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Ephesians 6:1-4


Intro: The Holy Spirit wants to control every area of your life. That is the clear teaching of Ephesians 5:18. When are “filled with the Spirit”, He will be in total control of our lives. When He is in control of our lives, we will live lives that please the Lord; we will worship in a manner that glorifies the Lord; and every relationship in our lives will honor Him as well.


When the Spirit is in control of our lives, He will cause us to place others ahead of self, Eph. 5:21. This will change every relationship in which we are involved. Paul has already written to us about The Spirit-Filled Marriage, Eph. 5:22-32. Now he writes about Spirit-Filled Homes. Here, we will learn a little more about the relationship between children and their parents. This is important teaching that every family needs to hear.


Let’s look at these verses today and talk about Spirit-Filled Homes. Notice two relationship in the home that must be Spirit-filled if the home is to bring glory to God.



Two commands given to those still under their parent’s care in these verses.

  Verse 1, children are commanded to “obey your parents”.

  In Verse 2, children are commanded to “honor your father and mother”.

A.  v. 1  Children Are To Heed Their Parents - God's first command to “children” is to “obey your parents”. The word translated “children” does not refer just to young children but to all offspring. Sons and daughters still under their parents’ roof are to obey and honor them. Obedience has to do with action, and honor has to do with attitude.


Although, as Paul has just mentioned, men and women are no longer under the authority of their parents once they themselves marry, Eph. 5:31, special respect and concern for their parents should continue as long as they live. The child who is brought up to obey and honor his parents will always be sensitive to their wisdom, counsel, and welfare.


The word translated “obey” means “to hear under.” It is a picture of children who submit themselves to the will of their parents by obeying them in all things. It means that you listen to them. You follow their directions. You do what they tell you to do. Children are to obey their parents.


There is something within that just doesn’t want to do that. We are born with a black drop of rebellion in our hearts. By nature we don't want to obey.


You can tell your child not to do something. They may never have even thought about doing what you told them not to do, but as soon as you tell them not to do it, there arises something in their hearts that makes them want to do exactly that. If you tell them not to touch that vase on the table, they will look at that vase as they have never seen it before. The moment you tell them not to touch that vase, there is something inside of them that will make them want to touch that vase. There is something naturally in us which wants to rebel when we are told to obey. Children, the Bible says to “obey your parents”.


There are two reasons give in verse 1 that tell children why they are to “obey”.

  It's the spiritual thing to do. The Bible says, “in the Lord.” When a child obeys their parents, it is a way of serving the Lord. Obedience to ones parents honors the Lord.


The phrase “in the Lord” also implies that there is a limit on what parents can command children to do. No child should have to do what their parents tells them to do, if what they are commanded to do violates the commands of the Lord. The commandments of the Lord always come first.


This phrase also reminds us that parents stand in the gap between children and God while the children are too young to have a full and mature relationship with God themselves. Parents are God’s stewards, His proxy authority, for their children, who are simply loaned to them in trust by their heavenly Father. That is why children are commanded, “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord,Col. 3:20. The only exception to that obedience is in the matter of doing what is wrong. Every believer should refuse to do anything that is clearly against God’s will as taught in Scripture. Otherwise, however, a child is to obey his or her parents “in all things.


  It is the ethical thing to do. “For this is right.” Obedience to parents is simply the right thing to do. It is far too common to see children talking back to their parents; rolling their eyes when they are told to do something; or pitching a fit when they don’t get their way. There is nothing pleasing or honorable about that kind of behavior. It dishonors the Lord. It dishonors the parents. It dishonors the child.


The greatest example of obedience to parents in the Bible is the Lord Jesus Christ. When Jesus came back down from the temple at the age of 12, the Bible says in Luke 2:41, “Jesus went down with them and came to Nazareth and was subject unto them. But his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.


Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, was subject to Mary and Joseph! Think about that! What a thought! Here is the Son of God; the Lord of Glory; the Creator of the universe. Yet, He came down and was obedient and subjected Himself to a carpenter and his wife.


If the Lord Jesus Christ was obedient to His parents, the Bible teaches we should be obedient to our parents as well. Respect for parents is of such importance to God that Moses commanded, “And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death,” Ex. 21:15, and “And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death,” Ex. 21:17. To either physically or verbally abuse a parent was a capital offense in ancient Israel. Apparently this is a serious matter to the Lord. Since that is the case, perhaps we should take it seriously too.


B.  v. 2  Children Are To Honor Their Parents - The word “honor” carries the idea of “value”. It means that children are “to respect them; to value them; to hold them in high regard”. There is nothing more ugly, nothing more displeasing, and nothing more obnoxious than a child who is disrespectful to his parents. Honor your father and mother.


You say, “You don't know my parents, they aren't worthy of my honor.” There may be times when you are ashamed of your parents. There may be times when they embarrass you. There may be times when you don’t want to do what they say. The best thing you can do, regardless of how they may act from time to time is to honor your parents. God will bless you because of it.


As I said, the greatest example of a child honor a parent is the Lord Jesus. When He was dying on the cross of Calvary the Lord Jesus paused long enough to take care of His precious mother Mary.


Children go through four stages in their relationship to their parents.

-   First, you idolize your parents. There is nothing they can't do. They are perfect in your eyes.

-   Second, you demonize your parents. You come to see that they aren't  as perfect as you thought they were. They are the source of every problem. They are the reason for every difficulty you experience.

-   Third, you utilize your parents. You figure out that you are stick with them and use them to meet you own needs. “Dad, could I have the keys to the car?” “Mom, would you wash and iron this shirt for me?

-   Fourth, you humanize your parents. You recognize that they are not gods, they are not demons, they are not just people to be used. You recognize they are a human beings just like you and they make mistakes. They blow it along the way.


At some point, you have to come to the place where you forgive your parents for their failures, you have to come to the place where you stop blaming your behavior on mistakes your parents made in the past.


Children who honor their parents are given a tremendous promise. “Honor your father and mother that it may be well with thee and you may live long on the earth.” You know situations where that didn't happen. Children honored their parents and the children got tragically killed. I use Jesus as an example again. Jesus Christ perfectly obeyed His parents. Jesus Christ perfectly honored His parents. Yet, the Lord Jesus Christ died at the very height of His life, at the zenith of His young adult life.


God is not giving us an ironclad guarantee. God is saying that, as a general rule, you will tend to live a longer, better life if you will obey and honor your parents.

-   If the parents say don't touch the stove, you obey and you don't burn your hand.

-   If they say don't run out into the street, you obey and you may avoid getting killed by a car.

-   If your parents say don't touch alcohol and drugs, you obey and you may live a longer life, and you may not have addictions along the way.

-   If you will listen to mom and dad when you are dating, you will be less likely to get into trouble.


If you have godly parents that are trying to lead you in the right path, you should be thankful that God has blessed you! It wouldn't hurt some of you boys and girls to tell your parents that you are thankful for them. If you have a mother and dad who have brought you to God's house today and if they are trying, then you have a great deal to be thankful for.


  I.  The Spirit-Filled Child



While the verse says “fathers”, the Lord is speaking about the role of both parents in the lives of their children. When this text was written, ancient society had an very different view of children than the view we hold.


Most families in that day were in shambles, and mutual love among family members was almost unheard of. A father’s love for his children would have been hard even to imagine. By the Roman law of patria potestas a father had virtual life and death power not only over his slaves but over his entire household. He could cast any of them out of the house, sell them as slaves, or even kill them, and be accountable to no one. A newborn child was placed at its father’s feet to determine its fate. If the father picked it up, the child was allowed to stay in the home; if the father walked away, the child was simply disposed of, much as aborted babies are in our own day. Discarded infants who were healthy were collected and taken each night to the town forum, where they would be picked up and raised to be slaves or prostitutes.


A letter written in 1 B.C. by a man named Hilarion to his wife, Alis, reads, “Heartiest greetings. Note that we are still even now in Alexandria. Do not worry if when all others return I remain in Alexandria. I beg and beseech you to take care of the little child, and as soon as we receive wages I will send them to you. If—good luck to you—you have another child, if it is a boy, let it live; if it is a girl, expose it” (Papyri Oxyrhynchus 4.744). Seneca, a renowned statesman in Rome at the time Paul wrote the Ephesian letter, said, “We slaughter a fierce ox; we strangle a mad dog; we plunge a knife into a sick cow. Children born weak or deformed we drown.


Such callousness is terrifying. Yet, according to a recent report, the primary cause for children being in foster homes today is not the divorce, financial destitution, or death of their parents, but simply the disinterest of their parents. Perhaps the most devastating abuse a child can experience is that of being neglected, of being treated as if he did not exist.


When Christianity entered the world the status of the entire family was elevated. God commands husbands and wives to love and respect one another. God tells Christian parents, “You have a responsibility to your children.


A.  There Is A Caution – “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath.” Specifically, don't cause them to be angry. Paul elaborates on this in Col. 3:21, where he writes, “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged (or broken in spirit).” There are at least 5 ways parents tend to do this to their children.

  Through Overprotection - It's understandable why some parents feel the need to be protective of their children. We are living in a culture which is not child friendly. They are exposed to sexuality on an astounding scale. Children are abused. Children are kidnapped. But, there comes a time, as they grow and mature, that they must be given some measure of freedom. If you hold on too tightly, for too long, they will come to resent it.

  Through Overindulgence - You can just take hands off and give them total freedom. When that happens, you communicate to them a sense of insecurity and a lack of love. They are taught to expect everything they ask for in life. They come to believe they are entitled to anything they want in life.

  Through Favoritism - You can cause anger in your children because of favoritism. In the Bible, there was Jacob who was the favorite of Rebekah. There was Esau who was the favorite of Isaac. Then Jacob repeated the same thing with his son Joseph. When parents show favoritism to their kids, it turns them into very insecure adults.

  Through Frustration - If you aren't very careful sometimes you can break their spirit over unrealistic expectations. Sometimes dads are so anxious that their sons excel athletically that they push them too far. Or moms are so desirous that their girls be beautiful that they push them too far. In some children, it's never enough. If they excel, they could have done better. I want to encourage you that every time there is a word of criticism for your child, give two words of praise. Every time you say a negative be sure you say two positive things about your children.

  Through Neglect - The average father spends about 30 minutes per week talking with his children. That's not nearly enough.


Harvard University sociologists Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck developed a test, a test that proved to be 90 percent accurate, to determine whether or not five and six-year-olds would become delinquent. They discovered that the four primary factors necessary to prevent delinquency are:

-   The father’s firm, fair, and consistent discipline.

-   The mother’s supervision and companionship during the day.

-   The parent’s demonstrated affection for each other and for the children.

-   The family’s spending time together in activities where all participated._


The Christian psychiatrist Dr. Paul Meier gives a similar list of factors that produce right parent-child relations:

-   Genuine love of the parents for each other and for the children.

-   Firm, consistent discipline.

-   Consistency of standards for parents and children.

-   The right example by parents.

-   The father as true head of the home.

-   He also comments that the vast majority of neurotics have grown up in homes where there was no father or where he was dominated by the mother._


B.  There Is A Command – “Bring them up” - That carries the idea of training of your children and of bringing them to the place of maturity. Paul tells us two ways that we are to go about bringing up our children.

1.  Parents Are To Discipline Their Children - The word “nurture” is the same word that is translated sometimes as “chastisement”. That brings up the whole matter of discipline. There are some who hold negative opinions about spanking and say it has a harmful impact on their children and that there should be no spanking whatsoever. It seems clear to me that many parents have adopted that mindset. It is not uncommon to hear children talking back to their parents; to see them acting out in public; to hear their sarcasm and hateful attitudes. When those things happen, many parents use time outs, positive reinforcements, and some just allow the child to do as he or she pleases. That sends the wrong message to the child.


Children need to learn that there are boundaries in life. They need to learn that there are rule they have to obey. To learn this, they need to be disciplined when they cross the line. Failure to discipline your children when they are young will cause them to have little respect for any authority when they grow up. If they don’t learn respect in the home, they will have no respect for teachers, principals, or the Lord.


In contrast to that, listen to what the Bible says.

  Pro. 13:24, says, “He that spareth his rod, hateth his son. But he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”

  Pro. 22:15, says, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.


Ill. Susannah Wesley, who raised 17 children, including John and Charles Wesley, and who most would consider to be somewhat of an expert said this about discipline, “The parent that studies to subdue self-will in his child works together with God in renewing and saving a soul. The parent who indulges it does the devil’s work, makes salvation unattainable, and does all that in him lies to damn his child, soul and body forever.


The word “nurture” also carries the idea of “education and training.” Parents have the responsibility of teaching their children the things they need to know about the Lord. We are to expose them to the Bible. We are to teach them the Word of God. We are to help them understand the Gospel. We are to teach them right from wrong, based on when the Bible says. Parents are to educate and train their children in the ways of righteousness and holiness.


2.  Parents Are To Direct Their Children – The word “admonish” means “to teach by means of words”. There is no underestimating the importance of the things you teach your children. It is essential for parents to spend quality time and quantity time with their children. It is essential that you communicate love constantly to your children by eye contact, by hugging, by physical touch. It is important that you communicate to them by means of positive words, being very careful of the words you say and the tone of your voice when you say them.


In our day, far too many parents use the television and video games as baby sitters because they don’t want to deal with their kids. As a result, children learn how to interact with others, how to talk, and how to live by what they learn from Sponge Bob, Hannah Montana, and Call of Duty. That’s sad! Mom and Dad, you are responsible for that your children see and hear. It is up to you to be sure they are exposed to images and sounds that strengthen their relationship with the Lord. They should be sheltered from influences that undermine their walk with the Lord.


Television, that great thief of time and worldly molder of character, needs to be banished or put under severe restraint. In its place, parents must substitute good books, wholesome music, and Christian education, all bathed in godly example and fervent prayer for each child’s early conversion and lifelong consecration to the will of God.


Parent, you should be evangelists in your home. You should do everything possible to bring your sons and daughters to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In Deut. 6:6-9, God commanded the people is Israel to teach their children. We have the same responsibility to our children today. Live right before them. Openly talk about your faith. Teach them the Word of God. Love them unconditionally.


  Do your children know that God will bless tithing? Mal. 3:8-10.

  Do your children know that God will bless honesty? Phil. 4:8; 1 Thes. 4:11-12.

  Do your children see that faithfulness is blessed by God? Matt. 25:21.

  Do your children see serving God as optional or mandatory?


They will learn exactly what they observe in your life. They need to know that God blesses faithful people. If they see us enjoying the great blessings of the Lord, they will want the same things for their own lives.


Let’s show them that serving God is the only way to live, and that obedience to the Lord always pays off. Let’s show them that God’s way is the best way. It is far better to raise a religious fanatic than a heathen. When your parenting duties are over, your children will be a living memorial to your investment in their lives.


You can’t teach them to honor the Lord if you don’t honor Him. You can’t teach them to be faithful if you aren’t faithful. You can’t teach them to love the Lord if all you do is encourage them to love the world. So, we are to teach them both by what we say and by what we do. We already influence their lives by what we say and do anyway, so we might as well strive to get them both right.


Conc: May I remind you that it is far easier to build a child that to repair an adult! May the Lord help us to do everything in our power to be the best parents we can be to His praise and glory.


Now, how would you feel if your child grew up to be a Christian just like you? Would you be pleased with that? Or, are there areas that need the Lord’s attention? If we have made mistakes, and who hasn’t, there is help, forgiveness and renewal in the Lord. Some parents actually need to apologize to their children for living contradictory lives before them.


  Any change must begin with the Lord. Mom and Dad, is everything right in your relationship with the Lord?

  Is everything all right in your relationship with your children?

  Children is everything right in your relationship with your parents?


If there are needs, please bring them to Jesus right now.


1 Unraveling Juvenile Delinquency [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1950], pp. 257–71_2 Christian Child-Rearing and Personality Development [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980], pp. 81–82_


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