Parents, when your child disobeys, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? What do you say in response to your child? Do you lead your child to see his disobedience in light of God’s authority and commands? Do you use this moment as an opportunity to point to the gospel?
Children need to learn early about their creature-Creator relationship to God. They are under authority and owe God complete obedience to His commandments…
They need to be helped to think theologically about their failures to obey—that is, they need to learn to see their sin in relation to God. So being dishonest is not only an unkindness to others, it is also a violation of the ninth commandment. Taking something that belongs to another child is not simply carelessness or selfishness, it is breaking the eighth commandment. A child’s disobedience to his parent is not simply hurtful or disrespectful, it is disobeying God’s fifth commandment.
By pointing out these connections to children we can help them see their actions in the light of God’s law…
The gospel is only good news to those who understand the bad news about sin. That is just as true for children as it is for adults. When a child has been taught to see his attitudes, words and actions in the light of God’s commandments, he will soon realize that he is a lawbreaker and in need of forgiveness.
The good news is that God has provided forgiveness in the person and work of Jesus. By His life and death, Jesus has accomplished everything that God’s law requires of us—perfect obedience in order to attain righteousness and full payment for disobedience. And He did this for sinners—real sinners who know that they have broken God’s law and now are liable to His just condemnation as a result. Every sinner who turns away from sin and trusts Jesus will be saved from sin. We must encourage our children to believe this and to repent and trust Jesus to save them.
(Tom Ascol, “Give Them Law and Gospel,” founders.org, as referenced by Tim Challies on his blog)
Parents, here is a resource that can assist you in grounding your children in a right understanding of the law and the gospel: The Righteous Shall Live by Faith Family Devotional Guide. This 13-week family devotional guide provides six days of devotional ideas per week, plus ideas for a weekly family night activity. Churches, this devotional guide was developed in conjunction with an intergenerational curriculum. You can find out more about these and other resources here.