Parenting Through Galatians

by Rick Duncan, Cuyahoga Valley Church Founding Pastor

Conscientious parents often fill up their shelves with great books on how to parent well. That’s not a bad idea. But we know that the best book on parenting is the Bible. When you explore the Bible, however, you will find only a few passages of scripture that deal directly with the topic of parenting. That doesn’t mean that we can’t make application from other sections of the Bible.
I want us, in this blog post, to read through a bit of Galatians 3 and make an application to parenting. As we work our way through the text,  I hope you will see how you can make application of other sections of scripture to your heart as a parent. Let’s start with Galatians 3:2.
2 Let me ask you [parents] only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?
3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? [Are you seeking to perfect your child by the flesh – by demanding obedience, by threats and coercion, by your rules that force change from the outside in?]
5 Does He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Galatians 3:2-3, 5 
Do you want a miracle in the life of your son or daughter? Parent them in the Spirit and not in the flesh. Live your own life by grace through faith and not by rules, rituals, and regulations.
10 For all [parents] who rely on works of the law [to parent his or her child] are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”
Nobody can keep all the rules. The best child can’t keep all the rules. So, if you set up a system that subtly communicates that your approval of your child is based on their keeping the family rules, then you are creating a “no-win“ situation for both you and for them.
You have to ask yourself, “What am I trying to produce? Am I trying to produce someone who makes me look good to my mom and dad or my brothers and sisters? Or am I trying to equip someone to follow Jesus? Am I trying to produce someone who will be a success in the eyes of the world? Or am I trying to raise someone who will be pleasing to Christ because they know how to trust and love Him? Am I trying to produce someone who will turn out to be a self-righteous little Pharisee? Or am I trying to encourage someone to be able to humbly walk with their God?
11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law [by keeping the household rules], for “The righteous shall live by faith.”
What we want is for our children to be truly righteous. And the only way they can be truly righteous is not by a “do more, try harder“ life. The only way your child can be righteous is by grace through faith in Jesus.
21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God?
Are family rules a bad idea? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. If a family rule could bring life to child, then that child would be right with God through self-effort. There would be no need for Christ, then.
We just need to understand that the family rules have no power to give life to a child’s heart. Instead, the rules serve to expose the rebellion that’s in a child’s heart so that the child will run to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and for an ability to live the kind of life that he or she knows they have to be living.
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law [the do’s and don’ts of the family rules], imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.
24 So then, the law [the family rulebook] was our guardian [showing us right from wrong] until Christ came [until Christ enters into the heart of your child], in order that we might be justified by faith.
Your family rules are there to show your children their need for Christ so that they might be made right with God through their faith in Jesus.
25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian
Your kids after coming to faith in Christ have an internal guidance system. The family rules no longer dominate or dictate everything].
26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
Your child can be a beloved children of God, alive, and well, and led by the Spirit to keep the rules not from the outside in but from the inside out – not because he or she has to but because he or she wants to.
You can parent in the flesh. Or you can parent in the Spirit. Which do you choose? The choice is obvious, right?
If you are going to parent in the Spirit then you have to stay in step with the Spirit. “A Spirit-led parent will have a fruit filled-home,” says Chad Allen.
  • What other section of scripture do you think you could use in a similar way to help you as a parent?
  • Would you take your time to work through a text, write down your thoughts, and apply the truths to your life as a parent?

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