Understanding Grace and Honoring Our Fathers and Mothers PDF Print E-mail
Covenantal Families

Understanding Grace and Honoring Our Fathers and Our Mothers
by Candy Summers

 The following article is taken from my presentation to the ladies at our Heart to Heart Tea in March 2006, so keep in mind that the events in this personal testimony occurred between early Spring 2005 until Spring 2006. Although I began this talk with a little bit of humor on the peculiarities of old age, it was truly with great solemnity that the bulk of this message was rendered. And so it is with great import that I impress upon parents the depth and breadth of the importance God places on honoring parents, yet balanced with the understanding of the importance He also places on protecting our children from ungodly influences. Therefore, although we must care for our aging parents, we must not violate our parental duty by neglecting to protect our children’s characters. But my story pertains to much more than even these important issues, for it deals with my search for truly understanding the depth of God’s grace, His gracious answer through this trial, my earnest desire to be conformed into Christ’s image, and His merciful Hand upon my sinful nature in using this affliction to conform me more closely to His image.
 Please note that a little over halfway through this article, I begin listing a portion of the vast amount of scriptures relating to honoring parents. Do not miss this section of the article, as it relates God’s will for each of us, not only as children of parents ourselves, but also as parents of children who are responsible for teaching that honor. I think most of you will be amazed at all God has to say about honoring our parents.

Coping with Old Age

 For most of our married life, Jon has depended on my memory, but now with menopause setting in, we just look at each other and confirm our suspicions that we are going to be in big trouble once the children leave home. Words now come out of my mouth that have nothing to do with what I am talking about. Some do not even make sense, often making me question, “Where did that come from?” I have always said what I mean and meant what I said, but no longer. I ask the children to put away the dishes in the dryer and tell them to wash the sink when I really mean the kitchen floor. Sometimes I even tell Josiah to throw away his clothes instead of placing them in the clothesbasket.
 Jon rarely knows where he last left his keys, while I often rummage through mounds of paper searching for ??? You name it, I usually have to search for it when it comes to something I have written down. The problem is that I am writing down notes all the time: notes from Jon’s sermons; notes from the important points he makes on just about every topic; notes of things I must do for Jon’s sermon notes; notes for the business; notes for taxes; notes and layouts of landscaping designs for numerous customers; notes for the conference brochure, speakers, upcoming conference, the Rally, the Heart to Heart Tea, the support group listing, the convention center, the Embassy Suites reservations; the CHEF emails; the There’s No Place Like Home newsletter; DFS cases; new homeschoolers; and on and on and on. I have at least ten to fifteen pads of paper, several notebooks, lots of file folders, and a basket of loose papers all containing my notes. Do you get the picture? We are already showing signs of needing immediate help.
 Case in point, Sonia just presented me two insurance cards for my examination to know if she should keep them or throw them away. After locating the expiration date, which read May 2006, I assured her that we needed them. A little later I heard Jon telling Sonia to throw those expired insurance cards away. I called in from the computer to say that we needed to keep them because they were good through May 2006. Immediately surmising my confusion, Jon started laughing, which made me ask, “Isn’t this 2006? Is this really 2007?” Upon realization of my bewilderment, I proceeded to join in the merriment and laugh out loud at myself, which Jon and I do a lot lately.
 In addition to these seemingly insurmountable mental blocks and lack of organization, technology (which has become the all-important mode of operation for most of society) completely stupefies us, making our chances for survival after the children leave even less likely. A clear example of this dilemma occurred several years ago when Jon and I walked into the library to look up some books on deck construction. To our dismay, we could not find the card catalog. It had always been in the same spot as long as I could remember, but now it was not there. We scanned the room—no card catalog! As we were apparently looking quite bewildered, a librarian asked us if we needed help. When we asked where the card catalog had been moved, she informed us that the library no longer used a card catalog system because everything was now on computer. When she departed, Jon and I looked at each other and whispered, “What are we going to do?” You see, we did not have the children with us, who at that time were the only ones in our household who knew how to use a computer, which I might add, wasn’t so long ago.
 You may think by now since I spend hours almost every day at the computer typing in articles and Bible studies that I have gained a savvy (maybe even an admirable savvy) about computers. Don’t kid yourself! The other day when Hannah Stull found out that I was having trouble with the computer, she innocently asked if I had refreshed it lately. I looked at her blankly and said, “Refresh my computer? I can do that? And why would I want to?”
 Now I am determined not to call these machines stupid like I’ve heard older people describe things that they do not understand, when in fact I know that the machine is not the problem. See, I have been told that people can hold just so much information, and I suspect that I am at my limit right now because I do not pretend to understand these things or for that matter really want to understand them. I know how to cut and paste and press “send” so that my pages of notes somehow get over to Joye’s house so that she can prepare them for our emails – and that is all I really need to know, but more importantly, that is all I really want to know!
 Several years ago, one of our speaker’s assistants worriedly inquired if I had received his company’s virus. Not really knowing how to answer, I repeated, “Received your virus?” After he explained that he was afraid that his computer had sent my computer a virus, I was not any more clear on the predicament than when he began his saga, but responded with an incredulous, “Computers can get viruses?” Of course, I was not worried because at that time I did not have a computer. He had been sending things to the Stulls and to Joye, not to me. But when I clarified that point, he could not believe that my thick newsletters were all done by hand, yet I pondered, “Isn’t that the way they had been done for thousands of years? As a matter of fact, for thousands of years, the entire Bible was copied by hand.” See, this assistant was obviously a very young man and I, on the other hand, incredibly ancient; however, at the time, I was relieved that I did not have to worry about computer viruses.
 When I forget something around my mother who has Alzheimer’s, she always says, “Oh, honey, that makes me feel so much better that you forget things, too.” To which I reply, “Mom, this is really not good. One of us needs to know what we are doing.”
 We have an eighty-seven-year-old neighbor who comes to our house three to six times a day needing help with her bills, mail, bankbook, and junk mail. She comes so often each day that she does not even bother to knock anymore but just walks right in. Sometimes I turn around to find her standing right behind me, consequently causing me to take in more oxygen than one should at any given moment. I just haven’t gotten used to the idea that she will probably be behind me when I turn around—at least five times a day.
 If we have company, she just comes right in, interrupts our conversation to share her woes, and asks us what she should do. The trouble is that no matter how long we talk with her to explain what she should do, she always ends up doing exactly what she wanted to do in the first place, which of course, is the opposite of our suggestion. For instance, with junk mail, we will explain to her that it is just a gimmick and that she should not respond but should just throw it away. To which she replies, after our very patient ten-minute reiteration of the facts, “Oh well, I guess I will just have to call them and see what they want.”
 For bills that she has overpaid (which now show a credit), we tell her that she overpaid last time and that she just needs to wait for the next bill, to which she replies, “Well, I guess I’ll just have to send them some money.” For bills that she forgot to pay (which are larger than usual), she demands to know why the company is charging her so much when she is the only person living in her house. We explain to her that she apparently did not pay, since after spending a considerable time checking her records and bankbook, we cannot find any record of payment, so she needs to pay the amount on the bill; to which she refuses, and tells us that she better go up to the bank to see if they can figure it out.
 What will I have to deal with upon my season of frailty, I wonder? Even now, I’m unable to retrieve messages on our cell phone and our call notes, operate our new VCR/DVD player, or download pictures from our digital camera. Thankfully, having children at home makes it unnecessary for me to deal with these technological wonders but continues to confirm my belief that elderly parents ought to live with their children.
 Quite frankly, I believe that our helplessness coming into this world and going out of this world holds great significance as it points to God’s sovereignty over our lives and the importance of covenanted families. As a matter of fact, my personal witness to the various responses displayed to the infirmities of old age, coupled with the stories I have read of those attending the death of others, has led me to realize the vast importance our relationship with Christ, or lack thereof, bears on our trusting acceptance or our defiance to the Almighty’s Providential Hand as He begins to bow our knees to Him. Whether one believes that every knee shall bow before Him or not does not alter the inevitable, which often begins before we pass from this life to the next.
 For unbelievers, it seems to be met mostly with agitation, impatience and anger over their infernal inability to have complete control over their lives or in some cases is met with distressful fear. Unable to stop the progression of decay, they often curse death and those who attend them in their last moments. While for Christians it is met with trusting submission to the Merciful Hand, which wisely removes any pride or dependence on “Self” that still remains, knowing full well how impermissible these are in God’s throne room. With delightful anticipation, Christians hasten towards their glorious eternity, knowing what tremendous blessings their day of death will bring—a stark difference from those who have no hope. However, regardless of how one perceives God and eternity, death is no respecter of persons as it makes apparent just who rules the universe from all eternity.

Jon’s Mother Comes to Live with Us

 Last spring, Jon went back to work as an electrician right before the conference, which meant that I was out every day taking care of our lawn and landscaping jobs with my children from early morning until early afternoon when Jon left his electrical job to help us with the remaining lawn and landscaping jobs, all while schooling, taking care of details for the conference on our cell phone, reading tons of research for Jon’s sermons, and trying to move fast enough to keep Jon’s mother happy who was now living with us. Although most elderly people would not have relished our lifestyle, Jon’s mom, whom we called Ma’am at her request, thrived on moving and always had. As a matter of fact, during our entire marriage, Ma’am would only stay in one place for a very few minutes before she was off to somewhere else. Even at family functions, she was ready to leave right after dinner, unlike ourselves, who were usually the last ones out the door.
 If you need “early to bed,” do not invite us. Of course, this also applies to the fact that if you do not want to stay late at our house, do not accept our invitation because if anyone leaves our home before midnight (although I am not sure that anyone has, but if they did), I would be heartbroken over their early departure, clearly indicating to me the inefficacy of our hospitality. Needless to say, to all of you who know us, we love to visit.
 Jon’s mother, on the other hand, did not really like visiting, but just loved being on the go. On the one hand, this was good for me since she could not be left alone at our house, and I had to be out all day taking care of our business; but on the other hand, if we stayed too long in one place, she let me know that she was ready to go, it was time to go, and we had better go or else! This also applied to everywhere we went and in our own home when we had company. Are you getting the picture that this was not our mode of living, not our style of communication, not our “Come sit on the porch a spell, a long spell, a kind of Monsoon weather spell so that we can talk till the rains pass.” Our family likes to talk, enjoy each other’s company, and fellowship with everyone in our path.
 I remember one day right after breakfast I stopped by Great Harvest Bread Company to get Jon’s mom a snack before we began cutting grass. Right after two quick jobs, she wanted a Coke, so we stopped for a Coke. A little later down the road she informed me that she wanted a hamburger. So I told her that we would get a hamburger right after I mailed conference brochures at the post office, which was right next door to a Rally’s. When we arrived, I explained that we were going in to mail several large packages of brochures, but that I would be back in a minute and take her right over for a hamburger. Sonia, Jedidiah, and I literally ran in and were done in minutes, only to turn to exit the post office to find Jon’s mom on the arm of a strange man, making sure that I knew that she was ready to go. All I could think of was where was my youngest son whom I had left to keep her company.
 Now you must understand that up to that point, I never left any of my children by themselves, especially Josiah. To give you insight into my motherly care, last May we had taken my mother and father to Bahama Breeze for dinner. Looking up from my menu, I saw Jedidiah take keys from my father. I asked Jon what was going on. He told me that Jedidiah was going out to Dad’s car to get my mother a sweater. My eyes grew big as I questioned incredulously, “Alone?” Jon just looked at me with that look of “I cannot believe that you are worried about this, Candy,” as he asked if I worry about him when he’s out alone. Well, of course not, he’s my husband. To which he replied, “Have you looked at our son lately, Candy? He is bigger than I am.” And for the first time, I noticed that my little baby boy had indeed grown to be pretty big.
 You know it was like the first few months when Jedidiah’s voice was deepening, I would hear this strange, unfamiliar voice coming from another part of our house to which I invariably asked the nearest kid, “Who’s here?” Of course, the same answer came from both Sonia and Josiah: “It’s only Jedidiah, Mom.” Are you getting the picture? I still watch the 5’9” boy cross the street. But isn’t that our job? My mother still watches us back out the driveway and down the street. Hey, I come by this honestly.
 Back to the post office incident, though, Josiah (not Jedidiah the big one, but the littlest whom I watch even more diligently) was left alone in the van, staying where I had told him to stay. I was quite distraught, but said nothing.
 When at home, Ma’am was always on the move as well. All summer long, our eighty-seven-year-old neighbor would bring back Jon’s eighty-nine-year-old mother who had walked across the street. Most of the time, I did not even know that she had left, and when I knew and discouraged her not to attempt that long journey without our assistance, she went anyway. In coming back, it took the two of them forever to cross the street because both of them tottered at this time of their life. Upon returning, our neighbor would lecture me on the dangers of allowing my mother-in-law to cross the street in her tottering condition with a “Candy, you should not let Jon’s mom cross the street by herself.” To which I replied, “Yes, Mrs. Brown, I know, but I did not even know that she had left.”
 All this to say: I tried to laugh and see the humor in as much of what went on this last year as I could even though I really thought that I might lose my sanity. However, let me also say that although I can look back upon the preceding stories with some humor, for the most part, what I am about to share with you was no laughing matter. In fact, I spent most of my time on my knees, often crying, because of the horrendous spiritual battle that was being waged in our home, all while my flesh struggled with God’s Spirit over honoring Jon’s mother. During this affliction, I learned much about grace while God’s mighty Hand rested heavy upon me so as to teach me some incredibly valuable lessons. Psalm 119:71 “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes.” Romans 8:28 “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Honoring My Parents

 I have always considered it my duty and privilege to honor and obey my own parents. As a matter of fact, I consider it no less important at my present age of fifty than when I was five and still under my parents’ roof. Actually, it has been the driving force behind my relationship with my parents, regardless of the disparities that exist between our worldviews and way of life. Consequently, we have remained close under varying circumstances of difficulty because of my determination to honor them in spite of our differences. However, hardly a day goes by that I do not look back with great appreciation upon my parents for all they did for me. Certainly, there are differences between the way in which they raised me and the way Jon and I are raising our own children, yet their hard work, great love for each other, their love for me, and the marvelous home they provided are truly a source of joyous recollections and a great comfort for me. Unfortunately, as you will soon discover, I had tremendous difficulty honoring Jon’s mother while she lived with us this past year. So, you may ask, how can a person possessing such stalwart affinities toward one set of parents fail so miserably with another? Good question, and one of many that I will address in the remainder of this article.
 As you know by now, when God teaches me something new, I am compelled to share it, thus after learning all I did with this experience, I desired to pass on the lessons I learned with all of you—beginning at the March 2006 Heart to Heart Tea. So when preparing my notes for our Tea last year, I started out with pages of stories relating our struggle; however, the more I studied scriptures about honoring parents (which to my amazement even included mother-in-laws), the more I realized how dishonoring these revelations would be. Therefore, I removed most of the events that took place and subsequently tried to focus on my sins alone and the lessons God taught me through them. Then as I adapted that presentation for this article, I became even more convicted, causing me to remove even more of my personal stories. As a matter of fact, I have spent more time on this article than I can ever remember spending on any article in the last 21 years, all because I desired to stay within the parameter of remaining sinless in this task rather than incurring any more displeasure from my heavenly Father whom I so deeply desire to honor. Hopefully, I have accomplished this.
 On this note, let me share a very important lesson with you. Do you remember the story about Noah, righteous Noah, the father of the boys who would have died in the flood if it had not been for God’s provision for them through Noah, their father? And how one night Ham had failed to cover up his father’s nakedness but instead made it known to his two brothers? Well, what followed, both God’s curse on Ham and His blessings on Shem and Japheth’s actions, should serve as an important warning to us as children to our own parents. So bear in mind that Noah’s sons, Shem and Japheth, not only refused to expose their father’s sin, but also carefully concealed it by walking backwards with a blanket upon their shoulders until they were able to drop it upon his nakedness. Consequently, they were blessed. Not so for the son who revealed his father’s sin—not to the entire world, not to his co-workers, not to his friends, but to his brothers. Granted, some theologians have speculated that there must be more to this story than what has been granted to us for Ham and his descendants to have received such a severe curse, but in context to the importance that God places on the parent/child relationship throughout His Word, coupled with the vast amount of other scriptures on honoring parents, I believe that we can accurately consider this a clear warning for children to be mighty careful how they speak of their parents.
 Genesis 9:22-27 “Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. So he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brothers.’ He also said, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant.’”
 Do you remember another set of brothers, Nadab and Abihu, and how God greatly honored these boys because of their father Aaron and their uncle Moses, until they offered a fire that God had not appointed, which resulted in their immediate destruction? Leviticus 10:3 “Then Moses said unto Aaron, ‘This is it that the Lord spake saying, “I will be sanctified in them that come nigh Me, and before all the people I will be glorified.”’ And Aaron held his peace.” Hebrews 12:28,29 “…offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”
 With this in my mind, it is sufficient for me to say that this past year’s spiritual battle was the most arduous our family has ever known with the consequential causalities manifesting themselves differently in each of us. Sonia and I cried a lot, and Jon was physically sick, while the boys made themselves scarce by staying in the garage much of the time. I felt it particularly necessary to be frank with you about how this battle affected us in hope that our experience will prompt you to prepare yourself spiritually before undertaking your responsibility to care for your own aging parents, who like Jon’s mother might not be Christian, thus avoiding the casualties that we incurred.
 Ephesians 6:12-18 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”
 If you do not take time to fully realize the import of the following scriptures, you, like us, will be taken by surprise, resulting in perpetual defeated retreats to avoid the onslaught and bind up the wounded, instead of leading the offensive with the mighty Spirit of God. And once on the run, it’s near impossible to rout the enemy who by then has such a stronghold on his intended victims. So instead of looking at the person as the enemy, you can identify the real enemy in the person who has come to destroy the tranquility of your home. Take heed then of God’s warning to His children in Matthew 10:34-36: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.”
 The reason this occurs is because of the great chasm that exists between those of each world. Romans 8:6-8 “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
 Proverbs 8:13 “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way, and the perverted mouth, I hate.” Proverbs 29:27 “An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.” Psalm 143:12 “And in Your lovingkindness, cut off my enemies and destroy all those who afflict my soul, for I am Your servant.”
 Psalm 119:53 “Burning indignation has seized me because of the wicked, who forsake Your law.” Exodus 32:19 “It came about, as soon as Moses came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing; and Moses’ anger burned, and he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain.” Proverbs 2:14 “Who delight in doing evil, and rejoice in the perversity of evil.”
 Proverbs 12:22 “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal faithfully are His delight.” Proverbs 15:8,9 “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight. The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but He loves one who pursues righteousness.” Proverbs 28:29 “When the wicked rise, men hide themselves; but when they perish, the righteous increase.”
 I would literally hide out in my bedroom on my knees before God crying out for His grace and deliverance, when in fact He had already answered my prayer, for God had already ordained this affliction for my good. And so out of God’s goodness came wisdom, which I desire to share with you, first, so that you learn from my sins so as not to commit them; secondly that you will most assuredly know that regardless of what you may go through with your parents, God is merciful and will deliver you at the proper time—when you have learned the valuable lessons He wishes to teach you; and finally that you, too, may reap from the marvelous truths God made so clear to me about the depth of His grace.

She’s Not My Mother

 I hate to admit this, but I would frequently say, “She’s not my mother!” Because I truly believed that she was not my mother, she was Jon’s, and since she was far different from my mother, I was determined never to claim her as my own. With this admission, though, let me explain that I still treated her with the respect my parents taught me was due to every older person in my life regardless of how I felt about them, and so even beyond general politeness, I tenderly bathed Jon’s mother, prepared foods that were best for her, read to her, and tried to attend to her needs. But this was not enough, as God finally got through to me that since Jon and I were one, I was to honor Jon’s mother as my own. Now some of you might be shocked that it took me 27 years of marriage to catch on to this fact, while others of you will be able to relate with how aghast I was over such a revelation, thinking, “Lord, I can’t!!!” And it is with the “I can’t” where God was beginning to show me the effect of His grace on my life.
 Now realize that I have always taught my children that if they do not obey cheerfully from their heart, their outward obedience is nothing more than rebellion in sheep’s clothing. And I continue to reiterate the truth that though man looks upon the outward man, God looks upon the heart, so I, like God, am most concerned about their hearts. And so it was with me—my Father was most concerned with my heart! Isn’t it wonderful how God disciplines us through the training of our own children? So just as I have told my children that God considers rebellion as the sin of divination and that their sacrifices in some areas did not make up for rebellion in others, God was telling me 1 Samuel 15:22,23: “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.”
 Oh, let me assure you, I was sacrificing all right. This was the greatest sacrifice that I had ever been required to make, but I was not obedient in my heart! I never cheerfully welcomed Jon’s mother into my home. I was pleasant and respectful to her face (except for twice when I lost my temper), but inwardly I loathed and despised her because of her rebellion and contempt for God. And although I believe that we should hate all rebellion against God, the truth of the matter became evident to me that I was also in rebellion to Him. Consequently, when this truth finally sunk in, I despised myself for my own serious sin! See, God brought me to an understanding that keeping Jon’s mom was not about Jon’s mom. This was all about me!
 And isn’t sin always about the me in all of us? So you have the full picture. This was not a mere struggle; this was absolutely the most violent conflict I have ever experienced within myself. One minute I would be telling Jon that I could no longer bear this, and then after being on my knees would tell him that I knew that I had to continue under God’s mighty Hand until I learned my lesson, which was to subject myself to His will. In truth, I spent most of this last year on my knees crying out to God for His grace so that I could fulfill His commandment to honor Jon’s mother, while begging Him to release me from this tribulation. Lest you come to the wrong conclusion, I do not believe that we should ever condone sin; however, instead of having compassion on my mother-in-law’s lost condition, I arrogantly despised her. Ephesians 4:26 “Be angry, and yet do not sin…” Matthew 9:13 “But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Teach Your Children That They May Know

 Quite frankly, we were all struggling with honor and compassion, even Jon, but as is my habit, I made my particular struggles apparent to my children. Sharing my own personal struggles with them serves a threefold purpose. First, it serves as a warning to avoid the sins I commit. Secondly, it continuously reiterates how I deal with my sins—flat on my face. Thirdly, it maintains a living example of a work of sanctification in progress, so that they may possess a hope of the Spirit working within them. For thanks be to God, we are no longer slaves to sin, but to Him who daily masters us through His Spirit that we may walk in the newness of life.
 In my Bible before the 7th chapter of Romans, I have written: “The Inability of Self” – the very thing that I was dealing with then. Romans 7:14-25 “For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.”
 Right after this verse, preceding the 8th chapter of Romans, I have written: “The Ability of the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-17 “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”
 Romans 6:4,11-22 “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life…. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.”
 Galatians 5:24 “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” Ephesians 4:24 “And put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”

Sanctified Through Afflictions

 Our trials, tribulations, and suffering are all a means of sanctification by which God makes known to us the depth of our depravity while at the same time crucifying our flesh. Truly, it was God’s merciful Hand upon me, crushing my “self” so that I could become that living sacrifice and sweet aroma to Him. Deuteronomy 8:2 “…the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart…”
 To illustrate this point more clearly, let us consider a bulb of garlic. If we place this bulb right under our nose, no matter how much we inhale, not one hint of the marvelous scent contained inside is emitted. It isn’t until that bulb is broken apart, smashed with a knife, and then pushed through the press that it releases its wonderful fragrance. So it is with us, that God presses upon us so that the sweet aroma of Christ may be manifested through us as only His mighty Hand can produce. And in this light, it was evident that God was pressing strongly upon me.
 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life…”

Trials Should Drive Us to Our Knees

 Day and night I contended earnestly for sanctification in this area of my life, on my knees crying out for God’s grace to empower me to keep His commandment to honor my mother-in-law. Psalm 63:1 “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee…” Psalm 63:8 “My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.”
 I wanted my sin of dishonor and rebellion to be purged from my life that I might honor my heavenly Father, for I knew that I could not worship rightly without a sanctified heart. 2 Timothy 2:21 “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself … he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
 And I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could not do this on my own. I could not cloak my sins in a shroud of sacrificial living in other areas of my life. For God was showing me that there was absolutely nothing I could do apart from God’s saving grace. To be acceptable to Him, all my sacrifices had to be enveloped with Christ’s righteousness. In other words, God was literally showing me that only through Christ’s righteousness was I acceptable to Him, and only by His Spirit could I obey Him. Psalm 18:32,33 “The God who girds me with strength, and makes my way blameless? He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me upon my high places.”
 Again, let me reiterate that this was a journey for my benefit, one that God was using to mold and form me into the woman of God He required. And as I stated earlier, it was also in answer to an earnest prayer that Jon and I made several years before we took in Jon’s mother, a prayer that God would enlighten our minds so that we could truly understand the marvelous depth and breadth of His grace. And in the process of studying God’s Word, we began compiling scriptures pertaining to God’s merciful unmerited grace and sovereignty, which by the time of taking care of Jon’s mother amounted to a 50,000-word document. God was certainly answering our prayer, both by transforming our minds and now our hearts through this visual lesson of grace.

My Own Sinful Arrogance

 It was so plain to me that my mother-in-law’s sins were horrific, obnoxious sins, which left a horrible stench in each of our nostrils. But then God in His mercy showed me that all of my sins were horrific and obnoxious and left a horrible stench in His nostrils because all sin was obnoxious in His Holy eyes. Was I perfect? I was not and could not meet even one of the demands of His Law on my own, for I knew that nothing was clean or holy apart from Christ, but God was teaching me this truth on a much deeper level, visually showing me what all sins look like to him—not just the ones I deemed horrific. He also clearly made it evident to me that my kindness, sacrificial love for others, hard work for Him and so much more were in fact just manifestations of His grace working in me. So, in truth, my sins looked just like what I was now despising.
 Repeatedly, God would wake me up in the night and say, “Candy, honor your parent.” And I would cry out, “But God, she is rebellious. There is nothing to love.” To which He replied, “Nor in you either, Candy, before I transformed your life. See, while you were yet a rebellious sinner, I died for you. And all of what you may have thought were things to love were but filthy rags to Me. And it is My Spirit that has transformed you. I am the provider of your righteousness.”
 I had begged God to teach me the fullness of His grace, and now He was being faithful to His promise to give wisdom to those who ask by demonstrating His grace in tangible lessons by which I could grasp the profundity of verses like the following. Isaiah 64:6 “…all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” “Ephesians 2:3-5 “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”
 Psalm 14:1-3 “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good. The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
 Romans 7:5,18 “For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death…. For I know that nothing good dwells in me…” Matthew 19:17 “And He said to him, ‘Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good…’”
 Romans 3:4,9-26 “…though every man be found a liar… What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.’ Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
 Ephesians 2:3-10 “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” 1 Corinthians 15:10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.”
 Romans 12:3 “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”
 Oh, the measure of my arrogance! I thought this rebellious woman deserved hell, but then God showed me that so do I. I thought that I sought after Him, but He showed me that I could never seek Him in my depraved state.
 Romans 5:6-21 “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. [Notice that we were helpless because we were ungodly—not like God at all, therefore not able to choose that which is like God—holiness.] For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. [Now someone may die for a good man, but God died for sinners; therefore, there is no goodness in us.] Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—for until the Law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
 Romans 8:6-8 “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
 Mark 7:21,22 “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.”
 Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
 Isaiah 64:6 “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”
 I cannot tell you how many times I have reread this article to edit it in making certain that I was not dishonoring Jon’s mother, and yet every time I read about this revelation of God’s grace towards me, I wept. How incredible that a holy Father would save such a wretched person as myself.
 I clearly see now the significance of my complete depravity, and that of all humanity, for without depravity, there would have been no need for a Saviour. And in reality, it is this basic truth that sets genuine Christianity apart from every other religion. For all other religions believe in man’s innate goodness and consequently in his ability to save himself, to varying degrees, through works. Certainly, works follow our transformation through the power of the Holy Spirit because faith without works is dead, but the fruit does not come before the root, neither do works come before God’s saving grace. There is not another religion in the world that believes and subsequently teaches what God tells us in Ephesians 2:8,9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”
 How ironic that all other religions worldwide oppose the complete depravity of man, when in fact it is the easiest of all doctrines to prove. All we have to do is honestly look at our own hearts. And lest you believe that children are born innocent, look again. However, the most compelling case for man’s depravity lies in the history of man, which is completely saturated by his wickedness, culminating in the twentieth century which proved to be the bloodiest since the beginning of time. In truth, apart from God, there is no goodness in any man.
 Unless God’s Spirit quickens us to life, we are walking dead full of dead men’s bones. 1 Corinthians 2:14,16 “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised…. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
 Ezekiel 11:19,20 “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my ordinances, and do them. And then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.” God takes our heart of stone and changes it!
 John 14:16,17 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.” Romans 8:14 “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”

In the Power of the Lord

 I know that I am powerless to overcome sin and understand from experience the inefficacy of self apart from God’s Spirit, yet because my father always taught me that I could accomplish anything I determined to do, I sometimes lapse into this delusion that if only I apply myself with greater determination, I will overcome. And although I do realize that we must be diligent in attending to our obedience, God was once again demonstrating my total helplessness, and that only through His power would I be able to overcome this sin—just as David faced his Goliath with God’s strength.
 1 Samuel 17:45 “Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted.’” Zechariah 4:6 “‘…Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.” John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.” Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
 I thought that my heart was much more sanctified than it really was, but God showed me how much evil remained in my heart by exposing my thoughts for this mother-in-law whom God placed over me. But thankfully, because of God’s Spirit in me, my plea concurred with David’s in Psalm 51:10,12 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me…. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit.”
 And to my amazement, when I bowed before God in the dust and realized how wretched I really was and totally helpless and totally dependent on Him and fully understood God’s grace, God released me from this trial and gave me peace. Psalm 105:3,4 “Glory in His holy name; let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad. Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually.” Psalm 40:8 “I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.” Psalm 4:1 “Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; be gracious to me and hear my prayer.” Psalm 28:7 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.”

God’s Work of Grace on the Soul

 Let me share some wonderful teachings taken from the marvelous works of A. W. Pink’s Beatitudes-God’s Work of Grace on the Soul: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven…. It is only those who have passed from death to life who become conscious of their poverty. Thus poverty of spirit, a consciousness of one’s emptiness and need, results from the work of the Holy Spirit within the human heart. It issues from the painful discovery that all my righteousness are as filthy rags. Thus one who is poor in spirit realizes that he is a hell-deserving sinner. It is that realization of one’s utter worthlessness that precedes a laying hold of Christ by faith. It is the work of the Spirit emptying the heart of self, that Christ may fill it. The one who is poor in spirit is nothing in his own eyes, and feels that his proper place is in the dust before God. He who is in possession of this poverty of spirit is pronounced blessed: because he now has a disposition that is the very reverse of that which was his by nature; because he possesses the first sure evidence that a Divine work of grace has been wrought within him…”
 “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted…. The closer the Christian lives to God, the more he will mourn over all that dishonors Him. This is the common experience of God’s true people. [And why is this? Because it profanes God’s name!] An awe of His majesty and holiness should so fill our hearts that our whole inner beings bow in entire and willing subjection to Him. For this we must pray, striving to obtain right views and a deeper knowledge of Him that we may worship Him aright and serve Him acceptably.”
 See, our hope lies in God’s gracious mercy, not in our own strength. And when we confess with our mouths and grieve in our hearts over our sins, God pardons our sins.
 When I was a child, I used to think that it was horrible that God included the story of David and Bathsheba in the Bible because it set such a poor example for His other children. But now I realize that not only is it a story of warning, but also one of hope—for if God could forgive David for coveting, lusting, stealing, adultery, deception, and murder, I know that the same merciful Father can forgive me for my sins.
 Psalm 32:5 “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’; and You forgave the guilt of my sin.”
 It is true that David walked in sin for some time, but once the revelation of what he had done against God truly penetrated his heart, he sincerely grieved over what he had done and confessed his sin to God with a firm assurance of God’s great mercy.
 Psalm 51:1-13 “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned, and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak, and blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You.”
 All of us sooner or later realize that all our sins are ultimately against Him, as David confessed, “Against You, You only, have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4). So regardless of how difficult others or circumstances may be, we possess a compelling desire to please our Holy God by being obedient to His commands, which springs from the depth of reverence we have for our Father. John 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:31 “But so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me.” John 15:10 “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.”

Honor Father and Mother

 Throughout scripture, God commands His children to honor their parents regardless of their age, regardless of how difficult the parents may make it. He does not say, “Honor your father and your mother if they are good, if they are righteous, if…” He just commands us to honor and obey them.
 Again, let me reiterate the importance of the fact that it is God who commands us to honor our parents—as the Lord thy God has commanded thee! Deuteronomy 5:16 “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you on the land which the Lord your God gives to you.” And God makes it perfectly clear that our well being hinges on the fulfillment of His commandment to honor our parents—so that “it may go well with you.”
 Trust me when I tell you that it was not well with me in my rebellion towards my mother-in-law. I was in constant turmoil.
 Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” It is quite significant to notice that this commandment to honor our parents comes before “Thou shalt not kill.” Sadly, though, our contemporary “Christian” community does not give much thought to honoring parents. As a matter of fact, we have heard a vast amount of situations where numerous churches in our area have undermined our homeschooling parents’ authority and have honored and promoted the child over the parents, a fitting comparison to honoring the creature over the Creator.
 I dare say if one hundred Christians were polled right now and asked to identify the most serious sin they could commit against their fellowman, every one of them would say murder. Yet God places a higher priority on honoring parents than on preserving another man’s life. If children fail to honor those who cared for them for approximately 20 years, I dare say that they will have no respect for anyone.
 Jon is constantly telling the children in our church that if they cannot honor and obey their parents whom they can see, they will not be able to honor and obey a God whom they cannot see. And in fact, if they do not honor and obey their parents, they are most seriously dishonoring and disobeying God.
 And you know what, whether we think that our parents deserve honor or not makes no difference at all because it is our reaction to our parents that determines whether we will be cursed or not. Leviticus 20:9 “If there is anyone who curses his father or his mother, he shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother, his bloodguiltiness is upon him.”
 Considering that it is God who forms each of us in our mother’s womb, it stands to reason that if we curse our parents, we are ultimately cursing God who gave us to our parents. Therefore, let us realize that we cannot serve God on one hand while we raise the other fist in defiance to God for the parents He has placed over us. Outward honor cannot be reconciled with inward rebellion.
 Luke 6:45 “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” Matthew 15:19,20 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things that defile the man…”
 Romans 6:17,18 “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Notice that we become obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which we were committed, and this frees us from sin.
 And again in Deuteronomy 27:14-26, notice that cursing one’s parent is just after idolatry but before stealing, cruelty, injustice, all kinds of sexual sins, and murder. “The Levites shall then answer and say to all the men of Israel with a loud voice, ‘Cursed is the man who makes an idol or a molten image, an abomination to the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret… Cursed is he who dishonors his father or mother…Cursed is he who moves his neighbor’s boundary mark…Cursed is he who misleads a blind person on the road…Cursed is he who distorts the justice due an alien, orphan, and widow…Cursed is he who lies with his father’s wife…Cursed is he who lies with any animal…Cursed is he who lies with his sister…Cursed is he who lies with his mother-in-law…Cursed is he who strikes his neighbor in secret…Cursed is he who accepts a bribe to strike down an innocent person…Cursed is he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them…’”
 Do you place the proper significance on honoring your parents as God commands? Many of you may not have trouble honoring your parents, but do you honor your in-laws, as you should? I certainly did not!
 I have to admit that I used to judge people by the way they talked about their parents because I knew it was a sin to dishonor parents, yet as soon as I was faced with a difficult parent, I started unloading on every friend I had because at my wit’s end, I thought I needed comfort and prayer for all that I was enduring. Shame, shame on me!
 Proverbs 30:11-12,17 “There is a kind of man who curses his father, and does not bless his mother. There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes, yet is not washed from his filthiness…The eye that mocks a father, and scorns a mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it.” Notice that we are condemned if we do not bless our mothers!
 We deceive ourselves if we think that the Lord is pleased with our service to him while we continue to dishonor our parents in our thoughts and with our words. Let me reiterate what God so clearly defines. It is not our parents’ actions that determine our blessings or curses—it is our actions towards our parents, regardless of their actions, that ultimately determine our blessings or curses. See, I was outwardly honoring my mother-in-law, but inwardly despising her. Proverbs 15:20 “…a foolish man despises his mother.” Proverbs 23:22 “…do not despise your mother when she is old.”
 Honoring one’s parents is not based on their merit, whether we think them worthy of that honor or not. Are we saved because of our merit? Ha! What good is there in any of us? Absolutely none! Remember that it was while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Therefore, let us remember that honor is not based on merit either. We must honor our parents because God requires it of us.

Understanding of Authority

 Except for a few bumps in the road, I have faithfully honored, submitted to, and obeyed my parents. Even as an adult, I have worked hard at submitting to my parents’ requests because God required it of me, but when faced with this new difficult parent, which stirred up such rebellious thoughts in my mind, I began questioning whether my honor was really based on my reverence for God or on my parents’ worthiness. Would I have honored them if I had been born into an abusive family, I wondered?
 And honor isn’t just for the present while our parents are alive, either. Consider that Rehoboam, son of Solomon, rejected his father’s counselors, which resulted in the division of the kingdom of Israel and chronic civil war among the people of God. Yes, God had already told Solomon that He was tearing the kingdom from his son because of Solomon’s own disobedience to God, but Rehoboam received what was due him for his lack of obedience.
 Honoring those whom God places over us (whether it is our parents or our husbands or anyone whom God has placed over us) is crucial to our well being. Consider what happened to Miriam when she spoke against her brother Moses whom God had anointed and placed over His people. Can you imagine being struck with leprosy for speaking out against your own brother whom you grew up with, played with and argued with just because he is now God’s chosen leader? Most of us would think, “Hey, regardless of your position now, you’re still my kid brother.” It is not who we think is worthy of our honor, but who God commands us to honor.

Blessings of Obedience

 On the other hand, there are great blessings that occur from being obedient to God’s command to honor our parents. In the story of the Rechabites, we find that they were blessed because they had done what their father had commanded them. But the interesting point of this verse is that Jonadab the son of Rechab lived three hundred years before the time of Jeremiah. So for 300 years the Rechabites kept all the commandments of their godly ancestor, even though it meant that their lifestyle made them different from everyone around them.
 Jeremiah 35:18,19 “Then Jeremiah said to the house of the Rechabites, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Because you have obeyed the command of Jonadab your father, kept all his commands, and done according to all that he commanded you; therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not lack a man to stand before Me always.’”’”
 Understand that it is not: “Just as long as you live in this house, you will or you won’t…” Because if you do not want your child to do something now, according to God, they should not do it later after they have left your household, or if you want them to do something now, they should continue to do it for as long as they live, as long as it is in accordance with God’s will, or in other words, as long as it does not conflict with God’s Word.

Perverse Authority: Jonathan’s Father

 Jonathan’s faithfulness to God in serving his father is certainly most admirable when we consider Saul’s perverse authority. For Jonathan not only served his father loyally, spoke to him respectfully, attempted to prevent him from sinning against the Lord, but also faithfully died by his father’s side in battle.
 In 1 Samuel 14:24-43, Saul had made a very foolish oath that any man who ate food before he had avenged himself on Saul’s enemies would be put to death. Jonathan had not heard his father and took a little honey, yet instead of accusing his father of being foolish for making such an oath, Jonathan replied with, “I indeed tasted a little honey with the end of the staff that was in my hand. Here I am, I must die!”
 In 1 Samuel 19 when Saul told Jonathan to disobey God by putting David to death, Jonathan beseeched his father not to sin in verses 4-5: “Do not let the king sin against his servant David, since he has not sinned against you…Why then will you sin against innocent blood, by putting David to death without a cause?” Notice that he did not talk disrespectfully to his father, but rather pleaded with him. Jonathan knew that God had already anointed David, yet he appealed to his father like a son should, rather than talk to him condescendingly.
 Later when Saul cursed his son, Jonathan replied with another plea to him not to sin. And when his father hurled his spear at him, Jonathan did not take up arms against his father nor did he yell at him. He was fiercely angry with him, but not because of how Saul had personally treated him, but because of how his father had dishonored God’s anointed. Truly, this man understood the authority God ordained and faithfully submitted to it. 1 Samuel 20:30-34 “Then Saul’s anger burned against Jonathan and he said to him, ‘You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you are choosing the son of Jesse to your own shame…For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Therefore now, send and bring him to me, for he must surely die.’ But Jonathan answered Saul his father and said to him, ‘Why should he be put to death? What has he done?’ Then Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him down; so Jonathan knew that his father had decided to put David to death. Then Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and did not eat food on the second day of the new moon, for he was grieved over David because his father had dishonored him.”
 And as I said earlier, Jonathan served his father to the bitter end and died with him in battle (1 Samuel 31:2).

David’s Father-in-law and King

 Now let us look on the other side of things, at how Saul’s son-in-law honored him even though he was filled with an evil spirit. For though God had already anointed David, Saul continued to pursue David’s life, yet through it all David continued to honor Saul because God had not yet removed him from his position as king. Saul tried to kill David with a spear, planned to make him fall by the hands of the Philistines, told Jonathan and all his servants to put David to death, again tried to pin him to the wall with a spear, sent men to kill him, and when they failed, sent more men to take David, and when they failed, he sent even more men to kill him. So riddled with evil, Saul even killed 85 priests for helping David. And through it all, David still honored Saul!!!!
 If you think your situation justifies your dishonor of your parents, just follow along. Remember David had already been anointed, so he knew that he was Israel’s rightful king. 1 Samuel 24:2-17 “Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel, and went to seek David… He came…where there was a cave; and Saul went in…Now David and his men were sitting in the inner recesses of the cave. The men of David said to him, ‘Behold, this is the day of which the Lord said to you, “Behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.”’ Then David arose and cut off the edge of Saul’s robe secretly. And it came about afterward that David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul’s robe. So he said to his men, ‘Far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed.’ David persuaded his men with these words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul… Now afterward David…called after Saul, saying, ‘My lord the king!’ And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the ground and prostrated himself. David said to Saul, ‘Why do you listen to the words of men, saying, “Behold, David seeks to harm you”? Behold, this day your eyes have seen that the Lord had given you today into my hand in the cave, and some said to kill you, but my eye had pity on you; and I said, “I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.” Now, my father, see! Indeed, see the edge of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the edge of your robe and did not kill you, know and perceive that there is no evil or rebellion in my hands, and I have not sinned against you, though you are lying in wait for my life to take it. May the Lord judge between you and me, and may the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you. As the proverb of the ancients says, “Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness”; but my hand shall not be against you….The Lord therefore be judge and decide between you and me; and may He see and plead my cause, and deliver me from your hand.’…Then Saul lifted up his voice and wept. He said to David, ‘You are more righteous than I; for you have dealt well with me, while I have dealt wickedly with you.’”
 Again, Saul pursued David, and again David spared his life. 1 Samuel 26:9-11 “But David said to Abishai, ‘Do not destroy him, for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be without guilt?’ David also said, ‘As the Lord lives, surely the Lord will strike him, or his day will come that he dies, or he will go down into battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the Lord’s anointed…’”
 What is most incredible to me is that David never despised or cursed Saul, but continued to honor him even after his death. 2 Samuel 1:23,24 “Saul and Jonathan, beloved and pleasant in their life, and in their death they were not parted…O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.” Now this is an example to follow!
 And if you think that you are too busy to take care for your parents, consider David again, for even though he was busy running for his life, he took time to see to the well being of his own parents. 1 Samuel 22:3 “…he said to the king of Moab, ‘Please let my father and my mother come and stay with you until I know what God will do for me.’”

Other Examples of Honoring Parents

 Notice here how David’s son honored his mother even though he had become a powerful and mighty king. 1 Kings 2:19 “So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah. And the king arose to meet her, bowed before her, and sat on his throne; then he had a throne set for the king’s mother, and she sat on his right.” We are never too important to honor our parents. For even Jesus, God incarnate, while hanging on the cross in agony, spoke to his disciples to take care of his mother. John 19:26-28 “When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ From that hour the disciple took her into his own household. After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished…”

Providing for Our Parents

 1 Timothy 5:8 “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he had denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.” How well are we providing for our parents? God certainly makes it plain that even if we are busy kings, we had better take care of our own parents.
 Carefully consider what Jesus had to say to the most religious and honored men of his day, knowing full well that they were grown men. From other scriptures, we know that the Pharisees had committed many sins against God, yet He only mentions one here. What do you think that sin might be? You guessed it! Mark 7:5-13 “The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, ‘Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders…’ And He said to them, ‘Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.” Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.’ … ‘For Moses said, “Honor your father and your mother”; and, “He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death”; but you say, “If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),” you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down…’”
 Did you notice that Jesus upholds the death penalty for a man who curses his parents? Pretty powerful, isn’t it? And isn’t it always our traditions that invalidate the Word of God? Let us realize that we must always encourage others to honor and obey their parents, being extremely careful not to honor God with our lips while we encourage others in their rebellion against their parents. This means that anyone you know whether your friend, your sibling, or just an acquaintance, whoever is professing Christ needs to be exhorted if they are not honoring their parents. For unless our godliness exceeds that of the very religious Pharisees, we will not enter the kingdom of God.
 Oh, that I could have been like Ruth in my heart from the beginning of my journey. Ruth found favor in Boaz’s sight because of all she had done for her mother-in-law. Ruth 2:10,11 “…‘Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?’ Boaz replied to her, ‘All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me…’”

Spiritual Battle

 We are engaged in a severe spiritual battle. Luke 12:51-53 “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two, and two against three. They will be divided, father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” But God calls us to be courageous and do all that He commands us regardless of how difficult it appears because nothing is too difficult for Him. Joshua 1:7 “Be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.”
 God tells us to obey our parents for our own good—that it may be well with us. Ephesians 6:1-3 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.”
 Again, let me reiterate that God does not tell us to honor our parents if they are righteous before God or even if they are good in the eyes of men. 1 Peter 2:18-23 “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
 Note in the following verses that disobedience to parents is included in a list of sins that we would consider most awful, yet how many of God’s people have any regard for parents’ authority? Romans 1:28-31 “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful.” “Holding to a form of godliness but denying its power” is a powerful and revealing statement (2 Timothy 3:5). Let us not hold to a form of godliness, but fully obey all that God requires of us. For a Christian’s life is one of continual subjection, first to parents, husbands, pastors and elders, employers, and civil authorities.
 With this said, let me clarify some things. Although we are to honor our parents, this does not mean that we are to sin against God by doing something contrary to His Word. In 1 Kings 15:11-13, as king and head of his household, Asa removed his mother from her place of honor in the kingdom because she had made a horrid image, and he burned it. As king he could have killed her, but in honor for being his mother, he just removed her from being queen.
 Jon and I do not believe that honoring parents permits them to undermine the son or daughter’s authority over their own children. Nor should they be allowed to wreak havoc and ultimately destroy one’s home. A father should never permit anyone to live under his roof who undermines his or his wife’s teaching. As parents, we have a solemn duty to protect our children from others who would lead them away from God. God does not require us to sacrifice our children’s souls on the altar of honoring our parents, yet we believe that there are still ways in which honor can take place while protecting children.
 To reiterate this point, let me share a very important truth from The Making of George Washington, page 44: “There were no negative influences in the home, no relatives who lived with the family who might modify or dilute the thoughts and principles which August gave his children every day.” On page 72: “There were no individuals in the family who provided a bad example. There was no clever aunt or reprobate uncle, for whose conduct excuses had to be made. All the influences which spoke authoritatively were working together toward the same end.” And it is with this understanding that we must proceed wisely when fulfilling both our duty to care for our parents and our duty to train up our children in the admonition of the Lord.

My Struggle to Obey

 I long for God’s sanctifying grace; I long to be conformed into His image through studying scriptures, continually examining my actions in the light of God’s Word, and through prayer. And truly when I am faced with my rebellious heart, I grieve over my rebellion against God and my hostility to His will.
 Psalm 25:11 “For Thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.” Psalm 94:12-14 “Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O Lord, and whom You teach out of Your law; that You may grant him relief from the days of adversity, until a pit is dug for the wicked. For the Lord will not abandon His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance.” On my knees and sometimes on my face, as I cried out each and every day for God’s pardon and grace, He met me and showed me His grace.

Christian-Like Christ

 Is God imprinted on your soul? Does the outward man reflect your personality or God’s? Is it the image of Christ that others see in you? Until we realize how vile we truly are and worthless to a holy, immutable, and sufficient God, we remain in a state of pride and void. It is not until we can say as Job did in Job 40:4, “Behold, I am vile…” and in the Septuagint, “I am nothing” that we can possess all of God, the God who created the Leviathan, who rides the winds and laughs at the haughty kings of this world.
 Jon and I love to study scriptures and God’s history, and so we spend endless hours reading and discussing God’s Word and the lives of His servants. And what we have consistently found to be true is that the greater the man of God, the smaller that man appears in his own eyes. And from our own experience, the more time we spend at His throne, the more His holy majesty reveals the “I AM” to us while exposing the nothing in us. It is this most humbling experience at His throne of grace that confirms that God possesses us through and through.

Refining Us Through Trials

 Job 23:10-12 “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.”
 Trial means “suffering that puts strength, patience, or faith to the test…” To come forth as gold, God must put us through the fire just as a goldsmith subjects ugly ore to intense heat so that he can skim off all the impurities that rise to the surface, continually intensifying the heat until he sees his face reflected in the molten liquid. This is the test for pure gold.
 Truly, we shall come forth as gold when God can see His face reflected in our lives. To be a Christian literally means to be like Christ. And in yet another trial in my life, God was refining me by intensifying the heat, which brought the dross to the top so He could once again skim off all the impurities until He saw His image upon my soul. Only when God sees Christ’s image—not mine—are my sacrifices acceptable in His sight.
 Malachi 3:3 “He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

Going Through Terrific Trials

 Many years ago, a woman in our support group gave the following scripture to me. Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.” Two days later, my children watched in horror as my body became completely engulfed in flames from a gasoline fire. Yet when the flames were extinguished, not one spot on my body, not even my waist long hair, was harmed by the flames. Needless to say, Jon does not allow me to start fires with gasoline anymore, but the lesson proved to me that no matter how difficult my trials may be (and I was in for some doozies in the years following), I would not be harmed and in fact would be better for them. For God was in control, and all was for my good.
 I yearn to know God more intimately, to understand more clearly, and to apply His Word more faithfully to my life, so God gives me the desires of my heart through pain, trials and suffering, each one more intensified than the last. For in 2 Timothy 3:12, God tells us, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Romans 5:3-5 “…we exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Dealing with Unsaved Family Members

 Throughout this time I was also dealing with unsaved family members who lied, yelled, and in fact made life quite unpleasant. Matthew 5:10-12 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” 2 Corinthians 4:6-9,17,18 “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed… For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
 James 1:12 “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” Psalm 66:10-12 “For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins. You made men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water, yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.”
 It is important to always keep our focus on the fact that God is the One who intensifies the heat, but also the One who then delivers us from our afflictions.
 One night, as I was praying I ended once again with God’s grace and the need to endure faithfully. But this time when I arose from my knees, I arose lighter than I had been in nine months. The struggle within me was gone. No longer was I plagued with my inner struggle to obey in the midst of the spiritual struggle that was occurring without. I went to bed refreshed, light hearted, and full of relief. And to my utter amazement, I found out that Jon’s sister had put his mother in a nursing home. This particular trial in my life had come to an end. God had intensified the heat more than I thought that I could stand, but once again, I was wrong, and God knew what was best. He had skimmed off much more dross this time. He saw His reflection through my complete reliance on His grace. The testing of my soul once again proved invaluable to my sanctification, and I rejoiced yet again that God loves me enough to crucify my flesh so that He may reign in my life. He had humbled me under His mighty Hand of grace and then raised me up on my feet again. 1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”

Storms Reveal Our Master

 Our character is visible in how we live, and how we live makes visible to others who masters us. In The Nature of an Upright Man, Richard Steele (a Puritan preacher and author in the 1600s) states: “Every frost shakes an unsound body, and every trial shakes an unsound soul. The hypocrite’s beauty is borrowed; the fire of trial will melt it off.”
 “An upright man has his infirmities, his diseases; but his new nature works them out, for he is sound within. Leprosy overspreads the hypocrite, but he hides it. ‘For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful.’ Psalm 36:2 He endeavors to hide himself from God, more from men, but most from himself. He would fain be in with himself howsoever, and this trade he drives ‘till his iniquity be found to be hateful.’ But an upright man is always sifting and trying himself: ‘Am I sound? Am I right? Are my services rightly done? Are my infirmities consistent with integrity?’ An upright saint is like an apple with rotten specks, but a hypocrite is like the apple with a rotten core.”
 “A hypocrite is like an apple that is smooth and lovely on the outside, but rotten within. His words may be exact, his duties devout, and his life blameless; but look within and his heart is the sty of sin, the den of Satan.”
 “An upright heart is pure without mixture. It is not absolutely pure, for that happy condition is reserved for heaven; but it is compared with the pollution and base mixture that constitutes a hypocrite. Though his hand cannot do all that God bids, yet his heart is sincere in all he does. His soul is bent for perfect purity, and so he has his name from that. ‘Blessed are the pure in heart.’ Matthew 5:8 In his words he sometime fails and also in his thoughts and deeds. But open his heart, and there is a love, a desire, a design, and an endeavor after real and absolute purity. …free from the reign of all sin, especially of hypocrisy, which is so flatly contrary to the covenant of grace.”
 “The hypocrite chooses sin; the upright man would have no sin if he could choose. The traveler meets with dirt on his way, but he keeps it off as well as he can and does not mingle with it. And if he gets soiled, he rubs it off as soon as may be. But the swine delights in it and cannot be well without it…he is never so well contented as in sin. In a word, the hypocrite may avoid sin, but no man can abhor sin save the upright man.”
 “An upright man… is entirely devoted to the will and ways of God. The hypocrite ever has some exceptions and reserve, not love; such a duty I will not practice. Thus far I will yield but no farther; thus far I will go. It is consistent with my carnal ends, but all the world shall not persuade me farther.”
 “The upright man has but one rule, and that is His holy will; he has but one work, and that is to please his Maker.”
 “There is in every hypocrite some…stronghold that has never yielded to the sovereignty and empire of God’s will.”
 “‘Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile’ Psalm 32:2…He is the man who has not deceitfully covenanted with his God. He does not juggle with God or men or with his own conscience. He does not hide his idols under him when God is searching his tent. Rather…he acknowledges, hates, and leaves his sin.”
 “When the upright man confesses his sin, his heart aches, and he is deeply troubled for it. The hypocrite proclaims open war, but maintains secret intelligence with his lusts. When the upright man prays for any grace, he earnestly desires it, and he takes pains to compass it too; for he is in good earnest and does not dissemble.”
 “See the wide difference between Saul and David. Saul is charged …He denies it, and the charge is renewed…Still he minces the matter and looks for fig leaves to cover all. David…is charged, and he yields; one prick opens a vein of sorrow in his heart. He tells all, he makes a psalm of it, he therein concludes this in Psalm 51:6 ‘Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts.’”

After God’s Heart

 Like David, a man after God’s heart, I desire to be a woman after God’s heart. And I, like David, sinned greatly, grieved greatly, and was pardoned greatly. And like Job, in the presence of Christ, I was reduced to ashes, came to understand my nothingness apart from my Redeemer, and saw firsthand that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. James 5:11 “We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.”
 Psalm 4:3 “Know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself…”