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The Ten Commandments, Part 5

"How many observe Christ's birthday! How few, his precepts! O!'tis easier to keep holidays than commandments."

Benjamin Franklin


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, 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.[1]

[1] Cameron, K., & Comfort, R. (2004). The school of biblical evangelism: 101 lessons: how to share your faith simply, effectively, biblically-the way Jesus did (pp. 65-67). Gainesville, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers.