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Let’s face it: mastering the Bible’s most complex academic doctrines is a lot easier than obeying many of the simplest practical instructions of Scripture. It’s comparatively easy to explain the hypostatic union, learn the nuances of Trinitarian theology, or outline the complexities of supralapsarianism vs. infralapsarianism. It is much harder to obey God’s simple commandments faithfully—even the most elementary principles, such as “Honor your father and your mother” (Ex. 20:12); “Fathers, do not provoke your children” (Col. 3:21); and “Wives, submit to your own husbands” (Eph. 5:22).

In other words (to paraphrase something Mark Twain famously said), it’s not what we don’t understand in the Bible that troubles us the most. The more pressing problem for all of us is our inability to consistently follow simple biblical instructions that are spelled out in crystal-clear, straightforward commandments.

Nowhere is that more obvious than right at home, in the context of our own families. Any pastor will tell you that the vast majority of pastoral counseling sessions deal with family matters. The overwhelming mass of sin issues that lead to church discipline stem from dysfunction in the family. The most painful, destructive moral failures that Christians fall into are rooted in the failure of family relationships. And nowhere are the pain and devastation of sin’s consequences more strongly felt or more catastrophically destructive than in the family.

Remarkably, however, the Bible’s instructions for the family are few and uncomplicated. There is no elaborate catalog of parental advice, no programmed approach to parenting, no detailed tutorial for the care and feeding of infants, no complex child psychology for parents to master. Just a few very simple, direct commandments; many assorted life principles that certainly can be applied in the context of the family; and an invaluable catalog of wise advice about life from the book of Proverbs—containing wisdom that applies to both parents and children.

We are expected—indeed, commanded—to do the hard work of applying these biblical principles to all of life, teaching them to our children, and making Scripture the central focus of everything we think, say, and do (Deut. 6:6–9). In fact, there is enough in those few verses of Deuteronomy 6 to keep the faithful, conscientious parent occupied full time.

But if you want to honor Christ—especially if you aspire to any kind of spiritual leadership—you must be a true model of Christlikeness, not merely a theological bookworm. “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). And that duty, and the duty to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22), begins at home, in the context of your own family. 

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The Spirit of Truth

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From the June 2014 Issue
Jun 2014 Issue