God's Surprising Plan for a Long, Strong Life
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Sunday, June 2, 2013 - 6:00 p.m.  Sermon #: 1655
Pastor Don Horban

Exodus 20:12 - “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

Deuteronomy 5:16 - “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

Ephesians 6:1-3 - “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. [2] ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), [3] ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’”


Look at the flow of thought in the sequence of the commandments:

a) “No gods before Me” - The ultimate place of God in the life. He comes before all other considerations and loyalties.

b) “Worship Me on My terms, not yours” - That means following the patterns and priorities of Scripture, regardless of how they are viewed and assessed by our world.

c) “Never allow your relationship with Me to become trite or empty in any of your words or actions.” - Elton Trueblood says, “The worst blasphemy isn’t profanity, but lip service.” We all face the constant battle to keep faith sincere and passionate.

d) “Remember, you will never keep these commands just by your own resolve. “Keep My day separate and keep it wholly devoted to Me.” So I remember my relationship with God is personal, but not individual. It must be maintained corporately with other believers.

God calls for more than personal purity. He calls for corporate worship and remembrance. To miss this truth is to miss the teaching of the New Testament.

After these first four commands the focus of the commandments shifts from my worship of God and devotion to God to areas of behavior in life as it gets lived in our world. And the area of first mention and concern relates to family.

Just on the side, notice also that in God’s creative order and mandate a family has a definition. It is composed of a father and a mother and children. A family will never be a uniting of two dads to two moms. Certainly a family may lose a father or mother for many reasons and remain a family. But a family can never be founded on another foundation. Also, you may love your dog or your cat very much. But they are not a part of the Biblical family unit.

For genuine faith to survive, it must last from one generation to the next. And for that transition to be successful, we need more than the church. The key role is played by the home.

What I learn from the flow of these commands is this. The church can preach its message until the cows come home. If children don’t see those same truths reinforced in the home, no permanent good will be accomplished. Before the schools have the children, the homes have them. Before the churches have the children, the homes have them. Before the government can reach the children, the homes have them.

Think of how this fifth command is related to the first four. Where do children first learn to have no other gods but God? Where do children first learn of the danger of idolatry, and that God can’t be worshiped on the basis of mere emotion or whim? Where do children first learn that God’s Name is sacred and holy, and that anything done in His Name must be done with devotion and sincerity? Where do children first learn that God’s day isn’t public domain for their own pleasure?

There’s only one correct answer to those questions. They learn those lessons first in the home, or they probably won’t learn them hearing them anywhere else. Which is why, when God starts talking about people, He starts by talking about families. I’m terribly afraid that we, even in the church, are on the verge of throwing something away that God says is absolutely foundational for a good life.

While we must approach this subject with sensitivity to different cultural needs, you can’t farm this job out to anybody else. The government isn’t the caretaker of the home. Families belong to God and He has entrusted them to parents. It simply will not work any other way.

The world’s mind has dented the church of Christ far more than any of us realizes. Come to terms with this sentence: To hear and obey what the Word of God is saying in the middle of our culture is now going to begin, in very visible, costly ways, to separate Christians from the life style of those around them.

When thinking through each of these commandments, and especially the last two about God’s day, and now, the role and task of the family, Christians are going to have to resist the temptation to re-interpret God’s Word around their life style. Instead, we are being called to re-shape our life style around the radically different standards of God’s Word.

That, and nothing less than that, is what the Bible means when it says we are to have renewed minds. Paul says our minds are to be shaped by God’s will, not the mold of this present world - Romans 12:1-2 - “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. [2] Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

These are incredibly searching words. They mean if this world fits your life, you’re the wrong shape. They mean we are to look for a counter-cultural element to our behavior if our claim to follow Christ is anything more than religious talk.


Actually, before this command reaches children’s ears, it needs to be heard by parents. That’s because, long before the child can read, or walk, or understand, the parent has the task of teaching him or her how to obey.

It’s as simple as this, if you love your children, make them listen to you. It starts long before they can rationally argue or form sentences. And obviously, how this fifth commandment is to be applied differs with the age of your children. When they’re five you tell them to brush their teeth. When they’re eighteen you give them advice about college or a job. The relationship begins to change as the child grows into maturity. Eventually they are not under your parental authority at all, though even then there is some application of this command.

This commandment isn’t just for infants and toddlers. They aren’t even the primary focus of this command. In fact, the command is clearly addressed to children who can hear and understand its content for themselves: Ephesians 6:1-3 - “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. [2] "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), [3] "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land."

Certainly all our children reach a point where obedience to parents no longer applies. Our children so quickly become adults with children of their own. But for many youth and under here today, please notice the two verbs Paul uses in those verses. “Obey” - that refers to the outward action of obedience while you live under your parent’s authority.

But God, as always, isn’t just interested in some cold, outward obedience to their words. And even after you’ve reached the age where plain outward obedience no longer directly applies, the instructions also include the word “honor.” You’re to “honor your father and mother.”

This goes deeper than the concept of obedience. Honor carries the idea of respect and appreciation for all they’ve done, and the recognition, while you are under their authority, that they are out for your best interest.

You don’t have to always agree. And they may not always even be right. But you are to respect their intentions and respect them as they are trying to do what God is leading them to do in your life. Don’t fight their directions. Don’t complain against their instructions. Don’t slander them when you’re with your friends. That’s what honor means. And the promise is if you will honor them, God will honor you.

Listen, if you are young, the tendency is to see the spiritual part of your life unfolding outside of the place where you and your parents live. It’s so easy to think that the spiritual stuff happens at Bible Study, or at Youth Retreat, or at Youth Camp.

And it’s because we’re so prone to think that way that Paul says you should actually obey your parents “in the Lord”(Ephesians 6:1). And his reminder is to see this obedience to your parents as part of your relationship to Jesus Himself. It’s what forms you as a child of God. You can’t separate this from the rest of your walk with Jesus Christ. He cares very much about this. It determines how genuinely Christian you are at the center of your life.


Ephesians 6:2-3 - “‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), [3] ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’"

I know that many people twist that promise all out of shape. Does this mean that no obedient child from a Godly home will ever be hit by a car, or die of disease? No, I don’t think it does. Does it mean your child will never resist or rebel against God’s will for his or her life. No. No one can guarantee that.

But just because some abuse the promise, doesn’t mean the rest of us should ignore it. The young especially face the challenge of learning to live under the authority of someone else. Many times they foolishly dream of getting away from home so they can be their own boss and finally find freedom from all the rules and restraints.

I said the young especially have problem with learning to live under authority because you have to have the accumulated years of adulthood to learn the hard lesson that no one ever lives life not under the authority of others. That kind of freedom is a dream that only the very young or the very foolish can have. Those who have lived longer know there will never be any shortage of authorities telling them what they must do.

And parental authority is blessed and endorsed by our Creator, not because parents are perfect and never make mistakes, but because as children learn to obey and honor their parents they also learn to obey and honor God - and a host of other necessary authorities as well.

As they learn to honor God they also learn to fit in school, with its rules. They fit with the society and the police and laws of their world. They learn to function in a world where jobs have bosses who tell them when to show up and what to do.

And so this commandment unashamedly says, “Learn early to obey your parents so that life will go well with you! Don’t sell your soul early. Don’t short circuit your own future!”

Young person, listen, there are countless voices undermining the rightful claim of your parents in your life. It happens in increasingly in school classrooms. It happens with your friends and peers. It’s the common spirit of this age in almost every sit com on television.

And God’s Word still wants to shout into your soul, “Don’t listen to the counsel of the ungodly. Honor your father and your mother. Your whole future is at stake!”


Nothing is clearer than this. God’s intention in this command is to prepare children for obedience to Him by the training of obedience to parents. And for that to come to fruition, parents, in turn must obey God the way they want their children to obey them. So
children learn the joy and freedom that comes from obeying God when obeying their parents is seen to be of the same pattern and substance as following God.

Sometimes I’m asked if children are to obey parents when parents push them away from the clear path of obedience to the Lord. And I have to say there is nothing sadder than those times when children are forced to choose between honoring God and honoring their parents.

The clear call to every person’s life is to honor God first. Jesus Himself said that sometimes His kingdom would actually tear earthly relationships apart. But certainly, especially in Christian homes, parents should live all of their lives in such a way that obedience to them will only further and quicken obedience to Jesus.

Nothing, in any area of my personal life, or example as a parent, should, in any way, contradict the will and way of Jesus in my children’s lives.

Especially for small children, who can’t sort out all of the issues of life for themselves, following dad should look and feel to be of one piece with following Jesus. The responsibility God has given parents requires a close and committed following of Jesus on their part. None of us is perfect. And we all fail in many ways. And there will certainly be much disagreement over issues of curfews, money, and boundaries that simply have to be set somewhere.

But prayerfully it should never be hard for children to obey their father and mother “in the Lord.” The parent’s lives should make that kind of obedience easy.

So children (not just small children) remember that in God’s plan, the fastest way to get the best out of life is to honor your mom and your dad. They aren’t perfect. But they are under assignment from God to lead your life the best way they know how.

You honor God as you honor them.