It’s hard to believe we are already on the sixth commandment! Exodus 20:13 says, “Do not murder.” This is one of the shortest, strongest, and most debated of all the commandments.
The Misunderstanding About this Commandment
Before we talk about what this commandment means, let’s talk about what it does not mean. There are eight words in Hebrew for killing someone. The word here is specific, meaning the unauthorized death of a human or the death of a human for selfish reasons. No Israelite could on their own decide who lives and dies. God is the author of all life and only God decides who lives and dies (Deut. 32:39). This commandment is not talking about killing animals for food (Gen. 9:3), self-defense (Ex. 22:12), capital punishment or accidental death (Ex. 21:12-14). It is not talking about war. The Bible teaches there is a just war when it is to stop aggression, to protect life, and to ensure justice (as a last resort and declared only by government). The view that killing animals, eating meat, capital punishment, all war, and national defense is wrong, is a misunderstanding, misuse, and misapplication of the sixth commandment. It is not talking about the murderer on death row, or a soldier in battle, or police officers returning fire, defending themselves when someone is trying to kill them or innocent people.
The Meaning of this Commandment
Life is a gift. Only God who gives life has the right to take life. Genesis 9:6 says, “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans his blood will be shed, for God made humans in his image.” Murder is an attack on God Himself. We are made in His image! The issue here is premeditated murder or an act of aggression that results in death. Homicide (a human taking the life of another human), suicide (the murder of self), genocide (the mass murdering of an entire race of people), and infanticide (the murder of an infant) are all murder. Abortion is murder. A fetus is not human tissue, it is a human life! Exodus 21:22-24 shows us that unborn babies have legal rights, human rights, in the sight of God. Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus came to give us life (Jn. 10:10). The devil is a liar (Jn. 8:44). No matter what arguments we may hear in this world, God is for life!
The Message from this Commandment
“For this is the messageyou have heard from the beginning: We should loveone another… Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in actionand in truth” (1 Jn. 3:11,18). God is going to accomplish His purposes, but He wants to do it through us! Are we doing what we can do to protect and provide for others? Faith without works is dead. Some practical ways we can apply this commandment are to find ministries to partner with in our community that support life and offer hope, support social causes that value life and seek justice, give of our time and resources to bring people out of spiritual death and physical bondage to freedom and life in Christ, and stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves. If you missed the sermon on Sunday, Liberty will be doing a Diaper Drive and is starting an Adoption and Foster Family Fund. Find a way that you can put your faith into action.
The Master on this Commandment
In Matthew 5:21-22 Jesus deepened the commandment by saying that anger is a type of murder. Remember, the command has to do with premeditated murder, which begins with anger. When you use your mouth to destroy another person you have committed murder (Ja. 3:6-9). You murder their character, reputation, and possibly their future. There are so many angry people in the world. Maybe you are angry. The pain is legitimate, and you may have a right to be angry. But, the anger is killing you! Whether you have murdered in your heart, or your heart has been murdered by someone else, Jesus brings healing. God says that vengeance is His and He will repay (Rm. 12:19). He was murdered on the cross and He prayed, “Father, forgive them” (Lk. 23:34). It was my sin and your sin that caused Jesus to go to the cross and willingly be murdered. He was willing to die so that we might live and there is coming a day when He will wipe away every tear! Ask Him to help you forgive those who have wronged you, ask Him for forgiveness for where you have wronged others, and ask Him how you might be able to put your faith into action when it comes to protecting life.