How Do I Train My Children In The Lord?
Training your children in the Lord means to be intentional and habitual about instructing your children in the Christian way. We do this by living out the Christian way ourselves and by organizing the way we live out the Bible and the gospel.
Establishing The Meaning Of Training
- Parents have the responsibility to train up their children in the way they should go. “Train up” means to give direction or order to children in such a way that it forms them with a lasting and profound influence in their development. There are only two ways our children can go: the way of submission to God or the way of rebellion against God. This training instructs the children “in the way they should go” meaning the way in submission to God. This type of training prepares your children to not depart from the right way when they reach older stages of life where they start to make decisions on their own.
Proverbs 1:5; 10; 22:6; Colossians 2:8
- Training includes the Biblical method of the rod (discipline) and reproof (instruction) but goes beyond it to include habitual instruction that forms children to know what it means to love God with all their hearts, souls and might. We are not to limit training just to times of reproof (instruction), but we are to always be teaching our children about the Lord and how to obey Him. The Bible is our training manual and as we learn its truths and model living out its truths with our lives, we can instruct our children in the same way. Children need to know how to live according to God’s word. This means that our training will include: (1) formal times of teaching—you schedule a time to sit down with your children and teach them the Bible; (2) informal times of teaching—you are teaching them as you are doing life together and as opportunities arise; (3) scripture memorization—you encourage and help your children to memorize the Bible; (4) scripture application—apply the scriptural truths to their life in a way they can understand it and help them develop habits that apply the truth of scripture and avoid sinful habits; (5) scriptural answers—we answer their questions with Bible truth.
Deuteronomy 6:7-9; 32:46-47; 2 Timothy 3:15-16; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-5; Psalm 119:9-16
- Training is passing on the Biblical worldview and culture from one generation to the next. It means that it will permeate all areas of our lives. This means we don’t allow the worldly culture around us to mold our children, but that we are actively molding them in the Christian way so that they will learn to fear, glorify and enjoy God forever through the gospel of Jesus.
Psalm 78:1-8; 145:4
- Training always involves the heart and aims for them to do right from the heart. Therefore, effective training is not the following because they don’t address the issues of the heart or teach the way of righteousness: (1) Sheltering or protecting your children from worldly influences. This only suppresses your children from acting wrongly because they have less opportunities or a more suitable environment. (2) Conditioning or simply teaching your children the association between a stimulus and a response. This only modifies your children’s behavior through positive or negative reinforcement. (Although this may be used with younger children, for example, to learn not to touch something, but remember even though the behavior was changed they heart was not.) (3) Outsourcing or placing the responsibility of training on your church (children or youth ministries), educational preference (Christian school, homeschool, etc.) or other Christian programs. This often only negates the importance of the Christian way because the parents are not practicing what they preach and their children won’t take it to heart because the parents didn’t.
Putting The Gospel Into Focus
- The heart of training is the gospel. Christian parents have the amazing blessing and the significant responsibility to be the means that God uses to reach their children with the gospel message. God in His sovereignty works in the lives of their children unto salvation, but He often uses their parents to be the witness of the gospel through their words and actions. Children will never learn to completely do right until God saves them and transforms their heart through being “born again,” thus all of our training and methods must be saturated with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The new birth brings about a heart truly oriented towards God with new desires and power to overcome the world.
John 3:3-5; 1 John 3:9; 4:4; 5:4
- Training with the gospel at the center means believing your children are sinners from birth and you never presume that your children are believers (they aren’t guaranteed salvation, nor do they automatically become believers because they were born in a Christian family). Until your children have repented of their sins and put their faith in Jesus for salvation they aren’t believers. If your children have made “salvation decisions,” but have not produced any fruit of their new life in Christ then you shouldn’t assume they are believers until fruit bears evidence of their conversion. Always apply the gospel.
Psalm 51:5; 58:3; John 15:1-2
- The gospel is the following: You are a sinner by nature and by sinful actions. Your sin has separated you from the Holy God and made you His enemy. The punishment for your sin is death and eternal separation from Him. But He loved you. Therefore, He made a way for your sin to be forgiven. He sent Jesus into the world. He was perfectly good and sinless. He didn’t have to die, but He loved you so much that He willingly died on the cross to pay the price for your sin. Three days later He arose from the dead so you could be justified. God did all of this by grace. You didn’t earned it but it was freely given to you with the only condition of accepting it. From a repentant heart, you confess to God, placing your trust in Jesus, depending exclusively in Him for salvation, and nothing else.
Romans 3:12-23; 5:8; 6:23; 10:9-10; John 3:16, 36; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:8-9
Other Areas Of Training Priority
- Parents should teach their children to fear God—to have a profound respect for God as the ultimate authority and a terror of God because His holiness demands consequences for their sin. They should learn to respond with humble submission to Him.
Psalm 25:12-15; 86:11; 103:17; 112:1-2; 128:1-4; 130:4; Proverbs 9:10; 10:27; 14:27; 22:4; 24:3; Hebrews 10:26-31
- Parents should teach their children they will reap what they sow. God won’t be mocked. Consequences are a result of their decisions and it highlights the truthfulness of God’s word because it warns against sin but promotes the Christian way. It has lasting effects in all areas of their lives including their: salvation, relationships, habits, reputation, etc.
Galatians 6:7-8; Proverbs 5:21; 11:18
- Parents should know their marriage relationship is one of the greatest examples to teach their children because it reflects the gospel and it testifies to the correlation of what they say and do. Marriage can either lead their children towards God or away from God.
- What is the parents responsibility to raise up their children?
- What does training beyond the rod (discipline) and reproof (instruction) mean?
- Training always aims for the what?
- How do we use the gospel in training?
- What are some other areas of priority in training children in the Lord?