“God is unfair in that Hitler and a dear old lady (who never accepted Jesus)
will both go to hell.”
Sinners often accuse God of being unjust, because they assume that everyone
will receive the same punishment in hell regardless of whether their
sins are menial or heinous. God’s judgment, however, will be according to
righteousness (Acts 17:31). In Matthew 11:24, Jesus said, “It shall be more
tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.”
And in Luke 10:14, we see that the more sinful cities of Chorazin and
Bethsaida will receive a more harsh judgment than Tyre and Sidon. These
verses show that there will be degrees of punishment. (See also Luke
12:47,48; Hebrews 10:29.)
In this lesson we are going to look at the Fifth Commandment: “Honor
your father and your mother: that your days may be long upon the
land which the Lord your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12).
This Commandment is unique, because it is “the first commandment
with promise” (Ephesians 6:2). To honor our parents is to esteem them,
show them respect, and obey them. The New Testament instructs children
to “obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1) and
“obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing to the Lord”
(Colossians 3:20). Are children to obey only the things they want to, or
that sound reasonable to them? No; in order to please the Lord, they are
to obey “in all things.” That doesn’t mean their parents will always make
wise decisions or treat their children as they should, but God will hold
the parents accountable for their own actions. Regardless of the parents’
parenting skills, the children are to obey—that is their role for which God
will hold them accountable.
Why is this so important? Since children are naturally sinful, they need
to be instructed in the ways of the Lord; parents must “train up a child in
the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). Proverbs 29:15,17 warns, “The rod
and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself brings his mother to
shame . . . Correct your son, and he shall give you rest; yes, he shall give
delight unto your soul.” One who will not submit to the authority of his
parents, who are God’s agents to train and discipline him, is very unlikely
to submit to God’s authority and obey God’s Laws.
In essence, this commandment promises that, if children do not honor
their parents, all will not go well with them and their days will not be
long upon the earth. This is the reason all isn’t well with this generation.
It has been left in the dark about the requirements of the Law and is suffering
the consequences of its transgression. It is plagued with drug and
alcohol addiction, promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, broken families,
and a massive suicide rate (go to www.1000deaths.com, click on the
photos, and weep).
The Bible says that the Messiah would magnify the Law and make it
honorable (Isaiah 42:21). Jesus did this many times, particularly in the
Sermon on the Mount. Mark 7:5–13 tells us that the Pharisees had dishonored
the Law by merely giving God lip service. They made this Commandment void through their tradition, teaching for doctrines the commandments
of men. The Savior brought honor back to the Law by teaching
that the Law was spiritual in nature, and that outward observance was
not enough. God required truth in the inward parts (the thought-life,
intent, and motives).
Again, the lawful use of the Law is to show us how far we have fallen
short of God’s perfect standard. The Law brings the knowledge of sin.
The best of us haven’t honored our parents as we should. However, in
witnessing, you will encounter some who will contend that they have
kept this Commandment and have perfectly honored their parents. They
therefore need to be confronted with the sins of the flesh first before they
are confronted with this Commandment. Have they lied? Have they stolen?
Almost everyone will admit to lying and stealing; therefore, they have dishonored
their parents’ name by being a lying thief.