the
first commandment that is fundamental to every relationship that you will
ever have. I want to show you something. If he didnít say anything else
about relationships in the Ten Commandments, this is enough right here.
When you get a child who grows up obeying his parents, not just because he
fears them or wants them but because he truly honors and respects the
position of authority that God has placed them in, then you have a child
who will honor and respect authority of all kinds and will have the kind
of decent family that we need in our country today. God says it starts
when you are in that home. God wants to fill you with His spirit so that
you can help carry out that design in the spiritually functional way.
The word for honor is timao. The word means to
esteem, to value highly, to hold in the highest regard and respect, treat
as precious and to revere. Now if you donít think these commandments are
important, you had better be glad you are living in the New Covenant.
Moses, in the Old Covenant, said, "He who strikes his father or his
mother shall surely be put to death." It is important to God, friend.
He says another time, "He who curses his father or his mother shall
surely be put to death." I want to tell you, we live in such a
permissive society. We have pulled so far away from Godís design that we
think it is okay to do anything we want to with our parents. God says,
"No, it is not. If you are going to be filled with My Spirit, you are
not only going to obey but you are going to have an attitude behind that
obedience which is honoring your father and your mother."
To honor your parents encompasses not only obeying them
when they are young, it also has built into it providing for them when
they are old. You see, if you start off honoring your parents now, you
will honor them when they are old. If you donít love and respect them
now, you are not going to love and respect them when they are old and have
need of you. They have spent thousands of dollars on you, and there is
going to come a day when they get unable to do what they used to be able
to do. That is when that honor really comes to fruition and comes to the
surface. You are to not only honor them when you are young but provide for
them when they are old. That is what that honor is all about.
It is a present attitude that carries all the way
through. The action that is required, obey, hupakouo, as an
inferior to a superior. The attitude must go along with it. Honor your
Father and your Mother. It is not just the act. It is the attitude with
which the act is carried out.
What can you look forward to? What is God going to do if
you are willing to do it His way? He says in verse 2: "(which is the
first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that
you may live long on the earth." Paul finishes the scripture in
Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16. He reaches back and takes a quote that
was promised to Israel when they went into the land of Canaan. It is a
very significant promise. It didnít mean that if you obey your parents
you are going to live to be 110 years old. That is not what he is saying.
He is saying, "If each of your families will function the way God set
it up and if you children will obey your parents, then you as a nation
will be sustained forever on this earth."
Do you realize how important the families are to our
society? The more we are willing to do it Godís way, the more God says
those families are going to sustain, even the society around you. Then you
are going to have a long time on this earth. Christianity is so effective
when it is exemplified in the lives of people who constitute families. So
part of that is children being willing to obey their parents. However it
is not a promise that you are going to live a long time. He is not
promising you a long life, but He is promising you that the heritage you
leave behind will last forever. The Christian society, the Christian
family, the Christian life continues to go on and continues to have its
effect. He does promise the utmost fulfillment of life, however long the
individual has it, if you are willing to obey and to honor your parents.
It will be well with you.
You may have all kinds of difficult circumstances to
deal with, and you may not live as long as you would like to live, but I
want to tell you, on the day you die you will have a fulfilled life. Why?
You are going to have a happier, more stable, more successful life than
the individual who claims to be a Christian who wonít do what God tells
him to do and is rude and is disrespectful and self-willed and rebellious.
A child who says, "I am going to do it Your way, God," has a
promise and that promise is you are going to have the most fulfilling life
that you could ever possibly imagine. Listen, it is a fearful thing to
tell somebody you know the living God and you are not willing to do what
God tells you to do. It is a fearful thing.
Maybe we ought to take a pop test. We have been taking
them on the parents. I wonder if we could just have personal interviews
with your parents next week and find out what your attitude is like at
home. I wonder if you are really Spirit-filled or if you are putting on a
performance so everybody will think that you are something that you are
not. You see, you will have a long life in the sense that you will have a
heritage to continue. You will have a sustained life, however long you
live, and it will be as full as you could possibly imagine. Whoever
received Christ has the same amount of God in him as anybody else whether
they are six or sixty. So the action that God requires in the
Spirit-filled family for the child is obedience. The attitude is honor and
respect. The anticipation is that it might be well with you. You will have
such a full life that if you die when you are 18, it is alright because in
those 18 years you will have lived what some people never ever experience
living a full life down here on this earth.
God has a design, folks. Why canít we get with the
program? We are always trying to pamper the exceptions. We are always
trying to pamper those situations that didnít work out right. Why
donít we deify the ones that will work out right. Wives submit to your
husbands. Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church. Children
obey your parents. Honor and respect them and God will give you a life
that is so rich and full that if you die at 17, you are ready to go
because there is nothing else you really want to experience because of the
fullness and the well being of the life that God gave to you.