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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