May 21st, 2017
“Love and Life”
Aux Text: Matthew 5:17-24
Call to Worship from Psalm 139
Service Orientation: We commit murder whenever we take life from another created in God’s likeness and image. This includes but is not limited to: killing, insults, hatred, anger, envy, slander, and even vengeful thoughts. God created us to love and encourage life, not take it.
Bible Memory Verse for the Week: Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man. — Genesis 9:6
• In Egypt, Israel had been the victims of a state-sponsored program of selective genocide (Ex 1:22). Freed from such murderous tyranny they were to protect human life from all unlawful killing (sixth commandment). In Egypt, Israel had been economically exploited, robbed of the benefit of their own productive labor. God’s intention for them was a land of their own and a distinctive economic system, within which theft and greed would seriously violate the community dimension of the covenant (eighth and tenth commandments). In Egypt, Israelites were the victims of massive structural injustice. In their society, therefore, the integrity of justice and the legal system must at all costs be protected from the threat of malicious falsehood (ninth commandment). (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 65)
• There are five different Hebrew words which describe the taking of a human life. The word used in this commandment is one which means to take an innocent life either by criminal intent or through negligence. This includes premeditated murder and murder done in anger or revenge, but it also includes manslaughter through negligence. We are not to be negligent when it comes to human life. We are to protect life because man is made in the image of God and therefore life is sacred. (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 106-7)
• The verb normally translated “kill” is not the common and general Hebrew verb for killing (harag); it is the verb raşah, which often refers to what we customarily think of as murder, the willful, premeditated killing of an individual out of hatred, anger, desire, greed, or other reasons the community regards as illegitimate or illegal. (Patrick D. Miller, Interpretation: Dt, 87)
• The term used, rāşah, has a broader range than murder, and can include accidental killing (cf. 19:4; Nm 35:11). It always refers to the killing of one human being by another (or others), and is not used in judicial or military contexts. (J. G. McConville, Apollos OT Commentary: Dt, 129)
• The development of the lex talionis was an important breakthrough in the ancient Near East in that it gave equal legal standing to the poor and curbed the callousness of the nobility toward them. The only crime for which compensation in money or kind was not allowed was murder. The murderer had to forfeit his life, because the blood that he had shed unlawfully was understood to defile the holiness of the land (Nm 35:31-34). (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol 3, 434)
• The OT prophets were scandalized by murders occurring in their time (Hos 4:2; 6:9; Isa 1:21; Jer 2:34; 7:9; Ezek 22:9). Prophets themselves were being murdered (Jer 26:20-23; cf. Mt 23:31-35; Acts 7:52). The vicious murder of Gedaliah, the Babylonian-appointed governor of the remnant community at Mizpah, led to the break-up of the community and made necessary the remnant’s flight to Egypt (Jer 41). (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 290)
• The Sixth Commandment in Hebrew consists of only two words, giving a very blunt imperative: “No killing”–the idea being the prohibition of the violent erasure of a personal enemy. (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 111)
• Commands six to ten in the Decalogue remind us that we are people who live under restraint, especially with things that do not belong to us. The prohibition of murder tells us that we cannot do as we like when it comes to the life of another. The prohibition of adultery calls for restraint in our relationships with members of the opposite sex. The prohibition of stealing and coveting call for restraint with things that do not belong to us. And the prohibition of false witness calls for us to be restrained in what we say because of a commitment to truth. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 207)
The question to be answered is . . . What is God’s will for us in observing the sixth commandment?
Answer: We should do all we can to love and honor God by protecting and preserving His image and likeness in the life of mankind. Not only is murder sin, but anything leading up to murder is sin as well.
Just one generation into human history, man’s murderous tendencies emerged. It didn’t take long for us to show our true colors, did it? The seeds of sin were planted by Cain and Abel’s own parents, and already the roots were going deep. This murderous tendency escalated at an alarming rate until the earth was filled with violence. God was grieved and angered by man’s disregard for life. In fact, His just outrage was so intense that He decided to cleanse the earth and start over again. (D. James Kennedy, God’s Absolute Best For You, 103)
The Bible affirms that the right to terminate life is God’s alone. To some humans, like judges, God may give limited authority (based on his principles) to represent him in doing this. But there, too, they must follow his guidelines. Today the term pro-choice has become popular. That is an expression of human rebellion against God’s lordship over creation. Humans do not have the choice of terminating human life. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 208-9)
The Word for the Day is . . . Life
The facts are in–the evidence is conclusive: the modern state has proven itself the greatest killer of all time. By 1990, state violence (war, collectivist pogroms, revolutions, and “ethnic cleansing”) had been responsible for the unnatural deaths of 125 million people during this century, which is more than the state had succeeded in destroying in all of human history up to 1900. (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 109)
Max Hellstern says, “If you totaled all the battle deaths suffered by U.S. troops in all the wars we’ve fought. . . and then doubled that figure, you would still have a figure smaller than the total number of unborn babies legally aborted in the U.S. in one recent year.” (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 107)
What are the implications of observing the sixth Commandment?:
I- God deems any activity that lends itself towards murder as murder. (Gn 4:6-8; 1 Kgs 21:19; Prv 24:17; 14:30; Mt 5:17-24; Gal 5:19-21; 1 Jn 2:9-11; 3:12-15)
F. B. Meyer wrote, “Beware of the ossification (or hardening) of the heart. The chalk which now holds the fossil shells was once moist ooze. The horny hand of toil was once full of soft dimples. The murderer once shuddered, when as a boy, he crushed a worm.
“Hearts harden gradually like the freezing of a pond on a frosty night. At first…there is a thin film of ice, so slender that a pin or needle would fall through. At length it will sustain a pebble, and if winter still holds its unbroken sway, a child, a man, a crowd, a cart will follow.”
40. Lord’s Day
Question 105. What does God require in the sixth commandment?
Answer: That neither in thoughts, nor words, nor gestures, much less in deeds, I dishonor, hate, wound, or kill my neighbor, by myself or by another: (a) but that I lay aside all desire of revenge: (b) also, that I hurt not myself, nor willfully expose myself to any danger. (c) Wherefore also the magistrate is armed with the sword, to prevent murder.
Question 106. But this commandment seems only to speak of murder?
Answer: In forbidding murder, God teaches us that he abhors the causes thereof, such as envy, hatred, anger, and desire of revenge; and that he accounts all these as murder.
Question 107. But is it enough that we do not kill any man in the manner mentioned above?
Answer: No: for when God forbids envy, hatred, and anger, he commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves; to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and all kindness, towards him, and prevent his hurt as much as in us lies; and that we do good, even to our enemies.
Biblical Examples of sinful thoughts leading to murder:
The first murder came from Cain’s jealousy (Gn 4:1-6)
Lamech killed a young man out of revenge (Gn 4:23)
Jacob’s sons killed the men of Shechem to defend the family honor (Gn 34:1-31)
Pharoah had all male Israelite baby boys killed for national security (Ex 1:8-22)
Moses killed an Egyptian out of rage (Ex 2:11-12)
Ehud killed Eglon to be freed from oppression (Jdg 3:12-16)
Abimelech killed 70 from the royal family because he felt threatened (Jdg 9:5-56)
Joab stabbed Abner to avenge his brother’s death. (2 Sm 3:24-27)
David had Uriah killed to cover his lustful desires (2 Sm 11)
Jezebel killed Naboth for Ahab for greed (1 Kgs 21:1-16)
Proverbs talks of robbers who kill out of greed (Prv 1:10-19)
Herod killed the boys of Bethlehem because he was threatened (Mt 2:13-18)
Herodias had Herod kill John the Baptist out of pride and guilt and dishonor. (Mt 14:3-12) (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 211-212)
Motives for Murder and related issues:
Ia. Jealousy (Gn 4:1-6)
Ib. Revenge/avenge (Gn 4:23; 2 Sm 3:24-27)
Ic. Honor/Pride (Gn 34:1-31; Mt 14:3-12)
Id. National Security (Ex 1:8-22)
Ie. Anger/Rage (Gn 4:1-17; 34:1-31; Ex 2:11-12; Ps 37:8; Prv 27:4; Eph 4:26-31; Jam 1:19-21; )
We become angry because we want our “rights.” We want what we want when we want it. We tell ourselves that we “deserve” this or that, and we ought to have it right now! (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 163)
As in all the issues of our lives, Jesus deals with the root of this commandment, not just the fruit. He is not content to trim off the nettles and poison oak in our lives close to the ground. He wants to uproot the whole poisonous weed. And He tells us that the root of murder is anger. . . hateful, people-dishonoring anger. (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 157)
Murder begins with seeds of hatred and anger that we allow to take root in our hearts. We say, “if looks could kill. . .” But in a sense, they can. Anger and hatred are murderous things; they distort our eyes and our countenances, so that our very faces reflect death. (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 155)
Don’t go to bed angry! Don’t go to bed without dealing with the issues. Don’t close your eyes in sleep without working through these things. Why? Because verse 27 says that if you let the anger simmer overnight, you’re going to give the enemy of your soul a toehold, or beachhead, in your life. You’re going to give him a “place” in your soul, and from that place he will be able to direct his destructive activities in order to bring you and your family to disaster. Overnight, he has the opportunity to plant the terrible seeds of murder in your unguarded heart. (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 155-6)
How do you avoid this? See our sin for what it really is.
You know the place where Jesus says, “you’ve heard it said, ‘Thou shalt not murder.’ But, I say, ‘If you call someone a fool , if you call someone, ‘Raca’, (which means no one), if you slander, if you accuse, if you swell with anger, if you try to defame that person, you are also guilt of judgment.
Do you realize what Jesus is saying? He is saying slander is not a subheading under lying. It is a subheading under murder.
How is it possible for the Nazis to kill the Jews. Well, they were able to kill the Jews because for many years they called them “no ones”. They looked down at them. They thought of these people as sort of sub-me until they could kill them.
Jesus says, “When you are able to assume any position of moral superiority to condemn people, to write them off, to give up on them, to demonize them; that is the seed of murder. It is murder.” (Tim Keller message “Communication”)
“The quickest way to kill the human spirit is to ask someone to do mediocre work.” (Joel Arthur Barker; Future Edge, 137)
If you think your greatest vice is lust, you’re wrong. It is adultery.
If you think your greatest vice is impatience, you’re wrong. It is idolatry.
If you think your greatest vice is anger, you’re wrong. It is murder. (Tullian Tevidgjian; Life Without God – Pt 7)
There is an openness to the commandment in its early force that leads to a deepening and broadening of its application. This is seen explicitly in Jesus’ extension of the prohibition to guard against anger and insults, with its positive corollary in active movement toward reconciliation (Mt 5:21-26). Thus, manifestations of anger and hatred at a less extreme level than murder are seen to flow out of the sixth commandment or to represent an intensification of its force. (Patrick D. Miller, Interpretation: Dt, 87-8)
If. Free from Oppression (Jdg 3:12-16)
Ig. Threatened (Jdg 9:5-56; Mt 2:13-18)
Ih. Lust/Desire/Greed (Jdg 19: 22-30; 2 Sm 11; 1 Kgs 21:1-19; Prv 1:10-19)
Ii. Gossip/Slander (Lv 19:16-18; Ps 35:11; Prv 12:18; 17:4)
According to rabbinical sages, publicly humiliating someone is figuratively akin to murder. Whereas the Third Commandment warns us about how words can harm our relationship with God, this commandment warns of the danger of words against people. Words have the power to hurt or heal, depending on how we use them. If one removed negativity, gossip, slander, hostility, cruel sarcasm, anger, divisiveness, derision, ugly threats, and insults from one’s vocabulary, one automatically and dramatically improves his own life and that of others. Words have a tremendous potential impact upon situations and people–they can convey compassion and encouragement, blessing and love. Or, they can kill spirits and relationships. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 196)
Character assassination through gossip or other means kills the good name that someone has worked for. When people have lost their good reputation, they are often as good as dead. Every time we gossip, we send out lethal words that have the potential to kill innocent people, yet we fail to realize the danger of what we say. None of us likes to be gossiped about, and yet we gossip about others. As Shakespeare so wisely wrote: “Who steals my purse, steals trash. But he that fetches from me my good name, robs me of that which enriches him not, and makes me poor indeed.” (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 201)
Slander is the sin of those who meet in corners and gather in little groups and pass out confidential tidbits of information which destroy the good name of those not present to defend themselves. (Alistair Begg sermon “Saying No to Slander”)
We should never report what may hurt another person unless to conceal it would hurt worse. (Alistair Begg sermon “Saying No to Slander”)
Signs you have a judgmental or Slanderous spirit:
1- When you criticize another they are ALWAYS crushed and destroyed. You are never able to redeem when you criticize.
2- If you have a fault finding habit of mind. You judge before you have all the facts
3- You enjoy hearing about other people’s faults. Why do you enjoy hearing bout the faults or problems of others? Because you have a judgmental, slanderous spirit.
4- When you go beyond the facts and impute motives to people all the time. (Tim Keller message “Communication”)
James says that Christians should not be characterized by a judging spirit, a judgmental spirit. I cannot tell you how important this is.
. . . First of all , we have to see that slander and judging is not falsehood. A lot of people will think, “OK, here is this word slander.” well, James is saying, “Don’t tell lies about people.”
No, there is another Greek word for a lie. That is not the word being used here. What James is saying is not, “Don’t tell lies about each other. Of course you’re not supposed to tell lies about each other. That’s not what he’s talking about here. In 4:11 he is saying, “You can tell something that is absolutely true, absolutely accurate and still be slandering and judging someone with it.”
James is not talking here about telling falsehoods. He is forbidding using the truth in a certain way. Now, what is that?
Now, let me give you another qualification. . . . Being a Christian in your communication, entails more than just telling the truth. What is your purpose in telling the truth? How are you using the truth in the conversation? (Tim Keller message “Communication”)
Slander and judging is telling the truth to punish rather than redeem. People say, “I want to tell the truth, I went and gave criticism.
James says, “that tells me nothing about whether you have done that as a Christian.”
Well, shouldn’t a Christian tell the truth?”
James says, “Sure. But, why did you tell the truth? And, how did you tell the truth?”
Slander and judging is using the truth to punish. A judge is not a parent or a brother or sister. A judge’s job is to get rid of somebody. A judge’s job is to repay. A judge’s job is an eye for an eye. That’s a judge’s job. . . .
Slander and judging is to speak from a morally superior position. To talk down. To belittle rather than as an equal.
Let me put it to you one more way.
Slander and judging is telling the truth to push a person away rather than pull them in. Push them away rather than get them closer. (Tim Keller message “Communication”)
Gossip is halitosis of the mind.
Ij. Hate (1 Jn 3:15)
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. —Jill Briscoe
It’s called strengthening the character of a helping society. When people observe perseverance, endurance, and courage, their moral fiber is reinforced. Conversely, your choice to bow out of life can and does weaken the moral resolve of that same society. . . . If you believe your decision is private and independent, your choice to speed up the dying process is like playing a delicate game of Pick Up Sticks. You carefully lift a stick hoping not to disturb the intricate web. But just when you think you’ve succeeded, your independent action ends up jiggling the fragile balance. . . . Your self-determination to die has strings attached if it adversely affects the rights of others. That’s why more than half the states in our country have laws against aiding a person in suicide. Think it through: If everybody ended their lives as a solution to problems, the very fabric of our society would ultimately unravel, and with it all the other individual rights you enjoy. (Joni Eareckson Tada; When Is It Right To Die?, 71-2)
The Jewish perspective on suicide is that the individual has sinned only if he has killed him or herself “with one’s full wits.” Most people who kill themselves are at wit’s end. In this situation, the suicide most usually occurs in the midst of depression. Unless it can be proven that the individual killed him or herself as a decided, informed act, it is not considered deliberate. The despondent suicide would be given burial rights and respect. The Catholic Church’s doctrine is similar. Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide. The eternal salvation of people who have taken their own lives is, or course, God’s venue. By ways known to Him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 187-8)
Even though the Bible does not comment much on the morality of suicide, the early Christians, especially Augustine in his book City of God, held that suicide was akin to murder and thus condemned it. Such an attitude certainly goes with the premise that life can be terminated only by God. The same could be said about abortion-on-demand, by which a person takes the life of an unborn child, usually for matters of convenience. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 208)
When we live and die in God’s presence, we do not exercise self-determination over ourselves. When God says that we may not kill, then we must not proceed stubbornly to put an end to our own lives. The wish for death can be a Christian desire, even outside of the dying stage of life (see Phil 1:23). We may even pray for that; but that kind of praying itself presupposes that we must leave the realization thereof to God Himself. (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 222)
In the Bible we read of six men who took their own lives: Samson (Jdg 16:23-31), Saul and his armor bearer (1 Sm 31:3-5), Ahithophel, who had taken the side of Absolom in his struggle against David (2 Sm 17:23), the Israelite king Zimir (1 Kgs 16:18-19), and Judas Iscariot, after he had betrayed Jesus (Mt 27:3-5). Nothing either good or bad is said about their actions. Saul is said to have fallen on his own sword, but later it is also said that the Lord killed him (1 Chr 10:4, 14).
Biblical condemnation of those who took their own lives is possible only by taking into account their entire lives. Naturally, the suicides of Saul, Ahithophel, Zimri, and Judas were condemned, but in the case of Samson the matter is far more difficult. For in Hebrews 11 (vv. 32 and 39) he is mentioned as one of the heroes of faith. For this reason, Augustine thought the Spirit of God must have directed Samson to commit this act; otherwise it would have to be condemned. (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 224)
The Moral question for us is not whether the suffering and the dying are persons but whether we are the kind of persons who will care for them without doubting their worth. —A. J. Dyck (Ronald Reagan, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation, 60)
Euthanasia is becoming legal in some countries and states. This is “the act. . . of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals. . . in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy.” This, too, is not acceptable to Christians because it advocates human sovereignty in terminating life. There are situations where brain-dead people are kept alive through artificial life-support systems. Here withdrawal of these supports may be permissible. As Michael Moriarty says, “There is not moral obligation to prolong the process of dying through the use of artificial means if it only prolongs suffering. The moral duty is to prolong life, not to use artificial means to prolong the process of death. . . It is not morally wrong to allow the person to die.” (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 208)
Only half of the patients who enter an abortion clinic come out alive.
The young woman says, “I must kill this innocent unborn child to save my womanhood.” The young gangster says, “I must kill an innocent stranger so I can prove my manhood.” Mrs. Clinton says the first is a right and the second an outrage. Yet both exhibit the same ruthlessly self-regarding passion. (Alan Keyes; Our Character, Our Future, 34)
Abortions, “mercy killing,” using a woman or child to gratify sexual needs, active homosexuality—these are hardly new tendencies. What is new is that in Western Judeo-Christian culture none of these things were considered acceptable behavior until we convinced ourselves that we are qualitatively no different from a community of overachieving amoebas. Slowly society has been conditioned, and is continuing to be conditioned, to tolerate, accept, and even value such “modernity.” …Underneath its scientific facade, the doctrines of the evolutionary world view demand that the strong survive, the weak must move aside, and that ultimately none of it matters much. (D. James Kennedy; What Is God Like?, 122)
To take away the life of any public person enhances the murder, and makes it greater, as to kill a judge upon the bench, because he represents the king’s person. To murder a person whose office is sacred, and comes on the King of heaven’s embassage; the murdering of whom may be the murdering of many. (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 140)
To shed the blood of a near relation aggravates the murder, and dyes it of a deeper crimson. For a son to kill his father is horrid. (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 140)
The difference between killing and murder is not a simple matter of semantics; we view the act of taking a life, which may be permitted at times, with varying degrees of severity. Some forms of killing are considered worse than others. Our judicial system makes distinctions between murder and manslaughter based on the degree of premeditation, negligence, or intent. Given these distinctions, someone can go free for accidentally killing someone, when there is no negligence; be imprisoned for a short time for killing someone out of negligence; receive a sentence of life in prison for murder, or a death sentence for murder with special circumstances. We respond differently when we hear about an accidental shooting than when we hear about the torturous, wanton, gleeful acts of murder committed by the followers of Charles Manson. One saddens us, and the other shocks, sickens, and frightens us. We intuitively understand the differences between the various acts that cause death. The simple wording of this commandment acknowledges that all killing is not equal. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 175-6)
II- Murder is an attack against God. (Gn 1:26-28; 9:5-6; Lv 24:17; Nm 35:30-34; Dt 27:24; Ps 8:4-8; 139:13-16; Isa 57:16-17; Mt 6:2)
Man is without a doubt the apex of God’s creation. No angel can rival him, for no angel is made in the image of God. Thus murder is, in the most intense sense of the word, a sacrilege. It is not only a crime against mankind–it is a crime against God, in whose image men and women are made. (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 115)
We must not injure another in his soul. This is the greatest murder of all, because there is more of God’s image in the soul than in the body. Though the soul cannot be annihilated, it is said to be murdered when it is deprived of its happiness, and is for ever in torment. How many are soul-murderers! (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 143)
Among all God’s creatures, people are unique. They represent God on earth. God wants to live in them and have His own power radiate through them in this world. Man was destined to be God’s temple. He is in a position to fulfill his exalted task since he received the gifts of understanding and volition. These extraordinary gifts elevate him above the animal and enable him to exercise dominion over God’s creation.
What we are saying here about people in general has consequences for our attitude toward individuals in particular. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man” (Gn 9:6). It is just as wrong for us to curse other people, for we must always remember in such cases that they have been created in the image of God (Jam 3:9).
These directives are stated very generally. Apparently it makes no difference whether someone is behaving as the image of God; his unique status and special calling should be enough to keep us from attacking his life and from cursing him. In both instances, we would be acting as if a person’s life and reputation are of little or no value. (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 211)
Murder is wrong because life is a gift from God. Not only is life a gift, but also our very existence is tied to God: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God. He created him; male and female He created them” (Gn 1:27). We are not merely well-developed protoplasm; humans are unique in their essence because God “blew into his nostrils the soul of life; and man became a living being” (Gn 2:7). Therefore, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God He made man” (Gn 9:6). Since the human gift of life is endowed with the spark of divinity that makes us different from all other life, to take another life wrongfully can be likened to stealing from God and even viewed as the murdering of something divine. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 177)
But this is not merely a prohibition against murder. It also calls for proactive prevention of accidental deaths. The command is rooted in the unique sanctity of human life that derives from our status as the image of God (Gn 9:6). To take the life of another person is to rob God of a representative and deputy, which is the highest form of treason. Unlike Babylonian laws, this command draws no distinctions in value of life based on status, race, or gender. The life of all human beings is equally sacred. (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 166)
The Bible does not make life “holy” in and of itself. Human beings are made in God’s image, an image that no human has the right to destroy without the maker’s authority. But God does have that authority. Human life is a gift from God and belongs to God, and no human has the right to destroy the gift or steal what belongs to God. But God has the right of disposal over what belongs to God. On these grounds, it is clear that we can distinguish between unlawful taking of life by evil human intention and authorized taking of life in circumstances carefully defined by God, “the Lord and giver of life.” The prohibition on murder, therefore, is a matter not merely of horizontal human rights, but of our accountability to God for the lives of our fellow human beings. It presupposes the vertical and horizontal axes of human moral responsibility. (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 79)
When we take our own life, we are still taking the life of a person made in the image of God. We are taking the precious gift of life God gave to us, and we are flinging it back into His face as if to say, “I don’t want it.” That is the murder of the self, which is actually what suicide means. (D. James Kennedy; What Is God Like?, 111)
To shed the blood of any righteous person aggravates the sin. Hereby justice is perverted. Such a person being innocent, is unworthy of death. A saint being a public blessing, lies in the breach to turn away wrath; so that to destroy him is to pull down the pillars of a nation. He is precious to God, Ps 116:15. He is a member of Christ’s body; therefore what injury is offered to him is done to God himself, Acts 9:4. (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 140)
All creatures kill — there seems to be no exception. But of the whole list man is the only one that kills for fun; he is the only one that kills in malice, the only one that kills for revenge. —Mark Twain
In spite of God’s attempts to help Cain face what is difficult in life, Cain slays Abel.
God then gives Cain the opportunity to confess and repent, but Cain chooses to lie about his knowledge of Abel’s whereabouts: “I do not know [where Abel is]. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gn 4:9).
The cosmic answer to that question is, “Yes!” According to the Bible, human life is sacred; its wanton destruction is seen as a crime against God. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 175)
Man, unlike a chicken or a pig, is the only creature made in the image of God. Therefore, human life is sacred to Him. Referring to the birds of the air, Jesus said, “Are you not of more value than they?” (Mt 6:26). God values the life of man so much that He says a murderer must pay with his own blood for the life he takes from another. You see, murder is such a grievous sin to God because it is an attack upon those who are made in His image. It is an indirect attack on God Himself. (D. James Kennedy, God’s Absolute Best For You, 107)
III- God desires for us to love and do all we can to protect life . . . including kill. (Ps 51:14; Mt 25:35; Rom 12:19-21; Eph 4:26; Jam 2:13-18)
We conclude that there are at least four areas where the taking of human life is sometimes justifiable: capital punishment, maintaining law and order, self-defense, and the so-called “just war.”
Now, if we were to stop here, having merely noted the instances in which the Commandment “You shall not murder” allows the taking of life, we would miss the main thrust of the Sixth Word, which is the preciousness of human life. (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 114)
In Ex 21 you will find six different specific circumstances where God commands the taking of life. If “thou shalt not kill” in Ex 20 means that we are under no circumstances to take the life of anyone else, we obviously have a contradiction between Ex 20 and 21, which are side-by-side in the Bible. Either God has suddenly become schizophrenic, He has forgotten what He said in the last chapter, or the Bible is irreconcilable even to itself. (D. James Kennedy, God’s Absolute Best For You, 108)
Human life is so sacred that even God must have good cause to take it. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 180)
There may be occasions when the responsibilities of avoiding harm and protecting from harm come into irreconcilable conflict and a choice has to be made for one that leads to the other. In such cases, the comprehensive norm of respect for life that is discernible in the sixth commandment as it has been broadened and deepened in the Judeo-Christian tradition still remains the guide for resolving the conflict. (Patrick D. Miller, Interpretation: Dt, 88)
IIIa. Self-Defense (Ex 22:2-3)
Jewish law justifies the taking of the life to protect another from certain death: “. . . you shall not stand aside while your fellow’s blood is shed. . .” (Lv 19:16). However, whenever possible, you must warn the attacker first. If you can save him by any means short of killing him without endangering yourself, you should. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 184)
God not only forbids us to be murderers, but also prescribes that every one should study faithfully to defend the life of his neighbor, and practically to declare that it is dear to him; for in that summary no mere negative phrase is used, but the words expressly set forth that our neighbors are to be loved. It is unquestionable, then, that of those whom God there commands to be loved, He here commends the lives to our care. (John Calvin, Commentaries, vol. III, 21)
Although many people believe that the Christian notion of “turning the other cheek” prohibits self-defense, the Catechism of the Catholic Church holds that it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder, even if he is forced to terminate the life of the aggressor. Furthermore, mortal defense is not only considered a right, but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life, or the common good of the family or of your country.
Jewish tradition would say that not to prevent someone from murdering you is suicide, and suicide is always forbidden. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 184)
If a thief caught breaking and entering received a fatal blow, that would not be considered a culpable killing (Ex 22:2).
What is remarkable is that culpability is involved when such an intruder is killed in broad daylight (Ex 22:3). In the darkness of night, the situation is confused. Is the intruder armed? Is there only one, or are there more? If the owner (properly) refuses to let the intruder simply rob him, a fight could well break out at the cost of the intruder’s life. But during the daytime the situation is clearer, and then everything must be done to prevent bloodshed. From this twofold regulation we see how precious human life is. Even when someone is busy robbing another, care must still be taken with his life. In our modern criminal law this distinction about self-defense operates too. If the government and its agencies are unable to provide the necessary protection when it is urgently and immediately needed then self-defense is permissible. We have a right to resist unrighteousness. (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 234)
IIIb. Just War (Ex 33:1-4; 34:10-16, 24; Nm 33:51-56; Dt 7:16-26; Jdg 11:21)
The “just war” is, in a word, defensive. It includes at least seven distinctions: 1) just cause, 2) just intention, 3) last resort, 4) formal declaration, 5) limited objectives, 6) proportionate means, and 7) noncombatant immunity. (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 113-4)
Surely the Bible is not pacifist. Numerous wars were fought at God’s command or with His approval (Nm 21:14; Dt 20:16-18; Rv 19:11, and more), so that we can hardly characterize war with the generalization that it is sin. God does require restraint in deciding to wage war or in waging war, as we are taught by the laws of war in Dt 20. Partially on this basis, the concept of “just war” developed in history. Generally stated, a just war must be waged (1) by a legitimate government, (2) for a legitimate cause, (3) with a legitimate purpose, (4) with consideration of benefits and costs, (5) with means proportionate to the offense, and (6) recognizing the difference between civilians and soldiers. (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 239)
GENERAL NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: A professional soldier understands that war means killing people, war means maiming people, war means families left without fathers and mothers. All you have to do is hold your first dying soldier in your arms, and have that terribly futile feeling that his life is flowing out and you can’t do a anything about it; then you understand the horror of war. Any soldier worth his salt should be antiwar. And still there are things worth fighting for.
Christians serving in the armed forces must, therefore, give careful consideration to the battles they are being called upon to fight. Is it a defensive war. . . or an offensive battle to help the country aggrandize itself against some other nation? It makes a difference in God’s eyes. (D. James Kennedy, God’s Absolute Best For You, 112)
Although Scripture presents no prohibition against waging war, the Bible does make clear that war and bloodshed must never be accepted as normal phenomena (Josh 1:13; Isa 2:2-4; Mic 4:1-5). King David was not allowed to build a temple for God because he had waged war and had shed blood (1 Chr 28:3). The goal of war must always be peace, and any program of armament must be pursued in the context of preserving peace. (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 239-40)
IIIc. Capital Punishment (Gn 9:5-6; Ex 21:15-17; 22:18-20; 35:2; Lv 18:22; 20:2-16; 21:9; 24:11-23; Nm 15:32-36; 35:16-21, 30-33; Dt 17:6; 21:18-21; 22:24-25; 24:7; Rom 13:4)
To kill an offender is not murder, but justice. A private person sins if he draws the sword; a public person sins if he puts up the sword. A magistrate ought not to let the sword of justice rust in the scabbard. As he should not let the sword be too sharp by severity, so neither should the edge of it be blunted by too much lenity. (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 141)
Some have ignored this sense and have argued that the Commandment really forbids all taking of human life under any circumstance. But this is not possible because corresponding Jewish law lists eighteen crimes liable to the death penalty, including murder, child sacrifice, kidnapping, incest, adultery, and witchcraft. In Biblical times, therefore, capital punishment was an accepted means of law enforcement, though it was rarely carried out. (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 111-2)
The Bible suggests a number of reasons for capital punishment as the consequence for murder. As retribution and deterrence, capital punishment reflects God’s desire: “You shall destroy the evil from among Israel” (Dt 17:12).
Even stronger is the image that “blood defiles the land” (Mn 35:33). Just as Abel’s blood called out from the ground (“The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground!” Gn 4:10), murder is so abhorrent that the call of the blood can only be silenced by removing from the world that person who stole the life. While Cain is spared from the ultimate punishment, later the Bible is very explicit that “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed” (Gn 9:6). (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 180)
As for the notion that “only God can take a life,” note that capital punishment for murder of an innocent is mandated in each of the (Torah) Five Books of Moses (Gn 9:6, Ex 21:21, Lv 24:17, Nm 35:31, Dt 19:20). In fact, it’s the only law in the Torah repeated in each and every one of the Five Books! Obviously this was an important divine consideration! (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 182)
Respect for human life means also that a person may not be killed with impunity. Rather, because human life is so precious, it deserves protection. We can see this clearly in the fact that the government possesses the sword. The government is called to use that sword in service to God, as an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil (Rom 13:4). So evil must be punished and requited. But at the same time the sword serves to prevent murder, as the Heidelberg Catechism properly confesses in Lord’s Day 40. This sword exists not only to strike, but also to prevent another from striking. Government exists to forcefully punish law-breaking citizens; but, at the same time, by this means the government constructs a protective wall around the life of law-abiding citizens. (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 235)
Even if one is in favor of capital punishment, the act of retribution should not be done with celebration. Though the Bible describes public executions and even the subsequent display of the corpse (Dt 21:22) so that people could see justice, public executions should not be accompanied by applause, jubilation, cheers, and jeers, which demean the integrity of life. This is inhumane and barbaric. It is one thing to permit a family member the satisfaction of seeing the murderer of a loved one put to death, but it is another to make it a form of grandstanding celebration. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 182-3)
As for the argument that society degrades itself when it extracts the ultimate in punishment, Richard G. Durant eloquently expressed his response, which showed this argument to be fallacious, in a syndicated column published June 23, 1997: “What a society does to one who murders an innocent person proclaims quite clearly to one and all how much it values the life of that innocent person. A truly civilized society has no other choice than to demand the ultimate punishment. Anything less demands the society–and life.” (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 182)
God not only does not want us to take the life of another, but also wants us to provide for and enhance life whenever we can. How can we do this? In many ways–such as feeding and helping the poor. When we do this, we are not only not taking their lives, but we are also providing what they need to stay alive. (D. James Kennedy, God’s Absolute Best For You, 113)
It is implied that we should endeavor to preserve the souls of others: counsel them about their souls; set life and death before them; help them to heaven. In the law, if one met his neighbor’s ox or ass going astray, he must bring him back again, Ex 23:4. Much more, if we see our neighbor’s soul going astray, we should use all means to bring him back to God’s repentance. (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 150)
If the life of the body must be preserved, much more the life of the soul. If he who does not provide for his own house is worse than in infidel, much more he who does not provide for his own soul, 1 Tm 5:8. (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 150-1)
Christ nowhere set aside the death penalty, though He did intervene on behalf of a woman who deserved to be stoned. (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 112)
Now, is it not a reasonable request to take as much care for saving your souls as the devil does for destroying them? (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 152)
The gospel does not exclude retribution. God is going to reward each man according to his deeds (Mt 16:27; Rom 2:7). Even though we may not personally avenge evil, for that reason God does avenge evil (Rom 12:17; 1 Thes 5:15; 1 Pt 3:9, along with Rom 12:19; 2 Thes 1:6; 2 Tm 4:14; Heb 10:30). The testimony of Scripture–not just the OT, but the NT as well–is so clear that we cannot follow Barth down the path he has chosen, the path of universal reconciliation. It was not Christ’s intention that sin and evil be, as it were, pushed aside and paid for by His cross, apart from any consideration of whether people received His message or not. (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 237)
If a person does a crime against another that is punishable with death, the aggrieved parties are not to take the law into their own hands. They are to follow the judicial procedures prescribed in the Bible. Paul says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Rom 12:19). In doing this God often uses the national authorities and other citizens as agents of justice. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 208)
In Mt 5:20-48, then, we find out precisely what fulfillment of the law would look like in daily life. In this crucial passage, where the rightness of the kingdom heart is most fully displayed, there is a sequence of contrasts between the older teaching about what the good person would do–for example, not murder–and Jesus’ picture of the kingdom heart. That heart would live with full tenderness toward everyone it deals with. This passage in Matthew 5 moves from the deepest roots of human evil, burning anger and obsessive desire, to the pinnacle of human fulfillment in agape, or divine love. In this way the entire edifice of human corruption is undermined by eliminating its foundations in human personality. (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 136-37)
“If the God of life does not respond to the culture of death (21st century western civilization – abortion) with judgment, then God is not god. If God does not honor the blood of hundreds of millions of innocent victims of this culture of death, then the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham , the God of Israel, the God of the prophets, is a man-made myth, a fairy tale, a comfortable ideal as substantial as a dream.
But, you may object: Is not the God of the Bible forgiving?
He is! But, the unrepentant refuse forgiveness. Forgiveness being a gift of grace, must be freely given and freely received. How can it be received by a moral relativist who denies that there is anything to forgive, except unforgiveness; nothing to judge but judgmentalism; nothing lacking but self-esteem? How can a Pharisee or a pop-psychologist be saved?
But, you might object: Is not the God of the Bible compassionate?
He is! But, He is not compassionate to Molech and Baal and Ashtoreth, and to the Canaanites who do their work who cause their children to pass through the fire. Perhaps your god is compassionate to the work of human sacrifice, the god of your demands, the god of your religious preferences. But, not the God of the Bible. Read the Book. Look at the data. (Peter Kreeft lecture “Culture War”)
The presumption is always that killing is wrong, unless compelling reasons indicate otherwise (such as, for example, in the OT itself, where legitimized taking of life in warfare or in judicial execution was sanctioned in the context of proper divine or human authority and not considered murder). This bears on all ethical matters in which human life is at stake, from its beginnings in the womb to its waning in old age or terminal illness. The application of the sixth commandment as a first principle to the difficult ethical issues involved, for example, in genetic engineering, abortion, and the many varieties of euthanasia, is certainly hermeneutically and theologically correct. (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 78)
Another way we can obey the sixth commandment in a “positive” way is by making sure we do not neglect to care for people who are suffering spiritually. We would never expect in our day and age for a priest or Levite to come along and pass by someone who is beaten, as in the story of the Good Samaritan. But are we not just like the priest and Levite when, day-after-day, we pass by people who have been beaten and bloodied by Satan and sin?
When people’s lives are in ruins and they are in jeopardy of coming unredeemed before the judgment seat of God, are we not “killing” them by not sharing the healing power of the Gospel? We who have the Spirit of Christ within us and know that only He can bring hope, forgiveness, and a new life–how can we just pass by those who are perishing in sin, right before our very eyes? (D. James Kennedy, God’s Absolute Best For You, 114-5)
IV- We either love all or not at all. (Prv 25:21; Mt 5:43-46; 22:37-40; Mk 12:30-33; Lk 6:22-35; 9:24; 10:27; Jn 15:1-17; Rom 12:10, 18-24; Eph 4:2; 1 Jn 3:10-5:13; 4:19-20)
“You shall not murder” is positively a call to cherish our neighbors because they are made in the image of God. Do we cherish our neighbors? If not, it may be that we do not love God as we ought, for loving God is the key to loving others (cf. 1 Jn 4:19). Perhaps you need to ask God, with all your heart, to increase your love for Him–and then for others. (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 121)
If a man loves a woman for her beauty, does he love her? No; for the small-pox, which destroys her beauty without killing her, causes his love to cease. And if any one loves me for my judgment or my memory, does he really love me? No; for I can lose these qualities without ceasing to be. —Blaise Pascal.
You either love all or not at all. You cannot say you love and care not at all for your brother or your enemy for that matter. —Pastor Keith
We must realize that whenever we dabble with evil in the slightest way, our love is spoiled. If we fudge truth just a little in talking to a friend, the relationship is marred. The community is made unclean by the slightest bit of gossip. The smallest trace of games, pretensions, or manipulations in our care for others makes our love less than whole or holy. We want to hate with a perfect hatred all those little jabs that puncture our love. (Marva J. Dawn, Truly the Community: Romans 12, 151)
When we’re honest, we have to recognize that every day in a thousand different ways we are all tempted to make ourselves the center of the universe. (Alistair Begg sermon Saying No To Slander)
“It may be infinitely worse to refuse to forgive than to murder. Because the latter (namely murder) may be an impulse in the heat of the moment where as the former is a cold and deliberate choice of the heart.” (Alister Begg sermon Measure for Measure)
Worship Point: When you understand God’s comprehensively consistent, loving, just, compassionate, and merciful world-view, you WILL worship.
The “killing fields” of Cambodia, which orchestrated the deaths of one-fifth to one-third of the population, were organized by eight French-speaking, middle-class Cambodian intellectuals who had all studied in France in the 1950’s, where they had been schooled in Sartre’s doctrine of “necessary violence.” (R. Kent Hughes; Disciplines of Grace, 110)
The sad fact is, when the evil in man’s heart is unchecked, God knows that men and women will simply destroy themselves. He understands all too clearly the roots of murder that grow in the human heart. And were it not for His intervening grace and restraining hand, man could very well have eliminated himself from the world and ended his own history–probably a long time ago. (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 151-2)
One recent study of sexually active adolescents illustrates that sexual activity has more ramifications beyond the physical. The study showed that both boys and girls who have had sex are three times more likely to be depressed than their friends who are still virgins. The study accounted for other factors in the lives of the young people, ensuring an accurate comparison with their peers. The girls who became sexually active were three times more likely to have attempted suicide as their virgin friends, while the sexually active boys were fully seven times more likely to have attempted suicide. (Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., MD & Freda McKissic Bush, MD, Hooked, 20)
Said Ed Rivet, a lobbyist for Right to Life of Michigan: “This will crystallize reality for the public. The public knows that abortion destroys a human being. The only problem is we’ve accepted this schizophrenic reality that abortion is OK, but it’s wrong when a drunk driver crashes into a woman and the fetus dies.” (Citizen Patriot, 6/14/98)
Mother Teresa of Calcutta, keynote speaker at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC. “If we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill each other? …. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love but to use any violence to get what they want.”
One study showed they (women who had had an abortion) are more likely to attempt suicide than other woman; in other research, psychiatrists reported negative psychiatric manifestations in 55 percent of women who had undergone legal abortions; and in another study, “even those women who were strongly supportive of the right to abort reacted to their own abortions with regret, anger, embarrassment, fear of disapproval, and even shame.”
Many live with an aching regret they cannot seem to resolve. Said a Washington, D.C., psychiatrist and obstetrician who has performed thousands of abortions,
I think every woman . . . has a trauma at destroying a pregnancy . . . A psychological price is paid. . . It may be alienation, it may be a pushing away from human warmth, perhaps a hardening of the maternal instinct. Something happens on the deepest levels of a woman’s consciousness when she destroys a pregnancy. I know that as a psychiatrist. (Lee Strobel; God’s OUTrageous Claims, 141)
Nuclear weapons expose the deep misery into which man has plunged himself. He cannot get rid of these weapons anymore. He cannot live without them. And he cannot use them. (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 241)
When a mother can kill her baby what is left of civilization to save? — Mother Teresa
Gospel Application: Jesus loved us so much that He was willing to be murdered for us murderers. You know you really believe and know this truth when it transforms you into a new creation. (Rom 6:4; 2 Cor 5:17-21; 1 Jn 3:10-5:13)
“Listen, your heart has known murder!” Heard like this, we cannot escape the truth that we are all murderers. We have all murdered others in mind and heart. We have treasured thoughts about others that are as foul as murder. (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 120)
We are lawbreakers. We are secret murderers. But by God’s grace we can be forgiven and then, by the indwelling power of His Holy Spirit, begin to live out the Sixth Commandment in all its depth. (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 120)
In the NT, the sixth commandment is upheld in Mt 5:21; 19:18; Mk 7:21; 10:19; Lk 18:20; Rom 13:9; Jam 2:11. Paul, himself a murderer, or at least in league with murderers before his conversion (Acts 8:1; 9:1), lists murder as a godless and lawless crime (Rom 1:29; 1 Tm 1:9). Murder is condemned by other NT writers; murderers are not numbered among Christian believers (1 Pt 4:15; 1 Jn 3:12, 15; Rv 9:21; 21:8; 22:15). (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 290)
Spiritual Challenge: Look to Jesus and allow His great love to bring you life that is truly life. (Jn 1:1-12; 5:26, 40)
Why would God give us this warning? Because He knows that when I love Him above all else and put Him first in my life, I will not injure anyone. It will not be in my heart to offend, slander, hurt, humiliate, destroy, or write anyone off. Instead, I will have His heart toward men, women, and children. (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 154)
I abhor unjust war. I abhor injustice and bullying by the strong at the expense of the weak, whether among nations or individuals. I abhor violence and bloodshed. But it takes strength to put a stop to abhorrent things. —Theodore Roosevelt (George Grant, Carry a Big Stick: The Uncommon Heroism of Theodore Roosevelt, 131-2)
God knows that without Him, we will wound people. We will make our lives and the lives of those around us miserable. Without Him, we’re going to hurt people. Without Him, we’re going to be an angry, impatient, self-centered people. Unless He heals me and touches me, there’s no way I could do anything but be offensive and ultimately hurt the people I love most. (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 159)
So What?: You will never be able to get a life and love like we were created and designed to love unless or until we see the value of life like Jesus did. You have to die to self to live the life that is truly life. (Mk 7:21; 1 Tm 6:18-19)
If you dig more deeply into what the sixth commandment requires, you will always end up at the point of self-examination. Honesty with ourselves requires us to check carefully whether we are really pursuing God’s honor in our anger and our cries for justice. We must pray that God will test us and examine us to see if we are walking down a wicked path (Ps 139:23-24).
The sixth commandment penetrates down to the root of all killing, and thereby forbids any wrong attitude of heart. It unmasks not only wrong actions, but wrong attitudes as well. But we must take one more step, for otherwise we would be stopping with the negative. Saying no to death means saying yes to life. And this yes is just as radical as our no. We have not arrived if we simply avoid killing or hating our neighbor, for the opposite of these is that we must love our neighbor. (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 231)
MURDERED FOR MURDERERS