How NOT to Discipline with Scripture

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…”

…but we can misuse it.

  • Don’t use God’s Word to discipline your children without a real love for God and His Word. Children are experts in detecting hypocrisy. They will see right through you, and be provoked to anger. They will be tempted to reject you or what you are trying to teach them.
  • When disciplining your children, don’t use God’s Word without wisdom. Study the Word. Learn what it really says. Don’t just say what it means to you. What does it actually mean? Ask the Holy Spirit to guide and teach you. Get counsel, read commentaries, ask your pastor.
  • Don’t use God’s Word while disciplining your children, without loving them and clearly communicating that love to them. We want them to associate God’s Word with justice, but also with God’s great love that sent His Son to meet the demands of His justice.
  • Don’t use God’s Word without being accurate representatives of His grace and mercy. God sees us sin in ways we are not even aware of, but He does not convict us of every sin or crush us under the weight of guilt and constant discipline for every offense. He allows us time to grow, and teaches us along the way.
  • We must be patient, and show our children the same grace God shows us. They have a lifetime of sanctification ahead of them, and we will discourage them if we expect perfection. They will never be perfect (on this side of eternity), and it will take time for them to grow in their obedience and maturity.
  • Don’t use God’s Word with an attitude of pride and self-righteousness. Speak humbly as you read from God’s Word, acknowledging your own sinful heart, and your own inability to obey God’s Word without the empowering work of the Holy Spirit.
  • Don’t use God’s Word as a weapon while you focus only on your children’s wrong behavior. Use the Word as a means of blessing and encouraging them when they do right and as the revelation of God’s holy but loving character.
  • Don’t only pull out the Bible when your children are about to be spanked. Love the Word, and let your children see you love and study it. If it only comes out when you are disciplining them, they will not grow to love it. It will not be more precious than gold or sweeter than honeycomb (Psalm 19) in their lives.
  • Don’t use God’s Word as a means of teaching mere moralism. If we only give our children the law without teaching them about grace, we will raise up little Pharisees who trust in their own works instead of in the saving work of Jesus Christ.
  • Don’t beat up your children with God’s Word. The Bible is sharper than any two-edged sword, but you’re not the Holy Spirit. Help your children see how the truths of Scripture apply to the details of their lives, but leave the results up to God. Don’t use the Bible as an excuse to nag your children.
  • Don’t just focus on what Scripture says to not do. The Bible is full of positive commands. God has called us to action. He has told us to put on good works, and to demonstrate our faith and love through our actions.
  • Don’t use the Bible in your child discipline without praying first. The Holy Spirit is the one who gives understanding. He is the one who will change your child’s heart. You cannot do this alone or in your own strength.
  • Don’t leave your children without hope. Don’t hold up the standard of God’s Word without telling them about the only One who has ever fully obeyed it. Help them take hold of Christ’s work on the cross, the saving work that satisfied God’s holy requirements and that empowers them to live lives of loving, grateful obedience.


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  1. Thank you!

  2. Wonderful to have this put together like this!
    Thank you!

  3. This was helpful to read – thank you! I know I’ve failed in many ways at many times but am always running to the Lord for His grace. Question: how can you know if you are exasperating your children with demands/requirements or if they are just rebelling/being defiant toward simple commands? I’m trying to differentiate between giving necessary commands and giving commands that maybe children can’t meet? I understand they are to grow in grace as adults are too and am thankfully learning this while my children are young. But they can’t exactly tell me when they are being provoked to wrath and I of course don’t want to burden them with many commands. Yet there’s a lot of teaching and training that has to go on in these early years. Hope some of this makes sense! Thanks for your help!

  4. Thank you for putting this together. Makes my life so much easier! In our famiy one of the first things we teach our children are the Ten Commandments. After they know those we are able to apply them in certain situations. Like Honoring your parents – & then when they fail to follow through with instruction we direct them back to that Commandment. Just the other day my 7 yr old said to her younger brother that he was making God very sad because he wasn’t following His Commandments. When her brother shot back with “oh, yeah…which one?” trying to be smart she recited it by heart and then said to him that if he doesn’t listen to Mommy/Daddy then he isn’t honoring us and that means he’s breaking a Commandment and that breaking a Commandment makes God cry. Interestingly enough it had also just started to rain. At that point our youngest daghter (almost 5 yrs old) pointed out the window and said “Look, see, you made God cry!” He instantly got up & finished cleaning up his toys and when he was finished I heard him say “I’m sorry God but Mommy wasn’t letting me color and I REALLY wanted to color. But I went ahead & cleaned to make you happy. It’s ok to stop crying now.” It was so cute to see this entire interaction…and I didn’t have to say a word the entire time!!! Best part was that the short rain shower ended shortly afterwards! When the rain quit he came up to me, gave me a hug, told me he loved me, and said “Mommy look I made God happy. He stopped crying.”

    The joys of motherhood!!!

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