Thursday, August 26, 2010

Moralism: What do we teach our kids?

Most mornings, Amanda reads some scripture with the kids and goes through a devotional called Keys for Kids.  I grew up reading this publication.  It's put out by CBH Ministries in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  It's on the radio too.  This morning Amanda said it was "completely moralistic."  Today's lesson was about not smoking, drinking and gambling.  I had to check it out.  I went to the website and Amanda was right.  It's all about not experimenting with sin.
Do you think you need to try everything for yourself-even sinful things? You can get into a heap of trouble if you do. It's dangerous to experiment with drugs, alcohol, smoking, gambling, or other things that can hurt your body or your mind. It's dangerous to experiment with stealing, cheating, lying, disobedience, or any other sin. Listen to your parents and other responsible adults. Above all, listen to God and leave sin alone.

Now, don't get me wrong.  It would be sin for any of our kids to start smoking, drinking or gambling.  But this discussion has to be nuanced a little bit more.  And, in the battle against sin, the only power to kill sin is in the gospel.  When I grew up I was very focused on my own piety.  I was a complete pharisee.  The outside of my cup was clean, but the inside was full of all sorts of sin and self-righteousness.  At dinner, we are reading through Philippians.  Last week we read the following from Philippians 3.
[2] Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. [3] For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— [4] though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: [5] circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; [6] as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. [7] But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. [8] Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ [9] and be found in him,  not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—[10] that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, [11] that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
(Philippians 3:2-11 ESV)
We talked about the word imputation.  How when Christ died on the cross our sin was imputed to him and his righteousness was imputed to us (2 Corinthians 5:21).  When God looks at us, he credits our faith as righteous, not a righteousness that is our own, but Christ's righteousness.  This was the part that I missed growing up.
[30] And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, [31] so that, as it is written,  “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 
(1 Corinthians 1:30-31 ESV)
Philippians is great because just after Paul talks to them about their righteousness being found in Christ, he tells them to "press on to toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."  We work or course.  We kill sin of course.  It is really us doing that.  But that is not where our righteousness is found.  That is not where our salvation is found.  Our righteous deeds are like filthy rags.

I want to fight against teaching my kids that if they do certain things and don't do other things then they are right with God.  Unless through faith, they come under the righteousness that is in Christ, they are hell bound.  Once, through faith, they have submitted themselves to Christ, then through the power of the gospel, they work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. 

The whole book of Galatians is Paul blasting the church there for adding anything to the gospel.  If we teach our that following certain moral laws (whatever they may be) somehow is part of justification, then we are in trouble, Paul says accursed (Galatians 1:9.)  Moralistic parenting is too easy.  It's much more difficult to paint with grays and not just blacks and whites.  With the help of God, we'll have a much larger pallet from which to paint the picture of the Christian life for our kids.

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