How important is it for Christian parents to teach their children obedience?

Far less important than teaching faith and other matters of the heart
4% (1 vote)
Almost as important as teaching faith and other matters of the heart
24% (6 votes)
Equally important with teaching faith/matters of the heart
60% (15 votes)
More important than anything else
4% (1 vote)
Other
8% (2 votes)
Total votes: 25
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There are 26 Comments

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

I voted 2, though I could have voted 3 as I see little difference in the two statements.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
I voted 2, though I could have voted 3 as I see little difference in the two statements.

Chip,

That's the way I read it at first, as well, but then I figured that what was meant by "about" was more like "almost," as in "almost as important," rather than "equally important."

Dave Barnhart

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Changed the "about" to "almost" ... that was the idea.

I'm a qualified "equally" at this point. Qualified, because I believe faith is obedience. So it's kind of a trick question I guess. Smile
But even though I think faith is completely subsumed in the term "obedience," it can be really useful to look at the two separately because human beings are so fond of trying to pursue either one without the other.

And it is possible to seem to obey even though faith is absent (it's hard to see the faith part) or emphasize a superficial obedience as we teach and train (whether kids or adults).

Anne Sokol's picture

or do I? what are you saying?

John says obey My commands = the command is to believe.

The Bapt Conf of Faith (1689) says:

Quote:
Chapter 16: Of Good Works
5. We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin or eternal life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come, and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom by them we can neither profit nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins; but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants; and because as they are good they proceed from his Spirit, and as they are wrought by us they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God's punishment. [emphasis mine ]
( Romans 3:20; Ephesians 2:8, 9; Romans 4:6; Galatians 5:22, 23; Isaiah 64:6; Psalms 143:2 )

So I dont think our obedience is of so much value, it's our faith when we are obeying or sinning/repenting.

Rachel L.'s picture

Quote:
I believe faith is obedience.

I disagree. This turns faith into works.

Spiritually speaking, if faith = obedience, then we "lose" our faith every time we disobey. Sometimes I'm not obedient because I'm a frail human, not because I've lost my faith.

Bill Roach's picture

My vote for is for #3, based a lot on James 2 as explained in the WCF 11.2.

We are justified by faith alone, that is not alone.

Faith and works are distinct, but not separate.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Faith is not a work, because Scripture says it isn't.
It is, however, an obedient response to the gospel.

Mk 1:15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Mk 6:12 So they went out and preached that people should repent.
Ac 3:19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord

In addition, the NT refers several times to "obeying" the gospel...

Ro 10:15–16 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, who has believed our report?”

2Thess1.7-8 when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Pe 4:17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?

When Scripture speaks of "not of works," etc., it defines this as "what we do besides faith." But it does not deny that faith is obedience. Whenever God speaks, the command--stated or otherwise--is "believe Me."
So the Christian life is the life of obedience, including faith.

(This means that models of sanctification that propose a radical difference between faith and works in the life of believers are defective.)

To reconnect to the topic... this is why I'm personally convinced that we have to parent in a way that emphasized whole-being obedience, rather than an approach that pits faith and obedience against eachother.

Anne Sokol's picture

i guess i look at it more like faith is the crowning obedience. without faith or with a wrong faith, any action or deed (obedience) is not of real value. it may have practical/pragmatic value in life. But I think that when our works go through the fire at the end, when our fruit is tested, it's the faith behind the deed that's determines the value of the deed, whether it burns or remains.

actually i never thought out this assumption, so it's interesting to type it out.

about parenting to whole-being obedience, I agree with that to an extent. to another extent, there is part of my children's beings that only the Spirit can speak to about their obedience. (OK, I sure can say a lot about the whole thing, but what really enters my child's heart is a work of the Spirit.)

am i making any sense?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I think sometimes we get a bit too focused as parents on things we really can't control. I can influence my kid's hearts but I can't make 'em believe or understand.
The whole-being obedience is what to aim for I think... understanding that we don't have the power to make it happen.

Anne Sokol's picture

I guess why i dont equate obedience with faith is the war btwn the spirit and flesh (like in Rom 6-7). We probably will never be able to do (obey) as much as we want. And it's hard to change (obey) without first changing or deepening what one believes.

Maybe faith is the road to true obedience. faith is itself the first obedience and by that I am taken deeper and deeper into fuller obedience the deeper my faith is tested and purified.

2Peter 1:3-5

Quote:
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith . . . .

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Quote:
And it's hard to change (obey) without first changing or deepening what one believes.

I don't disagree with that, but is changing what we believe easier?

We're really into views of sanctification here, which is a huge topic all by itself. As I read the NT, I see a strong emphasis on two ideas that seem to be contradictory.
1. God is the one who changes us and it's not really in our power to change
2. We're supposed to work really, really hard at obedience

Both ideas in one place in Php2:12-13

It might be fair to say that the history of controversy over approaches to sanctification centers on how we understand the relationship between those two realities: how we affirm both without denying either.
(Perhaps equally central is how we understand the ministry of the Holy Spirit)

Probably everybody would agree that our understanding of sanctification has a huge impact on how we approach parenting--at least, once our kids express faith in Christ. Before that, it's about evangelism.

Anne Sokol's picture

another thing that makes this a little complex and maybe somewhat impossible to describe humanly is that faith is (to use a shopworn word) "organic," I just mean 'a growing thing'. So while I may have the seed of some good belief inside me, it grows and develops throughout my life, changing my outward behavior in different ways over time.

Anne Sokol's picture

I think this topic also needs to start with our understanding of our corrupt natures and how we are saved. If we really are helpless and dead in our sins, unable to make any movement towards God for salvation--if one believes that about these doctrinal areas--then I think that will effect how one views sanctification.

Are we really helplessly lost in our sins before salvation, then somehow, after salvation, we can move ourselves to obey God in an effectual way or in a way that is pleasing to God? Or is it the work of His Spirit in us? enabling and motivating us to move . . . It's a personal relationship on a very intimate level, so making it into a formula or doctrine is a touchy thing. There are many factors that come into play at various times.

I've been reading through the 1698 Bapt. Confession of Faith, and one thing I've been thinking of as reading is a man in our church that my husband is counseling with. He's a perfectionist type who "improved" himself even before he became a Chrisitian. Now he's been a Christian for several years, and he's expressed that he disappointed with how little victory he seems to have over any sin areas in his life. He recently told God that he would keep working to improve himself even if God wasn't helping him (he wasn't being hostile towards God, just disappointed).

So I've been thinking of this guy and this thread and of childrearing in general as I have been reading the BCF, and here are some interesting, perhaps pertinent portions:

Quote:
Chapter 5: Of Divine Providence
5. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God doth oftentimes leave for a season his own children to manifold temptations and the corruptions of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself; and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for other just and holy ends. So that whatsoever befalls any of his elect is by his appointment, for his glory, and their good.
( 2 Chronicles 32:25, 26, 31; 2 Corinthians 12:7-9; Romans 8:28 )

Quote:
Chapter 6: Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof
4. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.
( Romans 8:7; Colossians 1:21; James 1:14, 15; Matthew 15:19 )

5. The corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and the first motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.
( Romans 7:18,23; Ecclesiastes 7:20; 1 John 1:8; Romans 7:23-25; Galatians 5:17 )

Quote:
Chapter 13: Of Sanctification
1. They who are united to Christ, effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, are also farther sanctified, really and personally, through the same virtue, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
( Acts 20:32; Romans 6:5, 6; John 17:17; Ephesians 3:16-19; 1 Thessalonians 5:21-23; Romans 6:14; Galatians 5:24; Colossians 1:11; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 12:14 )
2. This sanctification is throughout the whole man, yet imperfect in this life; there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war; the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.
( 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Romans 7:18, 23; Galatians 5:17; 1 Peter 2:11 )

3. In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail, yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome; and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, pressing after an heavenly life, in evangelical obedience to all the commands which Christ as Head and King, in His Word hath prescribed them.
( Romans 7:23; Romans 6:14; Ephesians 4:15, 16; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 7:1 )

Quote:
Chapter 15: Of Repentance Unto Life and Salvation
2._____ Whereas there is none that doth good and sinneth not, and the best of men may, through the power and deceitfulness of their corruption dwelling in them, with the prevalency of temptation, fall into great sins and provocations; God hath, in the covenant of grace, mercifully provided that believers so sinning and falling be renewed through repentance unto salvation.
( Ecclesiastes 7:20; Luke 22:31, 32 )

5._____ Such is the provision which God hath made through Christ in the covenant of grace for the preservation of believers unto salvation; that although there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation; yet there is no sin so great that it shall bring damnation on them that repent; which makes the constant preaching of repentance necessary.
( Romans 6:23; Isaiah 1:16-18 Isaiah 55:7 )

Quote:
Chapter 17: Of The Perseverance of the Saints
3._____ And though they may, through the temptation of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins, and for a time continue therein, whereby they incur God's displeasure and grieve his Holy Spirit, come to have their graces and comforts impaired, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded, hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves, yet shall they renew their repentance and be preserved through faith in Christ Jesus to the end.
( Matthew 26:70, 72, 74; Isaiah 64:5, 9; Ephesians 4:30; Psalms 51:10, 12; Psalms 32:3, 4; 2 Samuel 12:14; Luke 22:32, 61, 62 )

Anne Sokol's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
We're really into views of sanctification here, which is a huge topic all by itself. As I read the NT, I see a strong emphasis on two ideas that seem to be contradictory.
1. God is the one who changes us and it's not really in our power to change
2. We're supposed to work really, really hard at obedience

Both ideas in one place in Php2:12-13


i think i disagree with this analysis. I don't think our obedience is on that level or should be evaluated in this way. I can't say it in my own words yet. Bapt Conf of Faith, where those two verses are used as support, here is the their statement:

Quote:
3. Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ; and that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have already received, there is necessary an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will and to do of his good pleasure; yet they are not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty, unless upon a special motion of the Spirit, but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.
( John 15:4, 5; 2 Corinthians 3:5; Philippians 2:13; Philippians 2:12; Hebrews 6:11, 12; Isaiah 64:7 )

Here is the entire section "Of Good Works" (the bolding is mine):

Quote:
1. Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his Holy Word, and not such as without the warrant thereof are devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good intentions. ( Micah 6:8; Hebrews 13:21; Matthew 15:9; Isaiah 29:13 )

2. These good works, done in obedience to God's commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith; and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that having their fruit unto holiness they may have the end eternal life.
( James 2:18, 22; Psalms 116:12, 13; 1 John 2:3, 5; 2 Peter 1:5-11; Matthew 5:16; 1 Timothy 6:1; 1 Peter 2:15; Philippians 1:11; Ephesians 2:10; Romans 6:22 )

3.vTheir ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ; and that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have already received, there is necessary an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will and to do of his good pleasure; yet they are not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty, unless upon a special motion of the Spirit, but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.
( John 15:4, 5; 2 Corinthians 3:5; Philippians 2:13; Philippians 2:12; Hebrews 6:11, 12; Isaiah 64:7 )

4. They who in their obedience attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate, and to do more than God requires, as that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.
( Job 9:2, 3; Galatians 5:17; Luke 17:10 )

5. We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin or eternal life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come, and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom by them we can neither profit nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins; but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants; and because as they are good they proceed from his Spirit, and as they are wrought by us they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God's punishment.
( Romans 3:20; Ephesians 2:8, 9; Romans 4:6; Galatians 5:22, 23; Isaiah 64:6; Psalms 143:2 )

[ANNE: I REALLY LIKE THIS POINT: ]
6. Yet notwithstanding the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblameable and unreprovable in God's sight, but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.
( Ephesians 1:6; 1 Peter 2:5; Matthew 25:21, 23; Hebrews 6:10 )

7. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and others; yet because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith, nor are done in a right manner according to the word, nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, nor make a man meet to receive grace from God, and yet their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing to God.
( 2 Kings 10:30; 1 Kings 21:27, 29; Genesis 4:5; Hebrews 11:4, 6; 1 Corinthians 13:1; Matthew 6:2, 5; Amos 5:21, 22; Romans 9:16; Titus 3:5; Job 21:14, 15; Matthew 25:41-43 )

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Anne wrote:
Are we really helplessly lost in our sins before salvation, then somehow, after salvation, we can move ourselves to obey God in an effectual way or in a way that is pleasing to God? Or is it the work of His Spirit in us?

Would you agree that being "in Christ" and having a "new birth" constitutes a radical change? Our nature after new birth is not the same as before. We were dead in trespasses and sins and then "made alive," no?

My advice FWIW... read the confessions in light of Scriture, not vice versa. I think the result is that the confessions themselves are better understood. The fact that obedience is a fruit of faith does not deny that
a) Faith itself is obedience and
b) We must work hard at obedience.

Anne, I think part of what you're doing is conflating "obey" with "obey in your own efforts." Or, to say it another way, conflating "rely on the power of the Spirit" with "do not work hard at obeying."
But the Scriptures don't conflate these (and I think the confessions do not either).

You wouldn't believe how many times I've had this conversation with people. Biggrin (Interestingly, both Reformed and Keswick!)

... exercise (gumnazo... from which "gymnasium")yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. (1 Timothy 4:7–8)

Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:26–27)

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)

... let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith...For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. (Hebrews 12:1–4)

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, (2 Peter 1:5–6)

Whatever else we say, we have to conclude that all these imperatives in Scripture give us something to actually do, and the doing takes effort. ("exercise," "run," "fight," "discipline," "put to death," "lay aside," "run with endurance," "resist," "add").

Anne Sokol's picture

well, i think it's useful to think about. because i suspect that fundamentalism and our oft-times focus on external standards deceives us about our own sinfulness.

i went through this period of time about 2-3 yrs ago, where I was really frustrated with myself not being able to improve or change myself into the person I read about and thought I should be. And God took me through this time of understanding that I was striving in my flesh, even though it was very "spiritual" ways I wanted to change myself. I had to let go of my rate of change, my own rate of growth, letting go my own "spiritual" ideas of who I should be. And it was very intimidating, on the one hand, realizing that God's idea of what i should be and do probably wasnt what i was picturing (that's another article). and it was freeing on the other hand, realizing that I wasn't in charge of (or even in control of) my own spiritual growth. I can't do it. I can't see clearnly what the change should be unto, I can't make myself want to do it, or make myself do it. God had to do those things. (also, i realized that my motives for wanting to change were proud, were so i could think of myself as a good person, this ideal, spiritual person.)

I understand what you're saying; ive said it and thought it myself. i dont' have the way to express it for other people either. i counsel people who are in deep sin, and they're not ready or even somehow able in their own spirit to take steps to deny themselves. God has to make them ready and able somehow, even though on other levels, they understand that it's wrong and they even dont want to be doing it.

it's a really . . . really weird thing.

It has made me focus more on prayer. I'm not sure what else to do. I took a counseling class at BJ, about memorizing Scripture, put off, put on, etc., etc. And . . . well, I guess I have to work it out for myself, you know. People in history who are the most humble about themselves like Fenelon and Murray, they were the most aware of their own inabilities, it seems.

?

so conflate, conflate. its not easy to write about.

MarkClements's picture

Children, especially prior to conversion, can only be taught obedience. Faith comes later. However, we teach that obedience so that they are ready to obey when God deals with them. Of course, teaching obedience is also just good, Biblical parenting. But, once a child is converted, we teach obedience with a higher purpose. Learning to obey correctly teaches them what it means to walk in the Gospel--"If you love me, keep my commandments."

Is it really all that difficult? Maybe I'm underthinking it but it's worked for us...

Anne Sokol's picture

i think teaching obedience is pretty basic for parenting; I actually think more the debatable issue there is how it's taught. I think how we teach obedience is what influences or shapes one's faith.

could be wrong though.

Anne Sokol's picture

i think another assumption that needs to be examined in parenting is the idea that how i teach my child to obey, as a child, determines or influences how he/she will obey God as an adult.

i think there is some truth and maybe quite a few flaws in this idea.

Rachel L.'s picture

I don't think you can teach obedience. As a parent I'm limited to modeling obedience, requiring compliance, and developing relationships conducive to obedience; I cannot make them obey. Obedience requires a heart action that I cannot force, even though I do require outward compliance.

Charlie's picture

MarkClements wrote:
Children, especially prior to conversion, can only be taught obedience. Faith comes later.

Well, as a Reformed person, I see faith as grounding obedience. Whether or not a child is converted, Christian obedience is always believing obedience. Christian children are "Christian" from birth the same way that Jewish children are Jews from birth. They are raised as God's people. They have covenantal privileges and obligations. In short, they are brought up "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."

Whether or not Baptists agree with the theology, they do treat their children as covenant children in practice. They teach their unconverted children to pray. They teach them to sing hymns about salvation and being rescued from the wretchedness of sin. They don't wait until the child professes faith to teach them Christian doctrine or ask them whether a particular behavior pleases Jesus. So, no, not obedience then faith. Believing obedience from the beginning.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

MarkClements's picture

Charlie,

Thanks for mentioning this. However, I believe this is just getting semantic again. If you want to call raising kids teaching them "believing obedience" OK I wouldn't fuss as long as you make clear that it's not "believer's obedience." We teach our kids to obey the laws of the road before they drive too but we don't call them drivers. You can't ground obedience in something that a child doesn't have. No faith in Christ = no believing obedience. That's a given in anyone's theology. They can obey. They can learn the culture (or be raised in the covenant) but they can't do anything "believing" until they believe.

All of us ground our kids in the "culture" of Christianity because it's what our lives are about. (This agrees with the illustration of Christian/Jewish.) We can't just leave them out of it until they come to faith in Christ. The "culture" is part of their privilege of being in a Christian home. (As a side note, we do restrict some things from them--partaking communion being the most striking.) All of us encourage our kids to participate in hymn-singing even if they are unconverted. Good music can help them learn the things needed for a decision to faith in Christ. Just because ours are the songs of the redeemed that doesn't mean only the actually redeemed can sing them.

To say that an unconverted child can give believing obedience would need a whole lot more parsing out than was given. Let's agree that we teach them to act like believers long before they come to faith in Christ. Unfortunately, some never cross from just obeying to actual faith. Conformity becomes their bane. But that's heading toward another discussion entirely and we don't have space for that one here.

I don't think the Reformed perspective and Baptists are that far apart here.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I did struggle w/this a bit when our kids were younger. Does it make sense to teach worship to an unconverted child or encourage prayer, giving, etc.? I think it does because the ultimate goal is not a convert, but a disciple. And though it's really frowned on by many these days, I'm convinced that good habits are a huge part of discipleship. I suppose the case could be made that a "good habit" formed in the life of person (child or not) before he is converted is "in the flesh" or "our own strength," and the like.

But I think it's a kind of common grace. It's a grace that my neighbor, though godless and often intoxicated, was never violent. Somebody taught him that. It's a grace whenever a depraved sinner is less wicked in his ways than he might otherwise be. For him, the blessing is very temporal, but those around him are blessed as well by the fact that he has, well, good habits.

So I think I'm kind of suggesting that child rearing can sort of get a head start on discipleship before conversion. Seems completely counterintuitive, but I do not know of a better explanation that also accounts for "good" people who are lost.

It's true--as someone mentioned earlier--that parents cannot really teach obedience in the fullest sense, because we're not really obeying if inwardly we're rebelling or simply unbelieving. The beliefs, the affections--can't get at those by wielding authority. Can't get at them directly by teaching or modeling either. But we can build good habits. I believe this has value because, among other reasons, sinful conduct begets more of itself, further darkens the sinners heart (Eph.4.17ff), etc. Though good habits do not bring the unconverted closer to God or to any kind of meriting of His forgiveness, they have a kind of moral blessing built in.

And some things can never be understood until we do them first. So the convert who has been in the habit of "clean living" already, immediately understands some things that someone with a more decadent background will be a while longer learning.

I'm not saying it very well, but there it is in the rough.

Anne Sokol's picture

Rachel L. wrote:
I don't think you can teach obedience. As a parent I'm limited to modeling obedience, requiring compliance, and developing relationships conducive to obedience; I cannot make them obey. Obedience requires a heart action that I cannot force, even though I do require outward compliance.
i think this is probably a more accurate way to express this.

And I will say again (and again and again), I think the crucial issue is how we teach this, the methods and words we use, the expectations we have and communicate, etc.

Rachel L.'s picture

I completely agree, Anne.

Requiring compliance without acknowledging my own sinfulness and without liberally applying grace can create resentment and anger in my children, which will be a stumbling block in their ability to have the heart attitude of obedience.