Rules are an essential part of life.
They tell us:
how fast to drive,
what time to put your children to bed,
how many calories to eat,
how much money to pay in taxes,
what is acceptable behavior at school,
what time to arrive at work,
how to participate in sporting events,
what not to do at the swimming pool,
many more things to numerous to count.
There is just one problem with rules. They lack the power to draw you and your children closer to Christ and to stop the flesh from self indulgence! Satan has devised a strategy so hideous that it makes parents think they are following Christ when they are really following his plan for spiritual destruction.
Here is Paul’s reasoning in Colossians 2:20-23:
“Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”
So on the one hand rules are essential for safely navigating the waters of everyday life. But on the other hand relying on the same rules to engage in spiritual warfare will result in disaster!
Paul is urging you to rely on the unique power of a relationship with Christ. This must also be the goal for your children. Yes, rules are essential. But, no, rules are not what makes you or your children acceptable to God. None of us as adults want God to judge us on the basis of how well we follow rules. We want to be acceptable to God because we have been given the righteousness of Christ. Point your children to Christ. You are acceptable before God not because you have had a good day. You are acceptable because Jesus died for your sins.
Wisely use rules to help keep your family safe and able to function well in life. But plead the mercy of gospel grace to draw close to God. Rules won’t keep your children from selfishness or from the enslaving grip of pornography. Yes, you should teach your children about how to play together unselfishly. Yes, you should warn them about the evils of porn that is so easily accessible and seek to monitor their online activity. But only the life-changing power of a relationship with Christ can lead to a changed heart that is not ruled by sensual indulgence.
Don’t rely on rules to do what only Christ can do.