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Introduction: How to Honor Non-Christian Parents?

In today’s sermon from Pastor Martin Lloyd-Jones, we’re going to address the question of whether I should honor my parents who are different from my own.

His sermon was preached by Martin Lloyd Jones every Sunday morning at Westminster Chapel in London from 1954 to 1962. This blog post is adapted from one of his sermons on Ephesians.

honoring parents

The Apostle Paul on Parent-Child Relationships

Let’s consider Ephesians 6:1-4 together. This passage marks the beginning of a new chapter and section of Ephesians that takes up a new topic: the relationship between parents and children.

The Apostle Paul has previously presented one great truth and discussed several practices centered around various relationships.

The truth Paul is presenting is Ephesians 5:18:

“Do not get drunk with wine, for this is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit”.

Ephesians 5:18

Pastor Martin Lloyd Jones says this is a core principle, and the rest of the passage specifically addresses how a Spirit-filled Christian should live in various situations.

The apostle Paul also offers another principle that complements the core principle in verse 21:

“Be in subjection to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Ephesians 5:21

The Christian Life Is Entirely New

The Apostle Paul emphasizes that the Christian life is entirely new.

According to Paul, the natural life, no matter how exceptional, is radically different from the Christian life.

Paul is first concerned with contrasting the new life with the unbelieving life before conversion.

He likened the difference between these two lives to the difference between a drunk and a Spirit-filled person.

After applying his principles to the relationship between husband and wife, the apostle extends them to family relationships, especially those between parents and children and children and parents.

We live in a world where the foundations of child discipline are badly broken. We live in a world where the foundations of child discipline are severely broken.

We live in a world where the foundation of child discipline is severely broken.

The spirit of lawlessness is everywhere, and things once taken for granted are now viewed with suspicion and ridicule, or even ignored altogether.

In short, we live in a time when the leaven of evil is actively working its way through society.

The Age of Unbelief

honoring parents

Any careful observer of human society, whether Christian or not, must acknowledge that so-called civilization and society are disintegrating.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the relationship between parents and children.

The Rev. Martin Lloyd Jones believes that much of what we face today is a backlash against the social phenomena that prevailed in previous eras.

In previous eras, fathers were authoritarian, strict, and even brutal tyrants. Today’s phenomenon is a reaction to that.

Whatever the cause, the core of the problem is a breakdown in the foundations of proper discipline and law and order.

When we look back at biblical teaching and history, we see that times of unbelief have always been characterized by the same phenomena we see today.

A prime example is the state of the world described in Romans 1:8 through the last verse.

The apostle Paul describes the state of affairs when the Lord came into the world. In short, it was a state of lawlessness. Paul gave specific examples of the various forms of lawlessness. His description includes the topic we’re about to cover.

First, Paul says, “God gave them over to their reprobate minds to do unworthy things” (v. 28), and then he goes on to say

“that is, full of all unrighteousness, ugliness, greed, and malice; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, slanderers, haters of God, boasters, proud, boastful, devisers of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, treacherous, heartless, merciless” .

Ephesians 5:29-31

Disrespecting your parents is a terrible sin

Again, he includes “those who are disobedient to their parents” in his list of terrible sins.

In 2 Timothy, which is believed to be his last epistle, Paul also listed the characteristics of the times with these words

“For you know this, that in the last days, distressing times will come, when men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, slanderers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, heartless, unable to relent, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, not lovers of good things, treacherous, impatient, proud, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God” .

2 Timothy 3:1-4

Both of the passages just quoted “identify disobedience to parents as one of the sins that characterize the age of apostasy, the age of unbelief that shakes the very foundations of the world.

So it makes perfect sense that Paul would bring up the issue of parents and children in describing the Spirit-filled life.

Criminal behavior is the result of unbelief. The only hope for the restoration of righteousness lies in a revival of godly faith, says Pastor Martin Lloyd Jones.

In this context, government officials must recognize that a lack of morality and wrongdoing stems from unbelief.

Paul said in Romans 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who block the truth with unrighteousness,” meaning that ungodliness leads to unrighteousness.

Unfortunately, regardless of which party is in power, government officials usually believe in modern psychology rather than the Bible.

Criminal behavior is the result of unbelief.

They are consistently convinced that criminal behavior can be controlled by artificial means.

But they can’t. Criminal behavior is the result of unbelief.

The only hope for the restoration of righteousness lies in a revival of godly faith.

This is the point the apostle Paul is trying to make to the Ephesian believers and us.

If we look at the history of England, where Martin Lloyd-Jones was living at the time, and other countries around the world, we see that the best and most moral societies were built during times of powerful revivals of faith.

Child and youth issues were not as acute then as they are today. Criminal behavior was relatively low, and parental discipline was sound, unlike today.

This was because the traditions of the 18th-century Great Awakening were still influencing society.

However, as the years passed and the influence of those traditions waned, the moral and social problems that the Apostle Paul spoke of began to reappear.


honoring parents

In this way, human history illustrates the relationship between unbelief and lawlessness, says Pastor Martin Lloyd Jones.

Today’s situation calls for serious attention to the words of the Apostle Paul.

Christian parents and children-Christian families should use today’s circumstances as a springboard for gospel witness by living distinctly from the world.

Not only should we fulfill the role of true witnesses through parent-child relationships based on proper discipline and law and order, but we should also be instruments of God to lead many to the truth.

This is how Christians should view today’s reality.

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