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January 20, 2004

Charles Hodge and Parenting

The other night I was skimming Charles Hodge's commentary on Romans and was just struck by how God relates to us as His children, and how I can follow that example with my children.

This is from the Crossway Books Classic Commentaries, page 189, commenting on Romans 6: 12-23:

"As no man is free from sin, as no man can perfectly keep the commandments of God, every man who rests on his personal conformity to the law as the basis of his acceptance with God must be condemned. We are not under the law in this sense, but under grace--that is, a system of free justification. We are justified by grace, without works.

We are not under a legal dispensation, requiring personal conformity to the law and entire freedom from sin, past and present, as the condition of our acceptance; but we are under a gracious dispensation, according to which God dispenses pardon freely and accepts the sinner as a sinner, for Christs's sake, without works or merit of his own. Whoever is under the law, in the sense just explained, is not only condemned, but he is bound by a legal or slavish spirit. What he does, he does as a slave, to escape punishment. But he who is under grace, who is freely accepted by God and restored to his favor, is a child of God living under his Spirit. The principle of obeying him is love and not fear.

Here, as everywhere else in the Bible, it is assumed that the favor of God is in our life. We must be reconciled to Him before we can be holy: we must feel that He loves us before we can love Him."

Reflections related to Parenting

"God. . .accepts the sinner as a sinner"
I know this to be true with God accepting me, and now I want to really just ACCEPT my children as who they are. I want to provide a "safe place to fall" for my kids, where they know they are accepted as they are, even when they sin. I know my parents have lived that out towards my siblings and me.

"What he does, he does as a slave, to escape punishment."
I don't want my children to be doing things out of fear, simply to escape punishment.

"But he who is under grace, who is freeely accepted by God and restored to his favor, is a child of God living under his Spirit."
This is the part of the passage that first drew my attention to asking how I can relate this to me and my children, copying God as my Father.

"The principle of obeying him is love and not fear."
Again, I don't want it to be fear of me or fear of punishment that compels my children to obedience. But of love. Just as, truly, my obedience (imperfect though it may be) to God is out of a desire to please Him and out of love.

"we must feel that He loves us before we can love Him."
I read a survey once that said something like 90% of kids knew their parents loved them, but only 30% FELT that their parents loved them. I want to really nurture my children, and have them FEEL loved by me and my husband.

Update: Carol adds some of her thoughts on this subject.


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After thinking about this all day, I finally printed a copy so I can give it some more thought! Thank You.

Posted by: Liza Q at January 21, 2004 02:49 AM

Hi, Liza!

I'm interested in your thoughts, when you get a chance. . .

Posted by: TulipGirl at January 21, 2004 10:42 PM

Well, I don't think these are the thoughts you were expecting but...

A few things came to mind.

1.I saw the problems we are having with out oldest (13 in April) daughter in a new light. Her sin is less of a problem than my impatience and irritability.
2.There is more fear of punishment than love in our home.
3.How can I accept them as sinners when I donít believe that God accepts me as one?
4.My spiritual life (or lack of one!) is affecting my family more than I had realized.

I have always felt like a fraud as a Christian - despite my "salvation" as a child I knew I had neither love for Christ nor a repentant heart. As an adult (about 10 years ago) I began to hear some reformed teaching (TULIP!) and said Ė this explains it, I'm just not chosen! Then I thought Ė well, maybe God just hasnít called me YET. Then I thought - well, what do I do in the meantime? Itís a cycle - I beg God for freedom from sin and a repentant heart, blame Him for not bringing me to Himself, realize that blaming Him is even more sin, read my Bible because "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" and give up and watch Star Trek. Right now I'm combining the reading the Bible and watching Star Trek phases - it's more fun that way.

Romans 6:20 stood out to me. I derive no benefit from the things of which I am now ashamed, yet I am still enslaved to sin. The knowledge that these things lead to death is not enough to free me. He alone can free me Ė but will He?

My friends tell me that this is all an attack of the enemy on my mind Ė maybe it is. My husband just canít understand that I could feel or believe this Ė he is frustrated that he canít fix it for me. My children will soon figure out that Mom has been teaching them a lot of stuff about God that she doesnít really believe! Things have been particularly bad since my older son died nearly 4 years ago (Cancer, 1994-2000) Ė sometimes I am so filled with bitterness and grief that I donít know what to think or do.

Well, this was much more than I intended to say but I think Iíll be bold and post it. Iím in the midst of potty training so I have to go. Thank you for ďlisteningĒ.

Posted by: Liza Q at January 22, 2004 06:20 PM

I am so sorry about your son. When I hear about the deaths of children, or imagine a tragedy happening to one of my children, I find it totally incomprehensible. I donít know how I would ever cope with that pain. I am sure your mother-heart must be broken.

BTW, it might be helpful to read about assurance of salvation Ė perhaps from the Westminster Confession of Faith.

Posted by: Carol at January 23, 2004 12:10 AM

Dear Liza,

You are right. *grin* It wasn't quite what I was expecting.

I hear the struggles you've had--internal and external--over the past several years.

And when I read your words of knowing something in your life is sin, and wanting to repent--I can't help but think that is the Holy Spirit working in your heart.

You are not alone in doubting your faith. I went through a really rough patch a few years ago. I remember thinking how I could not not believe, but that it was such a struggle to believe. I believed in God, but could not believe more than He was very distant and very out there.

I remember truly believing God is sovereign and involved in the world intimately--but not involved with me at that moment.

I remember praying, like the father with the sick son in Mark 9, "I do believe; help my unbelief." Over and over. And that's a lot of what I hear you writing.

Remember how when God was leading the Israelites through the desert and into Canaan? Every so often they would set up memorials, to remind them of what God had done in their lives and to remind them to tell their children. I mentally set up memorials, and during my struggles I remind myself of how much God HAS already done in my life. Even if I don't feel it or see it now, I can not deny what He has done in the past.

Can you remember times past when you truly believed? Can you remind yourself of times when you knew, you KNEW God was working in your life?

I remember praying, "God, I know you are faithful, even when when I am unfaithful."

I came across 2 Timother 2:11-13 the other day.

For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself."

In this passage is both the caution not to deny Christ--but the reassurance that God will be faithful to us, even when we are struggling, even when we are faithless.

And the struggle for sin, and the daily, daily need for God's grace doesn't go away. I think I need the constant struggle with sin. When I think I'm doing the "right" things, that's when I stop relying on God, stop seeking His grace, stop repenting.

I'm praying for you. This struggle and doubt in your life, hasn't been a short time. It's been hard--I can so hear that in your voice. I'm praying the hardest parts of this valley will be over soon. That faith and reassurance will fill your heart. And that, in the end, you will see purpose to this hard time.

Much love,

Posted by: TulipGirl at January 23, 2004 05:17 PM

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