Discipline and Admonition

A Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 05 Dec 2010

This sermon incorporates many points from Denny Kenaston’s seminar entitled “The Holy Art of Training Children.”


Ephesians 6:4  Καὶ οἱ πατέρες μὴ παροργίζετε τὰ τέκνα ὑμῶν, ἀλλ᾿ ἐκτρέφετε αὐτὰ ἐν παιδείᾳ καὶ νουθεσίᾳ Κυρίου.

And you fathers, do not enrage your children , but nurture them in discipline and admonition of the Lord.

All Bible texts after this point are from the NASB translation.

1.                 ἐκτρέφετε (Main Verb)

         Thayer Definition: 1) to nourish up to maturity, to nourish 2) to nurture, bring up

         In the N.T. only found in these last two chapters of Ephesians (Eph. 5:29; 6:4)

         Found in a score of child-rearing contexts throughout the O.T. (Gen. 45:7,11; 47:17; 2Sa. 12:3; 1Ki. 11:20; 12:8,10; 2Ki. 10:6; 2Ch. 10:10; Job 31:18; 39:3; Psa. 23:2; Pro. 23:24; Isa. 23:4; 49:21; Eze. 31:4; Hos. 9:12; Jon. 4:10; Zec. 10:9)

2.                 μὴ παροργίζετε (How NOT to do it)

         Translations: exasperate/provoke to anger/wrath.

         Compound word: para + orgy = Lit. “bringing another alongside you in out of control anger”

         Found in: Deu. 4:25; 31:29; 32:21; Jdg. 2:12,17; 1Ki. 15:30; 16:2,7,13,26,33; 21:20,22; 22:53; 2Ki. 17:11,17; 21:6,15; 22:17; 23:19,26; 2Ch. 28:25; 33:6; 34:25; 35:19; Ezra 5:12; Job 12:6; Psa. 78:40,58; 106:16,32; Isa. 1:4; Jer. 7:18,19; 8:19; 11:17; 25:6; Eze. 16:26,54; 20:27; 32:9; Hos. 12:14; Mic. 2:7; Zec. 8:14; Rom. 10:19; Eph. 6:4

         If you are angry at your child, you are not going to be able to fulfill God’s command here of nourishing them to maturity. You must first repent of your anger and get right with God and ask Him to give you a love for the children He has given you. That’s the first step.

         There are many ways that parents exasperate their children, and we don’t have time to go into all of them. Verbal abuse, physical abuse, violent discipline, setting unrealistic expectations, being unavailable, you name it, there are a lot of ways we can blow it as parents! Beware!

         Keep on the alert for signals from your children or you spouse or your friends that could indicate an angry heart in your child. You may even need to humble yourself enough to ask your children, your spouse, and your friends if they see anything that might indicate a problem. It will save you a heap of grief in the long run!

         Children are forever; there is nothing that is “too much trouble” when it comes to raising children. They’re worth all the trouble! For the rest of eternity, we are going to see our children that we helped shape, and for the rest of eternity, we are either going to be delighted with them or ashamed regarding them.

3.                 εν παιδεία (How to do it #1)

         Thayer Definition: 1) the whole training and education of children (which relates to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this purpose now commands and admonitions, now reproof and punishment) It also includes the training and care of the body 2) … correcting mistakes and curbing passions… [through] instruction… [and] chastisement…

         Found in 121 verses of the Greek Bible in its noun and verb forms – so can’t cover it all today. (Lev. 26:18,23,28; Deu. 4:36; 8:5; 11:2; 21:18; 22:7,18; 32:10; 1Sa. 1:2; 2Sa. 22:48; 1Ki. 12:11,14; 2Ch. 10:11,14; Ezra 7:26; Est. 2:7; Job 20:3; 37:13; Psa. 2:10,12; 6:1; 16:7; 18:35; 38:1; 39:11; 50:17; 90:10; 94:10,12; 105:22; 118:18; 119:66; 141:5; Pro 9:7, 10:4, 6:17,22, 17:8, 22:3, 24:32, 28:17; Isa. 8:18; 26:16; 28:26; 46:3; 50:4,5; 53:5; 66:8,12; Jer. 2:19,30; 5:3; 6:8; 7:27; 10:24; 17:23; 30:14; 31:18; 32:33; 35:13; 46:28; Eze. 13:9; 23:48; 28:3; Hos. 7:12,14; 10:10; Amos 3:7; Hab. 1:12; Zep. 3:2,7)

         In the New Testament we see that:

         2 Tim. 2:25  with gentleness correcting* those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth…
 3:16  All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training* in righteousness;

         Titus 2:12  instructing* us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,

         The scourging that Pilate ordered for Jesus was called paideia Luke 23:16,22 (cf. 2Cor 6:9)

         And paideia is something that God does:

o       Rev 3:19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline*; therefore be zealous and repent.

o       1Cor 11:32  But when we are judged, we are disciplined* by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

o       Heb 12:5  and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, "MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE* OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; 6  FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES*, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.” [Prov. 3:11] 7  It is for discipline* that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline*? 8  But if you are without discipline*, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons… 10  For they disciplined* us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11  All discipline* for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

         Paideia is also used as the discipline of excommunication from the church in 1Tim. 1:20

         About 1/3 of the occurances of the word paideia are found in the one book of Proverbs alone, so that’s where I’m going to camp today.(Asterices indicate occurances of the Greek word paideia in the Septuagint)

         Pro 1:2, 7, 8)  Hear, my son, your father's instruction And do not forsake your mother's teaching

         Pro 25:1 – These are the instructions* of Solomon [followed by a written list of proverbs]

         Pro 31:1  - the words with which his mother instructed* him (cf. 4:1, 5:12-13)

         Pro 4:13  Take hold of instruction*; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life.

         Pro 8:10  "Take my instruction* and not silver, And knowledge rather than choicest gold.”

         Prov. 29:19 [Sometimes words are not strong enough to instruct]  

         Pro 26:3  A whip is for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, And a rod for the back of fools. [Brandish Rod]

         Notice, it does not say to strike with your hand, but rather to use a rod. When you reach your hand out to your child, your child should never have to wonder if you are going to hit them. Hands are for loving and hugging, and parents need to do a lot of that!

         Just because this particular sermon is about discipline doesn’t mean you should be all about discipline. We need to balance discipline and affection. One without the other is living hell.

         Pro 13:18 Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline*, But he who regards reproof will be honored… 24  He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines* him diligently.

-          Holding back on spanking your child is giving forth a spirit of hatred toward your child. If you spank, it sends forth a spirit of love to your child!

-          And if you love your child, you will chasten him “diligently/early on/over and over.”

-          Folks, the devil has lied to us! He says that the rod is bad, that it’s negative, cruel. But according to God’s word, the rod is one of the most positive forms of discipline you can use.

-          The world says your children will hate you for spanking them and that it teaches them to hit others. Nothing could be farther from the truth! This rod will bring order where there’s chaos, peace there there’s turmoil, freedom where there’s sin in your children’s lives, and zeal where there’s apathy.

-          Now, I know that the rod can be abused. I know that there are parents who don’t use it right. You may have been spanked in anger by your parents, or even beaten up. That is not Biblical chastisement, and that’s not what I’m advocating.

-          If your attitude towards the rod is wrong because of your past experiences, I beg you to open your heart and let God show you there is a better way.

-          If your children are without the proper chastisement, they are missing some of the sweetest experiences of their life – and so are you! A child that is not disciplined is missing the fullness of a love relationship between father, mother and child.

-          We’ve been looking into looking into boys homes for an extended family member and ran into one guy we really respect at a place called Runymeade. He says he doesn’t spank the boys that come to his program because spankings create such amazing bonds of affection that they don’t want to leave the program. He doesn’t spank because he wants those boys to bond to their own fathers instead of him.

-          This raises a point: there are special circumstances in which parents are raising children that are not their own, and in those cases, you might not be able to use the rod. It’s possible to discipline and admonish children without the rod, but it’s a whole lot easier if you can use it.

         How does it work?  Pro 20:30  Stripes that wound scour away evil, And strokes reach the innermost parts.

-          Spanking is God’s method for clearing the conscience of your children.

-          Do you remember the last time you had a terrible experience and then fell on your face crying out for God to rescue you and confessed your sins and felt the release of God washing them away and overwhelming you with His close presence?

-          A child that’s being spanked  properly will have that kind of experience, and that will lead to a clear conscience and a clear countenance.

-          You can see it on their faces whether or not they’re being spanked properly. We often have people come up to us and say that there’s something different about our children’s eyes. There really is a visible difference.

-          We’ve also had people come up to us and say, “Oh you are so lucky to have such well-behaved children; if you had children like mine, you’d understand that it isn’t so easy.” I just smile. They have no idea how much trouble I’ve had with my kids. I remember sessions where for entire hour, I’d have to stop everything to discipline and instruct a defiant little boy over and over – and we’ve got some girls that need the same.  Don’t be fooled into thinking you have a special problem. As a general rule, your children are no different than everybody else’s children. There is hope for every family that follows God’s word on this.

-          One more thing: Spankings can clear the conscience, but they are not the grounds upon which a child is forgiven of wrongdoing. In other words, Biblical chastisement is not punishment.

-          God did not say that the wages of sin is four licks with a switch. No amount of spanking will atone for the child’s wrongdoing; only the death of Christ can atone for their sins, so point them to find forgiveness in prayer to Him.

-          Don’t light into them with righteous anger against their offense, fire in your eyes, paddle in hand, foam coming out of your mouth, yelling, “You’re gonna get it now!” No! Take time to cool down first if you have to. Spankings are not punishment, they are correction for future conduct.

-          A spanking should be a teaching tool to reinforce that certain things are wrong and that those things must not be done in the future.

         Let me describe an ideal spanking:

-          There is a clear offense. You have taught them a rule and they have violated it. Perhaps someone asked if they could play outside and I ask if they’ve done their chores and they say yes they’ve done their chores, and then I discover they haven’t done all their chores after all, so I’ve caught them in a lie.

-          I get alone with the offender. I don’t want to shame them in front of their peers or siblings, and I want to move them away from the distractions of life as it goes on during this special time. So we go back to my office.

-          We identify the offense. I ask questions to make sure that I haven’t misunderstood what’s going on and help the child see that they have indeed told me a lie. Then I remind them of the ninth commandment and explain what it means to “bear false witness.” I help the child see that they have broken God’s law and express grief over this – perhaps with silence, crying with them, or pleading with them. I want them to see the seriousness of it.

-          I apply the rod carefully. Sometimes, I remind them that God has commanded me that I have to spank them. The goal is to bring pain that trains them. A tap on the diaper isn’t going to bring enough pain. A whallop on the bare buttocks with a heavy stick is too much. It has to be carefully measured. I’ll put my whole arm into it with a teenage boy, but just use a flick of the wrist with my little girls. How many licks? That also requires wise judgment. Sometimes they need as many as it takes until they drop their guard and weep over their sin. Some kids will stubbornly keep their rebellious heart and take licks stoically if they know there will only be three licks. On the other hand, I have found that in other cases, knowing that three licks is the punishment provides a sense of justice and order in the lives of some children, and it actually helps them to know exactly what’s coming. Just ask God for wisdom about this, and He’ll give it to you.

-          Than I hug them. I let them cry a little bit in my arms, and even express grief myself because I hate to have to spank.

-          Then we pray. I encourage little children to repeat after me, “Dear Lord, please forgive me for lying to Papa. Please help me to tell the truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” I encourage bigger kids to pray their own prayer. I may also add a prayer. This teaches the child that it is God who graciously forgives, that it isn’t the spanking that makes them right with God.

-          We conclude with a wrap-up instruction. I ask them if they believe God forgave them and assure them that He has because we asked in Jesus’ name. I tell them I’ll also forgive them if I’ve been offended, or I’ll instruct them to ask forgiveness of whatever other party they have wronged. And then I assure them that everything is all right. We have done what it takes to make things right, and all is well and I love them.

-          I tell you, when I do it like that, the child is my buddy for the rest of the day. They follow me around with admiration in their eyes. They know their Dad loves them.

         Pro 22:15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline* will remove it far from him.

-          Foolishness is natural for children. Your children are sinners, and they are going to sin. It’s bound up in their heart.

-          God has ordained that through their failures and through discipline, they will learn Godly character. Since this is the case, parents must not get angry at their children when their children sin.

-          It is wicked pride that wants our kids to look good in front of others and not embarrass us. It is wicked pride that lashes out in anger at our children for making us look bad in front of others.

-          No, we’re after the hearts of our children, and we want them to be right before God. We know that those little hearts are bound up with foolishness, and we’re going to work on them with the rod of discipline so that we can present these children to God for His service knowing that their hearts are right before God.

-          They are tied up with folly like a captive tied up with ropes. And the way the Bible tells us to free them from that folly is to discipline with the rod.

-          You can yell at folly, but it won’t go away. You can stand it in the corner, and the foolishness will not leave. You can talk nice to it; you can give foolishness a reward, but it will not leave. The rod of correction is God’s ordained way to drive foolishness out of your children.

-          It won’t just give you a little reprieve from foolishness; no, it will drive it far away. Far away!

-          Now, I’ll give a little caveat; spanking isn’t the only tool in your training toolbox. There is a place for other forms of training.

a.       For every negative admonition and discipline session there should be positive reinforcement that says to your child that doing what is right makes life delightful. Treats and hugs and conversations and special outings and play and showing accomplishments make a child’s life delightful, so fill your home with these things!

b.      And there are other tools besides spanking to handle negative behavior too. Sometime babies cry because they are tired and stretched beyond their limits. In such cases, I don’t give them a spanking, I give them a time out. After a good cry alone in their room and maybe getting a nap, attitudes can turn around 180 degrees without a spanking.

c.       Parents need God’s wisdom to recognize when it’s appropriate to do what.

-          But when you see a guilty conscience, do your children a favor, and drive that foolishness out of their hearts with a rod. It’s not right for you to leave it there. God never intended for your children to live with all that junk in their heart.

-          This is what happens: A child does something wrong – they know it, and their conscience feels guilty – even if nobody saw them do it. Then with that guilty conscience, they do something else wrong, and the conscience feels more guilty.

-          If you hold back the rod, you are saying to your children, “I don’t love you; I don’t love you; I don’t love you.”

-          You know, it’s a terribly unloving thing to let a child go around like that. They’re frustrated and discontent and aren’t happy with anything, and you know it. You can just take them to their room for a spanking and set them at rest. Let them have a good day and be happy again.

         Pro 23:12-14 Apply your heart to discipline* And your ears to words of knowledge. Do not hold back discipline* from the child, Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod And rescue his soul from Sheol.

-          He may holler like he’s going to die, but don’t be fooled. Kids are smart enough to try to manipulate you like this.

-          If you hold back too much on this rod; you spare this rod too much; you indulge your natural love too much, and they’ll go to hell over it. That’s what this verse says; and that’s a very serious thing.

-          How can that be? Well, God saves those who are repentant, whose self-centered will is broken. And a child who has had their will broken consistently through Biblical chastisement will respond quickly when God says, “Come, follow Me.” A child with a heart still bound up with folly whose will has never been broken by his parents will naturally be rebellious to God too. Do your child a favor. Spank them and break their will.

-          Susanna Wesley, the mother of the great hymnwriter Charles Wesley and of John Wesley, the founder of the Wesleyan church, once said, “I set out at an early age to conquer the will of each child. Then I continue to bring it under subjection until it is totally yielded to Christ.”

-          This training can begin very early. I remember doing it with my not-quite-one-year-old Josh when he started crawling and noticing the electrical outlets on the walls. He had no idea the danger of sticking things into electrical outlets, and I was not going to let him hurt himself badly through his own foolishness. So I started training him with a light swat on the hand whenever he reached up to the electrical outlets, and it worked. After a while, it got to where he would crawl up to an outlet, look at it, start to reach up, then shake his head and crawl away on his own.

-          Parents can also train little children positively by calling children to come to us. Give them a big hug or a piece of candy for coming quickly. But if they don’t come quickly, warn them, and then the next time, spank them for disobedience. That way it’s proactive. You can plan it around the time you have free to work on obedience. Be proactive in training your children.

-          If we parents will become students of training our children, we’ll do them a huge favor – we’ll save them from so much pain and misery in this life, and give them a real head start!

-          O.K. kids, this is fair warning! If you hear your Daddy or Mommy call you this week to “Come here,” now you know what they’re doing, and you’d better come running!

         Pro 29:15-18  The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. When the wicked increase, transgression increases; But the righteous will see their fall. Correct* your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul. Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.

-          Can you see what happens when parents don’t give out discipline and instruction? “Shame,” “increase of wickedness,” and a hard “fall!”

-          God is pleading with us here! Chasten your children! The rod and correction and reproof will give wisdom to your children! They’ll be obedient; they’ll go the right way.

-          Maybe you’re not sure how to do it all. Don’t get uptight about that. If your heart is in the right place and you are honestly trying to raise your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord and praying for help and asking wise people for advice and faithfully doing what you can, God will take that and bless it. God has promised to teach us and guide us if we’re looking to follow Him. It’ll turn out better than you can imagine.

         Pro 12:1  Whoever loves discipline* loves knowledge, But he who hates reproof is stupid.

         Pro 13:1 A wise son accepts his father's discipline*, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. (cf. 15:5, 10)

         Pro 15:32-33  He who neglects discipline* despises himself, But he who listens to reproof acquires understanding. The fear of the LORD is the instruction* for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.

         Discipline of your children models God’s ways to our children. When we use the rod of correction in an appropriate manner, we are showing our children what God is like and how God works in our lives.

         It is a basic Biblical principle for fathers to bring correction to their sons. Fathers, don’t leave it all to Mom. Sure, Mom can give out spankings too, but don’t leave all the training to her. The Bible places the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the fathers.

         We see once again, not to allow anger into our lives.

         The phrase “while there is hope” means there will come a time when there will be no hope anymore – when spanking won’t work anymore.

         The stakes are high. Once they’re grown up and out of the house, we have to leave them in God’s hands. And God will do His own job of chastening them then.

         While there’s time, don’t hold back. Trust God’s word that the rod is what God wants you to use on your children.

4.                 εν νουθεσία (How to do it part 2)

         Thayer Definition: admonition, exhortation

         Found 11 times in the NT and 11 times in the OT in noun and verb forms

         10x in Job, as God and other speakers speak to correct mistaken notions that men held. (Job 4:3; 23:15; 30:1; 34:16; 36:12; 37:14; 38:18; 40:4, also in 1 Samuel 3:13)

         The Apostles admonished the people in the early church

         Act 20:31  "Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish* each one with tears.

         cf . 1Th 5:12  But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give* you instruction*,

         The Bible was written to admonish us:

         1Co 4:14  I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish* you as my beloved children.

         1Co 10:11  Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction*, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

         cf. Col 1:28  We proclaim Him, admonishing* every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.

         Col 3:16  Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing* one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

         We, the people in the church are taught to admonish others around us!

         Rom 15:14  And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish* one another.

         1Thess. 5:14  We urge you, brethren, admonish* the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

         2 Thessalonians 3:14  If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15  Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish* him as a brother.

         Tit 3:10  Reject a factious man after a first and second warning*,

         And, fathers are to do this very thing also with our children in Eph. 6:4  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction* of the Lord.