The ten commandments. Has any one human been able to obey and keep all ten throughout their entire life? No. The only person who was ever able to live an absolutely perfect life was Jesus Christ. Everyone else has lied, cheated, coveted, stolen, disobeyed and worshipped idols at one point or another. James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” (NASB)
A person may become discouraged because no matter how hard they strive for perfection, they will fail. However, if that person is a Christian, there is hope. Christians are no longer slaves to sin. Romans 6:6 says, “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with HIm, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.” (NASB)
Because Christians are no longer slaves to sin and are instead “instruments of righteousness to God,” (Romans 6:13) obedience becomes a very important aspect of the Christian walk. Obedience, done with the proper heart motives, is an act of worship towards God.
One of the more obvious human relationship that emphasizes obedience is that of a parent/child relationship. Children struggle to obey their parents because their sin nature resents the idea of submission to authority. The fifth commandment, probably the most quoted verse among parents, says, “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the Lord your God gives you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16, NASB) This is the only commandment in the ten that gives an incentive for obeying. The Lord promises a long life, filled with blessings, to those who honor their parents.
Why does the Lord emphasize the need for children to obey their parents? The parent/child relationship is a direct reflection of the Christian/God relationship. In teaching children to honor and obey parents, we are actually teaching them to obey God. Because of this, It is important to not just focus on “behavior modification.” Instead, parents need to focus on addressing a childʼs sin nature and teaching that obedience comes from a submissive heart to the ways of God. By only correcting the symptoms of sin, (i.e. lying, cheating, yelling fits) a parent cannot properly reveal to their children the deeply rooted evil that lies in every personʼs heart.
The next time a child acts up, their parent should sit them down and start guiding them back to the root of that problem - their sinful heart. By addressing the childʼs heart motives and not just the sinful results thereof, a parent can cultivate true obedience in their childrenʼs lives.