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“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

With fatherhood comes great responsibility to God, who creates and gives life to children in their mothers’ wombs (cf. Psalm 139:13-16). Fathers are not to provoke their children to anger by being overly harsh and cruel, but they are to lead and teach their children to know the Lord and to hear and believe His Word. And fathers will be held accountable to God for the upbringing of their children.

Jesus commands that infants and children, too, be brought to Him and made His disciples through Baptism and the hearing of His Word because only through faith in Jesus and His blood shed upon the cross can anyone be saved. Though they may appear to be more innocent than adults, children too are sinners from conception and birth onward and are under the condemnation of God’s law (cf. Psalm 51:5; Galatians 3:10-11; Romans 5:12ff.).

And Jesus would have little children — even infants — brought to Him in Baptism. In Luke 18:15-17, we read: “They also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it’” (cf. John 3:3-6).

In regard to his admonition to the people to repent and be baptized, Peter said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 3:38-39).

Certainly, children are a part of all nations and included in Jesus’ command: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

And God specifically commands fathers to bring up their children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). That includes bringing them to be baptized, but it also includes teaching them all that the Bible teaches and being an example to them in living in accord with God’s Word.

Yes, that means teaching them Bible stories at home, teaching them how to pray, talking to them about their sinfulness and Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world, and teaching them how God would have them live. It means going to church and Bible study and also taking them to church and Bible study. It means saying no to those things which are sinful and harmful and encouraging one’s children to live their lives in obedience to God’s Word, trusting in Christ to forgive them wherever and whenever they come short. Cf. Deuteronomy 6:4ff.

Fathers are to lead by teaching and by example. And, sometimes, fathers must use discipline to correct their children and teach them the right way. The Bible says: “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6; cf. Proverbs 13:24).

Not to teach and correct causes these little ones to sin, or stumble, in regard to their faith in Christ Jesus. It leads them to turn away from Christ and to suffer the greatest harm ever – to be condemned and forsaken of the Lord in the final judgment. And, as God held Eli responsible for his failures to teach and correct his sons (1 Samuel 3:11-14), so God still holds fathers responsible today if they do not bring up their children “in the training and admonition of the Lord.”

Jesus said: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” (Matthew 18:6-7).

This warning of God’s judgment upon those who cause children who believe to sin and fall away from their faith in Christ Jesus ought to make fathers and mothers all the more diligent to bring up their children to know and trust in Jesus as their Savior.

Bringing up their children to know the Lord and to believe His Word truly is the most important thing fathers and mothers can do for them. And, for our failures, we are called to repent and to look to Christ Jesus and His cross for forgiveness and for the help and strength to amend our ways and live for Him, teaching and admonishing our children in the truth. Christ did die for all our sins and rise again. Through faith in Him, there is forgiveness and eternal salvation.

And His Holy Spirit, not only moves us to repent and trust in Christ; He moves and empowers us to bring up our children in the ways of the Lord. We look to Him for help and strength to bring up our children “in the training and admonition of the Lord.”

O merciful Father, I thank You for so loving me that You gave Your Son to die in my stead and redeem me from the condemnation and death I deserve on account of my sin. Give me the help and strength to bring up my children to know You and the salvation You have provided in the death and resurrection of Your Son, Christ Jesus, the Savior. In His name, I pray. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:16-19

This passage of the Bible is one which few accept. Why? Because it speaks of the curse brought upon all mankind by the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden; and who wants to acquiesce to a life filled with pain, sorrow, hard work, trouble, hardship and, finally, death and decay?

To the woman God said, “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” How many women are willing to accept this truth and submit themselves to such a life of sorrow and pain?

To Adam God said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”

One doesn’t have to be a farmer to know that the ground brings forth thorns and thistles, but the curse includes the fact that we will have to labor and work hard to earn and produce our daily bread; yet we so often forget this and seek an easier way. We grumble and complain about the need to labor and work long and hard hours, but we shouldn’t expect things to be easy in this sinful world.

We also will all die and return to the dust of the ground. We try to put this truth far from our minds, as well, and we live as though death will not overtake us; but it will! We will return to the dust of the ground from which we were formed and created. Some go to great lengths to avoid the inevitable, but they too die.

And why all this suffering, sorrow, toil, pain and death? It is because of sin – because Adam and Eve doubted and disobeyed God’s word to them and because we are born in sin and disobedience to the perfect will and design of our Creator. The Bible tells us that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and these words are true. We die because we are sinners, and there is nothing we can do about it

Yet God has provided a solution to our self-inflicted dilemma. He sent His only-begotten Son into the world a true man to fulfill all righteousness for us, living in perfect obedience to the holy will and commandments of the LORD, and then to bear in Himself the full punishment for the sins of the world, by suffering and dying upon the cross, that we might be pardoned and acceptable in God’s eyes.

This Jesus has done. He lived a holy life in our stead and then suffered and died upon the cross for our sins and rose again on the third day. In Christ Jesus, God offers and gives to us sinners forgiveness for all our sins and everlasting life with Him in heaven. As the Scriptures say, “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Yes, as sinners, we suffer the heartaches, pains and sorrows of this world. We have to spend our days here laboring for our daily bread. And, finally, when our days here are done, we die and our bodies return to the dust (cf. Psalm 90). But as believers in Christ Jesus, who died for our sins and rose again in victory, we are assured that we too shall be raised up on the last day to life eternal. We are assured and take comfort in the fact that Jesus is right now preparing a place for us and will come again to take us to be with Him forever in the mansions of His Father’s house (cf. John 14:1ff.). For us, “to die” is “to depart and be with Christ, which is far better”! (Philippians 1:21,23).

Indeed, we live by faith in the Son of God who died for us, rose again and is coming to take us to be with Him forever! We endure the pain and suffering of this world in eager anticipation of the life which is to come for Jesus’ sake!

O dearest Jesus, You lived the holy and sinless life which I should have lived, and You took the punishment I should have suffered when you were condemned and forsaken of the Father upon the cross. Thank You for paying the price for my sin and opening up for me the way of eternal life. Graciously receive me into Your everlasting kingdom and give me never-ending life with You in heaven. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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So the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:14-15

Though, perhaps hard for us to fully understand, the serpent was cursed with a greater curse than that of the rest of God’s creatures for its role in the temptation and fall of mankind. Not only would it have to die, but it would spend its life on its belly, eating the dust of the ground.

There would be enmity between the serpent and the woman, and between the serpent’s seed and the woman’s seed. This enmity is much more than a normal distaste for snakes and even destroying them when the opportunity arises. It speaks of the offspring of the devil’s lie and the Seed or offspring of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head and undo the damage done by the temptation of the devil in the garden.

The devil would fail in his attempts to deceive and mislead the promised Seed of the woman — Jesus Christ, Son of God and Mary’s Son — for Jesus did not give in to the devil’s temptations but was holy and without sin (cf. Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 4:15).

And, Christ Jesus, when He suffered and died upon the cross for the sins of the world, paid in full the punishment for all mankind’s sin and destroyed the devil’s work, opening up for all of us a way of salvation through faith in Him and His shed blood (cf. Hebrews 2:14-17). And so, though the old evil foe bruised the heel of Christ Jesus when He suffered in agony upon the cross, Jesus crushed his head and destroyed his evil work, opening up for us the gates to heaven, by paying in full for all our sins and then rising again from the dead on the third day.

The devil used God’s holy law to bring about mankind’s condemnation by tempting Adam and Eve to disobedience and bringing them under the curse of the law. Jesus, true man as well as true God, obeyed God’s law in the stead of all mankind and then suffered the just punishment for the sins of the world, rising again in victory on the third day, that the law would be fulfilled for all mankind and the just punishment for all sin fully satisfied. Cf. Galatians 3:10,13.

It is also true that there is enmity between the offspring of the devil (the unbelieving) and the children or offspring of God through faith in Jesus Christ (the believers). Thus, true believers continue to suffer hatred and persecution here in this world from those who do not trust in Christ Jesus or follow Him. But, in the end, all who have not trusted in the innocent sufferings and death of God’s Son for their salvation will be condemned and cast into the eternal torments of hell; and all who have trusted in Christ Jesus will live forever with Him in the paradise of God (2 Thessalonians 1:3-10).

In Jesus’ own words, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life … He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:16,18).

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of man, thank You for redeeming me from the curse and condemnation of God’s holy law by keeping it perfectly in my place, bearing my punishment upon the cross and then rising again on the third day. Graciously keep me trusting in You, and You alone, for my salvation. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” Genesis 3:1 (Read Genesis 3)

The paradise which God created (Genesis 1-2) did not last long, for Genesis 3 tells of the temptation of the devil, a fallen angel, who came to Eve in the form of the serpent.

“Did God really say that that you should not eat from any tree of the garden?” he asked, creating a question in the woman’s mind.

And when Eve said the prohibition and warning that disobedience would bring about death – alienation and separation from God – was only in regard to the tree in the middle of the garden, the devil distorted the truth by saying, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Thus, he caused her to think that perhaps God was somehow holding out on her, keeping from her and her husband something good and desirable.

Of course, this still happens every day. The devil comes to us through friends and coworkers, through the media and entertainment industries, and in our own thoughts and minds, and says, “Does God really expect you to keep all those commandments in the Bible?” And he works hard to convince us that God is trying to keep us from having fun and enjoying life, or that He is placing an impossible burden upon us, that He really doesn’t expect us to keep all of His commandments, or that breaking just a few of the commandments now and then won’t really alienate and separate us from God – after all, everybody does it.

And, like Eve, when we look at the thing we are being tempted to do, it looks good and desirable to us. We think it will be fun or pleasurable; it will work out for our good; it won’t hurt anything; no one will know.

And so, we rationalize and give in to the temptation and to our own sinful desires, and the result is death! We recognize our nakedness and guilt before God. We may attempt to cover it up or even learn to cope with it, but the guilt remains. We are afraid to stand in His presence. We would rather not hear God’s Word or walk into His house of prayer.

Why? Because our sin and disobedience, though it may have appeared to be good at the time, brought about spiritual death and separation from God. When confronted with the presence of God and His truth, we hide ourselves. When questioned about our sin, we make excuses and blame others.

As a result of Adam and Eve’s sin, we are all born into this world sinners – our very thoughts and desires are turned away from God and His holy commandments. What David wrote is true for each of us as a result of that first sin: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). Instead of loving God, trusting Him and desiring to honor and glorify His name, we think only of ourselves, disbelieve God’s Word and seek our own honor and glory. We are born in spiritual death and are alienated from God.

That is why we so desperately need God’s pardon and forgiveness. We need Him to find us, forgive us and give us life again. And God has come to us and reached out to us in love and forgiveness. He desires to free us from our guilt and shame and give us life everlasting with Him.

He did this by sending His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to overcome temptation and sin for us and then go to the cross to be condemned, forsaken of God and die in our stead that we might have God’s pardon and forgiveness and not be afraid of God or troubled by guilt and shame any longer. In Christ Jesus, the sin of the world has been taken away; and through faith in Christ Jesus, your sin and mine is pardoned.

O dearest Jesus, Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, have mercy upon me, find me and wash away the guilt of my sin in Your shed blood. And, dear Jesus, grant me a place in Your everlasting kingdom. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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