Regardless of which category we fall into the first issue at hand is what do we do with the place the Lord has granted to us in His purpose. If we are a Superior are we encouraging biblical fidelity among those in our purview? If not we are sinning against them. John Flavel in his commentary explicitly warns ministers of the gospel that they are to be feeding their sheep with the wholesome food of Christ, to be “full of bowels of tender affection to them”, and to walk with them in holiness and truth. Those principles can be expanded both to parents and to even the civil magistrate.
We’re going to go directly to the Q/A’s this week as we continue to look at the first statute of the second table of the law. While it may seem arbitrary to divide the first four from the last six it is a Biblical idea. (Deut. 4:13). To think more clearly about what this is meant to teach us the Puritan Thomas Watson shows us how to approach these rules with a spiritual mindset:
The first table respects God and is the top of the ladder that reaches to heaven; the second respects superiors and inferiors, and is the foot of the ladder that rests on the earth. By the first table, we walk religiously towards God; by the second, we walk religiously towards man. He cannot be good in the first table that is bad in the second.
We are not to act as if one portion of the law is more important than another. Each part is meant to build upon the one before and assist the following of all of the commandments. We are called by Christ to love all of His commandments.
As with the First, Second, and Third commandments the Fifth is divided into four parts. This morning we are on the “back half” describing what is not allowed and what may need some more explanation. Here are the catechism questions:
Q. 65. What is forbidden in the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment forbids the neglecting of, or doing anything against, the honors and duty which belongs to every one in their several places and relations.
Q. 66. What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?
A. The reason annexed to the fifth commandment, is a promise of long life and prosperity (as far as it shall serve for God’s glory and their own good) to all such as keep this commandment.
James Fisher was one of our forefathers in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. A blessing that he has bequeathed to us is a very helpful commentary on the Shorter Catechism. In his exposition of the fifth commandment there is a series of Q/A’s that I want to bring forward to help us better understand what we are talking about when it comes to Superiors, Inferiors, and Equals. As noted last week we live in an egalitarian age. People are wired by society to scoff at any idea of a stratified society, for some good reasons to be sure. The way class-consciousness has been used in the past by secular forces has led to chattel slavery, hard castes, and other sinful activities.