The Holy Spirit and Morality (II)

The previous article sought to lay down the theological foundation to show the need for spiritual revival in the area of communal and personal morality. Let us take a closer look at the second table of the Law, commandments 5–10.

THE SANCTITY OF FAMILY HONOR

The 5th commandment says: “Honor your father and your mother...”

The society or the church who seeks to by-pass the heavenly Father, the saving Son and the perfecting Spirit, in seeking honor and respect in the home, will ultimately fall short.

Fyodor Dostoevsky in Crime and Punishment says: “If God is dead, then everything is permitted.”

If our earthly parents ignore divine authority, what does that ultimately say to the children about authority? God is practically dead in such a home.

Hence, an unholy egalitarianism sets in. Jean Paul Sartre wrote: “Without God all activities are equivalent...Thus it amounts to the same thing whether one gets drunk alone, or is a leqder of nations.”

All members of the family are equal. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion. Little Johnny gets his way no matter what. After all, he has equal rights. Ifhe gets punished and does not like it, he calls Big Brother, 911, and cries “child abuse.” Soon the police and social worker are at the door.

It could happen in any Christian family. Now where did they pick up such thinking? From the Scriptures? From the 5th commandment? 

Externally we know where it comes from. It comes from watching videos, TV, listening to secular music, reading newspapers and speaking with friends. It comes from a society’s bias against authority. However, these are all externals.

Internally it comes from a sinful heart. How many parents have taught their children to lie, steal, heap verbal abuse upon others, and a host of other sinful activities manifest among all children in one degree or another? Even the hearts of our children are “factories of idolatry” (John Calvin).

The parable of the prodigal son is a prime example of family restoration (Luke 15:11f). Yet, the purpose of the parable was not simply to encouragefamily restoration. It was a call for sinners to return to their heavenly Father. It was a call for the restoration of the family of God.

The Spirit-filled response can be summarized in three words: responsibility, repentance and restoration.

Responsibility: “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger?’”

Repentance: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

Restoration: “Bring out the best robe and put it on him...for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

In times of revival we will see the increase of parental and children’s responsibility, repentance and restoration. The Spirit of Christ will bring the fulfillment of the 5th commandment into our hearts and homes.

THE SANCTITY OF LIFE

The 6th commandment says: “You shall not kill...”

According to statistics in Canada, the registered abortions in Canada continued to climb in 1994, surpassing 106,000.

Infanticide, the murder of children between the age of 0–1 in Canada, is the highest rate of murder. Sentences are lenient.

Adolescent suicides have proportionally quadrupled over the last 20 years. The generation of unwanted children is starting to find out.

Our society as well as our churches are slowly poisoning themselves into the grave. It could be called a voluntary progressive euthanasia. Substance abuse, including tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, affect us all. This is also evident in communal standards which do not protect us from crime, accidents and contaminated blood systems.

The elderly and handicapped are at risk with the coming of euthanasia. Already the courts are being tested and prepared. The elderly and handicapped have reason to fear for their lives as they are placed in the care of a nihilistic society.

The Remmelink Report, a government sponsored study on euthanasia in The Netherlands in 1990 revealed the following:

• 2300 cases of active voluntary euthanasia
• 400 cases of assisted suicide
• 1040 cases of involuntary euthanasia (.8% of total deaths in Holland)
• 8100 patients dying after pain medication (morphine) was administered by physicians who intended to shorten life

With a broader definition, the real number of physician-assisted deaths estimated by the Remmelink Report, is in reality 25,306.

This amounts to 19.61 of the total deaths in Holland. It is estimated by some that 14,691 cases were involuntary euthanasia.1

And to think that Holland was ruled by professing Christians around the tum ofthe century.

The slippery slope is clear: resentment against the Ten Commandments leads to rejection of absolute authority and relativism. This in tum leads to nihilism: abortion, infanticide, drugs, suicide, poisonous life style, euthanasia and the like. It all adds up to the same—destruction of life. Praise God there is a better way.

Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The Christians understanding of temporal life is not divorced from the Christian view of eternal life.

Jesus implied in the Sermon on the Mount that hatred had to be removed from our hearts. Jesus is not only advocating dealing with the outward actions but also with the inward attitudes.

The Heidelberg Catechism summarized the 6th commandment this way: “I am not to belittle, insult, hate or kill my neighbor...”

We could not, without the gracious presence of the Spirit of God, pray this prayer penned by Thomas a Kempis.

I offer up unto Thee my prayers and intercessions, for those especially who have in any matter hurt, grieved, or found fault with me, or who have done me any damage or displeasure.

For all those also whom, at any time, I may have vexed, troubled, burdened, and scandalized, by words or deeds, knowingly or in ignorance; that Thou wouldst grant us all equally pardon for our sins, and for our offenses against each other.

Take away from our hearts, O Lord, all suspiciousness, indignation, wrath, and contention, and whatsoever may hurt charity, and lessen brotherly love.

Have mercy, O Lord, have mercy on those that crave Thy mercy, give grace unto them that stand in need thereof, and make us such as may be worthy to enjoy Thy grace, and go forward to life eternal. Amen.

Only when we realize we all live by the grace of God can we begin to tackle the problem of the destruction of life.

When the Spirit of Christ fills our hearts you will see an example of the solution as to how to live rather than how to destroy.

Karen Bultje gave up her accounting job in London, Ontario, to work as a full time volunteer in the Notre Mason orphanage for children. When her father Bert, and sister Tonya, went for a visit, they came to know a 10-month-old boy, Jean, who is hydrocephalic (waterhead). It would cost $2,500 a day to have him in intensive care at the Victoria hospital. The doctors and nurses would donate their time. American Airlines had a program to fly Karen and Jean to London. Bert and Tonya were interviewed in the local press and it became a topic for the local talk station. “Why should people spend $10,000 for one child, when such money could help hundreds of starving children?” one caller lamented. Karen and her partners in Port-au-Prince are already helping many hungry children. This act of compassion was to show the extent of God’s love.

In times of revival the culture of death and destruction is replaced by the community of life and love.

THE SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE

The 7th commandment says: “You shall not commit adultery.”

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, goes straight to the heart of the issue: the lust of the heart.

Adult males are the target of Hollywood and the advertisement world. The world knows the power of sexual-stimulation in the male, especially through mental images. Mental fornication has increased dramatically, especially through the increase of the mass media. The Blockbuster video store sees more people than most churches.

Adult females are tempted by emotional fornication, that is, becoming involved in novels, soaps, and friendships which fulfil emotional needs which are missing in the marriage relationship.

Recent studies show that premarital sex and divorce patterns in evangelical churches follow closely the patterns outside of the church.
As Jesus points to the heart, we have reason to worry about the home. Will temptation lead to dissatisfaction, separation and what follows?

Canadian Christians are starting to wakeup to the erosion of family structures. One of the social responses has been the appeal which Promise Keepers has had. It is not my intention to discuss the theological framework of Promise Keepers today. That discussion is far better accomplished in the book Keeping Promises.

The fact that hundreds, if not millions of men in North America are seeking to make promises to uphold their marriage vows and to be a true and Biblical father in the home, is significant.

However, for the marriage vows to be upheld, more than mass meetings or follow up support meetings are needed. There needs to be a cleansing of the heart, mind, body and relationships. Fornication, both the mental and emotional kind, must be removed from the home. Churches need to be reformed to re-establish what feminism and equalitarianism have tom down. We need the Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts to prevent the return of carnal lust, worldly lewdness and church degeneration.

Ultimately it is the holy God who holds a holy marriage together.

In times of revival the staying power of vows of faithfulness and fidelity are upheld. There will be a definite repentance of and repulsion to the temptation of lust.

THE SANCTITY OF POSSESSIONS

The 8th commandment says: “You shall not steal.”

Augustine, the great theologian of the early church described in his book, The City of God, two groups of people. The people belonging to the city of God are ruled by one standard, the love of God above all else and the love of neighbor as self. The other city, called the city of the world or the city of man, is ruled by the love of self, money, power and whatever is not of God.

Do you possess materials to be used “in the Lord” or do materials possess you? The final judgment is directly related to your use of possessions. Matthew 25 speaks of water, food, clothing, shelter and visiting the needy. We are to use these material things to the glory of the Father (not to the glory of ourselves, our nation, our ethnic group, our religion), in the name of Jesus, and accompanied by the fruit of the Spirit (without love, they are empty actions: I Cor. 13). In other words, unless you possess the love of God in Christ and all things are done through Him, you have nothing.

Secular man, who has removed the name of Christ from his prayers, his laws, his actions...attempts great things with large amounts of money but only to create a socialistic and materialistic monster which he cannot control. The former Soviet Union crashed without firing a shot in essence because of its spiritual bankruptcy. The great capitalists ofour day live in fear. There is a better way.

An unstoppable mission movement is sweeping the world today. Itis not financed by foreign monies or government aid. It takes place in the millions of Christian congregations now established in every nation ofthe world. The rich and poor live in communion. Social and economic status do not determine one's place in the community. They are the first to respond to disasters and the last to leave the places of suffering. The City of God is alive and well.

In times of revival there will be a tremendous reversal of social roles, as the rich serve the poor and the poor work together with the rich. The eternal City of God will triumph over the temporary and self-centered City of Man.

THE SANCTITY OF TRUTH

The 9th commandment says: “You shall not bear false witness...”

The Biblical view about truth is that it is verified with the testimony of two or more witnesses. This was true for personal conflict resolution (Mt. 18:15), for settling civic disputes, as well as establishing Scriptural truth. For that reason you have two or more histories, four gospels, many apostles and epistles.

The role of the church on earth is to bear witness to God in Christ and His Word, the Bible (Rev. 1). The greatest tragedy in Canada in the 20th century is that in the doctrinal as well as ethical (moral) arena, the church has degenerated terribly.

It is not my intention to point fingers at particular denominations. However, I challenge you to speak with your pastor and find out your denominational positions on the following moral questions related to the 2nd table of the law.

1. Does your church favor common law arrangements, either with same gender or different gender arrangements? The 1996 Bill C-33 drew surprising support from a variety of evangelical churches.

2. Does your church allow for abortion for reasons of rape, incest and the saftey of mother? Perhaps the church has one p0sition on paper but in reality winks at the transgressions.

3. On what Biblical grounds does your church allow for divorce and remarriage?

4. Does your church seriously respond to Christian brothers and sisters in need? When they respond to needs, is the gospel of Christ shared?

5. Does your church Biblically speak to deception within the church?

6. On what basis does your church decide it needs new programs?

Before we quickly declare ourselves righteous, let us realize the power of the tongue.

R.C. Sproul, in his meditation on James 3 writes:

From the heart flow the issues of life. The place from which they issue forth is the tongue. Paul tells us that the human person is a living corpse (Romans 3:13–16). Deep down inside is the dead, rotting, stinking corpse of our hearts. Our throat leads down to this grave.
The tongue is connected to this dead heart. It practices deceit and is full of poisonous cursing and bitterness. As a result, our feet run to evil and we know no peace.

A transformed heart should produce a transformed tongue, and this should change our life. James says that the bit in the mouth of a horse directs the way of the horse, and the rudder on a ship directs the way of the ship. So it is with the tongue and the life ofa man or woman.2

How can we tame this powerful tongue?

R.C. Sproul writes:

God tames our tongues in three ways. First, He puts His words on our lips. Ifwe learn to sing psalms, our tongues will be trained. Second, He regulates our tongues by His law. If we use our tongues in ways that are proper according to the Bible, avoiding gossip and lying, then our tongues are becoming tamed. And third, He tames our tongues by telling us to be quiet and listen to His Word as expounded by teachers He has appointed in the church. By being submissive, we learn to tame our tongues.3

It is the Holy Spirit who quickens the tongue to speak the truth according to the Word. In times of revival the tongue will speak the truth about God, oneself, the church and society.

THE SANCTITY OF CONTENTMENT

The 10th commandment says: “You shall not covet...”

In Canada this year we celebrated Thanksgiving Day in October. We certainly have a lot to be thankful for. Pity the atheist who feels thankful but ultimately has no one to thank.

Thankfulness is the opposite of coveting. Thankfulness is a product ofbeing visited by grace. It is the sum of the matter.

The Hebrews also have a thanksgiving day; it is the feast of the first fruits, also known as Pentecost.

The feast of the first fruits flows over into the spiritual Pentecost, in which the Holy Spirit came upon the whole church, sons, daughters, old and young, rich and poor.

In times of revival there will be an amazing outpouring of thankfulness and gratitude.

CONCLUSION

"Revive us, O Lord, according to your Word and commandments."

FOOTNOTES
1. Euthanasia Canada 1996, p. 9.
2. R.C. Sproul, TableTalk (Dec., 1993), p. 19.
3. Ibid.

Dr. Neal Hegeman is Associate Pastor at the Cornerstone United Reformed Church in London, Ontario, Canada. He also serves as Executive Director of Ligonier Ministries ofCanada

 

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