If parents are going to bring their children up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4), then they should understand the role of both the law and the gospel in that task. The former reveals to us God’s all-encompassing will and the latter reveals to us His all-sufficient provision for sinners who violate that will.
The Law Reveals God’s Will
The first verse that Donna and I taught each of our six children is Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” By doing this we were teaching them God’s law—their and our Creator’s revealed will for their lives. He calls them to live in obedience to their parents. He calls us not to “provoke” them “to anger” but to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). We are both, together with all people, accountable to obey God.
That accountability stems from the most fundamental truth in the world—that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). As the Creator of all things He has the right to rule over and require whatever He deems right of His creatures. He has summarized His requirements of us in the Ten Commandments. Jesus further summarized them in the greatest commandment and the second that is like it. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37,39).