STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
Q. 65 What is forbidden in the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment forbiddeth the neglecting of, or doing anything against, the honor and duty which belongeth to everyone in their several places and relations.
Scripture References: Romans 13:7-8.
1. What are the sins of the superiors?
The sins of the superiors include the following: the neglect of those who are under their authority; the seeking of their own glory in the midst of their responsibility; the encouraging of inferiors into things that are wrong; the wrong use of authority toward inferiors, thus provoking them to wrath; the exposing of inferiors to wrong or temptation to wrong; the subjecting of the inferiors to a bad example because of wrong conduct.
2. What are the sins of inferiors?
The sins of the inferiors include the following: the neglect of obeying their superiors; the sin of envy toward their superiors; the act of rebellion toward those who are their superiors; the sin of wrong conduct against those in command; the showing of dishonor toward their superiors and the government they represent.
3. What are the sins of equals.
The sins of equals include the following: the neglect of Christian love toward one another; the despising of those that are good; the sin of envy because an equal has been blest by God with a gift greater than one’s own; the lack of rejoicing at the success of an equal; the usurping of pre-eminence over equals when such pre-eminence has not been granted by God.
4. Do these sins relate to all relationships of man?
Yes, these sins are applicable to the relationships of man whether they be parent-child, husband-wife, master-servant, ruler-subject, minister-congregation, older-younger relationships.
5. In what areas of our lives today does this commandment relate?
It is pertinent in the family relationships, in the church relationships, in employment relationships and in the civic relationships. Sin in any of the areas is sin in the sight of God.
RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY.
“As long as you think a law or a rule is wrong it is alright to disobey it.”—such is the reasoning being used today by children toward superiors, by the citizen toward the state, by the worker toward the boss, by the congregation toward the man called of God to preach The Word. It is a dangerous philosophy that is becoming very prevalent in our country and has even spread to conservative churches. This seems to be a day when everyone feels he has the perfect right to make his own rules and not be concerned about The Rulebook handed down by God. This fifth commandment speaks very clearly to the person following this false philosophy.
The Almighty, Sovereign God knew that respect for authority was very important in order that a family, a nation, an economy, a church might be able to carry on its duties in the world. Therefore He emphasized proper respect for authority in His Word time and time again. His words, “Obey them that have rule over you” are stated over and over again in different ways by different writers in The Word. he knew that a lawless society becomes a mob and a mob becomes a group of people out of hand.
What has caused the loss of respect for authority? What has caused this new philosophy to make inroads into our way of thinking? There is not space in this short devotion to answer the question for all of life but a suggestion could be offered as to why it is happening in conservative churches. It is simply another indication of a departing from what God hath said, a closing our eyes to certain portions of The Word because we find them too unpopular for the certain portion of society in which we find ourselves. Whenever a Christian or a Christian church breaks a principle of Scripture the result is always disaster. Disaster in this area not only comes to the person or the church but it also comes to the young people committed to the care of the person or the church.
Why are the young people of today showing such a disrespect for authority? Could it not be that they see such inconsistencies in their elders that they have no example to follow? Where is church discipline today? Where is Christian love toward all people today? Where is the unqualified stand against compromise today? Do our children see things in us? Might we read again Titus 2 – 3:3?
Published by The Shield and Sword, Inc.
Vol. 4, No. 59 (November 1965)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor.