Greeting CrossTrain family! It’s been tremendously encouraging to talk with families in the last two weeks in particular about the discussions all are having amongst their families about God’s word. God is doing wonderful works as his word is on our minds and lips and is stored within our hearts. His word will continue to bring into effect all that he purposes. Jesus tells us that everyone who hears his words and does them is like a wise man who builds his house on the rock. I am confident that as parents, we have seen it abundantly clear since VERY early on that at no time have we had to ever teach our children to sin. It’s almost as if they were born this way; that by their very nature they sin. The reason it seems this way is simple… they were indeed born sinners by nature! Encouraging, isn’t it??? What’s certainly more frustrating is that these little sinners reveal to us parents more and more that while they are little sinners, we are even greater sinners. No wonder the home is the primary battleground, where sin is made manifest and all sorts of contention and strife come to life. God has known this from before the world was formed and clearly tells us in his word the status of our own hearts.
“The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They all have turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.” — Psalm 14:2-3
Why are we memorizing this verse? Last week we finished our discussion of who our perfect, thrice holy, sovereign God is and what he commands us to do. We are to love him perfectly by obeying his commandments and loving others. This is a TALL order. One that seems so simple, yet so impossible to do. God tells us that there is no one on earth that has lived up to this standard. No one seeks God, much less loves him, and much much less loves him with all their heart, mind, and strength. Every single one of us are born haters of God and not one of us does good. Nope… not one.
As parents, out of love for our children, we can be so quick to defend our children and their bad behavior, saying “oh, little Johnny is really such a good kid. He’s just tired/bored/frustrated/hungry.” But in reality the bad behavior is because of sin. Period. Have you ever seen a young baby infatuated with something shiny, like someone’s watch or necklace. At first we let them play with it and then when we realize it might pose a choking hazard or they could break the valuable item, we take it back. What happens next? Likely they begin to cry and scream and go on an uncontrolled tantrum. The only thing limiting the effect of their rage is that by God’s grace, they are still 1/10th our size and don’t know how to use a weapon! You’d better believe that if they had the size and capacity, they would tear us apart in that moment out of greed and selfishness. We are born murders at heart and it is only in God’s grace that we are restrained.
You would think that raising these little sinners, constantly correcting and disciplining, would be the toughest part right? Wrong? In this whole thing, we as parents struggle with the same underlying problem. We are bigger sinners trying to guide these precious kids. Our children reveal to us just how selfish, foolish, and wrong we can be. This is why GRACE IS SO ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY! Further, God’s grace is ALL-SUFFICIENT. It is only by the grace of God that we are able to overcome this nature, be given a new nature, and finally begin to do works that please God. This is a life long process. As Pastor Doug has said a few hundred times, we have been saved, are being saved, and will be saved. As parents, God is continuing to work us more into the image of his perfect Son and is using us for the good work of raising these precious children to know God and that their hearts may be transformed from God-haters to lovers of God; From children of wrath, to children of righteousness. Our children do not misbehave because they are tired/bored/hungry/frustrated. These things only expose the real problem. They are sinners in need of a savior, just as we are, and need the Spirit to transform them more into the image of Jesus. Our kids will never be sinless, just as we won’t, but they will sin less, as we ought to be as we grow in Christ.
We will continue in this discussion in the next few weeks because, as Pastor Doug said just this last week, the good news doesn’t mean anything if we don’t have a strong, foundational understanding of the bad news. It’s not always easy to hear that we are sinners, or that our children are, but it is the truth! And the truth will set us free. These are great discussions to begin to have with our children as part of our regular dialogue. Moments of discipline are obviously excellent times to discuss sin and it’s consequences with our children. But let us not exasperate our children and cut them down, but may we let them understand that even though we are parents, we are sinners in need of forgiveness too. It’s humbling, but in those moments when we lose our temper, expose our selfishness, or do something untruthful, as parents we MUST be the example to our children and confess our sins, letting them know that yes, even Dad and Mom sin daily. In our own household, once a moment of discipline has calmed, we’ll remind each other that 1) the kids are little sinners and 2) Dad/Mom are even bigger sinners. But the WONDERFUL good news, the greatest news ever, is that if our faith is in Jesus, 3) ALL of the punishment we deserve was placed on Jesus. Because God loves us, he came to us as a man in Jesus Christ, truly man and truly God and took God’s wrath so we don’t have to. We are forgiven. There is no more punishment to be had. Though sinless, Jesus became sin on our behalf that we might become his righteousness. We will hit this big time in our study shortly, but we can’t talk about sin to this extent without at least pointing to the grace extended to us!
Questions Psalm 14:2-3 can answer:
Are people good or bad?
How do we know this? What do people do that show us this is true?
Can people truly do good things apart from God?
In God’s providence, our family study of sin is lining up perfectly with what we are learning as we go through Romans on Sundays. As Pastor Doug has been saying, the good news of the Gospel has no meaning without an understanding as to why we need it. We have an excellent opportunity as families to dive into these discussions. Particularly as we head into these next few weeks, our prayer in family ministry is that we would begin to understand our inherent nature as humans. That we would take hold of this opportunity to not defend or deflect bad behavior, our own or our children’s, but that we would acknowledge our sinfulness before God, seek his forgiveness, and that we would be granted repentance and faith in our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.
Until next time, may God richly bless you by the grace and mercy won by Jesus Christ!
Adam and Audra Griffin