The Role of Parents, Pt. 1 – Colossians 3:21

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Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

April 3, 2011

The Role of Parents,
Pt. 1

Colossians 3:21




This morning will be the fourth message in this section of Colossians
3:18-4:1. This passage deals with family relationships and arises as the direct
application of all that Paul has talked about in Colossians 3:1-17. Let me read
through with you Colossians 3:18-22 to review Paul’s commands to the immediate

18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19
Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them. 20 Children,
be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the
Lord. 21 Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart.

Your ability to fulfill your role is directly related to how well you are
walking with the Lord as one who has been “raised up with Christ” (vs. 1). While
it is possible for a non-Christian wife to willingly submit to and respect her
husband, that is difficult. While it is possible for a non-Christian husband to
sacrificially love his wife, that is difficult and it is impossible for him to
actually love her as Christ loves the church. It is required that all children
obey their parents, but for wife, husband, and children it is a lot easier to
fulfill these roles when they have the Holy Spirit within them to direct and
empower. As you set aside the habits and attitudes that characterized you life
prior to salvation and put on the habits and attitudes that belong to the new
creature you have become in Christ, then it is no longer difficult to fulfill
these roles. The same is true for parents which is the subject we will address
this morning.

The Colossian CommandColossians 3:21

Paul’s command here is interesting from the standpoint that it is only from
the negative. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not
lose heart”
(NASB) or as some versions express it,
“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged”

(NKJV). Parenting would be very easy if all we had to do
was avoid this one danger zone, but Paul and the rest of the scriptures have a
lot more to say both positive and negative about the responsibilities of
parents. The parallel passage in Ephesians 6:4 includes this negative
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,”
but it also adds the
positive, “but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Paul’s command here is only an additional specific instruction to parents
that compliments all the other commands he has given to believers in verses

Godly parenting requires that you put off the evil and put on good in both
your own practice and in what you require of your children. Your own example has
to match the instructions you give your children or they will see the hypocrisy
and reject your teaching. In fact, your example will have a greater effect upon
them than anything else you do. When a disciple (student) is fully trained, he
will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40). If you are characterized by walking in the
flesh with attitudes and actions of anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive
speech (Col. 3:8), then don’t be surprised when your children exhibit the same
characteristics. The same is true of immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire
and greed (Col. 3:5). If the evil practices of the old self characterize your
life, then they will also characterize the lives of your children unless the
Lord intervenes to save them despite your negative influence. At the same time,
if your life is characterized as walking in the new self with compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing one another’s burdens,
forgiving each other, being loving with the word of Christ richly dwelling in
you, then your children will take on a lot of those characteristics even if they
are not saved.

In recognition of the importance of parenting and that there is so much more
in the Scriptures concerning it than this one passage, I want to spend the rest
of this morning going over the more general principles of parenting, and then
next week will concentrate on some of the more specific commands including this
one in Colossians 3:21.

Before I do though, I want to point out that most of the Biblical commands,
including this one here in Colossians, are directed specifically to the
“fathers,” but the command is to be followed by both parents, not just the dad.
The reason these commands are addressed to the father is because God has placed
the husband as the head of the household, so he is also the one that is going to
be held responsible for making sure the family carries out God’s commands. The
practical reality is that a large portion if not the majority of the teaching of
children will be done by the mother since she spends the most time with them in
their daily care. The father has the responsibility, but the mother fulfills a
large portion of it. Another reason for the importance of the wife submitting to
the husband’s leadership and the husband actively leading.


The Importance of Biblical Instruction


God has given us plenty of instructions on how to raise our children, but as
American society continues its flight away from Biblical values and to the vain
philosophies and wisdom of men, then the family continues to disintegrate. When
people reject the creator and His design, they prove the scriptures true that
they have been blinded by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4) and that in professing to be
wise they have become fools (Romans 1:22). The proof of good parenting is in the
children. As society has paid more attention to supposed experts than the
Scriptures, the problems with children and youth have only escalated. Hard to
believe, but among the top ten problems among High School students in the 1950’s
was chewing gum in class and boys not tucking in their shirts. Compare that to
today’s High School environment with metal detectors, undercover narcotics
officers and sexually transmitted diseases being common.

To take this one step further, a supposed expert on parenting whose own
children are out of control is not qualified, yet that is the common situation.
If your wisdom and advice does not work for your own children, why would it be
expected for it to work on the children of other people. That is why the
qualifications for Elders in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 both include elements
related to the family and parenting. Titus 1:6 states his character must include
being “blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not
accused of dissipation or insubordination”
(NKJV). 1
Timothy 3:3-4 states he is “one who rules his own house well, having [his]
children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to
rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?).”
A similar
statement is made about the deacons. How a man does in leading his family is the
evidence of how he will do in leading in the church.

We need to both know and follow God’s instructions concerning the family, and
the instructions for parenting children begins with the role of the husband and
wife. You cannot be a better parent than you are a spouse.

The Importance of the Marriage

As we saw in our study of Colossians 3:18, the wife is to be in submission to
the husband. Ephesians 5:15-33 explains that this submission is first to the
Holy Spirit and then to her husband and that she is also to show him respect. If
she does not do this, she will resent her role and risk having her husband rule
over her from a negative standpoint as part of the curse of sin (Genesis 3:16).
In any case, she will not be the woman she could be and should be. (See:
The Role
of the Wife

The role of the husband is to lead his family in godliness through a
sacrificial, committed love. This also arises out of his own walk with the Holy
Spirit, for it is impossible for a man to love someone else as “Christ loves the
church” without the help of the Spirit of God. This sacrificial love includes
leading her, protecting her, providing for her, and helping her to become holy
and blameless. (See:
Role of the Husband

Parents, let me stress again that your ability to properly raise your
children is in direct relationship to your ability to be a godly spouse and that
is dependent on your walk with the Lord. If you are unwilling to submit to the
Spirit and follow the Scriptures in your role as a spouse, you will not do so in
your role as a parent. You have already decided that you know better than God
and that same basic belief will control your parenting. If you want to raise
good and godly kids, then you need to work at having a good and godly marriage.

But, you say, your spouse is not a believer or you are divorced and raising
the kids by yourself. Again, submission to the Holy Spirit in primary. How do
you treat your unsaved spouse or ex-spouse? Does your example and attitude
toward them reflect godliness and the love of Jesus Christ? If it does, you will
be a positive influence for Christ on your children despite your spouse. 1
Corinthians 7:14 explains that the believing spouse sanctifies the unbelieving
spouse and the children. If your example is ungodly, then you will fill your
children with that ungodliness that is in your heart – whether that be
resentment, bitterness, pride, revenge or anything else ungodly.


The Importance of Obedience


Last week we studied Colossians 3:20 and the role of children. God requires
children to obey. This is the first principle of parenting. We are to require
our children to obey us in the Lord. You are teaching your children to sin if
you do not require them to obey. Obedience is to be the first time, right away,
and with a happy face. Anything less than that is disobedience for obedience
encompasses both actions and attitude. (See:
The Role
of Children

Why is it important that the child obey the first time you tell them? Let me
give you two reasons. The first will be theological and the second will be

First, failure to obey the first time is delayed obedience and that is
disobedience. The tragedy is that this is totally controlled by the parent. Why
do I say that? Because a child will obey you when they know you are finally
serious. That can be either the first time or whatever point it you finally mean
it. That may be after you have said it three or more times depending on your
normal practices. It may be when your voice reaches a certain pitch or tone. It
may not be until the arteries in your neck stand out as your blood pressure
skyrockets. You, not your child, have determined the point of obedience by what
you actually require of them and when you require it.

Perhaps this scenario will sound uncomfortably familiar. You tell your child,
“Junior, please put your toys away and get ready for bed.” Five minutes
later you say, “Junior, I thought I told you to put those toys away and get
ready for bed.”
Five more minutes go by and you say, “Junior, I know I
told you to put those toys away and get ready for bed, now please do it!”

Another five minutes goes by before you say, “Look, I am not telling you
again. Put those toys away and get ready for bed or your going to get it.”

More time passes and now with your face read and your volume hitting 100
decibels, “This is the last time. Do what I said or I am going to spank you!”
At this, Junior finally obeys for now he knows you’re serious.

This may not seem very important, but it is very important. When you do not
require a child to obey right away the first time, then you have put them in the
position of being the judge of what is and what is not important. That right
does not belong to them – it belongs to you. You have actually trained them to
disobey. Your children need to obey you the first time and right away otherwise
you teach them to sin.

At the same time parents must also consider what the child is doing and be
sensitive to that while giving their commands properly and clearly. It borders
on being cruel to tell children to stop their game and go get ready for bed when
they are only a couple of moves from the end. Neither is it very nice to tell
them to wash up and come to dinner five minutes before the end of a program they
have been watching. A loving parent will be sensitive to what the child is doing
and take that into consideration when giving instructions. This is part of what
Colossians 3:21 is talking about. We are not to exasperate or frustrate them
with such things because it causes them to lose heart.

The second reason to require first time obedience is simply safety. There are
too many situations in which the safety of your child is dependent on them doing
what you say immediately. Only their immediate obedience will prevent them from
injury or even death. No one wants to go through the grief of saying, “if they
had only listened.” Teach them to listen and obey the first time.

We also need to require our children to obey with what I call a “happy face.”
Children that grumble, complain or whine may be outwardly obedient to your
commands, but they are rebellious in heart. Do not allow or accept it. I cannot
stress enough that in parenting it is the heart that you are trying to train,
not just behavior. Remember that God’s punishment of the children of Israel in
the wilderness was because of their continued grumbling. They would grumble and
complain and God would chastise them – plagues, poisonous snakes, the ground
opening up and swallowing Korah and his followers, and then forty years of
wandering until that whole generation had died off. I am not saying that if your
child whines you should put a snake in their bed, but I am saying that you
should not accept or tolerate grumbling because it is a form of rebellion.

Obedience is the schoolmaster that gives the child the skills to pursue both
Godliness and success, but do not stop with outward behavior. Frankly, outward
behavior is the easy part and that should be largely accomplished by the time
they are between 4-6 years old. Go beyond that to also instill within them the
principles of God’s Word and train their hearts so that they will be internally
guided rather than outwardly conformed. The real goal is that by the time they
are 12 or 13 years old that they understand and are following the principles and
precepts of God’s word so well that their primary submission is to the Lord.
When that point is reached, the obedience to parents becomes secondary to
submission to the Lord. They should have a willingness and desire to follow the
parent’s guidance because it is right and best before the Lord and not because
it is forced.


The Responsibility of Parents


Ephesians 6:4 describes the responsibility of parents very succinctly.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the
discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
As I said last week, our children
arrive in our homes as sinners and we have a responsibility to teach them
discipline so that the bent toward sin does not overwhelm them. I also said that
it was the job of children to learn and the job of parents to teach them. The
most important lessons we can teach our children are those related to teaching
them about the Lord and how He wants them to live. But that is no easy task.

When Harry Truman was president, he had a sign on his desk that said, “The
buck stops here.”
It seems there are few that have that mindset. Most people
will follow the example of our ancestors Adam and Eve and just pass the buck
along. Adam told God that it was the woman’s fault. Eve told God it was the
serpent’s fault. The serpent lost his voice and so also lost his legs. People
are always trying to figure out where to shift the blame.

It is no different when it comes to parenting, and sadly, this is true even
in Christian circles. If a child turns out pretty good, the parents are happy to
point them out and claim them as their own with perhaps a little pride showing
too. But if the child turns out rebellious and a problem in society, then the
parents are quick to claim that it was not their fault. They claim they did
everything they could and so bear no responsibility. There are quite a few
Proverbs that contradict that idea. Proverbs 10:1, “A wise son makes a glad
father, But a foolish son [is] the grief of his mother
.” Proverbs 17:25,
“A foolish son [is] a grief to his father, And bitterness to her who bore him.”

Proverbs 19:26, “He who assaults [his] father [and] drives [his] mother away
Is a shameful and disgraceful son.”
Proverbs 29:15, “The rod and reproof
give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.”

While grief and bitterness can express the emotions experienced over negative
things you could not control, shame is a negative emotion that is directly
related to one’s own wrong actions or failures. A mother and father are shamed
when their children behave in such ways that it exposes their parent’s failures.
The reality is that all parents will fail to one degree or another which is why
godly parents not only work hard in rearing their children, but they pray hard

Moms and dads, you need to understand that there is a dual responsibility in
how your children turn out. Both you and your child bear a responsibility in
what kind of adults they become. This does not mean the child can blame you for
the sins they commit, for regardless of how good or bad were the child’s
parents, the individual bears full responsibility for himself. Why? Because
God’s call to everyone is to repent from their sins and follow Him. God’s grace
is sufficient to change anyone that will do so. Remember, all of us were dead in
trespasses and sin, but it was God who made us alive together with Christ
(Ephesians 2). The effect of sin may have people in different stages of decay
and corruption, but dead is dead. However, when we were made alive in Christ we
became new creatures. The old passed away and the new was put on (2 Corinthians

No one will ever be able to stand before God and blame their parents or
anyone else for the sins they have committed. Ezekiel 18:20 states this truth
very clearly “The person who sins will die . The son will not bear the
punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment
for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself,
and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.

Don’t ever let yourself get caught in the trap so prevalent in modern
psychology that passes the blame along to someone else or to “society” in
general for all the problems you have. Throughout the scriptures we find this
truth that God holds each of us individually accountable for our own sins. God’s
judgment of us will be impartial and will be based on each man’s deeds – (1
Peter 1:17; Rev. 20:12,13).

Parents, understand that God is not going to hold you responsible for you
children’s sins, but He is going to hold you responsible for your failures to
raise them according to His instructions. How your children turn out is a
reflection on how you parented them. What you do in raising your child will
greatly affect what they believe to be true, what they believe to be important,
what life is all about, what behaviors are acceptable or unacceptable, and how
they feel about themselves and others. How you raise them will reflect in how
they turn out.

This does not mean that you are responsible for their salvation. That could
never be because no man can save another. Salvation is the work of God Himself
as the Holy Spirit brings the individual to conviction of sin, repentance and
regeneration that they will believe and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, receiving
from Him pardon for their sin. No parent can guarantee the salvation of their
children, but the parent is to set the stage for the Holy Spirit’s work. They
are to teach their children God’s laws, that sin is failure to keep God’s laws,
that sin’s punishment is eternal death. Parents are to teach their children
about God’s love and especially as demonstrated in Jesus Christ and His
substitutionary death and resurrection. We are to teach our children about the
life that God can give to us through forgiveness of sins through Christ and
following after Him.

But you say, “We did everything we could. Our child rebelled against us
and followed Adam’s sin nature within him.”
It may be true that your child
has rebelled and is following his sin nature. It may be even true that you made
a valiant effort, but did you really do everything you could do? Did you follow
all of God’s commands to you as individuals and as parents? Did you demonstrate
a perfect walk with God? Did you really bring your child up in the nurture and
admonition if the Lord without provoking him to anger or exasperating him
causing him to lose heart?

The reality is that no parent can really say they have done everything they
could have done for that would require perfection and no parent is perfect. The
solution for guilt of failure is not in trying to pass the buck, but rather in
confession and receiving God’s forgiveness. Don’t let your pride get in the way.
If your children are grown and are not following Christ, then there are two key
things you need to do in further ministry with them – confess and intercede.

1) Confess. As the Lord brings your past failures with your children to your
attention, confess and ask God’s forgiveness. His promise is that He will
forgive (1 John 1:9). You may need to do this with your children as well. Such
humility and repentance can go a long way in restoring or maintaining a
relationship with a prodigal child as well as point to them the way they need to
deal with their own guilt and failures.

2) Intercede. Plead for God’s mercy upon them that the Holy Spirit will yet
bring them under conviction of sin and draw them to Himself.

For those who still have your children at home, your confessions of failure
need to be as they happen and that may include setting your pride aside and
asking your kids for forgiveness too. It also sets a wonderful example for them
about how they should respond when they do wrong. There are no perfect parents,
but all parents are responsible for their children since the Scriptures declare
it to be so.





Children are a gift from the Lord and they are to be a blessing (Psalm 127),
and they will be if we follow God’s instructions concerning them. If we do not,
then they may well prove to be a curse to us and everyone around them. There is
no responsibility or privilege you will ever have greater than raising your
children, but no parent has it all together. That is why Diane and I
periodically teach parenting classes, and we will probably be doing that again
this Fall. We want you to know what God says about parenting and help you put
those instructions into practice so that your children are a blessing and not a

The major points of this morning’s sermon. 1) Children will generally become
like their parents, so your example is crucial including your marriage. 2) The
proof of good parenting will be the child, and good children are the result of
following God’s commands. 3) God requires children to obey their parents, so
parents need to require it or they teach their children to sin. Obedience needs
to be the first time, right away and with a good attitude. 4) There is a dual
responsibility for how a child turns out as an adult. The child is fully
responsible for his own actions and attitudes. The parents are fully responsible
for carrying out the Lord’s commands with the child being a reflection of how
well they have done at that. 5) The solution for guilt is confession and

Next week I want to continue on this subject and expand on what the Bible
says about both the positive and negatives of parenting. There are things
parents are to do and things they are to avoid.


Parents, you are responsible to apply
God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help.

Young Children – draw a
picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to
your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following:
1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up later. 2)
Count how many times “parent(s)” is used. Discuss with your parents their role
and what you can do to help them fulfill it.




Questions to consider in discussing
the sermon with others. Why is walking properly with the Lord so important in
fulfilliong your role within your family? Paul’s command in Colossians 3:21
concerning parents is from a negative perspective – what to avoid – what does
the context of this verse tell us about what parents are supposed to do from the
positive perspective? What effect will your example have on your children? Why
is this command directed to “fathers” and what part then do mothers have in
parenting? What is the fundamental reason society has declined so much in the
last 50 years? What is the proof of a parenting philosophy? What requirements
concerning their family do Elders and Deacons have to meet in order to be
qualified? Do you think most secular “family experts” could meet those
qualifications? What is the importance of fulfilling marriage roles in raising
godly children? What hope is there for divorced and single parents? Why is it so
important that children obey? What does a parent teach a child if they do not
require obedience? Why does obedience need to be the first time, right away and
with a good attitude? By what age should most children be obedient in their
behavior? What should be expected of children by the time they are 12-13 years
old – toward God? Toward their parents? What is the parents responsibility
concerning the salvation of their children. What is the responsibility of an
adult child concerning his actions and attitudes? What is the responsibility of
the parents in how a child turns out as an adult? What is the solution to guilt?
What are the two key components of continued ministry by parents toward an adult
child that is rebellious? What are you doing to make sure your children will be
a blessing and not a curse?

Sermon Notes

The Role of the
Parents, Part 1 – Colossians 3:21 & Selected




Colossians 3:18-4:1 is the direct application in the
_______and work of the teaching in Colossians 3:1-17

Your ability to fulfill your role within the family is
directly related to your walk with the _________

The Colossian CommandColossians 3:21

Both Paul and the rest of the Bible says a lot more both
positive and negative about parental __________

Godly parenting requires you to put off _____and put on
the good that comes with walking with the Lord

Children become like their parents (Luke 6:40), so be
careful of the _____________ you give them.

Commands to parents are directed to the ______as the head,
but they are to be carried out by both parents


The Importance of Biblical Instruction


God has given parents plenty of instructions, but American
society is __________them and disintegrating

The proof of good parenting is in the ________- society
has declined under the influence of the “experts”

Titus 1:6; 1 Timothy 3:3-4 – Elders & Deacons have to be
doing well in _____________ their children


The Importance of the Marriage


The wife is to be in ___________ to her husband and
respect him – Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 5:15-33

The husband is to sacrificially _____his wife & lead,
protect & provide for his family – Col. 1:19; Eph. 5

Parents, your ability to raise your children properly is
in direct relationship to your _______with the Lord

You cannot be a better parent than you are a ___________ –
to raise godly children you must be godly

Divorced & single parents – your _____________ to the Holy
Spirit provides the needed godly example

If your example is ____________, then you will instill
that ungodliness into your children


The Importance of Obedience


God requires children to _________ their parents –
Colossians 3:20; Ephesians 6:1-3

Parents that do not require their children to obey teach
them to ___________

Children are to be taught to obey the first time & right
away, for __________ obedience is disobedience

The parent determines _________ the child will obey by
when they get serious enough to require it.

Godly parents ________and are sensitive to what the child
is doing when giving commands / instructions

First time obedience is necessary for the sake of

Obedience needs to be with a good ____________ – for
grumbling, complaining and whining are sin

Obedience is the schoolmaster, but it must go beyond
outward behavior and train the __________

By 12-13 years old a child should be trained to have a
primary submission to ___________


The Responsibility of Parents


It is the parent’s responsibility to bring up their
children in the _____________ and nurture of the Lord

Parents take pride in good kids, but usually try to shift
the ___________ for bad kids

There is a dual _______________ in how children turn out
as adults

Each __________________ bears full responsibility for
their sin – Ezekiel 18:20

Parents are responsible for their ______________ to follow
God’s instructions

Parents are not responsible for a child’s ________, but
they are to set the stage for the Holy Spirit’s work

No parent can truly say they have done _______________
they could in raising their children

The solution for guilt is _______________ and receiving
God’s forgiveness.

The two key components for ministry to rebellious adult
children – Confession & ______________

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