Gospel Parenting

It’s a weakness in our parenting that sometimes we think our efforts will eliminate sin from our kids’ lives. What I mean is I think if I’m faithful in discipline, my kids will sin less often. God-pleasing parenting involves discipline, but our hope isn’t in our discipline. Our hope is in Jesus Christ.

Someone has said this better than I could.

We talk a lot about training our children and raising them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and we should be doing that. But we must never forget that we cannot train sin out of our kids. Their sin must be atoned for. We also talk a lot about the importance of spiritual discipline and being in the Word regularly, about training ourselves in godliness and righteousness. We should do that, too. But friends, we must not forget that we cannot discipline ourselves out of sin. Our sin must be atoned for.

Parents, as you work with your children, and Christians, as you go about your own spiritual disciplines, do not forget to apply the gospel to your life and to your children’s lives. It is the atoning death of Christ that they need and you need. Do not depend on training; depend on the work that Christ did. And realize that this is a work that only Jesus Christ could do. Only Jesus can make atonement for sin.
–Mark Dever and Michael Lawrence, It Is Well: Expositions on Substitutionary Atonement (Crossway Books, 2010), 95.

It’s always a great time to renew your resolve in the spiritual disciplines both for your own life and for your children’s lives. But keep in mind that your self-discipline doesn’t earn you any favor with God—it isn’t the Gospel. Your sin was paid for by Christ’s death. That’s your hope of change.

Use the times of discipline to regularly remind your children that they are sinners and that they need Christ’s death. Good parenting confronts children with their need of the Gospel. Remember, you don’t discipline them because their disobedience has inconvenienced or irritated you. You discipline them to please God and see their hearts changed by the Gospel.