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Family Life, God’s Way (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
November 15, 2021 3:00 am

Family Life, God’s Way (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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November 15, 2021 3:00 am

While the traditional family’s changed significantly since biblical times, God’s commandments remain the same. Find out why parental authority’s essential for both the family's well-being and society’s stability. That’s on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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The way we think about family has changed a lot since the Bible was written and yet God's commandments remain unchanged. Why does he require children to honor and respect their parents and why is parental authority essential for society as a whole?

Alistair Begg answers these questions today on Truth for Life. He begins with part one of a message titled Family Life, God's Way. I invite you to take your Bibles and we'll turn to Exodus chapter 20. The fifth commandment reads in the twelfth verse of Exodus 20 as follows, Honor your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. You can find its restatement in Ephesians chapter 6, when Paul writes to the Ephesians and in addressing concerns of their relationships with one another—wives and husbands and employers and employees—he says, Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and your mother, which is the first commandment, with a promise that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.

The well-being of a person, of a people, of a nation begins within the home. Virtually all civilizations have regarded the recognition of parental authority as being indispensable to a stable society. And this bears testimony to the fact of God's natural law. Every so often in the media, as it relates to matters of court, especially the Supreme Court, the question is again raised, Is there such a thing as natural law?

And the Bible says yes, there is. For example, in Romans chapter 2, when Paul is addressing the issue of the culpability of men before a holy God, he points out that sometimes the Gentiles even do things that they ought to do, and they don't even have the revealed law of God. And he says in verse 14, Indeed when Gentiles who do not have the law do by nature things required of the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law.

Since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them. In other words, right into the existence of humanity are written certain things as a result of God's creative handiwork. And one of these which is expressed in all civilizations is here in relationship to family living and to the responsibilities of parents for their children and of the children's need for submission to their mum and dad. Now, what is natural and in natural law is expressed in God's revealed law, which is encapsulated in the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments, which we are now considering, and namely expressly, this fifth command. Now, if your reaction to this, especially in light of where we're living at the present time, is to sense that our prevailing attitude within our culture concerning parental authority and childhood responsibility is sadly lacking, then you're fairly accurate, and you're not without biblical warrant. The situation in the environment in which we are living is something very, very different from that which is envisaged in Scripture and is called for in this fifth commandment. From apparently inconsequential things, like the dropping of the designation mum and dad in favor of the use of the father or the mother's first name, that, on the one hand, at the superficial level, then is marked on the other end by the evidences of this kind of childhood divorce mentality, whereby children are now in such a position of ascendancy in our culture that they possess all these rights which God never intended for children ever, ever to have. And the culture in which you and I live this morning is a culture in which there is a shameless disregard for God and for his purposes. Our society is like an overused school bus lying at the side of the freeway, with its wheels falling off, its axles buckled, and its doors swinging on the hinges.

It can't move, it doesn't know where it's going, it doesn't know how to rectify itself, it can't get back on the road. And if ever anybody would stand up and say, Why don't you take a look at the Maker's instructions? That is regarded as the most naive stupidity ever conceived of. Hey, did you ever think of considering the Bible? You know, God created the heavens and the earth, he made us. Maybe there's something in there that would explain why we're in the mess.

Don't be ridiculous. And the Ten Commandments, with their express conditions for life lived in the right way, away with them all, we have no time for them. Now let's get back to the decrepit old bus of our society and see what we can do. So we're a joke. We're a joke before the Chinese culture, even in its communism. Because they look at us and they say, If that is what they've got, and that is their disregard for family life, and if that is the way they treat the elderly, then we don't want what they have.

And we are so surrounded by jingoistic notions of how good we are at everything that we can't even see how bad the situation really is. And it all comes back to the kitchen table. It all comes back to Mom and Dad and the children. Now, that's why this commandment is so fundamentally important. We may have been tempted to think in the first four that they're somehow at arm's length, that they're maybe anachronistic, that they're not really that significant.

I'm sure they're important, says somebody, but I don't know how they relate to me. But there isn't a boy or a girl here this morning nor a mom and dad who's going to be able to say, I don't understand how the fifth commandment has a part to play in my life. The apostle Paul, in describing decadent culture and in describing the days which he refers to as the last days which will precede the coming of Christ, as he describes the chaos of those societies, it's very interesting. For example, again, back in Romans and in chapter 1, where he describes the dreadful decline of a culture when it turns its back on God, when it embraces foolishness, when it worships the creature rather than the Creator, when it falls into the abyss of homosexuality, when men commit indecent acts with other men and receive in themselves the due penalty for their perversion—whatever that may mean, it means that there is cause and effect, and they don't retain their knowledge of God, and they become filled with every kind of wickedness.

Look at this in verse 29. Filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They're full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are God-haters. They are insolent. They are arrogant. They are boastful. They invent ways of doing evil. Now listen, right in the middle of it all, they disobey their parents!

Surely that's not so significant! I mean, we understand the malice and the insolence and the strife and the hating God, but how could you have they disobey their parents dropped into such a dreadful list? You find the exact same thing in 2 Timothy chapter 3. Timothy is a young man pastoring in his day, receives instruction from Paul, and Paul points out people will love themselves.

Verse 2, they'll love money, they'll be boastful, proud, abusive, and then here it comes. Disobedient to their parents. If we're tempted to think that the Ten Commandments are lost somewhere in the history books, the fifth commandment of all commandments ought to bring us back to reality fast. What does the fifth commandment teach? This is what it teaches. It teaches the general principle of paying respect to whom respect is due and honor to whom honor is due. And it does so by underlining the fundamental and specific responsibility children are given to honor their parents. The responsibility of parenting, the parental authority that God gives, is God-given. It is divinely delegated authority.

God says, This is how I want authority to be administered within the home. It's not going to be anarchy. It won't be chaos.

It's not a free-for-all. Everybody won't call everybody by their first name. There will be a father, and I will make him the spiritual head of the home and hold him accountable. There will be a principle of mutuality between husband and wife.

There will be submission on the part of the wife. And the father and the mother will unite to give direction and to give instruction to those children who are gifts from the Lord, who are entrusted to his care, who are to be trained to be brought up in obedience and in the instruction of the Lord. Reverence for parents is an integral part of reverence for God. Indeed, you cannot reverence God if you don't respect your mom and dad. It's as simple as that. It is a folly to say that my life is devoted to Christ if my life is not devoted to my parents.

Okay? Then in Leviticus chapter 19, the Lord speaks. He says, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. And then the very next sentence reads, Every one of you shall revere his mother and father.

It's almost like he anticipates the question. Now he says, You're going to be holy because I'm holy. What do you mean we should be holy? Number one, revere your mom and your dad.

Whatever else you do, start there. It was on account of this that the death penalty was enacted for those who curse their parents. Leviticus chapter 20 verse 9. That's how seriously God considered the issue. Because you see, the authority which is entrusted to parents is a divinely delegated authority. Therefore, when a child curses his mom or curses his dad, he curses God, for the parents are in the place of God.

Now, the penalty no longer remains, but the place which God affords to respect for one's parents has not changed. And when you think this out, dear ones, you realize that there is a direct correlation in our culture between a total disregard for the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and the embracing of foolishness in these matters of family living. Why is there so much silliness spoken about family life? Why is there such an unbelievable disregard for basic, elemental, obviously commonsensical aspects of our lives that were so much a part of the past? From whence cometh this stupidity?

Okay? The answer is it comes at another point at a higher level with a disregard for God. America says it believes in God.

What it means by that is multifaceted. It means that God is a cosmic principle, God is a good idea, God is a stellar power, God is whatever you want him to be. And therefore, if God is a servant of our wills, then we'll be able to develop culture in whichever way we determine.

But it doesn't believe in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who says, I am holy, you shall be holy, respect your mother and father. We don't believe in that kind of God. And so having rejected the only God that exists and having removed his handbook for our lives, we're left with total stupidity. The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. And the foolishness that pervades a culture that rejects God is manifested all around us every day.

It's just silly. And if it weren't so sad, it would be funny at times to see the pathetic way in which we conduct affairs in our nation. Now, the church fathers, when they wrote concerning the fifth commandment—indeed, concerning all the commandments—they were keen to point out not simply the express statement of the commandment but the intent that was included with it. And so the church fathers, when you read them on the fifth commandment, they point out that the principle of respect and honor within a culture extends, for example, to other kinds of parents that we have. And they thought of it in terms of, for example, political appearance and the notion of Romans 13, that we should respect those who have the authority over us—if you like, for God and for country—that that will be an expression of honor where honor is due. In the same way that we would be respectful of the flag because of what it represents, they understood that. In the same way, they recognized that there are spiritual parents which God gives us, that within the framework of the church he gives pastors and elders, and those men are responsible under God for the guidance and development of that congregation, they will answer one day on the day of judgment for the way in which they made decisions and the way they conducted their affairs, and therefore the people of God should submit to their spiritual parents.

In the same way, they spoke in terms of chronological parents—namely, folks who are just older than us. And they said, in any society that is going to be true to the Scriptures, there will be respect for teachers, for police, for elders, for pastors, and for the elderly. Now, the fact is that this flies in the face of where we live our lives.

There is a natural human dislike for authority. And people are essentially walking around—if you were to open their shirts, they've got an undershirt underneath, and on the front it says, Who says? Okay? How many times in a day do you hear that? Now, I think that we ought to do such and such. Who says? Well, I say, Well, who are you?

And so it goes on. There's a complete, endemic reaction to authority, and the reaction is to the authority of God. People in the street don't understand that. But the reason that they don't respect their parents, won't obey the police, won't submit to their teachers, won't do all these things, is because they reject the authority of God over their lives. And the Ten Commandments bring us back to this with clarity. Now, the promise that attaches to it is a lovely promise, that we are to honor our Father and our Mother so that you may live long and, in express terms here, in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Now, before we start to spiritualize this in any way, which we should avoid, this is a straightforward command by Moses that had express application immediately to the people who were the recipients of it to begin with.

When you think about the notion of the land as we move from the time of Moses and through into the time of Christ, and we think of all that eternity will be, you can see that this promise goes far and beyond any kind of immediate geographical or historical application. And we ought to be clear as well that the promise is probably not to be seen as a motive. In other words, honor your father and mother so that. Honor your father and mother. Why? Because God says.

Okay? This is not pragmatism. Honor your father and mother if you want to live a long time. The living a long time is a result of honoring your father and mother. It's not a motivational principle. Not to diminish the promise or to disregard or set aside the instruction, but simply to say this. We all know that there have been lots of obedient children who died young, and there have been lots of disobedient children who have hung around for an awful long time. Does that invalidate the principle? No, the principle remains true. And I think the issue, rather, is that rather than it being a categorical promise to individuals, it is a general promise regarding the social stability which attaches to a community in which children honor their parents. Undisciplined children spell ruin for a nation, for a church, for a society.

And the principle is this. If you listen to your mom and dad and they give you godly instruction, then you won't go with a crows. People shoot crows. If you go with a crows, there's a chance you'll be shot.

If you listen to your mom and dad, then you'll keep from doing that and going there, and there's a chance that your life is going to last a lot longer than if you have a total disregard for their parental jurisdiction, and you say, I can do what I want, with I want, with whomsoever I choose, any time I want. The principle is not invalidated by the exceptions to the rule. All of that by way of general instruction. Let us come, then, to some specific applications of this fifth commandment. First of all, let us define honor here. Honor your father and mother.

Somebody obviously got to say, What does that mean? Well, the Hebrew word for honor is the word kabed, k-a-b-e-d, and it simply carries the meaning of to be heavy. And it points to regarding our parents as eminently worthy of a weight of respect.

Okay? There should be tons of respect for our parents. It demands tons of it. We look at them, and the weight of honor that we ascribe to them is really heavy.

It's a heavy-duty command. The Greek word which is correlative to it is timao, t-i-m-a-o, and it conveys the notion of fixing a right evaluation upon their worth. It's kind of like the price is right. They put the thing at the old vase or whatever it is, and you're supposed to place a right evaluation on its worth. Well, the worth that we place upon our parents is not on the basis of how much we like them or like what they're saying to us or whatever else it is, but the worth that we place upon our parents is because God Almighty has placed our parents in this responsible role, and the worth and honor and respect that is due them is an account of God's plan and prerogative. And the honor which we give to our parents is to be a reflection of the honor that we give to God.

Okay? So that's it defined in terms of the weight of respect that we owe them and in terms of fixing a right evaluation upon their worth. How is honor displayed? First of all, let us just note in passing that the honor that is called for is an obligation, it's not an option. It's not as if we can choose to opt into this if we like, and if we don't, then we'll just have a Christian life without this particular one.

We can't do that. It's obligatory, it's not optional. All right? So for those of you who thought you were gonna skip the fifth commandment and move quickly to the sixth, you're in deep trouble.

All right? So the honor is displayed, number one, in practical respect. We understand disrespect, don't we? We would like to be able to teach respect, and then people discover disrespect, but all having discovered disrespect, we will teach respect in counterbalance to the disrespect that we've already embraced. We disrespect our parents when we mock them with our tongues.

That is disrespectful. Therefore, to respect them means that I don't mock them with my tongue. I disrespect my parents when I speak unkindly about them. Therefore, I respect them when I speak kindly about them. I disrespect my parents when I address them in public in such a way as to make them appear as though they were a member of my baseball team that I didn't particularly like, rather than that they were my father who begot me or my mother who conceived me. I disrespect my parents when I'm talking on the telephone, asking for a ride home from such and such a place.

I treat them as if they were some dreadful cab driver who ought to be glad of my business. Therefore, I respect them when I treat their kindnesses towards me with the honor and revering that is due them. Proverbs chapter 23, Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when you're old. That's Alistair Begg helping us understand why reverence for our parents is essentially connected to our reverence for God.

You're listening to Truth for Life. On behalf of all of us here at Truth for Life, we want to say thank you for your support throughout this year. Your prayers and your giving bring Alistair's teaching to an audience that by God's grace is continuing to grow. I mention this because we are headed toward the final weeks of the year when your giving is really essential. November and December donations enabled this ministry to finish the year strong. So, as you look ahead and plan to support nonprofit organizations that benefit you throughout the year, we hope you'll remember Truth for Life and consider a generous gift to support the Bible teaching you here on this program. You can give online at truthforlife.org slash donate or call 888-588-7884. When you do, be sure to ask for your copy of the book Pathway to Freedom, How God's Laws Guide Our Lives. It's our way of saying thank you for your support. In the book Pathway to Freedom, Alistair draws from scripture and other sources to walk us through the Ten Commandments.

He points out that the things that give the illusion of pleasure or security can actually breed anxiety. Meanwhile, God's laws will help you live a life marked by wisdom, joy, and integrity. Once again, you can request your copy of the book Pathway to Freedom with a one-time donation at truthforlife.org slash donate. Today is the last day we'll be offering the book Pathway to Freedom, How God's Laws Guide Our Lives when you donate. However, you can still purchase additional copies of the book to use with your Bible study group or your Sunday school class or a new members class at church. You can also purchase the entire Pathway to Freedom series on a USB drive along with a corresponding study guide. All of these materials are available at our cost at truthforlife.org slash store.

I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for joining us today. Now that we know why we should honor our parents, we're going to find out how we should do that. Be sure to join us tomorrow for part two of Family Life, God's Way. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-22 20:41:44 / 2023-07-22 20:50:42 / 9

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