God’s commands are to be taught heart-to-heart. Heart change is the work of the Spirit. Teaching what that change looks like is the job of parents.This means bringing Christ to your children.
Paul says that if you do not bring Christ daily, constantly to your children you will provoke them to anger. Look carefully at Ephesians 6:4:
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
By calling fathers to bring up, or nourish children with the Lord’s instruction he is referring to what he had just taught to the Ephesians. So, failing to follow this instruction will actually provoke our children to anger. This instruction is needed to help them obey in the strength of Christ instead of their own strength.
Biblical commands are not optional. Christian parents are to nourish their children in God’s discipline and instruction. Paul prays that you reach your children’s hearts about the great power and inheritance that is found in Christ. These words echo Deuteronomy 6:5-7, c.f. Ephesians 1:17-18.
Let’s take a brief survey of Ephesians to grasp what Paul means by raising children in the instruction of the Lord.
God commands that you speak the truth in love to your children so that will they grow to be fully mature in Christ. Ephesians 4:13-16
God commands that your children be taught to leave the thinking of this world and learn Jesus Christ. Ephesians 4:20
God commands that you only speak what is helpful to build up your children so that they will benefit from your words. Ephesians 4:29
Paul instructs that your children be imitators of God and live as children of light. Ephesians 5:1-10
God commands that children be taught to understand marriage and sexuality from his word! Ephesians 5
It is inconceivable to think that the Holy Spirit meant anything less than these truths when he says to nourish your children in God’s discipline and instruction.
This is why communication with your children about loving Christ is so vital. Deuteronomy 10:12-13, Matthew 22:37-40, and Ephesians 6:1 are examples of God’s command to love him and submit to his authority. Engage your children about the gospel and their thoughts and beliefs.
Engage them heart-to-heart, moment-by-moment. Anything less invites hypocrisy and doubt. Be as open with your children as Paul was with the Ephesians. Bring Jesus Christ to your children, heart-to-heart!