sermon: The March Toward Globalism (Part Six)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 22-Jan-11; Sermon #1029; 65 minutes
Both God and Satan have been preparing their respective families, meticulously producing vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath. While God expects parents to cultivate sound-mindedness, balance, and self-control in our children, Satan has been shaping the pliable minds of children though his self-centered, self-indulgent, dissipation-oriented cultural supports. The fifth commandment, the starting place of all relationships, promotes lawful, stable, social order and encourages proper child-rearing practices. When God calls us, we become part of His family, having the same relationship our offspring have with us. If we honor our parents—regardless of whether we live long or short lives—our physical life will be quality, and we will live eternally in God's family. As parents, we stand as our children's vanguards against Satan. Children need to learn their wisdom from Mom and Dad. God ultimately holds the children responsible for keeping the fifth commandment. Even though poor parenting may be a factor in disobedience, children may not blame their parents. Children's submission to their parents is an active act of faith in Jesus Christ because He commanded us to honor them. Our primary responsibility as parents is to teach our children self-responsibility.
I am going to begin this sermon with a summary. I do not want us to lose sight of a major reason why I am speaking on childrearing. Remember that the main theme of this series is "Marching Toward Globalism." However, it dawned on me during the preparation for my first sermon, which is one I gave at the Feast of Tabernacles 2010, and it was titled "The New World Order Rises."
While preparing that sermon it dawned on me that the preparation for the Beast requires a great deal of time and effort on the part of Satan. It is not going to be something that just pops up like a mushroom out of the ground, and suddenly it is there. Maybe to the world it might seem that way, but it should not be to us, because we are to remain alert and watch what is going on so that we are all the while preparing for God's Kingdom.
Now just to give you an example, God has been preparing His family members for thousands of years, if you want to go all the way back to Abraham. Actually, there were some called into His family before that time, but Abraham is the "father of the faithful," and he lived around 1800 or so years before Jesus Christ. So God has been preparing for quite a while, and He is doing His preparing through a well-designed plan.
Now would Satan enter into the final generation having done nothing in preparation for the man and the entourage that will be surrounding this man—the one who becomes the Beast, and then all of those who flush out the government he is heading?
In Romans 9, verses 22 and 23, it says:
Romans 9:22-23 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,
So God is very definitely preparing, and you can be sure that Satan is also actively preparing, and though God is taking a long, long time to prepare His family, I think with certainty that Satan has taken at least several generations to prepare for the things at the end.
I used the word "entourage," and its most frequent use is in reference to a small clique of people who surround a leader. That is its most narrow usage as an English word, but in its broader usage it would include not only that small clique that is immediately close to the leader, but also all that fills out those who are in support of a leader. In this case the leader I am referring to is the Beast, and it would include not only the person but also the cultural support that Satan is putting together to be part of that system.
One of the major cultural supports is his childrearing program that will provide people willingly able to do the work of the flesh. Now why would he pay so much attention to childrearing? In a way, it is very simple. It is because children are the most vulnerable of all people to Satan's persuasion. They can be easily formed and shared. Children are pliable, and all of us understand this principle.
At birth a child has no natural restraints built into him to restrain the influences of Satan the Devil, and unless parents are knowledgeable and on the ball, children therefore have no protection, and Satan's plan is working. The world has just about reached the state very similar to that period of time just before the Flood when all intents of the thoughts of the heart were only evil continually.
Self-centeredness is driving society to a degree not experienced worldwide since just before the Flood. Jesus warned that in our day it would be a mirror image of that time before the Flood, and we must not fall into Satan's trap. Our children must be reared God's way so as to greatly minimize Satan's characteristics from being formed in our children.
In the fourth sermon in this series on "The March Toward Globalism" and the rise of the Beast, I emphasized Proverbs 22:6, which says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Our responsibility is to narrow a child in from the way of the world to the way of God, thus preparing the child for the time that God calls him.
In that sermon we also spent a great deal of time on Ephesians 5:18, which begins Paul's admonition regarding relationships within the Church, in marriage, in childrearing, and in employer/employee situations. I should have started this list with our relationships with God. There are actually five different sets of relationships.
Ephesians 5:18 provides us with an overall solution to successfully negotiating these situations, and that verse states:
Ephesians 5:18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,
The NKJV says "dissipation." I gave you a little bit better word—"excess"—"in which is excess." I will explain why I changed it in just a moment. "And do not be drunk with wine in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit." The counsel is, in short, that the enabling for success in relationships comes from within the relationship with God, and it is He who is the source. He supplies us with the gifts that we need, and therefore that relationship must have the highest priority in our life.
In the beginning of the fifth sermon in this series, our focus was on II Timothy 1, and verse 7. This is an unusual verse for a childrearing sermon, but it broadly defines more explicitly what our goal in childrearing needs to be. It is sound-mindedness. That is a broad term, but that is what it says: sound-mindedness.
II Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
In that verse, sound-mindedness is contrasted to the unbalanced attitude and conduct possibilities of carnal-mindedness. This ought to help you recall that the term "sound" in that verse can also be defined as moderate, disciplined, self-controlled, sober-minded, temperate, and balanced. Any one of those synonyms can be used depending upon the kind of context in which it appears. The converted mind can literally become sound-minded because it is no longer self-centered. These are the qualities that we must aim for in our children. Sound-mindedness is broad, but it is very important.
Now carnality is literally unbalanced toward extreme behavior to a point actually, brethren, of insanity as compared to the mind of God. Nothing really shows this more clearly than a reading of Galatians 5:19-21. Here we have in very succinct terms, in really one small paragraph, the difference between carnal-mindedness and sound-mindedness. Notice the terminology that Paul uses.
Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh [the carnal mind] are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
That is pretty unbalanced behavior, is it not, brethren? It is not sound-minded in the least. We can all agree to that.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Quite a contrast between the sound-mindedness of God's spirit, of God's mind and the works of the flesh. Did you notice in the one paragraph he says "works of the flesh"? It labors to produce those things. It puts its energy out to produce adulteries, fornications, etc. On the other hand, the spirit of God produces fruit. It is only a one word difference, but one is the fruit, and the other is what the carnal mind labors to produce. I think that you would understand and agree with me that it is in a parent's best interest to labor to produce the right things in their children, because if they do not, they are going to produce adulteries, fornications, and all of those other very bad things.
Now Jesus confirmed the list of the works of the flesh in Matthew 15:19. This is where He says that all of those things come out of the heart. In one sense, they just boil right out of it. All of the evil qualities Jesus named are generated by the self-centeredness of carnality, and that carnality is in turn at the heart and the core of the spirit of Satan—the ruler of this world.
In this central portion of that fifth sermon we focused on the extremism inherent in Satan's spirit as shown in childrearing approaches over the past century or so. In this nation, and in Britain as well, we have come from the extreme of severity in childrearing practice, called now "Victorianism." That is one extreme. Remember, the carnal mind is given to extremes. So, on the one side we have Victorianism where the childrearing is really strict.
Now today Victorianism is not in vogue. Today we have what is called "permissiveness." So, here are the parameters of the extreme. Victorianism on one side, permissiveness on the other—the extremes of human nature in terms of childrearing. I am more concerned with the permissiveness, because it is the general approach we face in our culture. The overall focus in this approach is on pleasing the child, and it assumes the nature of a child is good, and that the parent's responsibility is to draw out that inherent good.
I showed you, in Matthew 7, that Jesus called just normal carnal-minded unconverted people evil. There was nothing really terrible we could say about these people, but Jesus called them evil. That cute little bundle we receive as a gift from God, when it is born it has no resistance to the evil of Satan the Devil, very quickly begins to absorb that mind if it is permitted by the parents. From God's point of view there is no inherent good in carnality. We have nothing there but what Jesus said—that they were evil—and that applied to us too until we were given some of the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
This system amounts to little more than a subtle attempt to bribe a child into conformity with the culture's standard, and this will never work, because the Bible shows that human nature is evil to begin with, and it can never be satisfied. Why? Because lust always rears its head, and it always wants more. You can see this clearly explained in the book of Ecclesiastes.
This approach also is strongly influential toward producing an inflated self-esteem. Notice that word "inflated"—inflated self-esteem. The reason I used that word "self-esteem" is because having self-esteem, of and by itself, is alright. God wants us to have self-esteem, but—(and there is a "but" here)—it must be balanced with humility. Unfortunately, that is very difficult indeed, perhaps virtually impossible, seeing that the source is Satan's spirit.
Now can we imagine Satan being truly humble? If we know him, we cannot. I will tell you this, though, he can be very, very charming. Do you know what the Bible says about charm? It is deceitful. Charm is deceit. It is a learned behavior. That is in the last chapter of Proverbs. So Satan can be very charming. Charm a bird out of a tree kind of thing, but it is not humility.
The bulk of that fifth sermon was spent on Ephesians 6:1-3 and the Fifth Commandment. It is helpful to note that God's method of rearing us cannot be separated from our rearing of our children. His rearing of us must be the model that we follow in rearing our children.
In our relationship with God, what is the focus? Our focus is the Father. We do all we can as His children to please Him. Permissiveness is the other way around. The parents are doing all they can to please the child. Guess who is running the family? I will let you answer that. It is not dad, unless the right balance is there. God shows us the right balance in childrearing. He is in charge, and the right balance in human childrearing is that the father should be in charge, as we shall see as we go through here.
It is very important to understand that distinction. It happens so often, with children especially, that as they begin to get into the teen years they think dad is an old fogy, and that he does not know what is going on; and mother is right behind him. The kids think they know a great deal more than they actually do. But dad should always be in charge, as we shall see.
As we were getting toward the end of that sermon, the specific thing I was spending time upon was the use of the word "first" in terms of Paul's declaration there that the Fifth Commandment is the first with a promise. Actually, we know that if we look at it in one way, it is the only one with a promise. None of the other commandments have a promise. So what does Paul mean by saying that it is the first with a promise?
Turn with me to Mark 12:28-30, and we will see what Jesus said in reply to what a scribe asked Him. This is a repeat of what we had in the previous sermon, but I want you to see this again so that you understand the principle involved here.
Mark 12:28-30 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of all?" Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.
It is not really the first commandment. It is not even one of the ten. It is a summary of the first four commandments. But what I want to get at is the use of the word "first," because the scribe who asked the question used that word "first" in such a manner that Jesus took it correctly and responded in the correct way. Now "first," when used in that kind of circumstance, does not relate to order: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. That would be order. He did not mean that at all. He meant it in the sense of rank, and therefore the correct translation should be: "Which is the foremost commandment?" or "Which is the preeminent commandment?" or "Which is the most significant commandment?" That is the way we are to understand it. So it is the most significant, preeminent commandment in regard to the context in which the question is asked or the word appears.
Turn now with me to the book of Leviticus, chapter 19, verses 1 through 4. I feel pretty certain this is what Paul had in mind whenever he wrote what he did in Ephesians 6, verses 2 and 3. Look at the context here.
Leviticus 19:1-4 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: 'You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. 'Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and keep My Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. 'Do not turn to idols, nor make for yourselves molded gods: I am the LORD your God.
The context here involves with the laws of social order. My Bible actually has that title at the beginning of the chapter: The Laws of Social Order. In other words, how the different aspects of the society relate to one another.
In that context (and remember that God inspired the Bible), what did God say was the foremost commandment? The Fifth Commandment. That is what verse 3 tells us. "Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father." It is not merely honor. It says revere. That takes it a notch higher than the word honor. That almost has a religious connotation to it. It is not merely respect. It is higher than that, and we will see why it has to be that way. In that context, in the laws of social order in a carnal community, in a sense any kind of human community, which is the foremost commandment? It is the Fifth Commandment. It is the first. It is the highest ranking commandment in terms of the social order.
Now what is the second highest commandment—the tenth ultimate one? The Sabbath. God gives them right in order of their social rank: honoring father and mother, revering father and mother; then comes the Sabbath. And number three on the rank of this listing is what? It is a compilation or a condensing of the first four commandments—in a sense here—"Do not turn to idols." That is very interesting.
In this context He is talking about carnal community. In one sense, we can extrapolate from that and understand that socially the foremost commandment is number five. Why? We have got to understand why. Do you realize that this is the commandment that is the foundation, it is the beginning, it is the starting place of all relationships? All relationships. The relationship with God does not come until much later when He finally calls the person.
Every relationship in life in a community begins with mom and dad and baby, and how that baby is reared is going to affect everything after that in other relationships—the relationships in the Church, the relationship with God, and the relationship with the employer. So, how a child is reared affects every other relationship. The quality of that childrearing is therefore going to affect the quality of every other relationship.
Finally, when we really get messed up, God finally calls us and He begins to straighten us out so that we can work to put things back in the order they should be in if we will just follow what He said to do. When He calls us, then the relationship with Him moves to first place. If a child has been reared right, the child will go into that relationship with Him well prepared to carry out a relationship with our Father in heaven, and the quality of that relationship hinges upon the quality of the relationship that the child had with mom and dad. Now you see why the rank of the Fifth Commandment is so high, because every other relationship begins with this one.
Let us look at Exodus 20, verse 12. This takes us right into the Fifth Commandment.
Exodus 20:12 "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
That is all the further we are going to go there. We are now going to turn to Deuteronomy 5, verse 16.
Deuteronomy 5:16 'Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
From that reading you should notice that the wording and the punctuation in Deuteronomy 5:16 is somewhat different from what it is in Exodus 20:12. So what we see here is an expansion of the promise.
There is a little bit more here we need to see, and that is that it says in verse 16 "that it may be well with you." It did not say that in Exodus 20:12.
Let us go back to Ephesians, and we will see in chapter 6 that Paul tweaks it a little bit more.
Ephesians 6:2-3 "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise: "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth."
The tweaking that Paul did was that before it was: "that it may be well with you in the land" that God was giving; but in this one it says: "on the earth." What happened here was, between the time Exodus 5:20 was written, God opened salvation to the Gentiles, and He is showing the Gentiles that it does not matter where you live. You do not have to get the fulfillment of this promise in Palestine; you can get it wherever you live on Earth.
If you are Chinese, and you keep the Fifth Commandment, it does not matter that you are not in Israel. What matters is that you are keeping the commandment regardless.
In addition to that, we begin to see another progression here in that it is extended, not just from the land, but to the whole Earth, and there are suggestions now within the commandment of eternity. In other words, the blessing keeps right on going into the Kingdom of God, and you are in the Kingdom. You are still on Earth, but it is now your possession, because God is going to give us exactly the same inheritance that He promised to give to Abraham, which will be the inheritance of the Earth with Jesus Christ.
That is why that tweaking is taking place, so that we see that this is not something limited to the Earth. It is not something limited to the land of Palestine. It is unlimited in terms of time and the place on Earth, which is our inheritance.
There is one more thing out of this brief rendering here of where it is in the commandment, and that is the term "it is well."
It is pretty obvious that some really good righteous people do not live long lives. Jesus only lived 33-1/2 years. I do not know how old Paul was when he died, but in the eyes of God he was a pretty righteous person. I dare say that except for the apostle John, it is very likely that all others of the original twelve probably did not live much beyond sixty years, and that is really not all that long of a period of time. So how long is long?
On the other hand, there are some pretty wicked people who live a long time, and they seem to have everything. They have got oodles of money. They live in a big castle up on the hill. They have this huge estate they can ride around on their horses, or whatever. We might consider them unrighteous, double-dealing people who have everything that we would like to have.
The answer to this is really simple. It is the way God defines "well." It is highly likely that these wicked people who amass great fortunes and have all of these things are not really living well. Is their life filled with love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, meekness, and all of those kind of things—things that are really gifts of God? They have no relationship with God.
There is one man I really remember—a man I think we would not really consider to be particularly evil—but one thing is sure, he amassed a great fortune. I am talking about J. Paul Getty. This man owned Getty oil. He was a multi-millionaire. Toward the end of his life he said, "I would give my entire fortune for one good marriage." He had five failures.
Now you can be sure, from his own testimony, that not one of those five marriages was living well. They did not divorce because they were really getting along and really loved one another.
So we can take a person, we will say, like Jesus, and use Him as the outstanding example. He did not live very long, but He lived well, and it was because of His relationship with God. He revered His Father, and He said, "I always do what pleases Him." He lived well. That is what we are shooting for. So right in the commandment that is the real promise—to live well by submitting to our Father in heaven.
At this point I am going to give you a little summary that I have put here in my notes regarding Ephesians 6:1-3. When all of these things are considered together, God is saying that if we neglect the proper rearing of our children, it will lead to the breakdown everywhere within the culture. Everything here is put together. This is because honoring and revering mom and dad is the beginning of every relationship in life.
When you get the children off to the right start, it increases exponentially the well-being of every one of the relationships we have after that. But this is because this commandment impacts directly on whether we keep the remaining five commandments, and God is saying that once the family allegiances are broken down, a society will advance toward that place where there are no allegiances. It is every man for himself. Another way of saying this is that if we do not train our children God's way, it will soon produce a world like the one we are living in—the one that is described in II Timothy 3. I want to go to that scripture. We need to be reminded of this, because it is painted right before our eyes in words.
II Timothy 3:1-5 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, [and then from that everything begins to branch out:] lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, [and then to cap everything off, their religion] having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
What God is pointing to here is that we will produce a world in which self-centeredness brings "every man for himself," and life becomes dangerously confused and chaotic. This significant ranking of number five leads one step further, because childrearing has an immediate impact on one's eventual relationship with God.
Turn with me to Ephesians 3, verses 14 and 15. Remember, as we began this sermon I mentioned our relationship with God has to be the model that we follow in our relationship with our children.
Ephesians 3:14-15 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.
When God calls us, we become part of His family. We do not leave our carnal family, but we are put into His family as well. So what do we call Him? He is our Father. We address our prayers to our Father. In this commandment, we converted sons of God are face to face, as it were, with Him in much the same manner as our children are with us. We are His offspring. That is what He even calls us.
So, here, there is something very sacred, holy, and sanctified about family. Family was the very first institution that God created following the creation of Adam and Eve, and therefore God added a promise to the Fifth Commandment in order to reinforce its importance to us.
Satan is doing all he can to destroy the family.
The promise, on the surface, is for long life. However, its broader, deeper, and more specific meaning is this: God is saying that regardless of whether He cuts off your life short from what other carnal people are living, the commandment is telling us that He will bless us throughout our life regardless of how long our specific life lasts. Over beyond that is another "but": ". . . but My family lasts forever." That is how important that institution is. That community of people will last forever in that relationship, and we will always be brothers and sisters all under the same Father.
An overall summary of the first three verses of Ephesians 6 begins with this:
Point 1: Ephesians 2:1 tells us that we must begin understanding that both ends of the instruction on family begins and ends with the mention of Satan the Devil.
Point 2: Ephesians 2:1-3 and Ephesians 6 is where it directly names him as our enemy. All of this instruction is between those parentheses, as it were.
This is the way we have to think of it. At beginning and end. This gives us a little bit of insight to all parents regarding childrearing and the way we need to have part of our foundation of how we think about it.
Moms and dads, brothers and sisters, childrearing entails a direct battle between you and Satan over control of those kids. It is that blunt.
Point 3: I told you at the very beginning the reason he wants the kids is because they are so vulnerable. This is why Herbert Armstrong said to the ministry, "You are the best guard (or whatever it is) your children have against Satan. It is you who stands between Satan the Devil and your children." He said this to the ministry. He said, "You had better take care of your kids." I do not know whether we did or not, but at least we were told what we had to do. I am passing it on to you. It is a battle between parents and Satan for control of the children's (we will call it) destiny, their character, or whatever.
Point 4: Let us look at the Satanic side of this picture. Note these salient points.
Ephesians makes it clear that he is the enemy we face. By "we" I mean the parents, and by "we" I also mean the children. Satan is the enemy. Now to reinforce this, besides him being the enemy, the scripture also says that Satan is the ruler of this world. His spirit permeates this world. The world is his matrix for enticing and preparing his spiritual children. Jesus calls the unconverted Satan's children.
Point 5: The world is an ever-present reality, and if we do not do our job, he surely will.
So a sum of these five points is that there is a very persuasive reality out there. Always remember this, that he is not unbeatable. He can be beaten. He can be beaten, because God is on our side. This even applies to the children. So parents, carry out your responsibility to God. Train your children; and, children, carry out your responsibility to God: Obey your parents. And both will be blessed with a good life and ultimately a long eternal life.
Let me show you something that I consider to be quite interesting in regard to childrearing.
Let us go back to the book of Proverbs, chapter 1. This is a wonderful book. The counsel that is in it is what we would call practical. Certainly there are spiritual principles involved here, but it is written in such a way that even the carnal seem to understand it pretty well.
In verse 2 is the Specific Purpose Statement of the book of Proverbs.
Proverbs 1:2-7 To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding, to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity; [All of them very important to making proper decisions.] to give prudence [carefulness] to the simple [meaning, the unlearned], to the young man knowledge and discretion— A wise man will hear and increase learning [through this book], and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the LORD [respecting Him, reverencing Him] is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Now here comes the really interesting thing in regard to child training:
Proverbs 1:8 My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.
After that opening preamble and the Specific Purpose Statement for this wonderful book of practical counsel, the first thing Solomon does is directly address those to whom the book is written. Who is it? It is written to the children. "Listen to your mother." "Listen to your father." That is where wisdom comes from, and here in the United States, we turn childrearing all upside down, and the focus is on the kids. It should be where wisdom resides, and that is mom and dad.
Do you think Satan is not slick? He has deceived nations by turning child-training up-side-down. Oh, we do everything for the kids. We should do things for the children, but it should be done in wisdom; and God shows us that childrearing should be the other way around. The focus is on the father. He is the one who is responsible.
Now back to the Fifth Commandment itself. Answer this for me. Who is God ultimately going to hold responsible for keeping the Fifth Commandment? It is the children. That is whom this is addressed to.
Who does the book of Proverbs hold responsible for taking this advice? It is the children. I find that really interesting.
Now you see, in our relationship with God we have a Father who is perfect. We have no justification to call Him into account for anything. But it is still our responsibility, spiritual brothers and sisters, to revere and honor Him. We put that right into the family, and it is the children's responsibility to obey their parents. Yes, it is the responsibility of the parents to teach the children, but the ultimate responsibility for keeping the commandment is the child's. It cannot escape that reason.
Do you know who God is going to hold responsible? In every case it is going to be the children. When I say "responsible," I mean ultimately.
Here are three points.
Point Number One: The Fifth Commandment is directly addressed to the ones under submission.
I want to give you a verse that the apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 3:20 just to reinforce this. This verse is addressed to the children.
Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.
Ah! Kids, can we ever come up with justifications for not doing the things mom and dad say! There is one caveat to that, and that is the children are given the liberty from God to disobey a command [from the parents] that would cause them to disobey God. Nobody ever has permission to sin under any circumstance. "Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord." Do you want to know how to please God? Obey your parents.
The Fifth Commandment is directly addressed to the ones under submission. That is always God's approach. He directs His commands to the ones under submission, and children are the ones the Fifth Commandment holds directly responsible. Of course this includes God's converted children.
Point Number Two: Poor parenting is a factor in God's judgment of us, but in the end, ultimately children cannot blame their parents for the poor job their parents did. The reason for this is that children are responsible for overcoming their parents' poor parenting. Do you understand that? Sometimes it is a little bit hard to accept, but we are responsible—and that includes all of us—for overcoming the poor job our parents did with us, because God will not accept that justification—"Well, momma did this," or "Well, dad did that," whatever.
Every life, brethren, is filled with poor parents. Nobody does a really, really good job. We fall so far short of God's perfection there is no measuring; so everybody had poor parenting. There are of course degrees, but God wants us to overcome the lousy job our parents did, and it can be done.
Point number three is very important. Please remember this. It is the most important of all of these three points.
Point Number Three: Children's submission to parents is an act of faith in Jesus Christ, because it is He who commands that we submit to our parents. And so because we believe He gave us that responsibility, and we do it because He said so, that pleases both Jesus Christ and the Father. It is an act of faith.
Even though you kids may not be converted...already, if you are really beginning to obey your parents, you are also beginning to obey Jesus Christ because you have faith in Him; thus the required obedience is not based on any arbitrary power held by the parents, but on a higher law to which the parents are also subject.
We obey our fathers because Jesus Christ said that we should. It is the same with the kids. So the parents' primary responsibility, brethren, is to teach our children to control themselves. They are to have self-control.
Let me sum up this sermon. I will give it to you in just one sentence: Parents, your children must learn that they cannot always do what they want to do, when they want to do it, how they want, and with whom they want. They must learn to control themselves in each situation in which they find themselves.
We will break off here, and God willing, perhaps we will complete this sermon series the next time.