What does this mean? Does it mean that we should compromise our testimony just so we can have peace with unbelieving and possibly unreasonable parents who may try to get us to back down on the truth to the point of committing treason against Christ? Does it mean that we should subject ourselves to severe abuse or their threats to slander us or gossip about us if we continue to expose their false belief system? Absolutely NOT!
But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols: I am the Lord your God; walk in My statutes, and keep My judgments, and do them” (Ezek. 20:18-19).
Though we are required to honor parental figures, that does not mean that we should compromise with those who are ungodly, and we are under no biblical obligation to admire them at a personal level. If a parental figure ever tempts us to do something that clearly contradicts God’s Word, we must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29).
Nevertheless, we are obligated to pray for them and to make sure they are taken care of, if they will allow us to, for some are sadly bent on self-destruction and we cannot allow ourselves to go down with their ship. But, we are to meekly and gently give them the gospel, despite the inevitable persecution that will likely follow. And only by God’s grace can we maintain biblical boundaries while still retaining respect for their God-given position.
“If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1).
We must also ask ourselves, would it truly be honoring a parent, or the family unit as a whole, if a professing Christian kept quiet about the gospel and pretended all was well, even though their loved ones may be in a false religious cult? Moreover, would it be honoring Christ above all else?
Would it be truly honorable to allow the entire family to continue to think that their loved one made it to heaven based on their own morality, their own works, their own righteousness? Would it truly be honorable to attribute a perceived entrance into Heaven to a false religious system? Would it be honorable and loving to give false assurance to someone who is believing a false gospel that leads to Hell for eternity?
Would it truly be honoring a deceased parental figure if we led the rest of the family into believing they were surely in Heaven, even if there were strong, biblical indicators that they may be in Hell? What if they are like the rich man in Jesus’ parable, suffering in eternal flames, begging and pleading for someone to go and warn the rest of their family? (Lk. 16:19-31). What if YOU are the one that is supposed to warn the rest of your family instead of pretending everything is okay?
Would you be doing such a deceased loved one any favors if you end up in the same miserable place they may be in? Would you really be fulfilling their wishes if you failed to take into consideration the eternal revelation they have now received since their death? Would you be doing them any favors by not warning the rest of their family about Hell, or by neglecting the Christian duty to persuade their remaining family members of the worth of the Savior?
Throughout Scripture it is emphasized time and time again how God’s people have ALWAYS had to acknowledge the iniquity of their “fathers,” their elders, their ancestors. And this was NOT considered to be dishonor, for according to Scripture, it has obviously ALWAYS been crucial for us to be constantly reminded and warned of what might happen to us if we follow in the same sinful pattern as our apostate ancestors.
Jesus Himself CLEARLY exemplified this for us:
“Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Mt. 23:31-33)
“He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Mt. 10:37).
Jesus even said to the man who wanted to delay his discipleship in order to bury his father, “Follow Me; and let the dead bury their dead.” (Mt. 8:22).
We are to NEVER have a stronger love for people and ourselves than for God. No wonder Jesus said the first commandment is to love God with all of our heart, mind, spirit and strength (Mk. 12:30-31). THEN and only then are we commanded to love others as ourselves. Jesus made it clear that our allegiance to God and His cause must supersede all else, even our own parents whom we are commanded to honor. He warns that if it doesn’t, we are not worthy to be His disciples (Mt. 10:37-38, Lk. 14:26).
Jesus proved that what seemed to the world to be a sin of disrespect and cruelty toward His closest earthly relations, was NOT that at all, especially in light of His higher calling (Mt. 12:47-49, Lk. 2:49). Therefore, the ultimate way to honor parents is to share the gospel with them. We do NOT honor them or do them any favors if we neglect the value and importance of their eternal soul. We do NOT honor them or do them any favors if we neglect our Christian duty to try to persuade them of their desperate need of God’s gifts of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Worse yet, that would NOT honor the Lord.
We would do well to heed the example set forth throughout God’s Word:
“We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against Thee” (Jer. 14:20).
“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree” (Acts 5:29-31).
In Acts 7:2, when Stephen said, “Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken,” he was honoring their importance and value, for why else would he risk his life to give them an entire detailed testimony of how sinful they and their ancestors had been for rejecting the only way that one can be justified before a holy God…the blood and perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ alone.
And yet, they stopped their ears and violently killed Stephen (vss. 57-60) simply for testifying of their evil deeds against God, and for praying that God would not charge them for their sin of stoning him to death; who happened to be the very one who was LOVING AND HONORING them enough to tell them of the only way they could escape Hell…..the true Messiah.
Will we also be persecuted for such a biblical stance? YES.
Does this stance mean that we should live in perpetual guilt over our ancestors sin? Absolutely NOT! That’s the whole point of the true gospel!!! Unlike the false “social justice gospel” that’s being promoted on every TV screen, the true gospel of grace offers escape from the penalty and judgment that sin is due (Jn. 3:18). Unlike false political narratives that deceive many into believing they must live in perpetual repentance for the sins of others, the true gospel is that there is personal forgiveness of sins found only in Jesus Christ and His precious blood.
Finally, we cannot forget that we are to honor ALL people (1 Pet. 2:17), and naturally, this is to be initially learned in our own family unit. Honor means to greatly esteem and respect someone’s importance and value. And what could be more important and valuable than their eternal soul? The greatness of its worth is beyond description. Jesus said, “what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”(Mk. 8:36).
That’s how important and valuable the eternal soul is. So much so, that Jesus warned about Hell more than He spoke about Heaven. No wonder parents are commanded to never discourage their children by spitefully provoking them to anger (Col. 3:21), for they are to raise them in the admonition and nurture of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).
By doing so, parents help their children to learn how to honor them biblically. It is a reciprocal relationship, where iron sharpens iron unto the glory of the Lord.
But when the primarily responsible party fails to raise their children in the ways of the Lord, they cannot reasonably expect their children to hold to a standard that they themselves do not hold to. And parents cannot freely give what they themselves have not been freely given (Rom. 8:32).
This is where the gospel comes in, for at the heart level we have ALL broken ALL of the commands of God every single day of our life, for they cannot be reduced to mere surface-level formalities that can be accomplished by natural, human abilities. For the height, the depth and the width of God’s laws are unattainable by fallen humanity. That’s why they serve as a mirror to give us a glorious glimpse of the greatness and holiness of God and how far we have fallen from His glory, so that we can realize the worth of the Savior.
I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad” (Psa. 119:96).
But false religion reduces Christianity to a mere system of moral codes that even the heathen will try to adhere to in order to feel better about themselves. For the spirit behind such systems wickedly promotes doctrines that attempt to place God within human reach by minimizing the severity of God’s judgment against all unrighteousness and our desperate need for Jesus’ righteousness to be imputed to our account by the sovereign mercy of God’s free grace so that we can be reconciled to the Father. For only then can we be renewed in God’s image by being conformed to the image of Christ in all of His ways (Rom. 8:20, Col. 3:10).
Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3). So, all true Christians must lovingly and diligently warn their loved ones that unless they become like totally dependent children upon the righteousness of Christ alone, they will not be able to enter into God’s heavenly kingdom. “For many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Lk. 13:24).
Copyright ©2020 by Lee Anne Ferguson.