True Christian Education

Proverbs 13:1-25

The prevailing view of children and child-rearing begins with the idea of a tabula rasa or “blank slate”, that a child comes into the world with no preconceived notions or predispositions toward either good or evil. They have a natural curiosity and merely need some helpful coaching to find their own way and become productive citizens. It’s up to the child to write what he finds interesting and useful on that blank slate; it would be presumptuous for the adults in his life to try to write anything on it or, heaven forbid, tell him what he should write on it.

Nothing could be farther from the truth as communicated by the Word of God. Children come into the world with a sin nature and predisposed to all sorts of bad or wrong things:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned (Rom. 5:12)

“None is righteous, no, not one;no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.”, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Rom. 3:10-18)

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psa. 51:5)

You have done wrong and lied from the day you were born. (Psa. 58:3) CEV

One commentator wrote: “No one is born pious; everyone brings sin with him into the world.” For that reason we as Christian parents cannot turn them loose to “find their own way” or send them off “to find themselves”. We must instruct and discipline them in the truth, in the ways of God if we expect them to grow up to be godly men and women. It’s the job of Christian parents to give their children a true Christian education.

A. Its basis

God’s word (vers. 1, 13, 14)

need v.1

if no need, then no command or example to instruct

where we find the

reason for the need

children are immature, even Jesus – Luke 2:51-52 – submissive to parents’ training as he grew in 4 areas: intellectual, physical, spiritual, social

children are foolish, lacking in sense – Prov. 22:15 – contrasted with understanding and wisdom

resources to meet the need

children do come with an Owner’s Manual – the Bible

the authoritative source of information, guidance, example (good and bad)

principles v.13-14

word – principles taught must be found there

commandment – expectations in home must be consistent with God’s expectations

law – must be God’s law, written on the heart for permanent effect

scope v.14

all of life – see Psa. 19:7-11

and afterlife – see Rom. 6:22

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. ESV

B. Its means

love, and strictness in inculcating God’s word (vers. 1 & 22; 15, 18, 24)

loving father

instructs both wise and foolish sons v.1

leaves a good inheritance v.22

A good man’s character is not hereditary, but it is very apt to propagate other characters of the same kind. Harris

is prompt in disciplining v.24b

start young

avoid delay between need for correction and corrective action

firm, consistent training based on biblical principles v.15,18,24

training, not suggestions or coaching

should be age-appropriate

may start with actions but requires words to teach principles

rewards and consequences are necessary

there are consequences for breaking man’s law – need to learn that principle early

it’s discipline, not abuse

physical forms of correction/training are at times most effective

failure to correct demonstrates lack of regard for God’s Word and the child’s soul

properly done it models God’s treatment of his people

see Heb. 12:5-11

C. Its aim

guidance of the youth to the promotion of his

temporal welfare (vers. 2, 11, 17, 20, 21, 23)

references to food, wealth, labor, health, intellectual growth, reward for labor

eternal welfare (vers. 4, 6, 9, 12, 14, 19)

references to soul, the way, lamp being put out, fountain of life, snares of death

the first must serve the second

must strive to not have temporal welfare overshadow eternal welfare

training should emphasize need/way to please God first, benefits of doing so second

purpose is not behavior modification but character molding

it’s God’s approval that ultimately matters, his standard that must be met; outward behavior should be reflective of heart condition

Gospel truth must be taught along with practical principles & application

Our ultimate goal: the salvation of our children and grandchildren followed by their subsequent worship and faithful service to God. We have a wonderful Savior and he is pleased often to work in families – parents raising up successive generations of godly children. God is the one who saves but he uses means to bring people to faith; a primary means is true Christian education. May God be pleased to give us children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren who belong to him.


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