The title of our series this week, is “Train Up A Child”. Subtitle, “Principles of Christian Parenting”. And as we studied last night, we are talking about a very crucial and central topic. For the destiny of our children is largely determined by the way we bring them up. Now please note the qualifier, largely. Praise God, and may I share with you these words of encouragement, for those of you who recognize that perhaps you have made mistakes in the past. Praise God that He can work miracles, and that He can make up for past mistakes. But having said that, let us not for one moment, think that that lessens our responsibility one iota dear brother, dear sister. It does not.
Parents should let nothing interfere with the character building of their children. Those who have been training their children in an improper way need not despair; let them become converted to God, and seek for the true spirit of obedience, and they will be enabled to make decided reforms. In conforming your own customs to the saving principles of God’s holy law, you will have an influence upon your children. You will have the righteousness of Christ, and will obey the precepts of God’s law, and recognize the spirit of the law as an expression of the character of God. It is of the greatest importance that the attributes of his character be brought into your character, that you may train and educate your children to be obedient to God’s commandments, and thus secure happiness in this world, and life eternal in the world to come. (ST Sept 17, 1894)
Though God is a God of miracles, and though He can do much though rebirth, I submit that a child who has been disadvantaged by poor up bringing, will have to have a most trying experience before he will be ready to enter the pearly gates. And we can tremendously advantage, or tremendously disadvantage, our children by the way we bring them up.
The goal of Christian parenting as we studied last night, is what? To develop a Christlike character in our children. That they might be trees of righteous. That He in them, might be glorified. And what does it mean to glorify God? It means to reveal His character in our own. Gods glory is His character. And if we are to glory Him we are to characterize Him, we must reflect His character likeness. This is what Jesus was sent to do with us, His fallen rebellious children. And He says to us parents, “as the Father has sent Me, so send I you” (John 17:18) And as we studied last night, essential to character development is not only carefully bringing behavior patterns into compliance with Gods will, but most importantly, bringing what? Thoughts, and feelings, into compliance with Gods will.
Remember our working definition for character, “the thoughts and feelings, combined make up the moral character”. So if we are to help our children develop a Christlike character, we must be concerned with more than their behavior, dear brother, dear sister. We must be concerned with their intellect and their affections, their thoughts and their feelings. This is so often over looked. This is the heart and core of true Christian parenting. It’s a very spiritual work, for it deals with the activity of the mind. The thoughts and feelings. It is an effort to enable our children to keep the heart with all diligence. It’s an effort to help them come to “bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”. (2 Cor 10:5) That’s what it means, to strive, to co-operate with the Holy Spirit and the development of a Christlike character in the development of our children. Oh what a special and important work it is.
And in order for us to enable our children to develop a Christlike character, we have the responsibility to impress upon their soft pliable, impressionable minds, the principles of Gods word. This is the foundation that we must lay parents, for the building of a character temple. We can’t build their characters for them, but we can certainly equip them through co-operation with Jesus Christ, to build a character themselves, after His likeness. That is our work.
Remember David couldn’t build the temple that he longed to build, but he could gather the materials, he could get the blueprint and the plans, and give them all to his son, and challenge his son to build the character temple for Gods glory. And so it is to be with us. And oh the foundation is so vital. It is to be on the ROCK, not on the sand. The only character that will stand for eternity, is the one that is built on the Rock Jesus Christ. Boys and girls you know that story about the wise man and the foolish man. We must help our children to be wise and to build upon the Rock, Jesus Christ. The truth as it is in Jesus, is the only valid foundation.
This is our objective, this is the goal of Christian parenting. Now what we need to consider this morning, is those factors that resist and oppose the fulfillment of that goal. Is it an easy thing to raise children to the glory of God, dear parents? Is it? Most emphatically it is not, for there is everything in the natural realm which opposes us. Everything. And do you know that I would suggest that one of the basis flaws in many approaches, particularly worldly approaches to child training, one of the basic flaws is the failure to take into consideration the opposition factor. The opposition factor both in the realm of the natural and in the realm of the supernatural. In the realm of the natural in that we are dealing with children who are by nature rebellious and sinful. And in the supernatural realm we have principalities and powers of the kingdom of darkness opposing us at every step.
Those two factors have to be taken into consideration dear parents. If you are to successfully fight and win a battle, you’ve got to know who the enemy is. You’ve got to know what you’re up against. So let’s consider that, I recognize that perhaps the emphasis of this particular study is on the negative side. But dear brother, dear sister, I submit that we cannot truly appreciate the availability of supernatural power, until we fully realize our need of it. We will not go to the Lord in heart felt need until we see that we absolutely must, if we are to succeed in our efforts to raise children after His likeness.
So in that context, please, turn your attention with me, at what is the primary opposition factor. Why is it that we are dealing with children that are naturally inclined towards rebellion? We need to turn to Gods word for this. And we’ve been reviewing up to this point, but before we can turn to Gods word and hope for spiritual discernment, I want to pause with you and give you opportunity to approach the throne of grace, for the spirit of truth, and pray for me as well, would you please? Would you be comfortable kneeling with me once more? Thank you.
Father God, we gather here as parents, because we are concerned. We recognize to at least a small degree the awesomeness of the responsibility that we have taken upon ourselves in bringing children into this world. And no matter what age we are, we still carry a certain responsibility for our children. So Father, we pray in a special way, that You would help us by the power of Your Spirit to know how we can best fulfill our responsibilities as parents. Guide our minds just now as we open Your word. Give us the same Spirit that inspired the words initially, that they might come home to our understanding. More than that Father, that they might be received and embraced by our will, and incorporated into our daily practice and experience. Father we choose to know the truth to the point of freedom. To that end, pour out upon us the spirit of truth I pray. I am Yours Father, three times over, by creation, by redemption, and by my own choice. You have asked me to share this with these people. You never ask me to do that which You do not enable me to do, I’m trusting You Lord God. By the power of Your Spirit condescend to use this poor earthen vessel. Uplift Jesus, I pray. And draw us all to Him. In His name we ask it, AMEN.
Why are we dealing in our children with a spirit of rebellion? A sinful nature? The answer to that question is clearly stated in Rom 5:19, turn with me there please, in your Bibles. Rom 5:19 “For by one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners”. Praise God there’s a second half to that text. “so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”
But brothers and sisters again, I submit that the good news half, is not truly good news until we fully recognize the bad news half. The gospel shines only shines as bright as the blackness and darkness of the context in which it is received. And we must recognize our absolutely hopeless and helpless condition by nature, by natural birth, before we are able to fully appreciate that which can be ours, by rebirth in the supernatural realm.
AH 205 “You cannot bring up your children as you should without divine help” why? Listen “for the FALLEN NATURE OF ADAM ALWAYS STRIVES FOR THE MASTERY” “by one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners”, what does that have to do with Christian parenting? Everything. “You cannot bring up your children as you should without divine help, for the fallen nature of Adam always strives for the mastery.”
You see brothers and sisters it takes supernatural power to train up our children to glorify God. Because everything in the natural order militates against it. Everything in the natural order militates against it. Why? Because of the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve. In Manuscript 126, 1901 “Adam was required to render perfect obedience to God. Not only in his own behalf, but in behalf of his posterity” Who’s that? That’s us, and that’s our children. “God promised him that if he would stand the test of temptation, preserving his allegiance to the Creator during the great trial to which he would be subjected, his obedience would insure his acceptance and favor with God. He would then be forever established in holiness and happiness, and these blessings would extend to all his posterity. But, Adam failed to bear the test, and because he revolted against Gods law, ALL his descendents have been SINNERS.”
“By one man’s disobedience the many were” what? “were made sinners”. Because Adam failed to bear the test, because he disobeyed, because he transgressed Gods law, all of us are sinners. “The many were MADE sinners”, scripture tells us. In what sense were the many MADE sinners? And how does this affect our children? The word “made” is interesting. It’s not nearly as vague and open ended a verb in the Greek, as it is in the English. We get a lot of mileage out of the verb “made” in the English. But the Greek verb used here is a very specialized verb. It’s used in reference, specifically to ordination.
Heb 7:28 uses the verb for instance. “Made”, in reference to the High Priest. To be “made” then is to be constituted, or ordained. “By one man’s disobedience, the many were ORDAINED, OR CONSTITUTED, sinners”. And I would suggest that this takes place in two ways. Note them with me. First of all we are ordained and constituted sinners legally, for Adam is the federal head, the legal representative of the entire race. And the legal position that he had with God affected the entire human race that he represented. And when legally when he fell under condemnation, how many of the race went with him? All of us, all of us.
Not only are we made or constituted sinners legally however, we are also made and constituted sinners genetically. Because Adam is not only the legal representative he is the noble father. And he was given by God, the capacity to procreate in his own what? In his own image, according to his own likeness. And when his likeness became sinful and rebellious, what did that destine the likeness and the image of everyone of his descendants to be? Sinful and rebellious as well. Sinful and rebellious as well. Now God of course gave him that capacity with the intention of it working for the good of humanity. God didn’t want it to be a curse. But this is what Satan does, he takes what God gives with intentions of being a blessing and he warps them and twists them and turns them into a curse. And that which God wanted to work for the ever improvement of the race, Satan used to work for the ever degradation, increasing degradation of the race.
Some of us might say, well, why couldn’t God make it work in just one direction? Can you do that? It’s one and the same principle. Can you go to the store and tell the man when you want to buy some paper, listen I’m only going to use one side, would you please just sell me the one side? And give it to me for half price? It’s one sheet of paper, it’s one principle. And just as it has the potential to work positively in giving it to us, it had the potential to work what? Negatively. And it was a tremendous gift, but equal to it’s potential to be a blessing was it’s potential to be a curse. And when Satan got a hold of it, it brought about the fall of the entire race. When he got a hold of the father of race, he got a hold of the whole race.
In ST July 23, 1902 “As a result of Adams disobedience, EVERY HUMAN BEING is a transgressor of the law, sold under sin.” Is that clear language? That’s clear. “As a result of ADAMS disobedience, EVERY human being is a transgressor of the law, sold under sin.” What verse do you hear there? Sold under sin? Rom 7:14 “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.” “Sold under sin” , and that’s in reference to Adams transgression, which sold the whole human race, legally. We have all been sold out, dear brother, dear sister, by our father, Adam. Who was the legal representative of the entire race.
Listen to this statement found in CT 33 “When ADAM sinned, MAN broke away from the heaven-ordained center.” Did you hear that? When who sinned? When Adam sinned, who broke away? “Man broke away”. You know in the Hebrew, Adam is the word for man. It’s kind of hard for us to think in terms of what one man did as bearing upon the entire race. But for the Hebrew, that wasn’t hard at all, because whenever he said Adam, he meant mankind, the whole race was comprehended in him. “ When Adam sinned, man broke away from the heaven-ordained center. A DEMON became the central power in the world. Where God’s throne should have been, Satan placed his throne.” CT 33.
Do you see what that is saying? When Adam the legal representative of the race, sold out, chose to rebel against the authority of the sovereign Creator God of the universe, and chose rather to give his allegiance to the prince of darkness, who took over? Who became the prince of this world? Satan did. “Know ye not that ye are servants of whom ye obey?” (Rom 6:16) And when man, Adam the representative federal head of the race, sold out to Satan. Satan became the prince of this world. By deceit, by fraud, yes, but nevertheless in a very real sense. And he has been exercising his tyrannical, diabolical, dictatorship over the human race ever since.
And his constant quest is to press HIS mark, HIS, character likeness upon the fleshly tables of the human heart. That’s been his constant quest, to make the human race, so satanic, as to totally, and hopelessly and eternally identified with him. Parents, this is what we’re up against.
ST Jan 20, 1890 “Man was God’s workmanship, made after his image, endowed with talents, and fitted for a HIGH destiny. But Satan has worked to obliterate the divine image, and to impress HIS OWN IMAGE instead of the image of God in man’s nature.” Remember our word study last night? “khar-ak-tare”. The Greek word means the impression made by an engraver, “character”. Satan is a self styled engraver. And we were Gods coins. We’re now lost coins. When we were first made, we had a perfect likeness of the sovereign of the realm impressed upon us and all the principles of His kingdom engraved upon our hearts, and we bore His perfect likeness. But we were lost, by the disobedience of the first Adam. And ever since, we have a prince of darkness, that is trying to erase those principles of God’s kingdom and thereby deface the character likeness of God. And inscribe his own principles and thereby develop his own character likeness. And this is what we are up against parents. As we seek to develop a Christlike character in our children.
His efforts, Satan’s efforts, to develop his own likeness in the human heart, meets absolutely no natural resistance. I read MYP 51 “Fallen man is Satan’s lawful captive. The mission of Jesus Christ was to rescue him from his power. Man is naturally inclined to follow Satan’s suggestions, and he cannot of himself successfully resist so terrible a foe, unless Christ, the mighty conqueror, dwells in him, guiding his desires, and giving him strength. God alone can limit the power of Satan.” Parents do you see how much time we must then spend on our knees, as we seek to develop a Christlike character in our children. Naturally there is no power that can resist.
RH Oct 14, 1875, if there’s any statement that ought to keep us on our knees, in regards to our children, and in behalf of our children, it’s this one. Listen to this. R&H Oct 14, 1875 “Children are the lawful prey of the enemy, because they are not subjects of grace, have not experienced the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus, and the evil angels have access to these children”. Did you get that first phrase? “Children are the” What? “the lawful prey” of Satan. Because our legal head sold us by sin. We were sold by the sin of Adam. We are now the “lawful prey”, and our children are likewise.
I read on “and some parents are careless and suffer them to work with but little restraint. Parents have a great work to do in this matter, by correcting and subduing their children, and then by bringing them to God and claiming his blessing upon them. By the faithful and untiring efforts of the parents, and the blessing and grace entreated of God upon the children, the power of the evil angels will be broken, a sanctifying influence will be shed upon the children, and the powers of darkness will be compelled to give back.” Praise God for the supernatural power.
But brothers and sisters we must recognize that we desperately need it, because naturally our children, and we ourselves, are inclined to go with Satan, and LAWFULLY they, and we, are his prey. Recognizing this, we must spend time, pleading for the efficiency of the blood of Christ, not only for ourselves, but for our children.
Here’s a statement that speaks of the fact that we are made sinners legally, and it moves into the second sense in which we are made sinners, and what is that? Genetically. Listen for the two of them here, it’s found in CG 475 “Parents have a more serious charge than they imagine. The inheritance of children is that of sin”. The what? “The inheritance of children is that of sin. Sin has separated them from God. Jesus gave His life that He might unite the broken links to God.” Praise God for Jacob’s ladder. Reading on. “As related to the first Adam, men receive from him nothing but guilt and the sentence of death.” Did you hear that? “As related to the first Adam, men receive from him nothing but guilt and the sentence of death.”
That is the sense in which we are legally constituted sinners. But did you get the genetically as well? “The inheritance of children is that of sin”. Psalm 51:5 speaks to this inheritance factor. Turn with me there in your Bibles. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me”. And brothers and sisters, every descendant of Adam must make the same confession. Praise God that there is one conceived by the Holy Spirit, but that’s another subject.
“In sin my mother conceived me, I was shapen (I was brought forth) in iniquity”, Psalm 51:5. Definitely an inheritance factor. Again, Isa 48:8 “For I knew that you would deal very treacherously, and were called a transgressor from the womb.” Called a what? “a transgressor from the from the womb”. Why are we transgressors from the womb? Because we are brought forth in iniquity. Why are we brought forth in iniquity? Because we are conceived in sin. Why are we conceived in sin? “By one man’s disobedience, the many were made sinners”.
When Adams nature became fallen, everyone who was conceived by him, was destined to be born with that same sinful fallen nature. No wonder scripture says in Psalm 58:3 “The wicked are estranged from the womb, they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.” This is a negative picture my dear brother, my dear sister, but I submit that it’s one that has to be FULLY recognized before we can proceed intelligently, with our efforts to develop a Christlike character in our children. Why is it that they go astray as soon as they are born?
R&H Apr 22, 1884 “The human heart is naturally inclined to selfishness.” The human heart is NATURALLY inclined to what? “to selfishness”. What is the essence of the law of God. Self-sacrificing love. What is the essence of sin? Selfishness. Why is it that we by nature go astray and are in rebellion against Gods law? Because we are naturally what? Selfish. And everyone of you who have raised children can testify to that fact. How long does it take for that selfish nature to manifest itself? Not very long does it? Not very long. The human heart indeed, is naturally inclined to selfishness.
Ed 226 “Selfishness is the root of all evil”. In CS 24 we read this insight in regards to selfishness. “Selfishness is the essence of depravity, and because human beings have yielded to its power, the opposite of allegiance to God is seen in the world today.” No wonder all of us go astray as soon as we are born, with such an inheritance. Only brothers and sisters, by supernatural intervention can our children be protected from going astray, and be brought to a re-birth experience. And here dear brother, dear sister, fellow parent, is the crucial time, from birth to re-birth. From the cradle to the cross, that’s the time over which we have special responsibility. For our children are not aware of these realities. They are not aware of their situation. That’s why we must work diligently in their behalf and for their sake,.
Another aspect of our sinful inheritance is mentioned in Prov 22. Turn with me there. Prov 22:15, what are the words of the wise man? “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” Do you know dear brother, dear sister, I recognize that in the eyes of those who espouse the sentimental humanistic philosophy, I could be written off as a child hater for the kind of things that we’re presenting here. But please know that I love children, my own children, I would sacrifice, by Gods grace, my life for them. This is not a hating of children that causes us to address this issue. This is simply an effort to help us all as parents to realize what we’re up against, so that we might truly love our children, and protect them from that which is their natural inheritance. I submit that it is the truest hatred of children to be sentimental about them, and to say, oh let them have their own way, let them do their own thing. They’re alright, there’s nothing wicked about a child, they’re so sweet and innocent.
That dear brother, dear sister, is the truest hatred. Because that will invariably lead that child to come to the place where they have so indulged their natural selfishness, their natural bent to evil, that they will bring themselves to the position where they are”HOLDEN WITH THE CORDS OF INQUITY” (Prov 5:22) bound up for destruction, that’s hatred of children. “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child”. Be warned, beware dear parent.
ST Apr 8, 1886, in reference to this text, she says, “Foolishness, says the wise man, is bound in the heart of a child. The love of folly, the desire to do evil, the hatred of holy things, are some of the difficulties that parents must meet in the home mission field.” Did you get those three points? I want to dwell on those just briefly with you. Jot them down. What are some of the difficulties that parents must meet in the home mission field? (1) Love of folly, (2) Desire to do evil, (3) The hatred of holy things. ST Apr 8, 1886.
Let’s consider love of folly first. In AH 466 “The minds of youth and NATURALLY given to folly, and at an early age, before their characters are formed and their judgment matured, they frequently manifest a preference for associates who will have an injurious influence over them.” Did you hear that? And this is why it is so important dear brother, dear sister for us to recognize this tendency in our children. They are naturally given to folly. And BEFORE their characters are formed and their judgment matured, in other words, when they are most vulnerable. What will this natural bent to folly cause them to do? It will cause them to manifest a preference for associates who will have an injurious influence over them. Protect them from that natural tendency, please. Protect them from it, I submit you cannot be to judicious, to careful in this matter. One of the most devastating influences upon our children is the influence of their associates, peer pressure. And I submit that the devil makes more headway through this avenue, than just about any other. Watch out. We’ll address this issue further as we go on.
Secondly, the desire to do evil. The desire to do evil. This is another difficulty that parents must meet in the home mission field. Reading from 5BC 1128 “The first Adam was created a pure, sinless being, without a taint of sin upon him; he was in the image of God. He could fall, and he did fall, through transgressing. Because of sin, his posterity was BORN with inherent propensities of disobedience.” Desire to do evil. Because of sin, who’s sin? Adams sin. His posterity, who’s that? Us, and our children. Is what? Is “BORN with INHERENT propensities of disobedience”.
Now please note there are those who suggest that propensities of disobedience are acquired only after we disobey. But did you hear the language here? We are BORN with INHERENT propensities of disobedience. Are these something that are developed then after willful transgression of Gods law? No these are something that are part and parcel of that nature that we receive as a birthright from our parents, and they from theirs, and they from theirs, back to whom? Adam. “By the disobedience of ONE, the many were made sinners”.
And we are all born with these inherent propensities of disobedience. Inherent, what does the word inherent mean? It means it’s a natural part, it’s inbred, it’s inherited. Inherent. Now how do these inherent propensities of disobedience relate to character development? Very directly.
ST Apr 16, 1896 listen, “a child left to form its own character is more likely to choose evil influences than good.” That only stands to reason, does it not? If you just let them go, they will, and they will go in the wrong direction. Why? Because they have inherent propensities in the wrong direction. They have a bent to evil.
Ed 29 “The result of the eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is manifest in every man’s experience. There is in his nature a bent to evil, a force which, unaided, he CANNOT resist.” Parents, your children have a bent towards evil which unaided they cannot resist. They are dependant upon you, this side of rebirth to help them resist it. After rebirth, they are dependant upon God to help them to resist it. But the crucial time is from birth to rebirth. And we must help them resist that bent to evil. We must give them that help that they do not naturally have.
Eccl 9:3 on account of this bent towards evil, what does God’s word say? “Truly the hearts of the sons of men are of evil, madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.” That’s a grim picture isn’t it? But is that the inevitable destiny of those who are born of Adams fallen race? No, because though that is the inevitable destiny of natural birth, there is praise God, rebirth. Though that is the invariable consequence of those born to the first Adam, there is a second Adam. And He is the head of a NEW CREATION. And we can be born again to His race. Praise God for that good news.
This heart that is full of evil, that scripture speaks of, where did it come from? What is the origin of it? Is it a part of creation? Oh absolutely not. Did God create man with a heart that had any evil in it at all? No, Adam was created only with a knowledge of good. But when he transgressed, when he ate from the tree of knowledge of good AND evil, then there was a radical change, and he gained the knowledge of evil. And what does that mean? Listen.
Ed 26 “Where once was written only the character of God, the knowledge of good, was now written also the character of Satan, the knowledge of evil.” Oh yes, listen to this R&H Apr 14, 1885 “The Lord had left something for the parent to do. Let not perversity of spirit or passion control your little ones. Place them by faith in the arms of Jesus. Watch and pray. You will have a battle, parents, to dispossess ;you child of the Satanic spirit; but you will succeed if you are persevering. Let not Satanic passion abide with your children. Teach them that you are to be obeyed. In doing this you are educating them to obey God.”
The third aspect that we said that we would consider. Not only are our children naturally inclined to a love of folly, a bent to evil, but a what? “A hatred of holy things”. Rom 8:7 addresses this, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” What is the carnal mind? It is the natural mind. Listen:
ST May 23, 1895 “‘The CARNAL [or NATURAL] mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.’ Human nature could not keep the law, even if it would. Apart from Christ, without union with him, we can do nothing.
Clearly then, the carnal mind is the natural mind– the mind that we are born with by nature. And it is the only mind that we have until we are born again. Then we become spiritually minded, and then there is a constant conflict between the flesh and the spirit. And the spiritual nature must reign. Though the carnal nature still remains. We are to keep the body under, and keep the spiritual man in control. Under the Lordship of the spirit of Jesus Christ. But until rebirth there is only the carnal mind, and it is what? “Enmity” against God. No wonder we have a hatred for holy things, God is Holiness.
R&H Apr 14, 1885 “There is work to be done for ourselves and for our children. The natural heart is full of hatred to the truth, as it is to Jesus. Unless parents shall make it the first business of their lives to guide their children’s feet into the part of righteousness from their earliest years, the wrong path will be chosen before the right.” Why? Because they have a natural bent to evil. Why? Because they have a natural hatred of good, and holiness, and righteousness. Of course if you let them go, according to their own preference, they will take the path that leads to ruin and self-destruction, of course.
R&H July 4, 1893 “every human power is naturally, to a greater or less degree, opposed to God.” Did you hear that? “every human power is naturally, to a greater or less degree, opposed to God.” What is it that determines whether it’s a greater or lesser degree? Ah that’s the subject of tonights discussion. And that brings it home to us, directly. You see we’ve been talking this morning about the inheritance from whom? From Adam. But is that the only inheritance that affects our children? No. There is a more direct inheritance that they receive from whom? From us. And that’s where the greater or less degree comes into play. We will consider that tonight.
But, suffice it to say at this point, “every human power is naturally, to a greater or less degree, opposed to God.” This is why God says in Gen 3:15 “I will PUT enmity”. Why? Because it’s not naturally there, that’s why? When Adam transgressed, all that he had naturally was a hatred of God, and a love for sin. But God promised that he would do what? That he would “PUT ENMITY”. Praise God for the supernatural power that is available.
Reading from R&H May 3, 1906 “When Adam apostatized, he placed himself on Satan’s side”. Now remember, when we say Adam, who are we talking about? Man, keep that in mind. “When Adam apostatized, he placed himself on Satan’s side; his nature became evil, his nature became evil, and he became separated from God. Had there been no interference on the part of God, Satan and man would have formed an alliance against heaven, and together they would have carried on a battle against God. There is NOT a natural enmity between fallen angels and fallen man. Naturally both are united in rebellion against good. Evil, wherever it exists, will always league with evil against good, so that naturally fallen angels and fallen men are linked in a desperate companionship. But as soon as man transgressed, God gave the promise that he would put enmity between Satan and the seed of the woman. This promise is the KEY that opens to the world the grand plan of redemption.”
Brothers and sisters, we are hopeless and helpless by natural birth, but there is a KEY. There is a supernatural gift, there is a promised enmity, that opens the door to redemption, and what is redemption? What does it mean to be redeemed? To redeem a slave? To buy it back. Jesus Christ has shed His blood, that He might put that enmity in our hearts, and buy us back, from the usurped dominion of the prince of darkness, the self-styled prince of this world. Praise God for the infinite love of our everlasting Father Jesus Christ.
Because of the natural enmity though against God, scripture says of our heart, because of this carnal heart that is enmity against God. What does it say? Jer 17:9, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Who can know it? And please bear in mind, that this heart, this mind, is the central governing power in the nature of man. If the heart is bent towards evil, if the heart is enmity against God, if the heart is desperately wicked? What is the only thing that the whole man can be? Just the same.
FE 426 “The mind controls the whole man. All our actions, good or bad, have their source in the mind. It is the mind that worships God, and allies us to heavenly beings.” But naturally, the mind is allied to whom? To Satan. Parents please keep this in mind.
“To a greater or less degree” then, our children have inherited 1) a love of folly, 2) a bent toward or desire for evil, and 3) a hatred of holy things. We all must confess, that we are shapened in iniquity, and conceived in sin. That we are all “by nature, children of wrath”, according to Eph 2:3. Sons of disobedience. But praise God that though that is what we are by natural birth, we may be born again. And Jesus said “that which is born of the flesh, is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit, is spirit.”
Brothers and sisters, there are degrees of carnality, that our children are born with. Just as there are degrees of spirituality, there are degrees of carnality. Very carnal parents, beget very carnal children. Whereas parents who are born-again, and thereby have subdued the carnal nature and are spiritually minded, beget children who receive marked advantages. But please note, that is not to say that their children, the children of spiritually minded, born-again Christians, it is not say that their children are not carnal, and are naturally spiritually minded. It’s not to say that. But it is to say that the children of such parents have inherited a much less radical bent to evil. This is the “greater or less degree” aspect. And their birthright is a significant advantage to them. Because the children of such parents are much more inclined to receive spiritual things, and they are much better equipped to develop a Christlike character.
But again, the crucial time, is from birth to rebirth. And parents, this is where the law must be exercised. What does Gal 3:24 tell us? “The law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ”. Parents, we must, since our children have not the law of God naturally written upon their hearts. Since they have rather, the principles of the kingdom of darkness, selfishness written upon their hearts, we must judiciously exercise the law in their behalf to protect them from self-destruction while we are bringing them to whom? To Christ. That is where parental authority is so crucial. We must exercise the law in their behalf. To keep them from self-destruction, through self-indulgence.
CG 249,250 “The iniquity that is bound up in the heart of a child must be met and overcome by parents. Wrong must be dealt with promptly and wisely, with firmness and decision. From our children’s earliest years we should seek to subdue in them the spirit of the world.” You see during this vulnerable time, during these earliest years, brothers and sisters, our children’s plea to us, if they REALLY knew, and understood their situation, would be this, Psalm 119:`133 “Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me.” If they KNEW what their natural state was, they would pray that prayer to you dear parent, on a daily basis. “Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me.” When I don’t know any better, please exercise wisdom for me, please protect me from myself, that sinful self that you passed onto me, protect me from it until I can be brought to the foot of the cross. From the cradle to the cross, I’m counting on you, from cross to the crown I’ll count on Christ, but from the cradle to the cross, you’ve got to protect me, dear parent, from that inheritance that you yourself gave me. God help us to do that for our children’s sake.
Oh there is a promise dear brother, dear sister of supernatural power. The promise is for us, and for our children. And what is that promise? The gift of the Holy Spirit. Letter 8, 1895 “The promise is to fathers, mothers and their children, these dear children receive from Adam, an inheritance of disobedience of guilt and death. The Lord has given to the world Jesus Christ, and His work was to restore to the world, the moral image of God in man. And to reshape the character.” Praise God for the gift of the Holy Spirit, accept it, receive it, co-operate with it, that you might be used of God, to reshape your children’s character into His likeness. Shall we pray?
Father in heaven, we’ve considered this morning, that which is the natural inheritance of our children, that which was our natural inheritance, and as we recognize how hopeless and helpless we are by virtue of our natural birth, our hearts go out in joy, in celebration and in gratitude for that which is ours through rebirth. We thank you that though we are made sinners by one mans disobedience, by the Obedience of One the many will be made righteous. Oh Lord may we, recognizing what we are up against, prayerfully, depend upon you for the supernatural capacity to co-operate with Your Spirit in protecting them from themselves. That we might bring them to You that they in co-operation with You, might be transformed from Glory to Glory, into Your likeness. We pray this in Jesus’ name, AMEN.