Colossians 3:20-21

Dr. Steve Viars January 28, 1995 Colossians 3:20-21

- (mention situation with Rumba's parents)
- the last couple of weeks we've been studying how the doctrine of the
    preeminence of Jesus Christ should affect our marriages.
- thats one of the places where the rubber hits the road.
   - you can tell how much a person loves their Lord,
       - and wants to be like their Lord
       - and wants to please and follow their Lord
            - by how they treat their spouse
            - by whether they are joyfully seeking to fit and function in
                their God-ordained role in their marriage.

- so we're asking -- do we really believe verses like Col. 2:9-10?
    "For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the godhead bodily.  And you
     are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power."

- the wife who would say "yes" should also be able to say, "therefore,
    I'm submitting myself to my husband so I can be like my submissive

- the husband who would say "Yes, I believe Christ is preeminent," should
    also be able to say, "therefore, I'm am sacrificially loving my wife
    like Christ loved the church."

- now, in verses 20-21, Paul applies the same theme to child-rearing.
   - you could almost view this as an "overlay" (transparency) that says
      "the preeminence of Christ" that in verses 18-19 were laid over a
      Christian marriage.
         - we needed to hear how that doctrine should affect our

         - in today's verses, Paul is picking up the overlay and placing
            it over the parents and their children.

- so we're talking about "The Pre-eminence of Christ in Our Families"

- now, just like verses 18-19, these verses are very simple and
     - read verses 20-21.

- in our outline, we're going to organize the material just the way the
    verses do.
      - when you think about it, this whole section is organized
         differently than we might expect.
           - it was surprising that the wives were addressed before the
                husbands in 18-19 (just like Eph. 5:22-33).

           - it's also surprising that the children are addressed before
               the parents (just like Eph. 6).
           - we'll try to point out later some possible reasons for why
               this is true.

- but we're going to take the material in the order in which it's
   presented in the passage.


I. God's Desire For Children

    - it's important to mention right off the bat that the word that is
       used here for children is a very general term describing children
       of all ages.
    - so we're talking about any child who is still living under his
       parent's roof and eating at his parent's table.

    - now, of course, as the child gets older, the relationship between
       teaching and correction changes (flash transparency)
         - but the command to obey is in force as long as a child chooses
            to live under his parent's roof.

    - that is especially important since many children are living in
        their parent's homes longer
           - or are coming back into the home after living somewhere else
               for a period of time.

    - a couple of things we need to say about that situation:
        1) parents are not biblically obligated to provide a place for
            their children to live for life.
              - if they choose to let their children live in their homes
                after they have reached "adulthood" -- thats their
                    - but we're talking about a privilege, not a right.
        2) parents who allow older children to live in their homes would
             be very wise to discuss and agree on what kind of behavior
             is expected in the home as long as they live there.
                - some "adult children" have the view that they can come
                  back into their parent's homes and live however they
                  want to.
                - that’s exactly what this verse is not teaching.

- point is -- the word "children" here is a very general term describing
   children of all ages who are still living under their parent's roofs.

- now, the passage says that God's desire for children is:
    A. That they be obedient

       - not that they be pretty, not they get an athletic scholarship,
          not that they date the BMOC
             - but that they be obedient.

- for the meaning of this word, let me ask you to look at a very
    interesting usage in Acts 12:13.

        1) meaning of obey

             (read Acts 12:13 and let folks guess which word in that
               verse is the word translated obedience in Col. 3:20)
                  - KJV - came to hearken

            - the word obedience originally meant - "to hearken at the
            - the picture is of a servant is stands ready to answer and
                 serve in whatever way is necessary.

                 - what a far cry from the relationship of the average
                     American child to his/her parents!

            - this word came to mean "hearkening to a command, thus
- this word also tells us something about:

    2) how often is a child to obey?

        - the word "obey" in this verse is also in the present tense.

        - the significance of that is that the Lord is speaking about
            continuous action.

        - a child could never say, "well, I obeyed last week or last
              - the issue is, are you choosing to obey today?
              - are you choosing to obey in this situation?

(we'll have more to say about that when we study the phrase "in all
  things" in a moment)

- we said before that its important to note that all of the things that
   the Lord could have addressed about what a child needs to especially
   work on--it's critical to note that He majored on the matter of
     - just like wives especially need to work on submission
     - just like husbands especially need to work on love
     - a child needs to especially work on obedience

- that shouldn't be surprising because the topics of obedience and honor
   have an important place in the Scriptures:

    3) an important place in the Scriptures

       - Exodus 20:12 - one of the Ten Commandments - "Honor thy father
            and thy mother."

       - Exodus 21:15-17 - striking or cursing one's parents was
            punishable by death according to OT law.  (cf. Lev. 20:9)

       - Deut. 21:18-21 - continued rebellion and disobedience was
            punishable by death.

       - Proverbs 1:8 - children are to listen to their parent's
            instruction and obey it.

- an important question for every parent to ask is -- have we made this
    as important an issue in our parenting as the Lord does?

- adding to what we've already said about obedience is that:

    4) consequences of disobedience are graphically displayed in

        Proverbs 30:17 - The eye that mocketh at his father, and
           despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall
           pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.

        - I realize that none of us enjoys thinking of an image like
           that--but it would be better for us to be shocked some today
           (if we need to be) than to be shocked at the fulfillment of
           this verse in the life of one of our children.

- another truth the Scripture gives us about obedience is that:

    5) Disobedience is a mark of the ungodly.

        II Tim. 3:2

        Rom. 1:30

            - point -- in lists of some of the most significant ways a
                person could sin, this matter of obedience to parents is

- I think we need to repeat the question we asked a moment ago.
   - in your parenting, have you viewed the matter of obedience to be as
       important as the Lord has in His Word?

- INPUT - What are some ways a parent might not have made this as
             important an issue as the Scripture does?

- so God's desire for children is that they be obedient.
- the verse goes on to say:

    B. In all things

        - in other words, they are to be obedient without limitations

        - of course we have to balance that in at least two ways:

           1) unless the parent is telling them to do something sinful.

                - Acts 5:29

           2) remembering the truth of progressive sanctification
               - the goal is not perfect, immediate obedience overnight
               - the goal is to rear children who are growing in

       - having said that--we can't ignore the fact that of the few words
         that are used in the verse, the Lord did include the phrase "in
         all things."

       - that’s because children should never be satisfied with 'partial

          INPUT - situations in which children might be tempted to
                    "partially obey"?

- the last truth the Lord gives children is:

    C. Because this is well-pleasing to the Lord.

        - Matt. 3:17 - this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.

        - the Heavenly father was well pleased with His own Son, and He
            deserves to be well pleased with all children.

- INPUT - what are some questions we need to be asking ourselves as
            parents as a result of studying this verse?


- just like we saw in verses 18-19, Paul gives a parallel truth to what
   we've been studying this morning in verse 21.

II. God's Desire For Parents

    - the verse is addressed to fathers
    - many Bible students believe that a better translation there would
        have been, "parents"
          - let me show you why
          - Heb. 11:23 - same word

    - regardless, even if it is addressed to fathers only, mothers are
      obviously involved because of all the other Scriptures that tell us
      the important place mom has in rearing children under dad's

    - just like the wife's submission is most easily exercised with a
      husband who is being loving (verses 18-19), a child's obedience is
      most easily exercised with parents who are not exasperating their
        - (not that this gives children an excuse to disobey)
        - the point is -- here's the best kind of 'soil" in which to grow
            an obedient child.

    A. Do not exasperate your children.

        - the word means "stir up, provoke, or irritate"

        - we not saying, "don't ever make them angry."
            - even when a parent is lovingly teaching and correcting his
                child, that child may foolishly respond in sinful anger.
                 - that doesn't mean the parent was wrong.

                 - whether a child gets angry or not is not the test of a
                    parent's ministry.

                 - remember, David was condemned in I Kings 1:6 because
                    he had not displeased his son (Adonijah) at any time.

        - when we talk about "exasperating" we're talking about parenting
           them in a way that makes it harder for them to follow verse
              - that could be done in a number of ways, and we'll list
                  some of them in a minute.
              - but the next part of the first actually helps explain the
                  first part.

    B. Do not make them lose heart.

        - to be "without courage, spirit"
        - Jay Adams - to knock the wind out of their sails.

        - this helps us understand what it means to exasperate a child
            because we see the effect
               - the child has lost hope
               - the child is giving up
               - the child is frustrated


- of course, ultimately, the child has to decide for himself whether he
   is going to obey or whether he is going to rebel
     (and parents who follow verse 21 don't automatically get children
       who follow verse 20)
- but the message of this passage is -- we parents must do everything in
   our power to have hope, and the desire to be obedient, godly children.

- let's spend the rest of our time talking about some ways a parent can
    exasperate their children.
      (list is from Jay Adams and John MacArthur)

  1) By underdisciplining

        - unannounced rules (making rules in the middle of the game)

        - no consistent discipline (its OK one day and wrong the next)

        - too many rules (underdiscipline? - yes, because you can't
            enforce 50 rules at once)

  2) Disciplining in uncontrolled anger

        - bottom lines
        - overstatement

  3) Showing favoritism

  4) Overprotection

       - failing to distinguish between "flame issue" and "swing issues"

  5) Over discipline

      - I John 5:3 - God's commands are not grievous

  6) Saying "no" to everything

  7) Failing to show affection

  8) Failing to praise

      - INPUT - other ways a parent can exasperate his/her children?

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video