How God Turns the Wayward
This sermon is on how God turns the wayward. When you raise your children, you never intend for them to stray from the Lord. Yet, many children do, particularly these days and in families of first generation Christians. Then we try to get them to come back to the Lord. Yet, we find that we can’t turn them.
We must discipline and train our children in their childhood. Prov 22:6 says, “Train up a child…”. And Prov 23:13 says, “Withhold not correction from the child”. Also Prov 19:18 says “Chasten thy son while there is hope”. You must do all of these things when they are young. Because when they are grown and wayward, you face a different deal, altogether. Do all you can to keep them from going astray. However, once they have gone astray, your work and relationship with them changes.
After A Godly Upbringing Some Children Become Wayward
Here’s what happens to them. As with Samson in Jud 16:20, “he wist not that the Lord was departed from him”. It’s terrible when the Lord departs and they don’t know it. We’re not talking about the Lord forsaking them. That would contradict Heb 13:5. Instead, he breaks off fellowship with them. They can be so out of fellowship with the Lord that it’s hard to tell whether they are even saved.
When children begin to stray, they first depart in heart and then in body. They are here in church but they are like Jacob at Bethel. In Gen 28:16 Jacob said, “The Lord was in this place and I knew it not”. Once they leave, they remain in the congregation of the dead, Prov 21:16. Your home and your church are the congregations of the living. Jesus said that when just two of us gather together in his name, he is in the midst.
When they get out there in the world, God turns the wayward through a few different means.
God Turns the Wayward Through:
Rebuke – Rev 3:16-19. Right before they leave or when they come for a visit, they hear a rebuke from the preacher, 2 Tim 4:2. God has to do this. He said, “I rebuke and chasten”. When you try this, unless the Lord gives you a specific verse or a few verses to give them, you generally don’t succeed.
Chastisement – Job 34:31-32. God has to do this. Paul wrote, “For whom the Lord loveth he chaseneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth”, Heb 12:6. These are things the Lord does to them through events and circumstances in their life to get their attention and turn them back to him and his words.
Affliction – Ps 119:67, 71. Often, God turns the wayward through affliction. The Psalmist said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray”. It may be hard for you to realize that the Psalmist who wrote this great Psalm had gone astray. Affliction can be a health problem or financial trouble or a legal problem that God allows as he turns the wayward back to him.
Want – Lk 15:13-17. Another way that God turns the wayward is through want, like the prodigal son. He’ll put a hunger and thirst for righteousness in their heart after spoiling their attempts at worldly pleasure. One of our mothers said about her son, “He’s not missing what he’s missing”. The hard part for us as parents is to sit on the sideline and not interfere with God when he allows affliction and want to hurt them. For more on this listen to Dealing With A Prodigal. God has to do this; we will generally try to cushion the blow.
Reaping – Gal 6:7-8. Some wayward children turn after reaping what they have sown. Prov 14:14 says, “The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways”. The work of sin does this to them.
We Must Pray For The Wayward
The thing for us to do is pray. Pray hard. You have to follow the Lord the whole way through their detour. Each child is different. And you must be careful not to interfere. If you say anything, say what the Lord wants you to say. Do what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t say or do anything that he doesn’t want you to do or say.
Your wayward child may come to you for counsel or for love. But be careful. Our love can take away the sting of correction. In our counsel, we may be trying to live their lives for them. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to draw the line. If your counsel and love obscure the reality of their backslidden condition then you are interfering. If your help enables them to continue to do wrong then they won’t get right.
We Might Need to Break Off Fellowship with Them
In 1 Cor 5:11 Paul wrote, “I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat”. How would you like to have been the boy’s father in this chapter? Paul turned the young man over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh. The church broke off fellowship with him. This would have been hard to take. I have seen parents take the side of the child and leave the church in circumstances like this.
Your wayward child has to know that something is wrong with him or her. You know it. And you know that they may hate you for your standing with Christ and his truth against them and their sin.
What really messes with your stand with Christ is grandchildren. When your wayward child starts having children, your love for those children and instinct to protect them can cause you to run right past the boundaries God wants you to keep while he deals with your wayward child. Most of us can’t handle this.
God Must Turn Our Wayward Children
God has to turn our wayward children. We cannot do it; God has to do it. A young man in his late thirties, whom I’ve known since he was a child, has started calling me now. I have prayed for him all these years. And he is really taking a turn toward the Lord, one step at a time. As long as he keeps turning to the Lord, I’ll continue to give him Biblical instruction. If he quits, then we’ll just go back to praying for him until God turns the wayward for good.