Vol. 6, No. 10
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Recently a young man read the text for the morning's lesson from Ephesians 6. He read verse 4 this way, "And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and abomination of the Lord." I do not know whether anyone else noticed the difference in the word "admonition" which Paul used, and "abomination" which the young man used, but the thought occurred to me that many parents are bringing up their children in abomination of the Lord.
There are at least nine verses in the Bible that specifically use the expression "abomination unto the Lord," but the number that are an abomination to him is too great to list here. Deuteronomy 25 mentions several things that were unlawful, then verse 16 says, "All that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto Jehovah thy God." That covers every deliberate sin. God mentions specific things in Proverbs 6:16-19: "There are six things which Jehovah hateth; yea, seven which are an abomination unto him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood; a heart that deviseth wicked purposes, feet that are swift in running to mischief, a false witness that uttereth lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."
When a parent lives or speaks in such a way that his children feel that they are superior to others, he is teaching them in the abomination of the Lord. When a child hears his parents tell a lie about anything, they are teaching what is an abomination of the Lord. We may not literally shed innocent blood, but 1 John 3:15 says that he that hateth his brother is a murderer. Those whose hateful attitude is such that they spread lies about a brother and kill his influence have, in a sense, shed innocent blood. Hearts that devise wicked purposes and feet that run to mischief are very much alike, and equally condemned of God. All of the seven that are mentioned here have been practiced by those who claim membership in the Lord's church.
Although "he that soweth discord among brethren" was not directly concerned with brethren in the church, the eternal principles of God's Word are still applicable, and it is still an abomination to the Lord. In the 55 years I have been preaching, there are two outstanding sins that I never recall hearing anyone confess. One is covetousness, and the other is sowing discord among brethren. If you have heard of a person confessing either of those sins, I would appreciate hearing about the details.
It is sad that some of my brethren who stand so strongly for the basic principles for which all sound Gospel preachers stand, yet are so vicious in their personal attacks that their words drop venom, and instead of striving for peace and harmony, they actually sow discord. To learn how to contend earnestly for the faith without being contentious may be difficult. To oppose error without sounding as if the one specified is going to hell and you are glad of it seems to be too difficult for some of us to learn. It is not necessary to choose between being soft-spoken, mealy mouthed and doctrinally unsound or being harsh and hateful sounding and doctrinally sound. I have known several men in the brotherhood who have stood like a rock opposing all forms of false doctrine and living, but who never uttered a word that I heard or read that sounded hateful, bitter, sarcastic or mean.
It is my firm conviction that when I spanked my children, as long as they were confident that it really did hurt me worse than it did them, but did it because I loved them, they were far more likely to respond in the proper way. When there is slashing, sarcastic, bitter, vindictive denunciation of some brother and his false doctrine, such a person may be as guilty of sowing discord among the brethren as the one who is being attacked.
So one can sow discord among brethren, not only by teaching false doctrine, but also by opposing false doctrine in a biased or slanted fashion. For example, a person is saved only by faith. One is saved only by grace. One is saved only by being obedient to the form of doctrine that was delivered. A person who would like to destroy my influence might take those statements and falsely say that I teach salvation by faith only or by grace alone, or that there is nothing he can do to obtain salvation. No matter how sound in the faith he may think of himself, he is surely sowing discord among brethren just as surely as I would be if I taught that since we are saved only by the grace of God, there is nothing we can do to be saved. We are saved by grace through faith as we in faith accept God's grace on his terms.