The SIXTH Commandment:
Thou Shalt Not Murder
When it comes to violence and killing, our culture seems to shrug and say, “That’s just the way it is.” Documented surveys reveal that by the time a child grows up in America, he or she will have viewed ten’s of thousands of murders and acts of violence on the TV and in the movies. As if that wasn’t enough, we can now “act out” violent inclinations with a video game on a computer screen. So then:
What makes children and teenagers walk into their schools and calmly gun down their fellow students and even their teachers?
What makes a man walk into his work place and shoot his fellow employees at close range in cold blood? Often these are colleagues with whom he had worked.
What makes moms, as we have seen across the country, drown, knife to death, or just commit mayhem on their children?
Let’s face it. We live in an angry world. Drive-by shootings is the order of the day. Killing has become passionless and cool, with no accompanying sense of remorse.
War has been declared on innocent civilians, with so-called mercy killings of the old, and countless abortions of the young. Yet many take no offense. Civil liberty groups rise to heights of passion to preserve our “right” to kill, by taking our own lives with a lethal prescription or killing little babies just as they emerge from the womb.
There was a time when the earth became so filled with violence and bloodshed that God plucked one godly family out of the mess. He sent a world-wide flood to wipe the planet clean and begin again.
God knows when the evil in man’s heart is unchecked, he will simply destroy himself. God understands all too clearly the roots of murder that grow in the human heart. 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. Therefore:
In Genesis 9:1-9, after the flood God gave Noah two commandments that are still in effect even until the present. In verse 6 you have one of those commands, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.”
In Exodus 20:13, God met with Moses on the mountain. There before the watching nation, He wrote four weighty words, the 6th of the Ten Commandments of God. “Thou shalt not kill.”
Now in the first FOUR commandments, we have seen how God safeguards His GLORY. In the second SIX commandments, we are going to see how He provides for our SECURITY, PROTECTION and FREEDOM.
The 6th Command guards one’s person, “Thou shalt not kill.”
The 7th Command guards one’s home, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
The 8th Command guards one’s property, “Thou shalt not steal.”
The 9th Command guards one’s reputation, “Thou shalt not lie.”
The 10th Command guards one’s thoughts, “Thou shalt not covet.”
The Lord Jesus Christ, in dealing with the Pharisees of His day, summarized the two parts of the Ten Commandments in Mark 12:30-31,
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
Now basic to the understanding of this 6th commandment is the meaning of the word “KILL.”
The Hebrew word for “kill” is “katal.” However in the Hebrew text, the word for “kill” is “RATSACH,” meaning to murder. “RATSACH” is used in the Old Testament for the act of premeditated murder. Therefore, the 6th commandment actually reads, “Thou shalt not premeditate murder.”
This commandment has to do with one’s personal freedom. It expresses what our highest responsibility to our neighbor should be in regard to his right to live. Again, may I point out the importance of a linguistic study of the Biblical languages? Understanding the different words and recognizing their usage will confirm that the 6th commandant uses the word “ratsach” for “premeditated murder” not “katal” meaning “to kill.”
Never is the word “RATSACH” used to describe the killing of animals for food, sacrifice, or protection. Genesis 9:3 tells us “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you…”
Never is the word “RATSACH” used in the context of killing in war.
Remember the Jews in the Old Testament had the greatest military record of any ancient nation.
Remember the Lord Jesus Christ in the Old Testament was “the Lord of Host” who gave the orders for the Jews to fight and defeat the enemy and in some cases to annihilate the enemy.
Remember the Old Testament calls God in Exodus 15:3 “the God of War” and in Psalm 24:8 “the God of Battle.”
Remember most of the men of God in the Old Testament, like David, Abraham, Moses, and Joshua were men of war. Psalm 144:1 teaches us, “Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teaches my hand to war and my fingers to fight.”
Today, we have WAR and PEACE all mixed up. The way to have PEACE is by destroying the enemy. You don’t stop wars at the negotiating table by “pussy footing” with the enemy and compromising your position. You stop wars by saying “here is the line, do not cross it.” The 6th commandment does not prohibit fighting and killing in war time, as they are basic for preserving freedom in the Devil’s world. This is the Devil’s world until Jesus returns and the Millennium of peace begins. This is still the period of “wars and rumors of wars.”
Never is the word “RATSACH” used in the Old Testament to forbid Capitol Punishment.
We must understand, even predating the Mosaic law, God gave the earliest human societies the authority to deal strongly with capital crimes. Again in Genesis 9:6 immediately after the flood God said to Noah, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.”
Such authority was given to protect and to promote the proper respect for life, for in Genesis 1:26 we read, "…for in the image of God made he man." Here we are given the foundation for the Sanctity of Life. Every person is special in the sight of God. Why? Because we were created in the image and likeness of God.
Therefore as one said, "To premeditatedly kill another human being is to commit treason against the King himself, God Almighty, because that human being is made in the image of God." In other words, the right to execute the murderer establishes the correct perspective about the value of everybody's life. The Sanctity of Life is the preservation of life that God has created.
This same truth is also incorporated into the Mosaic law of God as we read in Exodus 21:12, "He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to DEATH." In fact, God instituted a number of infractions beside murder that commanded the death penalty. For example:
In Exodus 21:15, 17 there was the death penalty for child insubordination.
In Exodus 21:16 there was the death penalty for kidnapping.
In Exodus 35:2 there was the death penalty for working on Sunday.
In Leviticus 20:10 there was the death penalty for adultery.
In Leviticus 20:13-15 there was the death penalty for Sodomy (homosexuality).
In Deuteronomy 22:25 there was the death penalty for Rape.
You know, if the death penalty was in effect for these crimes today, I do believe the amount of immorality and the rate of crime would be minuscule in our country.
It is interesting to note that there is nothing in all of Scripture which even remotely suggests that the mind of God wavers on this matter of capitol punishment for murder. In the New Testament, there are two classic passages that tell us this.
First: Paul tells us in Acts 25:11, "For if I be an offender, or have committed anything worthy of death (or worthy of the death penalty, or worthy of capital punishment), I REFUSE NOT TO DIE…." Here, if Paul didn't believe in capital punishment, why didn't he use this occasion to declare this was contrary to the Word of God? He said, "Look, if I have done something that would bring capital punishment down upon me, I ought to die."
Second: In Romans 13:1-4 Paul is giving us principles of our relationship to governmental authority. Please understand the death penalty was never given for individuals to exercise, but to appointed legal authorities in government. Reading verse 4 we discover that the magistrate literally had the authority to pull out the sword and behead the offender on the spot, "'for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."
Capital Punishment is not prohibited by the 6th commandment. It is Biblical and necessary to maintain human freedoms.
Again in Genesis 1:26, God gave us the foundation for the Sanctity of Life, for we read, "…for in the image of God made he man." Life is a miracle.
Only God Almighty can create life. Birth does not create life, birth manifests a life already created. According to Psalm 139:13-18, we know that life begins at conception, not at birth. The creation and pro-creation of mankind is a mysterious marvel understood solely by faith in a supernatural God. In Psalms 100:3 we read, "Know ye that the LORD He is God: IT IS HE THAT HATH MADE US, and not we ourselves…"
If we did not make ourselves, we are deliberately provoking the one who did make us when we interfere with His work of creation. What does the Lord hate? In Proverbs 6:17 we read, the Lord hates "HANDS THAT SHED INNOCENT BLOOD."
One of the areas wherein we as Americans have become devoid of moral conscience is in the area of "abortion, the killing of our young.” Since I believe, "The Bible teaches life begins at conception, I am "pro-life, without compromise, without exception, without apology." Those who are pro-abortion are literally pro-death. As such they need to take heed to:
Psalm 127:3, "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord; and the fruit of the womb is his reward."
Exodus 21:22-24, “If men strive and hurt a woman with child so that her fruit (child in the womb) departs from her…if any harm follow (if the child dies), then you shall give life for life.”
If God requires capital punishment when a fatal miscarriage is caused, surely His judgment for premeditated abortion can be no less severe toward those who are party to such murder.
Now, for the most part, most of us would say, “I’ve never murdered anyone.” So how does this 6th Commandment apply to me? Let’s see how our Lord addressed that question in Matthew 5:21-26 where we read,
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: (22) But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (23) Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; (24) Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. (25) Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. (26) Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.”
Reading this passage, it strikes me that saying “Raca!” meaning “Empty head” and “Fool!” to someone comes close to writing-off that person altogether. What we are really saying is, “This person doesn’t even deserve to be alive. I don’t want anything to do with him. As far as I’m concerned, he’s dead and I don’t mind pushing him over the edge.”
My friend, according to God’s way of thinking that is MURDER in the HEART. So, what then causes people to murder? According to the passage, murder begins with “ANGER,” and anger has no benefit, but to destroy.
How many friendships have been destroyed over the years because of anger, as you literally write that person out of your life?
How many families have been broken up, and in some cases family members refuse to speak to one another for years, because of anger? As far as you are concerned, they may as well be dead.
How many churches have been hurt because of a well-spring of anger that developed among members often over petty issues that have nothing to do with sin in the church or even with doctrinal error. Anger pervades, the church splits, and the devil gets the victory. As a result, the young and unsaved wonder if God is for real.
People become very angry, so angry that they kill. Yes, to our sorrow, some literally do kill others. But in this passage, we learn killing really begins with what we say, “Fool!” or “Empty-head!” The act of murder begins with seeds of hatred and anger that we allow to take root in our hearts.
We say, “If looks could kill…” In a sense, they can. Anger and hatred are murderous feelings. They distort our eyes and our countenances, so that our very faces reflect death.
In Ephesians 4:26-27 we read this profound statement “Be ye ANGRY, and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.” Paul is saying,
Don’t go to bed angry without dealing with the issues!
Don’t close your eyes in sleep without working through these things.
Why? Because verse 27 says in a literal sense, “if you let the anger simmer overnight, you’re going to give the enemy of your soul a toehold, or beachhead in your soul. From that place he will be able to direct his destructive activities in order to bring you and your family to disaster. Literally overnight, he has the opportunity to plant the terrible seeds of murder in your unguarded heart.
Never forget, your soul has a bitter adversary who wants to see such disaster in your life. I Peter 5:8 warns us “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.” Unresolved anger draws Satan into your life. He will devour your friendships, your family and your church if you let those seeds of murderous anger take root in your life.
God knows what a toehold of anger can do. If you have any doubts about that, turn back to Genesis 4:3-8; to the story of the first murder in the Bible, where Cain killed his brother Abel. Here we read,
“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. (4) And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: (5) But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. (6) And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? (7) If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. (8) And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”
Please notice God in His love tried to reason with Cain. He tried to reassure and comfort this disappointed, angry man. But Cain had nurtured the anger and bitterness in his heart for so long, that even God standing in the pathway before him was not going to stop him. He walked right around God to kill his only brother.
Do you remember the words, “Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” Nice saying, but untrue:
Words do hurt. Words do cause deep pain and discouragement.
Words not only break my bones, they also can cure my bones.
For in Proverbs 17:22 we read, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Words can devastate a person’s life in these ways:
They can wipe a smile off a face.
They can take the sparkle out of an eye.
They can steal hope out of a heart.
They can sour a friendship of many years.
They can cast a shadow over a beautiful day.
They can quench those little sparks of fun and joy and laughter and tenderness that make life worth living.
God knows that without Him, we will wound people.
Without Him, 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 angry, impatient, and self-centered.
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. The Lord said if I am angry with someone, I am a murderer in my heart. So how do I deal with this restless, impatient anger?
Number 1: I need to think before I act. James said it very simply in James 1:19-20, “…let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” When you’re angry, you need to stop and consider before you act, before you speak. By now all of us know, during unrestrained anger we end up saying things that devastate relationships and friendships more than we could imagine.
Number 2: I need to take my concerns and hurts and frustrations to the Lord. Back in Genesis 4:3-8, it touches me to read that the Lord came down to talk and reason with Cain during his deadly anger. God made Himself available to this man. How much different the situation could have been had Cain said, “God, I need some help with my anger. In my own strength, it will not be much longer before I open my mouth and let someone know how I’m feeling.” Just tell God, He can handle it, and He stands ready to help.
Number 3: Be ready to give forgiveness and in some cases to offer it over and over again. For in Luke 17:3-5 Jesus said to the disciples “I don’t want you to just forgive someone seven times, but seventy times seven.” Over and over again there are those who don’t need my anger, but rather my love and forgiveness. Remember in Ephesians 4:31-32 we read,
“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgive you.”
Number 4: I should not seek vengeance upon those who make me angry or who use me. It is God’s responsibility to see who needs vengeance and when vengeance should be meted out and what form it should take. Rather, my position should be that of overcoming love. For in Romans 12:18-21 we read,
“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. (19) Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. (20) Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. (21) Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Number 5: Before I come to God in worship or service, I need to first be reconciled to the one with whom I am angry. Turning once again to Matthew 5, notice again verses 23-24,
“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; (24) Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”
Jesus is saying, before you worship God you had better be right with one another or else that worship will mean nothing, and the blessing of God will not come.
Now, as we bow our heads in prayer, think carefully. Are you guilty of murder in the heart? Are you guilty of breaking this 6th Commandment – “Thou shalt not murder”?
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon on “The SIXTH Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Murder,” then right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to email@example.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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