Have you ever accidentally poured soured milk into your coffee or cereal? Undeniably, it was an unpleasant experience. Spoiled milk is quite disgusting, but also quite interesting. Milk turns because it is inherently unclean. Therefore it is unable to keep for very long outside of a cool environment. Only by pasteurization (a quick blast of heat) can milk keep for longer.
What am I getting at? Just like milk, without proper care and the right environment our children will spoil, they will give into their sin nature and ruin themselves. But proper care and a godly environment will work toward their spiritual benefit. Proverbs 23:13-14 says “Don’t withhold discipline from a youth; if you punish him with a rod, he will not die. Punish him with a rod and you will rescue his life from Sheol.” These verses tell us that an environment of godly discipline spiritually benefits children because it continually corrects and guides them away from their sin and to the savior.
Proverbs 23:13-14 also tells us that parents are responsible for the discipline of their children. It is up to parents to teach and model the difference between righteousness and sin, correct sin, reveal the consequences of sin, and lead toward the wisdom of God by faith. But parents may be facilitating their children’s spoiling. By spoiling I mean not correcting their wrongs and not keeping them from self-indulgence. We read in 1 Kings 1:6 that the great king David “never once infuriated [his son Adonijah] by asking, ’Why did you do that?’” The rest of David’s account tells us that Adonijah was given to pride and schemes. Without parental correction and guidance through godly discipline, children will give into sin and ruin.
So how does godly discipline help our children keep from spoiling?
Discipline teaches the pain of sin
Godly discipline, whether proper physical discipline or not, gives immediate pain to a sinful choice. We know that sin has a way of being pleasurable in the moment yet destructive in the future. Discipline transports sin’s pain to the present, thus short-circuiting one of Satan’s grandest lies: that sin never hurts.
Discipline teaches the seriousness of sin
Godly discipline can be used to teach the gravity of sin. Through the continual exposure of sin and its consequences, children may see how destructive sin is. When they realize how destructive sin is, they can understand why God hates sin so much. Do not give up a chance to explain to your children how destructive sin is.
Discipline teaches the pattern of sin
Along the same lines, continual godly disciplines reveals personal patterns of sin. The more a parent instructs and guides their children before, during, and after sin, the more their children will be able to connect the desires of their heart, the thoughts of their minds, and the actions of their hands with their sin.
Discipline teaches the love of God
Godly discipline always points to God’s holiness and the gospel (Heb 12:10). Teaching your children the pain, seriousness, and pattern of sin is incomplete without teaching them the grace God for them through Christ, accepted by their repentance and faith, and what holy living is. If there be anything your children should indulge in, it should be God’s loving grace.