Education and Total Conflict
Those who are not whole-heartedly on the side of Christ are whole-heartedly against Him. The Bible allows no other option (Lk.11:23).
The spiritual battle believers are in has eternal consequences—these are high stakes! To walk according to our own wisdom in such a situation is to be extremely negligent and foolish. To rely upon the wisdom of the Lord requires bringing every thought about everything into obedience to the mind of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
The kind of fruit people produce is determined by their inner nature (Lk.6:49). Good fruit cannot come from an evil heart. This is what the Scriptures tell us, however we find it difficult to believe. The Bible instructs us to live our lives with the understanding that there is total war between the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of God. Every unbeliever is motivated by his hatred of and rebellion against God and by a desire to destroy God’s Kingdom.
There are only two kingdoms that ultimately exist and the goal of each kingdom is the utter destruction of the other. This battle is waged by the forces within these respective kingdoms. Both kingdoms contain supernatural and natural beings and every single being that exists is in either one or the other kingdom. There are no other alternatives and thus there can be no neutrality since the members of each kingdom are seeking the total destruction of the other kingdom. Someone who does not submit to the Lordship of Christ is serving in the forces of Satan and cannot seek the benefit of the Kingdom of God—this includes the nice old lady who lives next door. Such people cannot be neutral or indifferent towards God’s Kingdom. In the depths of their being they hate God (Romans 8:7; Ephesians 4:18,19; Colossians 1:21) and the reason they hate God is because their deeds are evil (John 3:19,20). It is vital that Christians believe what the Bible teaches about this!
Believers ignore the word of God to their own peril, yet many constantly attempt to justify themselves for not living according to it. They do this by saying that the modern world is so different from the Bible world that it is almost impossible to live according to “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Such people then turn to their own wisdom to guide their thinking and reasoning with respect to vital issues.
The greatest thing we can do with our lives is to glorify God and we do this when we walk in submissive obedience to His will—in all areas. The older generation in Israel that had come out of Egypt with Moses died in the wilderness, because they didn’t obey the word of God (Deuteronomy 1:34-36). When the new generation was about to enter the Promised Land, Moses read God’s law to them and then explained practically what doing this law would look like. Deuteronomy does not merely repeat the law of God, but shows how the law is to be applied to the lives of God’s people. In a nutshell, what we see is that when Moses repeated the law, all who heard it agreed that it was good and committed themselves to serving the Lord according to His commands. Moses told them that if they were going to accomplish this high calling and bring much glory to the Lord’s name, then the most important thing for them to do was to diligently train their children in the full counsel of God.
As Moses finished proclaiming God’s law to the people, he summarized it (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). Then he proceeded to show them what keeping this law and glorifying God would look like in day to day living. The first thing he says, which means, the most important application in his mind, was for the parents to know the whole counsel of God and to impart this to their children—diligently. Moses didn’t leave it up to the parents to decide what God meant by the word ‘diligently’ but immediately explained it so as to leave no doubt. He said to the parents, “you shall talk of them [God’s truths] when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:7). It is not possible to make a more comprehensive statement for the necessity of unceasing, God centred education. Moses said the whole of the child’s instruction and training was to rest upon and flow out of God’s revelation. He told this new generation that it was by training their children that they would accomplish God’s purposes in the Promised Land. The clear implication was that if training their children in this way wasn’t the greatest priority in their lives, then they too would fail, as the previous generation had failed, in fulfilling their Kingdom responsibilities.
The most important thing that Christian parents can do in the Kingdom of God is to raise godly children—and Moses tells them how this task is accomplished. It is both simple and profound, namely, they are to give their children nothing but God centred, God glorifying instruction every moment of their lives. It is through this simple process that the kingdom of darkness is most effectively assaulted and God’s Kingdom advanced. This is God’s plan for implementing His victory through His people and for manifesting His glorious reign over all things. Though it is not the whole of the plan, it is given priority in the mind of Moses. By diligently training their children, a godly couple can go much further than they could have gone on their own and when their children in turn do the same thing with their children, we have compounded multiplication. It requires real faith to follow the Lord’s way on this matter in an age that is walking in the opposite direction. It is vital that believers come to understand how central to God’s Kingdom working a comprehensive, godly education is and totally commit themselves to this cause. If the believer has a wrong understanding of his priorities and responsibilities, he will fail to be effective for the Kingdom.
The Scriptures tell us that he who has many children is greatly blessed by God, but it says more than this. It compares children to arrows or weapons of war. Good arrows in the hand of a trained warrior are extremely valuable. The Psalmist says children are deadly weapons, which gives them great significance in the purposes of God’s Kingdom (Psalm 127). Preparing a good arrow to be effective against God’s enemies takes much time and dedication. It is not possible to overemphasize the importance of this task, for when the flight of an arrow has eternal consequences resting upon it, how true should we want it to fly? What would we say about that person who was negligent in the preparation of such arrows? God has given parents the responsibility to prepare arrows for His great Kingdom battles and He has told us how this is to be done.
We are in a war, as Ephesians 6 makes very clear, yet for the most part believers allow God’s enemies to prepare their arrows for the great battle (i.e., educate their children). Would we not call a nation utterly foolish if, while they were at war with another nation, they asked their enemy to make their weapons and ammunition?
Until believers are willing to bow to God’s word preserved as Scriptures and assume their God given responsibilities, they will remain relatively ineffective. Until believers acknowledge the fact that their only source of wisdom and knowledge is found in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:3), they will not turn to Him alone as their guide in everything they have to do. Modern believers, for the most part, do not believe that the unbeliever is at war with the Kingdom of God. In fact, many don’t even believe that there is a spiritual war taking place at all. However, Christians, in submission to God’s revelation, are called upon to believe that everything in the universe has been created by God and therefore can only be understood as it is seen in the light of His revelation. This means that it is impossible to be neutral toward God and His Kingdom—those who are not for Him are against Him. The Bible says it is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7) and it’s the fool who has said in his heart that there is no God (Ps.14:1). According to Scripture, the unbeliever is not only a fool who has failed to start upon the road of real knowledge, but he is also at war with God!
Despite the fact that the godly instruction of children is central to the purposes of God and the advancing of His Kingdom, many Christians still think nothing about letting God’s enemies prepare the next generation for the great battle of the ages.
Those who are not walking in the light of God’s word with respect to bringing up their children according to God’s plan, need to pray that God would give them the spirit of repentance and that by His grace they would bow to His revelation on this matter. Those who call upon the Lord need to build upon His word alone, rather than upon a foundation of humanistic reasoning. Believers must cast themselves upon the Lord of Glory and trust in every word that proceeds from His mouth. When they do this they will not fear the giants of their day, but know that where God leads He will protect and supply all that they need to do what He has told them to do. God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that they ask or think, according to the power that works in them (Ephesians 3:20).
Those who name the name of Christ need to think Biblically, not traditionally. They need to be made aware of how subtle Satan’s ways are and be renewed in their minds by God’s word (Romans 12:1,2). The subject of education cuts deeply into the comfort zone of many of Christ’s followers and their temptation will be to justify themselves even though they have neglected to provide a godly education for their children. Scripture, however, provides no defence for those who fail to give their children a thoroughly Christ centred education.
Anyone who claims Scripture as their absolute authority for all things needs to base everything upon Scripture, including how to educate their children. The Bible, without apology reveals how comprehensive and singularly biblical a child’s education should be and there are many verses that exhort believers to provide such an education. This requirement is not a side issue in the working of God’s Kingdom plan, but rather it is central and vital. For example, God’s call upon Abraham was inseparable from the requirement of instructing his household in God’s ways. The success of Abraham’s whole mission depended upon his faithfulness in this matter. We read, “For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him” (Genesis 18:19). The nature of the education God requires parents to give to their children must be determined by what the whole of Scripture says on the subject. Thus, added to Abraham’s charge is Moses’ command to parents to ensure that their children receive only comprehensive, godly instruction. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6,7).
A great weakness in the thinking of many with respect to education is that they fail to realize that every fact, whatever it might be, whether, historical, geographical, scientific or environmental can only be understood correctly if its interpretation has God and His revelation at the centre. To disregard the significance of God in any educational pursuit is to contradict God’s definition of knowledge. Man cannot even understand a tree correctly, if he does not think about the tree within the parameters and light of what God has said about it—it was created by Him and exists for His glory and Kingdom advancement. True knowledge is defined by God and the beginning of knowledge means reverencing Him in every our thought and action (Proverbs 1:7). Man cannot re-define knowledge according to his own wisdom and then claim that he is in possession of sound, God glorifying knowledge. If God is not the central pillar in every subject our children are studying, then we are imparting to them a definition of knowledge that is ungodly and this will come under the Lord’s just condemnation. To ignore God’s relevance in any area of life is to deny that He is relevant, but it is only fools who do this (Psalm 14:1).
Finally, the following verses demonstrate the importance the Bible places on this subject and further strengthens the above argument: “Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren” (Deuteronomy 4:9).
“And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day? Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren; especially concerning the day you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb, when the Lord said to me, ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children” (Deuteronomy 4:8-10).
“You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth” (Deuteronomy 11:19-21).
“I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments; And may not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God. The children of Ephraim, being armed and carrying bows, Turned back in the day of battle” (Psalm 78:2-9).
“One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4).
“The living, the living man, he shall praise You, As I do this day; The father shall make known Your truth to the children” (Isaiah 38:19).
“Tell your children about it, Let your children tell their children, And their children another generation” (Joel 1:3).
“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
The great battle believers are engaged in has the education of their children at the very centre and there is no neutrality in this absolute conflict. The war is total between light and darkness, truth and error, eternal life and eternal damnation and it is only by God’s grace and wisdom that believers are able to stand and effectively campaign for their King. The starting place for God’s people in this total conflict, as Moses showed, is that they give a comprehensive, Biblical education to their children.