Binding Our Parental Instruction Upon Our Hearts

“My son, keep the commandment of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother; bind them continually upon thy heart, tie them about thy neck” Proverbs 6:20,21

Timothy was a godly young man. His father was a Greek and his mother was a Jewess. However, he was well informed in the Scriptures. He had enjoyed the instruction and teaching of his grandmother, Lois, and of his mother, Eunice. (II Timothy 1:5).

Timothy, even as an evalist in the church, must not turn from the instruction of his childhood. He must always remember that he had known those Scriptures from his early childhood at his mother’s knee; that these Scriptures are able to make him wise through the faith which is in Christ Jesus. For these holy Scriptures are God-spirited, and are profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work. (II Timothy 3:16,17).

This is no mere mushy sentimentality which Paul pens here concerning Timothy’s instruction by his maternal forbearers. It is a reiteration of the basic commandment, which children and young people hear directed to them each Sunday morning in the service, when the Decalogue is read, as the rule for a life of gratitude, and works of faith which are wrought by love. It is the commandment, “Honor thy father and thy mother, that it may go well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.” (Exodus 2:12). This presupposes a very serious relationship in which parents represent God in Christ to their children, as viceroys of God. Parents have the right and duty to rule, and place their children under the nurture and fear of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4b). It presupposes parents who take their calling seriously; parents who have something of the spirit and temper of Phinehaz in them, of a Phinehaz who stopped the terrible plague upon Israel at Peor, by entering in the tent of the adulterous prince of the house of Simeon, and the harlotrous Cozbi, a daughter of Zur, a Midianitish woman. (Numbers 25:6-9).

The text about our essay presupposes such a father and mother in Israel, who know that folly must not be perpetrated in Israel, and who will warn, teach, and discipline their children with the word and with the rod. Notice, that Solomon is directing his Proverbs to the sons in Israel, and not to the sons in the world. He is writing within the commonwealth of Israel, to whom are the promises and the covenants and the law-giving. Today this word is very much up-to-date in the church, in our own churches and others. And it is very much in line with our calling got instruct our sons and daughters and ourselves to keep, not only some, but all of God’s commandments, out of faith and unto God’s glory. These parents are our first instructors; parents they are who spoke vows that they would teach their children to the utmost of their ability, when the children were baptized into Christ and under the operation of the Holy Spirit, which Spirit is no less promised to the children of election than to the parents. Hence, also in the children, the fruits of faith, the fruits of election must be seen!

These fruits of election, fruits of redemption are our “part” in which to walk out of thankfulness; yes, out of thankfulness for such a great deliverance from sin and death, hell and destruction.

Yes, in all covenants there are “two parts”!

As those who have been washed and cleansed (I Corinthians 6:11) and justified in the blood of Jesus, we are to walk in our “part”, in a new obedience. Yes, young people, we are “by God through baptism admonished of and obliged to a new obedience, namely, that we trust in him, and love him with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our mind, and with all our strength; that we forsake the world, crucify our old nature and walk in a new and holy life.” (Baptism Form, page 55, in Psalter).

This part which is ours by grace makes for a walk as spiritual pilgrim, to walk as one of the saints in the earth, as the faithful church, whom God loves. Do you know this, my young reader? Must you say, as did a young boy, when I asked him this question said, “My father and mother never told me that I was baptized?” Does your father ever call attention to your “part” in the covenant of grace in Christ? Does he ever speak to you about the fact that he strives himself to walk in this “part” of the covenant; that he does not pretend to have already reached perfection, but that this is an intense reaching out all our life-time for the mark, the prize of the upward calling in Christ Jesus? (Phil. 3:13). Does your father tell you that the great incentive to reach perfection is the hope of seeing God in Christ in all His glory of grace? (I John 3:1-3). Does your father and your mother talk to you about the love which is perfected in us when we walk in our “part” of the covenant, in newness of life? And do they stress to you at every opportunity that only thus can you walk without “fear” of God’s judgment, so that you may stand before God in that day? Do your parents stress that you must not merely be good moralists, who do not have God and His grace in mind at all, but that you must fight against sin in the free and good conscience of a justifying faith, and that only as justified before God in the blood, can you be a Christian, who fights against sin and Satan in this life, and who afterwards will reign with Christ over all things? Do they themselves walk as children of the light who make their calling and election sure, and who do not trifle with the grace of election? (Lord’s Day 12, Ques. 32).

You will need to walk in the narrow way of justifying faith, and the sanctification of the Holy Spirit! Do not forsake the law of thy mother which she has inculcated into you when she cuddled you on her knees. Bind these things continually upon your heart.

O, God’s people are in themselves so very weak. Left to themselves and their own strength, they cannot stand a moment. We all have daily to strive with the weakness of our faith, and the evil lusts of our flesh. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to “create a clean heart in us” (Psalm 51:10). He must make us steadfast in working out our salvation with fear and trembling, according to His good pleasure. And for that we must constantly pray. We need this unwavering purpose in the battle against sin. That constancy is from God alone! O, the renewed confidence of persevering in the faith made David, after his lamentable fall with Bathsheba, committing adultery with her, and ordering her husband, Uriah, killed by the sword of the enemy, to ask God for a steadfast spirit, to walk in his “part” of the covenant of grace. And this renewed confidence made David, “more careful and solicitous” to continue in the ways of the Lord, which He has ordained, that, they who walk in them, may maintain an assurance of persevering.” (Canons V, 4). David was afraid “to fall into more grievous torments of conscience” (C.V. 13 idem).

Yes, children of God, walk in your “part” of the covenant. Do not walk in them as if you were “under law”. That is denying the covenant. That is trying to make the Cross of Christ of none effect. (Galatians 5:3,4). But walk as those who are “under grace”. You have the love of God shed abroad in your heart? You have the Spirit and are one of Christ’s redeemed ones? You are not reprobate in your attitude? You do not talk about election, and yet trifle with the grace of election? Then walk in your “part” in the covenant and stay in the instruction of your father, your mother, your elders and minister.

So easily one can begin to talk about “antinomianism” when one tries to stem the tide of sin. Remember, antinomianism is a teaching, a false doctrine! This must not be equated with the weakness of the saints, nor with the licentious lives of individuals who trifle with the grace of election, who live sinful and unthankful lives, and therefore, ought to be under Christian discipline. The teaching of the antinomianists is: let us sin that grace may abound. Such was the teaching of the jezebel woman in the church at Thyatira. It is the teaching that in order to taste of grace one must have “known the depths of Satan”.

There is the sin of David. He was not an antinomianist, but he was a weak saint, who loved the Lord! In this love he could not sin as do the wicked. God’s seed remained in him (I John 3:9).

But how to account for David’s sin? For Peter’s sin? For mine? How to account for the grievous sins of the saints? Did they leave the ways of God, so that they are utterly fallen from grace? God forbid! Our fathers face this question and give the comforting and warningful answer,

“Although the weakness of the flesh cannot prevail against the power of God, who confirms and preserves true believers in the state of grace, yet converts are not always so influenced and actuated by the Spirit of God, as not in some particular instances sinfully to deviate from the guidance of divine grace, so as not to be seduced by and comply with the lusts of the flesh; they must, therefore, be constant in watching and prayer, that they be led not into temptation. When these are neglected, they are not only liable to be drawn into great and heinous sins by Satan, the world, and the flesh, but sometimes, by the righteous permission of God actually fall into these sins” (Canons of Dort, V, 4).

Against such sins Proverbs warns. It warns against the sin of touching another man’s wife, committing adultery with her. Yes, then we go after the wicked woman suddenly, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction in the stocks. Yes, then a dart strikes through our liver; it is a mortal blow! That is what happened to David. And the Lord visited it upon His house!

God is not mocked!

Let us then walk in our “part” of the covenant as baptized children, confessing His name in the midst of the world; may His Name not be blasphemed because of us!