Blessings of Authority - Ephesians 6:1-4
1 Blessings of Authority Ephesians 6:1-4 20210214 Obedience results in Righteousness Introduc)on In the Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis a young boy by the name of Eustace Clarence Scrubb is introduced to the reader on page 1. C.S Lewis says this about him, “I can’t tell you how his friends spoke to him, for he had none. He didn’t call his father and mother “Father” and “Mother,” but Harold and Alberta. They were very up-todate and advanced people.” Then on the next page we learn a liTle more about Scrubb. When the author says, “Eustace disliked his cousins – these were Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. But he was quite glad when he heard that Edmund and Lucy were coming to stay. For deep down inside he liked bossing and bullying; and, though he was a puny liTle person who couldn’t have stood up even to Lucy, let alone Edmund, in a ﬁght, he knew that there are dozens of ways to give people a bad \me if you are in your own home and they are only visitors.” Children, this boy Eustace is really a disgrace, he is not nice at all. Later in the book he even turns into a dragon. But how does a child develop such a bru\sh personality? Would you want to be described in this manner? Of course not! And the answer to avoiding it is going to be preached upon today from Ephesians 6 so listen carefully. Similarly, Parents, would you ever want your child described as Eustace? We read such an account and ins\nc\vely revolt at the thought of having anything even close to a Eustace-like-child but we know they exist. They even grow up in homes, are led to believe by those nearest to them they will be ﬁne the way they are, and then in adulthood all who are watching from the sideline see the train wreck of their life just careening oﬀ the tracks. How does such a child get turned out on their own? I would say that it happens because authority is not taken seriously. Parents fail to recognize God as the ul\mate authority who has entrusted them with bringing up their own children in the discipline and instruc\on of the Lord. Children fail to recognize that they are under their parents’ authority as designed by God. This is a situa\on that is just primed for rebellion. Now listen to this. At the heart of rebellion is believing you know beTer than those who have been appointed over you. That you know beTer than the One True God who is the source, author, and director of all things. This can be seen and observed from the beginning. When I say beginning, I mean when you are a baby. Your bodily cravings scream out in demands to be fed when you want food – even though the provider of your food is gedng ready to nurse you. Star\ng as an infant but con\nuing into young childhood you cry out your demand for the replenishing eﬀect of sleep even while you ﬁght and kick against the reseul atmosphere that is provided. Advance a few years in age and this rebellion shifs to a demand for entertainment without any expenditure of eﬀort, or to get what you want without paying the price. Why? Because in rebellion you always seek the shortcut. When this path is taken into adulthood it leads to you constantly being dissa\sﬁed, and you are loudly and constantly sharing how upset you are. Of course, when you are in rebellion, someone else is always to blame for your lack of peace – to put it in the language of our passage - it certainly isn’t going well with you and you are not able to live long anywhere. So where is the oﬀ ramp to such a disastrous path? You might be surprised to hear it is actually in embracing authority. Ul\mate authority belongs to God and by his grace he delegates authority to parents. Therefore, parents are to rightly use their authority as it has been given and children are to obey their parents in the Lord. So, throughout the family; parents and children must demonstrate obedience. Parents to God and children to parents as in doing so to the Lord. This is right. And in doing so you could say; “Obedience results in Righteousness.” Which is a far cry from disastrous rebellion. Obedience results in Righteousness, dearly beloved, and that is what we want in our homes and is what we will be learning about today. God’s Authority – Which is Ul)mate Authority 1. vv2-3 ““Honor your father and mother” (this is the ﬁrst commandment with a promise), “that it may go well….”” a. This sets the stage of where we are in terms of addressing rela\onships within the home. i. You may recognize the passage and even no\ce it is quoted text. 1. Ex 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.” 2 b. This is God’s commandment – but what gives him the right to make such a command? i. Well, as it turns out he made us! He is the author of all crea\on and therefore gets to set the course that crea\on is to take. He can direct and command as it best serves to bring him glory. He has Ul\mate Authority over his crea\on – He is sovereign over all. 1. Gen 1:1-2 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” 2. John 1:3 “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” 3. Col 1:16 “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authori\es—all things were created through him and for him.” 4. When God senses his authority is being challenged in the book of Job he responds by appealing to his created work! In a ﬁery way in chapters 40 and 41 he describes behemoth and leviathan which he created like man. c. Last week we looked into the rela\onship between a husband and a wife. In doing so we had to appeal to God’s authority there as well. The man and woman were both created as equal in dignity and worth but entrusted with diﬀerent roles from the beginning (Gen 1:26-28; 2:20-25). i. Those diﬀering roles, when lived out, promote human ﬂourishing and reﬂect more wonderfully the image of God. ii. As the Author of life fashioned them he made it so that they could reproduce afer their kind. Children, male and female children – liTle boys and girls were part of the plan. Transi)on: Those children are to be looked afer. For as we all know, when children arrive, they are extremely vulnerable but they are also extremely trainable. So, who is to be there for them? Parents! Parents must exercise authority that is delegated by God. Parents’ Authority – Which is Delegated Authority 1. v1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” a. We will get to what children are to do in the next sec\on but ﬁrst recognize the posi\on of the parents. They are in a posi\on of authority over their children. So absolute is their authority that the children are to be obedient to them - it is commanded. i. Our ﬁrst parents, when God brought them together, were given the commandment of Gen 1:28a “Be fruieul and mul\ply and ﬁll the earth...”” ii. They did as they were commanded and children arrived on the scene of crea\on. God allows us to cooperate with him in ﬁlling the earth and it is a big responsibility to exercise parental authority, as delegated by God, over the children he gives. 2. In v2a “Honor your father and mother” follows the commandment to obey. Immediately we see that God has done something to empower parents in a special way. They have authority from God to be over their children. a. This is extremely important to be heard by parents and children alike. i. Parents, you have been delegated authority by God to exercise that authority over your children. ii. Children, your parents have authority over you and subsequently you do not have authority over them. 3. When God’s authority is used by parents as God designed a great amount of stability enters into the family and ﬂows into the community. a. Now I don’t want any of us to think this is just automa\c – that it is somehow exercised without consequence. That is not the case at all. The delegated authority of God that is entrusted to parents can have posi\ve consequences and it can have nega\ve consequences. i. In as the authority is used in conformance with God’s righteousness and exercised accordingly - his blessing follows. 3 ii. Conversely, when the authority is misused the consequences are condemna\on and judgement. 1. MaT 18:6 “but whoever causes one of these liTle ones who believe in me to sin, it would be beTer for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” iii. I know it sounds cliché but with great power comes great responsibility and parents are in possession of great power over their children - power delegated from the One who holds all authority. The responsibility of paren\ng should never be taken lightly because I have no doubt in my mind that we will be held responsible for how we use this delegated authority. 1. But I don’t want us to be afraid of this authority either. The enemy is looking for every opportunity to take parental authority away and we need to be on guard against such power grabs. For instance, our daughter Emily just turned 12 and when she did so she was removed from Vanessa’s myChart at Providence. Why? Because Emily is now old enough (as determined by the medical establishment) to speak with her medical provider privately. 2. What other areas are you seeing your parental authority being aTacked? This would be a great discussion to have as a family. I would venture it is taking place in many areas. Perhaps in the consumerism of the home. What the kids want to buy or wear for clothing – what or who is inﬂuencing these decisions? a. Then, mom and dad, you will need to circle back and think about who will be held responsible – remember it is you! Transi)on: The children will go out of their way to convince you of what is best but that is not what we see from Scripture is their duty. Children we are turning our aTen\on now to you with this next sec\on. Children – Who have no Authority 1. v1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” a. Children, you are posi\oned under parents for your good. They are your provision from God for brining you up. It is commanded of you in Scripture to obey your parents. b. This is where we need to be focused mainly – because it is where the text is focused – is on the obedience of children to parents. i. Children, you are obligated to obey your parents. 1. How long do you bear this responsibility? It is not deﬁned in Scripture but some helpful ways of looking at this would include as long as you remain under the protec\ve roof of your parents’ home. That is not meant to keep you in the house longer or push you out earlier it is just a general and I would say culturally accepted way of approaching this topic. 2. Once you have been trained up by your parents and have lef your home your rela\onship with mom and dad will inevitably change. That is part of the growing up process. ii. Children, you are obligated to obey your parents. This is to be done with a submissive and trus\ng heart. Obedience is not just outward compliance. It is a through and through acceptance of your parents’ authority over you as speciﬁed by the Lord and is encapsulated in “Obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” iii. This is where honor plays a role in the rela\onship. 2. v2 ““Honor your father and mother” a. You might think well what does this really mean? I found one descrip\on in my studies that was especially helpful in my own understanding and wanted to share it with all of you. “[Honor] means you have social esteem. You have gravitas – you have weight – and the idea is that you give your parents social esteem. People respect them. The way you give this to your parents is by obeying them – children that obey them give their parents honor. It shows respect” – Bruce Waltke i. Do you remember the boy Eustace from earlier? What type of honor do you think he gave to his parents? What was the social esteem Harold and Alberta had from to\ng Eustace around town? ii. Kids, whether you believe it or not your obedience and your honoring of your parents or lack of obedience and lack of honor is not too hard to see by others. If you are in the habit of being 4 disobedient or plainly dishonoring your parents it has a real impact. It weighs on your parents but not in the good way of giving them social esteem. It also reﬂects poorly on the order God has established for the family. It leads to the further decline of the community we live in as well. b. Although I’ve highlighted obedience as one way we show honor to our parents I know you were paying aTen\on earlier when I said this generally drops oﬀ as you move into adulthood. However, the commandment to honor your father and mother does not. It is \ed to God’s whole design for family and social life. i. So, how else can honor be shown to parents? I asked a few parents of adult children how they receive honor and they indicated: 1. Spending \me with them. They said having their adult children come around and spend \me with them was honoring. 2. They also noted that they were honored when their adult children looked for ways to serve them by taking care of needs that they were beTer equipped to handle. a. This could be walking with an older parent through the challenges of learning new technologies. b. It could be helping to navigate the complexi\es of health care or weeding through the myriad of insurance decision that need to be made. 3. The area that no one really wants to address head on is what to do when father and mother are no longer able to care for themselves? How do we show honor in this area? Because we all know we should but don’t really know how. a. This is why I’m not going to go into a speciﬁc set of answers from up here because it is too in\mate for that. If this is an area you are facing, we would love to come alongside of you as a church to pray for you, to encourage you, and to share wisdom from God’s word. 3. vv2-3 ““Honor your father and mother” (this is the ﬁrst commandment with a promise), “that it may go well...”” a. Now that we have looked at the commandments and the how of obedience and of honor it is \me to look at the beneﬁt of living in this way. Paul, as he is wri\ng this por\on to the Ephesian believers, he includes the sen\ment that was with the original 5th commandment. i. As Moses was delivering this to the people of Israel they were being prepared to go into the Promised Land. Their obedience to God’s law was going to have a direct correla\on to how long they would stay in the land they were being given. As you study the history of Israel it is clearly seen that God’s does in fact use this as a punishment against them. When they failed to obey God’s law and turned away from him – they were graciously reminded of what was required of them – when they remained hardened then they were sent oﬀ into exile. ii. As children you may not think in terms of what is means for it to go well with you. But, to put it bluntly, it doesn’t mean you get to do what ever you want when you want. What it means is that you will have rela\onships that will be meaningful. A rela\onship with God as you are faithfully obedient to him and to those whom he has put you in close rela\onship with here on earth. Your parents, your siblings, and the family of believers. b. But this can all be destroyed by your disobedience. God always takes disobedience to parents seriously. Note the following passages: Romans 1:28-32 and 2 Tim 3:1-5 i. Both sets list horrible outcomes of turning away from God and both list disobedience to parents. Read them later and ponder how disobedience to parents sits in such lists. Transi)on: This isn’t meant to be a burden you carry on your own children because not only are your parents established as authority ﬁgures over you, they are also charged with training you. Parents’ Obliga)on – Train up their Children 1. v4 “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruc\on of the Lord.” 5 a. Fathers are being addressed as the head of the family, in Eph 5:23 we saw last week, “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” So, it is right for fathers to be addressed, but husband and wife are also known as one (Eph 5:31). b. Fathers are being addressed directly here. They are not to provoke their children to anger. But as head of the wife and in being one with her it is not unreasonable to extend this charge to parents. This would bear weight for mothers too. Not to provoke your children to anger. c. In Eph 4:26 we saw previously the command to “Be angry and do not sin” It is one thing to have kindled a righteous anger over an oﬀense against God or his image bearers who are being denigrated in some way. But when we provoke someone, especially our children, to anger the idea is that this is not going to be helpful to their wellbeing. In order to avoid this, we have to know ourselves well. To not approach our children with brashness. To know our children well and how they respond to instruc\on. i. Since I was spending \me with this text it just came up as a topic of discussion around the dinner table. Our own way of doing table talk is to discuss Scripture and its applica\on. Vanessa and I asked about what it means to provoke. Then we went from their to being vulnerable before our children to ask if we had provoked them to anger. Every family is diﬀerent and maybe you are beTer oﬀ asking a child one on one. ii. I see some of the kids here saliva\ng, be careful - now don’t hear this children and think, “Wow I need my parents to do this so I can let them have it!” Because it didn’t really turn out that way. Our children shared a couple of examples. 1. One that Vanessa and I recognized was not done as well as it could have been but that in that situa\on the child made an appeal, in this case it was to me. I weighed what was happening and changed the original course. 2. In the other the facts were disclosed as to why the child felt upset. In that instance the decision stood that the parent was the one with the authority and saw more clearly what was happening in the home than the child. But importantly we are growing in our communica\on with our children and acknowledging they need to be instructed. 3. The children all heard this and we encouraged them to trust us as God’s authority over them but to study their Bibles diligently so as to understand where our authority is derived from. d. I bring up this glimpse into our home and what you see happening is some of the discipline and instruc\on of the Lord that takes place. It is vital to the health of our family and our community that these \mes of instruc\on take place. e. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the kids are gedng all they need on their own or from a Sunday morning sermon. The instruc\on needs to be Deut 6:7 like, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” f. Just as we men\oned previously that children are obligated to obey their parents, the parents have an obliga\on to train their children and will be held accountable for how they handle their delegated authority in this area. Transi)on: The parents’ obliga\on to train up their children has a very real impact on how they will respond to the message of Christ. Conclusion And if Obedience Results in Righteousness doesn’t the response to Christ’s redeeming work hit squarely in the center of what the family needs to be focused upon? Let’s face it, if the proper authority lies with God who has delegated authority to parents who are over children. What do you think happens when authority is exercised wrongly? When parent’s aTempt to exercise authority that is not theirs – they posi\on themselves outside of God’s will. When children aTempt to exercise authority over their parents – they posi\on themselves outside of God’s will. This leads to disaster – it always leads to disaster. But conversely when authority is maintained, as designed, it leads us on a path full of blessing and it “goes well” with us as our passage says. 6 Jonathan Edwards, the great American preacher, speaks of this path full of blessing, saying, “In all your course, walk with God and follow Christ as a liTle, poor, helpless child, taking hold of Christ's hand, keeping your eye on the mark of the wounds on his hands and side, whence came the blood that cleanses you from sin and hiding your nakedness under the skirt of the white shining robe of his righteousness.” Parents this is your responsibility. You have been granted the authority over you children to take them by the hand and lead them in such a manner that they see the work of Christ. The steady sacriﬁcial love of a life\me given in service to the King and expressed in love. Children, so much focus upon you today, you are to obey your parents as Christ obeyed his Father in heaven – in the Scriptures we know that his path was not easy but recognize what it resulted in. A blessing for you, for all of us. Because Jesus walked in perfect obedience to his Father. He did it perfectly, trus\ng the Scriptures and reliant upon the Holy Spirit and His Obedience Resulted in Our Righteousness.