If You Do Not Teach Them, 
The Devil Will! 
"It is good to begin betimes with the necessary restraints of children from that which is evil, before vicious habits are confirmed. The branch is easily bent when
it is tender." - Matthew Henry

 The Encyclopedia of Sermon Illustrations gives us this story:  When a woman once told her pastor that she would not give her children religious instruction until they had attained the years of discretion, the pastor replied, "Madam, if you do not teach them, the devil will. " 

In the same source, we find a quote by John Locke which says - "Parents often wonder why the streams are bitter when they themselves have poisoned the fountain." 

As a parent, you must ask yourself - Have I poisoned my own fountain? Have I done all that the Bible instructs me, concerning the raising of my children for the Lord? Have I followed the
guidelines of the Word of God, or have I followed my emotions at the moment? Have I been diligent in my training, or have I been slack at times because other things seemed more important? 

The Bible definitely gives certain guidelines for parents. It would behoove us at this time to examine a few of them and see where we stand before the Lord - 

#1 Correction Proves Our Love

Proverbs 13:24 - "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes." 

Here we see that discipline and love go hand in hand. The way in which we prove that we love our children is that we discipline them. When we see obstinacy and disobedience arise in their lives, we correct or rebuke them. Through our correction, we make them sensible of their faults and apprehensive of ever offending again. It is whenever we do not keep them under a strict discipline that we actually show them that we hate them - we really don't care about them. Perhaps we care more about ourselves and the matters at hand. 

#2 Correction Cannot Be Spared 

Proverbs 19:18 - "Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying." 

When are we to chasten our children? "While there is hope." In other words, while they are young and still tender - while they are still easily reformed and trained. We are never to put this time of
correction off until a later date. Deal with it whenever the opportunity presents itself.

God knows that parents are moved by their child's tears and crying. We have a tendency to back off on any discipline, show mercy, and give chance after chance for the child to change his ways when we see the tears and hear the cries. 

However, the Bible warns us that we must not be moved by the tears and the sounds of the crying of our own children. We must follow the dictates of the Word of God at all times. We cannot
forbear correction out of pity for our child. We must have a long-range view of what the correction will do and keep that always in mind. 

If we do not correct our child and we "spare for his crying," then there will most likely come a day when we will be the ones crying after our child is grown and his evil habits are already sealed
for life. 

The Bible warns us to check any foolish indulgence or corrupt disposition immediately before it has any time or opportunity to take root in our child's life and become a habit. If we choose to obey God's instruction to us, we will be blessed some day to see the fruit of our labor. If we fail to heed God's Admonition, we will be sorry and reap the horrible consequences. 

We must remember at all times that we are not smarter than God. He is the All-Wise Heavenly Father. He knows His job well. 

#3 Correction Drives Out Foolishness

Proverbs 22:15 - "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him." 

Sin is "foolishness." Every child is born with the inclination to Sin - the tendency to speak and act foolishly. This "foolishness" is firmly fixed, knit, bound up, settled, or rooted in his nature. God's
solution? "The rod of correction." Strictness, restraint, reproof, warning, chastisement, and correction "drive it far from him." 

#4 Correction Brings Comfort and Delight

Proverbs 29:17 - "Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul." 

We are commanded in God's Word to instruct, punish, reform, reprove, and train up our children under a strict discipline that does not allow for them to go amiss. If we do, we will later on enjoy comfort, quiet, and rest. We will receive "delight" or pleasure to our souls. 

#5 Correction Gives Wisdom And Averts Shame

Proverbs 29:15 - "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame." 

Every parent's nightmare is to have a child "left to himself." What does this mean? It refers to a child who is allowed to do whatever he desires without being restrained or reproved. He is left to
follow his own inclinations. He is given up to his fleshly  indulgences. He is pampered and spoiled. Resultantly, he brings great disappointment, confusion, shame, reproach, and poverty to his parents. The "rod and reproof" are God's solution to prevent these awful consequences. 

#6 Correction Prevents Utter Destruction

Proverbs 23:13-14 - "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt
deliver his soul from hell." 

When the Bible speaks of disciplining the child, it always has in mind that the parents administer correction with wisdom and in a right spirit - not in a spirit of anger or rage. All discipline should be accompanied by prayer, asking for God's blessing upon it. The parents should always have in mind the child's good. Their greatest desire should be to prevent their child from any harm or destruction and that certainly includes eternal destruction in Hell. 

Hence, the parent is admonished throughout the Scriptures to not refrain, restrain, deny, debar, or keep back any chastisement. God certainly does nor withhold correction from His own. In following God's Word,  parents will actually snatch away, rescue, pluck out, and preserve their child's soul from ever going to Hell. 

In closing, let's read one more excerpt from the Encyclopedia of Sermon Illustrations that summarizes our discussion on discipline for our children - 

A child must not be permitted to argue, pout, or make a great
ado when told to do this and that, and yet when a command is
given, there must be kindness, gentleness, a disposition to
attract. As Luther aptly expressed it, "Next to the rod must lie
the apple. " 

It is our God-given right to train and instruct our children. 
We must always administer discipline in a godly and loving spirit, with the child's good always in mind. We must not withhold or spare correction. We must administer it at the appropriate time. 
The end result will be that we will reap the pleasure of having wise children - speaking, acting, and reacting according to the Word of God. Most importantly, we will enjoy the rest and comfort of knowing that our children are saved, serving the Lord, and headed for heaven for all of eternity. 

An appropriate question to ask ourselves at this point is - Who is teaching our children? If we aren't, then most likely the devil is. 

We have a God-given mandate to raise our children for the Lord. May we do so as the Lord Jesus commands. May we be found faithful on the Day of Judgment. May we all hear the words of our Master as He turns to us and says - "...Well Done, Thou Good
and Faithful Servant..." 

May God Bless His Word.
Connie Giordano 
P. O. Box 383016
Duncanville, TX. 75138-3016

Copyright 2002 by Connie Giordano

Train Up
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