Hi Kim, I have been greatly helped by your book ESP. Thank you for writing it. Can I ask you a question? By what power should my kids be drawing on to follow God's laws? What I mean is, my kids are 5, 3, and 1. While they believe and love everything I tell them about God and Jesus, they are too young to make the decision for salvation. So, when I teach them about self control and they fail, I discipline them and tell them about the gospel of grace and that they can call upon Jesus to help them next time when they are tempted. But I don't know if they have the Holy Spirit in them, and only saved believers with the Holy Spirit are able to walk in the spirit, right? If they don't have the Holy Spirit in them, then they are practicing these character traits under the Law, in the flesh, and will be exasperated. I would like to tell them the promises of God to believers, that they are a new Creation, that they are God's people, that they should walk in the spirit and called to be holy, but as of yet, at this young age, they haven't formally become believers. I know that as an adult like myself, I am only able to obey God after becoming saved and having the Holy Spirit in me. I don't want them to think that they should be "good" in the flesh to please God and mommy, and yet, the gospel of grace and justification doesn't apply to them yet because they are too young to choose it. Do you have any insight to assist me? Thanks,
Thank you for your note and question. You are wise to desire to raise your children to understand God’s grace and mercy. It is also good that you understand that their salvation is more than growing up in a Christian home, sounding like a Christian and knowing how to act like a Christian.
Character training is what we as parents do in obedience to Christ. The outcome is in the Lord’s hands; still, we are to train them in the way to go. Character is different than the fruit of the Spirit, although some of the traits are the same.
Character is living the way God has called us to live. Fruit of the Spirit is the super natural living beyond what we are able.
Part of training is imparting consequences when disobedience takes place. Actually, obedience is a key point. As we act in obedience to God by training our children, they learn how love and obedience work together. Our hope is that this understanding will point them to Jesus. Just as they obey us because they love us, they will someday obey God because they love Him. This transition of obedience to God will be easier if they have learned obedience to their parents first.
Our children’s inability to obey us perfectly helps them to understand their need for a Savior. They will never be good enough, none of us are. That is not a bad thing to learn.
Proverbs says a lot about obeying parents teaching and instruction. One of the ten commandments is children obey your parents Eph. 6: 2-4 “Honor your father and mother” which is the first commandment with a promise “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
When our children were small we would point out this verse and also tell our children we were training and disciplining them out of obedience to God. One of girls was a preteen when she said, “When I was small you use to tell me you disciplined me because you loved me and were obeying God. I just read that in my Bible today. It is true.” Another daughter was at the doctor’s office. When I left the room shortly the doctor asked her why she was so good. She said, “Well, the Bible says, ‘children obey your parents and it will go well with you’. So I have and it does.”
Like you I didn’t want to give my children a false sense of salvation. I told them about Jesus and His love for them. I told them He wanted them to follow Him and to accept His gift of salvation. I also pointed out that we all fall short and it is only by His great grace that we can spend eternity with Him. But I was not quick to lead them in a sinner’s prayer. I wanted them to truly understand what they were doing. One of our children was asking how to be saved, so I explained but tried to go onto the next thing. She asked a few more questions which I answered but again tried to go on. Finally, she got tired of my changing the subject and bowed her head and started to pray. That is when I took her seriously as being ready.
So although our actions do not save us nor gain more favor from God, obedience is an act of love.
John 14: 15 “If you love me, keep My commandments.”
I John 5: 3 “In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands.”
II John 1: 6 “And this is love that we walk in obedience to His commands.”
God bless you, Kim