To Honor One’s Parents Is Required For Eternal Life
July 29, 2015
God’s Word is adamant that we are to honor our parents. Honor means to regard and treat a person with great respect, and it also means to carry out all obligations we have to them. This honoring of our parents we are absolutely commanded, throughout the pages of God’s Word, to do. (Ex. 20:12 & 21:17 // Lev. 19:3 & 20:9 // Dt. 5:16 & 27:16 // Pr. 20:20 & 23:22 & 30:17 // Ezek. 22:7 // Mt. 15:3-9 // Eph. 6:1-3 // Col. 3:20) Just as any person does who breaks one of God’s Commandments, those who do not honor their parents have, in God’s eyes, committed a capital crime. (Lev. 20:9 // Dt. 21:18-23 // Ja. 2:10-12 // 1 John 3:4)
In Mt. 15:3-9 we read of Jesus rebuking the Scripture-teachers for instructing people to give gifts to God at the expense of helping needy parents. This is a way of invalidating the Word of God, Jesus states, and a demonstration of hypocrisy as well as a way to make useless one’s worship to the Lord. Furthermore, in the same sentence in which Jesus reminds us, “For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother'”, He likewise reminds us that God ordered that, “He who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death.” (v. 4) In comparing different translations, we can see that this includes anyone who reviles, insults, slanders, speaks ill of, curses, abuses, or shows contempt for his parents. In other words, Jesus is informing us that even neglect of one’s parents is a serious sin that deserves death!
When the rich young man asked Jesus what he could do in order to receive eternal life, Jesus told him that obedience to God’s commandments is necessary (Mt. 19:17), and one that He specified was that of honoring one’s father and mother. (v. 19) Yes, Jesus told the man that he must also give up his possessions and follow Him, but it is an error to deny that Christ teaches that those who dishonor their parents will not be granted eternal life. As Dt. 27:16 says, “Cursed is anyone who dishonors [shames / disrespects / slights / treats as insignificant] their father or mother.” One who is cursed is not walking in eternal life.
The apostle Paul teaches this as well, reminding us of God’s Fifth Commandment and its corresponding promise (Eph. 6:1-3), of how obedience to parents is what pleases the Lord (Col. 3:20), and of the terrible, wicked times coming to us in the last days, listing “disobedience to parents” as one of the signs. (See 2 Tim. 3:1-5) He lets us know that by refusing to care for any relatives whom God holds us responsible for, is to deny our faith, doing so through our actions of negligence. (1 Tim. 5:4-8)
Sadly, many in Christendom think that because we can now, through the New Covenant, access God’s grace, we do not need to worry about such harsh warnings or commands, especially if they be from the Old Testament. Yet did Jesus show such indifference toward the Old Testament Scriptures? Hardly! While refuting Satan in the wilderness, and while refuting other false teachers, Jesus repeatedly pointed out what the Old Testament Scriptures said, often beginning by saying, “It is written…” One of these times is recorded in Mt. 4:4 when He said, “It is written: ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Yet these words of God which Jesus was referring to were from the Old Testament, as the New had not yet been written! Consequently, when we read in Isa. 8:20 that they have no Light who do not speak (or teach) according to the Law and the Testimony, we can understand that they remain in the dark realm whose doctrine conflicts with that doctrine taught and revealed in the Old Testament.
We know that Jesus said that He did not come to abolish God’s Law or the Prophets’ writings, but to fulfill them. (Mt. 5:17) Fulfill means to carry out, to satisfy, to bring to completion, to achieve, to execute, to actualize, and to accomplish. Thus Jesus was teaching that God’s moral Law was not being demolished, but, that by being “in” Him, humans are now, through continued adherence to the Truth (which is also the Way and the Life –John 6:56,57,63 & 14:6 & 15:10), empowered to obey God, thus please God, and thus belong to Him and fellowship with Him. (Rom. 8:7-9,14) Because Christ has done His part, we can now do ours –which is to step into Him through repentance, faith, submission, and obedience– so that His Spirit can control us and enable us to meet the righteous requirements of God’s Law. (v. 3,4) Therefore faith does not nullify the moral Law of God, but rather, by (true) faith we uphold the Law! (3:31) For God’s Law, which is holy, righteous and good (7:12), but which Sin uses in order to bring death for all who are not united with Christ (v. 10,11), is, conversely, the means of Life for all who ARE united with Christ through their obedience to the Word and Spirit! (John 8:51 // Gal. 5:18 // 1 John 3:24 & 5:3)
God’s moral Law is good. It is holy. And it is the Law. God’s Law. The Law God commands everyone to obey. The Law God has enabled us to obey –through the New Covenant.
Therefore, if Jesus has informed us that the commandments of God’s Law must be obeyed in order to gain eternal life, and if He has revealed that dishonoring one’s parents is a violation of His Law, then why are “Christians” not more concerned about how they treat their parents?