David B Curtis - Berean Bible Church

Pastor David B. Curtis

Children, Obey

Colossians 3:20

08/15/2004

Colossians is one of the most Christ-centered books of the Bible. Anyone who has ever searched for an answer to the question, "Who is Jesus?" must eventually come to Colossians. Colossians answers this question with "Christ is Supreme over all persons and things!" And, if He is supreme, then He is sufficient for all of our spiritual needs. Jesus does not need to be supplemented. We don't need to seek other mysterious religious experiences outside of knowing Him as Savior and Friend. He holds together and sustains the universe as Paul asserts in:

Colossians 1:15-17 (NASB) And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created by Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

If He can sustain the universe, then certainly He can hold my life together, hold my family together, hold my marriage together, hold our society together, and sustain us! Believers, we must understand that we have the power available to live out these commands. Wives, the power is available in Christ for you to be able to submit to your husband. Husbands, the power is available in Christ for you to be able to love your wife as Christ loved the church. Christianity is supernatural, we really can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

I'm sure that you've noticed that our imperfections are magnified in the home. We see each other at our worst. The smiles that might be normal in a crowd can turn to sour looks in the home. The pretense of being under control while in public might give way to out of control behavior in the home. Yet, if there is any area of life in which we need to demonstrate the power of Christianity, it is in the home. We can and we must live out these commands so that our homes will be a testimony to His love and grace. The Christian home is the outpost of Christianity. God places us in this environment to represent him here on earth.
Paul has addressed the wives and husbands and now moves on to the parent child relationship. Paul tells the children to obey their parents:

Colossians 3:20 (NASB) Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.

Who is this verse addressed to? Children! Anybody disagree with that? No, good. Now the question we must ask and answer is, "Who is considered a child? There are no indications here as to the age of the children who are to obey their parents. We would tend to think that this commandment is given to young children regarding their obligation to their parents, but this is not so. The Greek word used for "children" in Colossians 3:20 is not from teknia (little children), but from teknon, which means: "offspring." I am the teknon of my mother, even though I am 50 years old. I think that a person comes out from under the command to obey their parents when they go out and establish their own home.

In the ancient world, children were very much under the domination of their parents. The supreme example was the Roman "Patria Potestas", the law of the father's power. Under it a parent could do anything he liked with his child. He could sell him into slavery; he could make him work like a laborer on his farm; he had even the right to condemn his child to death and to carry out the execution. All the privileges and rights belonged to the parent and all the duties to the child. Although our society has greatly changed from that of the first century, God's Word has not changed, and children are still to obey their parents.

What is obedience?

We must clear from our minds the idea that "obedience" is some type of servile word reserved only for indentured servants. Jesus told us that love for Him could only be demonstrated through obedience:

John 14:15 (NASB) "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
1 John 5:3 (NASB) For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

Love and obedience belong together in relationship to the Lord, and the same is true in relationship to parents. If you love your parents, you will obey them.

"Be obedient" is from the Greek word hupakouo, which is a compound word that literally means: "to hear under," that is, to listen attentively; by implication to heed or conform to a command or authority. The implication is that your obedience is to be much more than just rigidly trying to follow the rules of your home. Instead, it means that you are to first listen to your parent's instructions. Hear what they are saying and even think through why they are saying it. At times a parent's instruction may be hard to understand. You might not see a reason for what they are demanding. Let me tell you something to try that will boggle your parents' mind the next time they make a demand on your life, and you do not understand why they are doing so. With great humility, tell them that you are going to obey exactly what they have told you to do, but would they help you learn by taking the time to explain why they made that particular demand. Do not be sarcastic. Instead, seek to truly learn from them so that you might in turn learn to make wise decisions yourself.

The term that was used of wives being subject to their husbands was different from this word in a couple of ways. Submission means to place yourself under someone. The use of the middle voice in the Greek verb implies that it is a voluntary submission. Here the word is much stronger and carries the idea of: "a readiness to hear and has in it the sense of obeying orders." It is also a present tense verb that means you are to do this consistently. Obedience is to be the pattern of your life.

I recently read a story about the mom & dad with a son who was a freshman in college. He blew off his freshman year. He wasn't very responsible, didn't make good grades, squandered his money, and finally came back home. His parents told him, "If you go back to school, you'll have to pay your own way."

So he had to work that summer and not go on the family vacation. That was part of his punishment. The family went to Greece that year and the mom sent him a postcard, "Dear Son," she wrote, "Today we stood on the mountains where ancient Spartan women sacrificed their defective children. Wish you were here."

In our society we no longer kill our disobedient children, but we must understand how serious God views disobedience.
How serious is disobedience? I think that's a good question to ask in our day, because we see so much disobedience in children. Is disobedience that big of a deal?

2 Samuel 6:1-7 (NASB) Now David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2 And David arose and went with all the people who were with him to Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God which is called by the Name, the very name of the LORD of hosts who is enthroned above the cherubim. 3 And they placed the ark of God on a new cart that they might bring it from the house of Abinadab which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were leading the new cart. 4 So they brought it with the ark of God from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Ahio was walking ahead of the ark. 5 Meanwhile, David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the LORD with all kinds of instruments made of fir wood, and with lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets and cymbals. 6 But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it. 7 And the anger of the LORD burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God.

What happened here? Uzzah touched the ark of the covenant, and God killed him. Listen to me, Uzzah didn't kill anybody, he didn't commit adultery, he wasn't involved in idol worship, all he did was to try to keep the Ark of God from falling. All he did was touch the Ark, and God killed him. Why?

Here's what you need to understand: God gave Israel specific directions on the creation and handling of His Ark. Uzzah disobeyed these directions, and died because of it.

Exodus 25:14-15 (NASB) "And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark with them. 15 "The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be removed from it.

When God had the Ark built, He specifically ordered that rings be placed on the sides of the Ark, and poles placed in these rings so the Ark could be carried about as Israel moved. The Ark was to be carried by hand, not by cart.

The Ark of God was a very special symbol to the Nation Israel. The Ark was a rectangular, acacia wood box covered with gold, measuring 4 feet x 2.5 feet by 2.5 feet. The Ark contained the tables of the Law that God gave Moses, Aaron's rod that budded, and a golden pot filled with Manna.

The Ark was a symbol of the presence of God (2 Samuel 6:2). According to God's instructions, it was to be transported by the Kohathites, who carried it by holding onto poles inserted through its attached rings (see Exodus 25:10-22; Numbers 4:1-20). No one was to touch or look into the ark, or they would die.

Uzzah died, because he disobeyed God's instructions. Disobedience is a dangerous condition - even when our motives are sincere, and we are trying to do what we think is right. We must constantly be mindful of the holiness of God and maintain a reverence for Him manifested by our obedience to His instructions and commands.

1 Samuel 15:22 (NASB) And Samuel said, "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

The Lord delights far more in obedience than in the performance of worship ceremonies without it. God takes pleasure in our obedience, because our disobedience is idolatry.

1 Samuel 15:23 (NASB) "For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king."

When God says one thing, and we then stubbornly choose to go our own way, we are idolaters. We have actually esteemed the direction of our own mind over God's direction and become guilty of idolatry. And worst of all, the idol is our own self.

The obedience called for in our text is "to your parents." That is to dad and mom. Because disobedience to parents is so serious, God taught the children of Israel to severely deal with disobedient children:

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (NASB) "If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, 19 then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his home town. 20 "And they shall say to the elders of his city, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.' 21 "Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear of it and fear.

That should show us how strongly God views children disobeying their parents.

Notice what Solomon has to say:

Proverbs 30:11 (NASB) There is a kind of man who curses his father, And does not bless his mother.
Proverbs 30:17 (NASB) The eye that mocks a father, And scorns a mother, The ravens of the valley will pick it out, And the young eagles will eat it.

This is Solomon's way of saying that it's really important to obey you mom or dad.

Why must you obey your parents? First, God has called for this kind of diligent obedience. It is impossible to please God as a child without obeying your parents.

Second, in the providence of God, He has given you the very parents who are yours. You would not be in the world if it were not for God's goodness in placing you in your home. Think about that for a moment: the Almighty God who created the vastness of the universe has by his own choice given you life through your parents and left you to their charge.

Obedience to parents is very important to the Lord. Isn't it interesting, in Romans chapter one, in the midst of all of those horrible sins listed in that degenerate society, right in the middle of it, is "disobedience to parents"?

Obedience to parents is a manifestation of the rule of Christ in our lives. We cannot say Christ is Lord and live lives of perverse and continual disobedience to our parents. It is part of our Christian life to live in obedience to our parents.

Please notice what Paul says about the breadth of obedience: "Children, be obedient to your parents in all things..." In all things -the Greek implies that this means: "according to the standard of all things." Obedience to the standards (policies) of the parent should be without exception. God expects total obedience.

If your parents demand something of you that is clearly against what God has spoken in his Word, only then do you have the right to not obey them. You must follow what Peter and the apostles did with the Jewish authorities that were over them and asked them to not speak anymore about Christ: "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). Peter later told Christians to submit to the governing authorities. So he was not promoting anarchy, but saying that the exception comes only when the command of your parents directly violates the command of God.

When I was a youth pastor, I was teaching on this subject of children obeying their parents, and I mentioned the exception of them asking you to do something that was against God's Word. After the service, a young girl came to us to tell us that her step father was sexually molesting her. We called the police and had her step father arrested. There are some sick parents in this world, and God does not command children to obey unlawful orders.

When we looked at verse 18, we said that it was not directed to husbands, the husband is not to make the wife submit. And in looking at verse 19, we said that it was directed to husbands. A wife cannot make a husband love her. Now, although this is written specifically to children, this is a little different, because I think that this command to the children is dependant upon the husband /wife relationship. Listen to what Gary Ezzo has to say:

The marriage relationship is the stage upon which the performance of trust is acted out before your child's watchful eyes. Make no mistake; your son or daughter is observing you closely. What he or she sees can have a tremendous impact, for the love and nurture you give your wife will help elevate your child's level of trust in you. Children thrive on the demonstration of love between parents. They need to feel confident that dad is tremendously in love with mom. A father can be wonderfully involved with his children--hiking, fishing, skating, taking walks, and helping with homework--but still nullify the results of his efforts if he does not continually cultivate a love relationship with his wife. Loving your wife is a prerequisite to building trust with your children.
From a child's perspective, how much trust can he have in a dad that can't take time to be with his mom? How much trust can he have in a dad that speaks harshly to his mom or is not patient with her? One of the greatest emotional needs a child has is the need to know that dad and mom love each other. Fathers, the best thing you can give your children is a loving demonstration before their little eyes of how much you love their mom. It is the most fundamental point of security and takes us right back to the basic question, 'How much trust can I have in a dad who is not continually loving my mom?' Not very much. [Gary Ezzo Growing Kids God's Way 5th Edition, page 73-74]

I agree with Ezzo, I believe that if the husband /wife relationship is a mess, it will be very difficult for the child to live in obedience to them. There are always exceptions to this, but I think it is generally true.

Although this is written specifically to children, parents have a responsibility to train their children to be obedient. Did your children come into the world obedient? No. They need to be taught obedience. Parents possess basic authority. This authority has the responsibility to train children to obey:

Proverbs 22:6 (NASB) Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Who is he talking to here? Parents! Parents, it is your job to train your children. You are to teach them the way to go. You're not to let them go their way, you're to train them. And this training involves making them obey:

Proverbs 22:15 (NASB) Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.
Proverbs 23:13-14 (NASB) Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you beat him with the rod, he will not die. 14 You shall beat him with the rod, And deliver his soul from Sheol.

The idea here is not that your correction will bring them to salvation, but that it will deliver them from physical death.

Proverbs 29:15 (NASB) The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.
Proverbs 20:30 (NASB) Stripes that wound scour away evil, And strokes reach the innermost parts.

Literally, this means: "blows of a bruise"; i.e., severe blows that bruise. Physical discipline may cure a child of evil and cleanse his inner person.

Disobedience comes naturally to children, and we must help them overcome it. Let me ask you a question, "Should Christian parents train their children to be unresponsive to instruction the first time it is given?" Of course not! Yet, in reality, many parents are guilty of such negative training. Desiring obedience, they actually teach disobedience. Listen, parents: when you let you child disobey you, you are teaching them that disobedience is okay. You are teaching them to sin, because disobedience is sin.

Notice the motivation that Paul gives for obedience: "for this is well-pleasing to the Lord." "Well-pleasing" implies that it is commendable or favorable. Believers, we all need to understand this! Obedience pleases God, and disobedience displeases Him:

1 Corinthians 10:5 (NASB) Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.
1 John 3:21-22 (NASB) Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.

The Bible makes it clear that when we disobey Him, we're not pleasing Him.

Many have a wrong idea about obedience. They think God is just a cosmic wet blanket, out to ruin everybody's fun. "Don't have fun, or you'll be sinning, and I don't like that." That's the way many people view God, and sometimes Christians reinforce that view of God as somebody who doesn't care what you do so much as what you don't do. However, the reason God wants us to obey Him (which includes obey your parents) really has very little to do with Him wanting to keep us from fun, it has to do with Him caring about us so much that He doesn't want us to get hurt. God's guidelines for our behavior are there to protect us. Think about it: think of something named as a sin in the Bible. Doesn't matter what it is, a person will always be safer and better off if they don't do it. I could name many examples, but it's almost silly to waste time doing so now. Pick a sin, any sin, and a reason to avoid it can be quickly thought of.

God delights in our obedience, because everything God commands us is for our own good. And so what God is really delighting in when He delights in our obedience is our deep and lasting joy.

Deuteronomy 6:24 (NASB) "So the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (NASB) "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the LORD'S commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?

All of God's commands are like a doctor's prescription, or a physician's therapy. They are not arbitrary. They are meant to make us well and happy. Every command of Jesus is meant for our good.

In July, 1976, Israeli commandos raided a hijacked plane at the airport in Entebbe, Uganda. In less than 15 minutes, all 7 of the kidnappers had been killed and the 103 Jewish hostages had been set free. However, 3 hostages were killed. Commandos came in and shouted in Hebrew, "Get down! Crawl!" Most of them understood and obeyed, but some - for whatever reason - hesitated, and were shot by the men trying to free them.

Obedience is commanded for our own good. God's rules for our behavior are not things we must do to earn our salvation or rules to obey because of some arbitrary decision made by a vengeful Creator. They are there to protect us, to make our lives easier, and the sooner we stop thinking of God's rules as ruining our lives and see them as things that make our lives easier, the better off we'll be.

Children, the context of disobedience is the pleasure of the Lord. Have you ever thought about it? That obeying your parents brings the Lord pleasure, that in heaven the heavenly Father is taking pleasure in the fact that you obey your parents. He derives joy from it. He takes pleasure in it. This is one of the few places in Scripture that the Bible states something as pleasing the Lord. If you really want to please the Lord, obey your parents.

Paul's instructions in the parallel passage in Ephesians ads an interesting promise to what Colossians says:

Ephesians 6:1-3 (NASB) Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.

Check that out. Obeying your parents is right. But there's also a benefit for you. Things are going to be well with you, and you get to live longer. Think about that when your mom asks you to take the trash out or clean up your room. If I take the trash out or clean up my room, things are going to be well with me, and I could be adding to my life. So, do you do what your parents tell you to? I would if I were you. What would happen if you don't? You'd get grounded and restrictions and all kinds of things right then, plus you'd die a lot younger instead of living longer.

We can rebel and become disobedient, but to do so always has built in consequences. We may or may not be punished by our parents for our disobedience, but we can be assured that disobedience carries with it built-in consequences. The biblical axiom is so true: we reap what we sow. Obedient children are the most likely to prosper in the world and enjoy long life.

Colossians 3:20 (NASB) Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.

The prepositional phrase, "to the Lord," is better translated: "in the Lord." The oldest manuscripts read, "IN the Lord." The Alexandrian copy reads, "in the Lord"; and so does the Vulgate Latin version. What Paul means is that your obedience to your parents is because of your desire to please the Lord. Your desire to please Him must be even greater than your desire to please your parents. You want to please the Lord when you have entered into a relationship with Him through faith in Christ. Then obedience to the God-ordained authority of your parents is really focused more upon the Lord than even upon them. Let me explain why this is important. As hard as your parents try, they will still make mistakes. They are imperfect people and may even disappoint you. But if your focus is on obeying your parents for the sake of the Lord, then even when they might disappoint you, or even when they might do something wrong, you can go on obeying them because of your relationship to the Lord.

Do you realize that obedience goes against the human nature? When Adam and Eve entered into sin, they passed along to the whole human race the desire to rebel against authority and to choose to disobey. So it takes strength and grace from the Lord to obey. Obedience is certainly not always easy. Sometimes we have internal battles with our emotions and desires. This is when we must call upon the Lord to help us follow through in obedience.

Remember that in Colossians 3 Paul is dealing with the subject of the rule of Christ over all of life. "Let the peace of Christ rule your hearts let the word of Christ richly dwell within you whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus" (3:15-17).So the underlying question is, "How can a Christian child express his or her desire to serve the Lord Jesus?" It is best evidenced in a child's obedience to his parents in the home.

Paul, again, is saying, "This is how a Christian child expresses his or her desire to serve the Lord. This is how a Christian child manifests the rule of Christ in his or her life. The child obeys his or her parents." That's how you see the rule of Christ in someone's life, when a husband loves, when a wife submits, and when a child obeys. Children, don't underestimate the importance of this. Remember God's promise:

Ephesians 6:3 (NASB) THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.

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