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Colossians 3.20-21

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(A Series in Colossians)

Westgate Chapel 10/31/93 a.m.                 Colossians 3:20-21

PROPOSITION:  Being “in Christ” is to make a difference in the way children obey their parents and the way that parents treat their children.

i. introduction

-     LAST Sunday we talked about the fact that being a Christian puts you in a supernatural, organic relationship with Christ?

-     BEFORE you and I became Christians it was just I, Me and Myself.....we faced life’s joys with pride in our accomplishments and we folded under its pressures blaming ourselves for our failures.

-     WHEN, through faith in Jesus Christ I became a Christian it was as if you opened Christ up and I climbed inside.....from the beginning of time.

-     SO when He died on the cross, taking on Himself the penalty for the sins of the world.......I died with Him there and my sins have been paid for. (Romans 6:4)

-     WHEN He rose again from the grave, triumphant over sin and death......I was raised in that same resurrection power and neither sin, hell nor the grave have any power over me. (Colossians 2:10)

-     SINCE He is dead to sin and alive to the Father....then I am dead to sin and alive to the Father. (Romans 6:11)

-     BECAUSE there is no condemnation against Him...there is therefore none against me. (Romans 8:1)

-     BECAUSE He is sanctified from sin....I am sanctified from sin and growing in victory. (I Corinthians 1:2)

-     SINCE He stands firm against all the attack of the evil one....I stand firm. (II Corinthians 1:21)

-     SINCE He walks in triumphal  procession over all powers and authorities of do I. (II Corinthians 2:14)

-     BECAUSE Jesus is raised up and seated at the right hand of the Father...then so am I even at this moment. (Ephesians 2:6)

-     HOW do we know all this? Because His Word says,

      “ ......if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

-     WHEN did this organic relationship with Jesus take place?

      “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit...” (Ephesians 1:13)

-     SO the essence of what it means to be a Christian is to be “in Christ.”

-     LAST Sunday we talked about what being “in Christ” means to our marriages...from Colossians 3:18-19.

-     NOW, Paul moves on from husband-wife relationships to the whole family.

-     THIS was a letter sent by Paul to be read to the congregations in and around Colosse, so it can be assumed that whole family was involved in the services, to praise the Lord and listen to instruction.

*     Cornelius' whole household was gathered to hear Peter preach, and they all believed and were baptized with the Holy Spirit.

*     The Philippian jailer brought his whole household to listen to Paul and Silas preach, and they all believed and were baptized.

*     We do our children an eternal disservice if we allow them to opt out of being with us in worship services and corporate prayer meetings.

*     Of course they will complain that they are bored. Of course they may squirm. Of course they may pout.

*     But where else will they see their parents model their love for the Lord and worship?

*     Where else will they learn to discern the voice of the Lord?

*     Where else will they develop a hunger for the presence of the Lord?

*     Where else will they witness the moving of the Spirit or see signs and wonders?

*     Where else will they have the opportunity of having their hearts melted by the convicting work of the Holy Spirit?

-     SO, in Colossians 3:21-22 Paul spends time on the relationship between parents and children.

-     CONTRARY to the popular opinion of his day that children were next to useless, Paul devotes some special attention to them in this chapter and how parents “in Christ” are to treat them.

-     AND the command for children to obey is simply an extension of the general command to submit to one another in the Body of Christ......children obey your parents.

-     THIS is a very important point. If there is not mutual submission going on in the Church, we are asking our children to submit to us without a role model showing them how it is done.

-     HAUGHTY, rebellious, demanding, prideful adult relationships in the family or the church will soon be seen in the rebellion of the children against authority.

*     If the husband/wife roles are reversed in the home and the air is full of rebellion, the children in that home will follow that example.

*     If the adults in the family come home with seething rebellion towards the boss, the patrolman, or the government, the children will pick up that spirit of rebellion just like the language spoken by the family.

-     SO we are talking here about a Biblical principle for the family that will either build up or tear down the next generation of the Church of Jesus.

-     IT is that critical to the future spiritual development of the Church of Jesus.


ii. children ‘in christ’

-     SO, how are children “in Christ” to live?

-     VERSES 20,

      “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

-     SO, in the context of submission in the home, and in the church, the children are commanded to "obey”" their parents.

-     THAT is a pretty easy word to understand isn't it? Obey. Four letters. No hidden meaning. Just, obey. It is real clear.

-     THERE are three basic reasons for this obedience of children:


A.  BECAUSE it is "right."


*     It is part of God's natural order seen in cultures around the world. Children lack the knowledge, the experience, and the wisdom to make sound independent decisions.

•     Dobson says that the most vital objective of parental discipline is to gain the child’s respect.

•     Because children typically identify their parents with God...they need to be taught that God is a God of love and a God of justice.

*     It is right because it is indispensable for a stable society. Anarchy in the home will soon be anarchy in the streets, the work place, and the world. It is happening today.

*     Paul says that the lawlessness of the end times will be characterized by "disobedient children." (Romans 1:28-30)


B.  BECAUSE it is God’s law with a promise of blessing.


*     Paul merges Exodus 20:12 ("Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you"),  with Deuteronomy 5:16, ("Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you").

*     So, this is a command that comes with the Owner's Manual.

*     Obeying and honoring parents is a duty fulfilled unto God.

*     "To honor" parents is to acknowledge their God-given authority and to give obedience, love and respect as if you were doing it to Him.

*     Leviticus 19:1-3 says,

      "The LORD said to Moses, 'Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: 'Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy. Each of you must respect his mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the LORD your God.'"

*     But there are two questions:


1.   Do you have to obey everything?

-     When you are a minor, and under the roof of your parents' home, yes, unless what you are told to do flagrantly contradicts God's Word.
-     As Christians you are called to be the peacemaker.
-     "In the Lord" indicates who the higher authority is. Obedience as long as it is compatible with the Lord’s call.


2.   Who are children?

-     Each culture is different.
-     In some Asian cultures, you are subject to your parents as long as they are live.
-     In most Western countries, you are considered to be emancipated by the age of 18-21.  But I believe that while you are under your parents' roof, or still unmarried, you are to obey them.
-     However, the command to "honor" will always stand.


C.  BECAUSE of the power of the Gospel.


*     Parents "in the Lord" gives the added effect of the change in our attitude that takes place when we are born again.

*     The obedience of a child is also their Christian duty because of their relationship with the Lord. It is He who establishes authority within the family order.

*     Families have not been abolished in God's new order....the Church.

*     Relationships fell apart when sin and rebelliousness entered the world.

*     Society was fractured by selfishness.

*     Love was twisted into lust.

*     Authority was twisted into oppression.

*     But now, in the Lord, God’s reconciling work has begun.

*     All of our relationships are to be transformed because they are now "in the Lord."

*     Obedience to parents is now not done begrudgingly, it is done with gladness because it pleases the Lord.

-     PARENTAL authority is a fact of God’s order for society.

-     ATTEMPTS at undermining that authority by current government policies are part of the anti-Christ system taking shape in America right now.

*     Abortion without parental consent.

*     School-based health clinics.

*     Condom distribution at school.

*     Sex education without moral absolutes.

*     Values clarification without moral absolutes.

*     Attempts to outlaw corporal punishment in the home.

*     Trends in public education reform.

*     Elements of the "Children's Bill of Rights."

*     Attempts to lower the age of emancipation.

*     Legal provision for children to "divorce" their parents.

-     SOME of these policies are the result of the world's misguided attempt to correct the tragic abuse of children in the family.

-     BUT without Biblical discipline and love in the home a society is destined to collapse anyhow.

iii. parent’s ‘in christ’

-     WHAT about parents? There is balance in each of these relationships that Paul addresses in this chapter.

-     VERSE 21,

      “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

-     WHEN Paul discusses parental authority he brings a healthy balance to the subject by talking about the restraint to be exercised by parents. 

-     EPHESIANS 6:4 puts it this way,

      "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."

-     FATHERS are to be self-controlled, gentle, patient educators. This was in stark contrast with the situation of Paul's day. (Fathers could punish even to the point of death in Paul's day.)

-     A ROMAN father could do anything he wished to his children without the interference of the state. Abuses were rampant.

-     PAUL says that this was to be completely different for the Christian father.

-     A CHRISTIAN father is to take his example from "one God, Father of us all." (Ephesians 3:14-15)

The Negative


-     PAUL says "Don’t exasperate/provoke your family."  

-     DON’T make unreasonable demands, be excessively harsh, cruel, extreme, unpredictable, or humiliate, suppress, or ridicule them.

-     DON’T be arbitrary, or unkind.

-     NOTHING works quite as well as the positive encouragement of loving, understanding parents....helping children to develop to their full potential.

-     THEY are little people, to be respected not exploited, manipulated or crushed.


1.   Not all non-conforming behavior is rebellious.

2.  Some experimentation with life is necessary to find out where your boundaries are and to plumb the depth of a parent's love.

3.   The process of growing requires the development of some measure of independence. 





The Positive


-     PAUL says to bring them up in the Lord.

-     NOURISH them. Feed them in the Word.

-     FILL their lives with the influence of the Lord when you are home, on the road, on vacation, or in the mall.

-     LIVE the priorities of the kingdom of God with your time, your energy, your resources, and your passion. Let them catch the vision.

-     TRAIN them in the way they are to go, even when it means  supplying some loving discipline to correct disobedience.

-     TREAT them tenderly. Their young lives and emotions are fragile.

*     Implications:

1.   Guard your responsibility, don’t ever surrender it.

2.   Check God's Word before you buy the philosophies of the world marketed by the "experts" concerning child-raising.

3.   Take the time and effort to be with your children. Nothing takes the place of consistent time with them.

4.   Be verbal with them…be liberal with modest affirmation.

5.   Communicate love in physical ways.

6.   Discipline as necessary (check your motives). Before you try to control your children, make sure you are in control yourself.


iv. conclusion

-     IF we have a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives and it doesn’t affect our family will be a short-lived flash in the pan.

-     J.I PACKER says that the Christian life is a combination of head - heart - that order.

-     IN the context of revival the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to us in fresh understanding....the Word comes alive to us again.   HEAD.

-     IN the manifestation of God’s presence our hearts are softened in new brokenness. HEART.

-     WE discover in new ways what it means to be “in Christ.”

-     AND the first place the difference in our attitudes and lives should be seen is in the home. LEGS.

-     CHILDREN “in Christ” obeying their parents.

-     AND Parents “in Christ” not discouraging their children.

-     BUT together...families walking in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.


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