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About this series
By the sixth grade, the average American child has witnessed eight thousand murders on TV and one hundred thousand acts of violence.
Into this world, God says, stop the violence. God says, “Thou shall not kill.” Into this day of technological sophistication but moral disintegration, God places a boundary of protection around the most precious commodity on this planet. And to God, the most precious commodity is the human life.
We’re going to examine the sixth commandment. It’s on your notes and I would like to examine it by asking and answering four questions.
First, what’s the meaning of the sixth commandment? Second, what’s the purpose behind the sixth commandment? Then I want to make some, what are the obvious applications of the sixth commandment for us in our day? And then finally, what are some not-so-obvious applications of the sixth commandments that we get right from the very lips of Jesus? I’ve entitled this boundary, Stop the Violence! And it’s found in Exodus 20 verse 13.
So, let’s jump right in. What’s the meaning of this command? Literally, there are two words. The two words are, no murdering. There are seven different words in Hebrew for the idea or concept of killing. This specific word has the idea with premeditation and intent to take another’s life.
The Bible does not teach that all killing is wrong. This word is not used, for instance, in reference to the killing of animals: Genesis 9. This word is not used in reference to accidental death or manslaughter. This word is not used in Hebrew of killing someone in self-defense. This word is not used in Hebrew for capital punishment. This word is not used for just wars and the killings that occur in a just war.
God does not forbid all killing. God forbids, in the sixth commandment, thou shall not murder.
And I don’t know about you but I was a young Christian, I did not open the Bible until I was eighteen. I went away to college and basically I majored, mostly in basketball and baseball and I got an education too.
And there was a guy out of New York City, a really, really tall guy and I was a Christian and we had a lot of things that were very different and he was a senior and I was a freshman and I always carried his bag.
And his goal in life was to humiliate me. And he was very good at it. And so he would get everyone’s attention and then he would rag on Chip, in the locker room, at the training table. And one particular time, “Hey, Chip!” And that meant everyone, Jerry has a time where he’s going to belittle the skinny little guard. And I said, “What, Jerry?” He said, “Are you eating that meat?” And I said, “Yes. Training table, of course I’m going to eat it.”
“You hypocrite. You call yourself a Christian.” He was always hitting my faith. “What are you talking about?” “Doesn’t the Bible say, ‘Thou shall not kill?’” And I thought to myself, well, yeah. He said, “Someone killed that animal and you’re eating it. You Christians. You’re all hypocrites.”
And something down inside said, I’m not sure that’s the proper translation or application of that text. But you know something? I didn’t have an answer for him. I couldn’t say.
And so what I want you to know tonight, the Bible does not forbid killing. The Bible doesn’t even forbid war. What the Bible forbids is intentional murder. The taking of another person’s life.
But what’s behind it? I mean, why? What’s the purpose of the sixth commandment? I think we find the heart of it in Genesis chapter 9 verse 6. It says, “Whoever sheds the blood of a man by man shall his blood be shed. For in the image of God, has God made man.”
And there’s, we could go a lot of directions on this passage. Capital punishment is not the issue here, okay? Whether capital punishment deters or not is not the issue of this text. The issue of this text is, as the program of God is unfolding, God gives the penalty for what? He’s bringing about justice. That if a person’s life is taken the absolute highest penalty will be rendered and he gives us the reason why.
Is because every human being, Christian, non-Christian, believer, unbeliever. Every race, every background, every age. The weak and the feeble, the young and the strong. Those in power, those that are being abused. Those people that have no right, no vote, and can say nothing. Those people that, quote, are of no value to society and those that are important and powerful and wealthy and make all the decisions. Every single human being on the face of the earth is made in the image of God.
And what’s behind this command is that God sees every single person through the lens that they have His thumbprint. They have His image. They have the ability of mind and will and emotions and decision. They have the capacity to love. They have a spirit within them given by God. The most precious commodity in the world is human life.
And what’s behind this command is that every time there’s a senseless killing, if you could imagine it being your mate or your son or your daughter. If you can imagine the closest friend you’ve ever had and them being that woman in the car that some nineteen-year-old who got bored said, “Hey, you know what? I felt like killing someone today.” So, boom!
And if you can imagine what it would be like to come home after work or be called at work or at school and someone say to you, “I’m sorry. Your mom or your dad. They were just in a parked car in downtown D.C. and a nineteen-year-old was bored and so they shot them.” And I want you to imagine what your emotions would feel like and your anger and your rage and your lack of understanding. And just, literally, ready to go through the roof.
What I want you to hear is, that’s how God feels about every human being on the planet. It’s how He feels about black people and white people. That’s how He feels about Hispanic people and Chinese people. That’s how He feels about people that have absolutely nothing and no education and live in the farthest regions of the Amazon and that’s how He feels about people who live in Beverly Hills.
Every human being that breathes is made in the image of God and God says, I’m going to give the highest protection, the strongest boundary around human life. Human life is sacred. That’s what’s behind the sixth command.
Now turn in your notes and let’s dig a little bit together and let’s get down to some of the obvious applications of this command. Notice in Job 14 in the Good News Bible, verse 5 it says, “The length of a man’s life is decided beforehand. The number of months he will live. You, God, have settled it and it can’t be changed.”In the NIV, gets the idea, it says, “It can’t be expanded. It can’t be tampered with.”
What’s going on here? In essence, no one has the right to number a man’s days but God. That’s what Job’s saying is, God knows, God is sovereign, God is in control. He has a plan. God determines the length of a man’s days.
I don’t have the right to prematurely intervene and say, you know what? That life’s not worth much. That life is taking up too much room. You know what? That life is old and decrepit and doesn’t add much value to society. You know what? That life has a cleft pallet. And you know what? They’ll never be loved anyway so let’s snuff it out. You know, that life is a boy but we really were looking for was a girl this time around so let’s snuff it out. You know, that life will never be a productive part of society. That life…
No one has the right to pirate God’s prerogative and end a human life prematurely. No one. Very obvious applications. Under the ethical implications you might jot these down.
First and foremost, it is obvious is homicide. Murder. I mean, it is absolutely forbidden in Scripture, from the sixth command, to willfully, intentionally kill someone. God says, that’s forbidden.
The second application is, not only do you not have the right to number someone else’s days, you don’t have the right to number your days. Suicide is forbidden. And you say, well, it’s my life. I mean, I can do with my…it’s not your life.
And I’ll tell you what. I’ve been on the other end of that. I’ve been on the other end of the phone call where the man has found his wife lying on the bed filled with pills and dead with the note because she was so depressed and so discouraged: I’m sorry. It wasn’t you. It wasn’t the kids. It’s nothing about you. I just, I felt overwhelmed by life, I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew it would be better for everyone if I just exited now.
Nothing could be further from the truth and when you counsel people who have lived with a mom or a dad or a brother or a friend who has committed suicide, the people who get left with all the junk and all the pain are the people that are left behind. And God forbids it. Suicide is sin.
Not only is homicide and suicide but feticide. That’s the killing of the pre-born. And by the way, you know, the Bible is very, very clear the pre-born is a human being. And medical science is as well.
Dr. Jérôme Lejeune, professor of fundamental genetics at the University of Rene Descartes in Paris and discoverer of the genetic basis for Down’s syndrome says, pretty high-profile doctor, “Life has a very, very long history but each individual has a very neat beginning. The moment of conception. And to accept the fact that after a fertilization has taken place, a new human being has come into being, is no longer a matter of taste or of opinion. The human nature of the human being from conception to old age is not a metaphysical contention. It is a plain, experimental evidence.”
Dr. Micheline Mathews-Roth, principal researcher in the Department of Medicine at Harvard agrees. He says, “It is an accepted fact that life of any individual organism, reproducing by sexual reproduction, begins at conception or fertilization. The time when the egg cell is formed in the female and the sperm unite, they join a single new cell called the zygote, which is human life.”
And the evidence is overwhelming. So to kill the pre-born is prohibited by the sixth commandment.
Infanticide, killing babies that are born is prohibited. And you say, how could that happen? And I’m sure you’ve read, as I’ve read. We have children who have minor defects in the United States of America and talk about ridiculous.
We have doctors who get out a little pad and they write a prescription. No food for fifteen days. And they kill kids in this country. We have children that were to be aborted who are born alive who are maliciously killed in this country. It’s murder.
But because, first it was, when they take their first breath, then they’re a human being. And then now, in some Senate reviews, we actually have people saying, until the baby leaves the hospital. This was actually given in a report to the Senate. Until the baby leaves the hospital, it’s not really a human being.
The sixth command says homicide, suicide, feticide, infanticide, and euthanasia is yet another one.
Euthanasia, we’re not talking about passive euthanasia, we’re not talking about undoing plugs to keep people alive whose life is a vegetable or they can’t sustain life on their own.
We’re talking about active euthanasia. We’re talking about people that do have difficult medical problems and say, I don’t like the suffering. I don’t like the pain. I don’t like what I can’t do anymore and so will you help me kill myself?
Only God has the prerogative to number a person’s days. Do I understand why some illnesses do what they do to people? No. Do I understand the suffering and in the sovereignty of God what He’s doing? No.
But the moment we start drawing lines and saying, this life has value, that life doesn’t have value, this life does, it doesn’t, we are on such a slippery slope. And if you think I’m joking, you know what older people do? Older people in those countries, they don’t want to go to the doctor. Because you know what they write prescriptions there for? No longer useful to society. And they inject them. Both for and against their will.
The sixth command says, the most precious thing on this planet is human life and to murder someone, is wrong. I think that’s pretty clear. Stated positively, are you ready for this? We are to cherish our own neighbor’s life as much as our own flesh. That’s really the heart of the sixth command. You’re to cherish the value of a person, regardless of background, or race, or creed, or color, or benefit to society, or age.
We’re to cherish our neighbor’s life just as much as you cherish your own flesh and your own will to live. And we must assign to God and allow only God to determine and number someone’s days. And that’s the heart of the sixth command. It’s not really hard to understand and by the way, I don’t think there are a lot of people here that have, you know, have multiple ways that you’ve been wrestling with, you know, if I could just break the murder habit.
But I think when you dig down a little bit and you hear the words of Jesus, maybe the application might be a little bit closer. Because what we know is that the law and the letter of the law was written and on the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus would say, “You have heard it said, but I say to you. You have heard it said, letter of the law. That’s the truth. But what I say to you, let Me give you the spirit behind the law. Let Me give you the why behind the what.
“Let Me talk to you about issues of the heart concerning murder that may not be a club that is raised and pounds a person’s head and cracks a skull and kills them and takes a life, but let Me talk about issues of the heart and issues of the lips and things that happen in the human heart that, from My perspective, as the eternal God of the universe and the Savior of the world, My evaluation, it’s murder.” And that’s what Jesus does.
So let’s look at some not so obvious applications of the sixth command. Jesus said, in Matthew chapter 5 beginning at verse 21, “You’ve heard what was said to a people long ago, ‘Do not murder and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’” That’s the letter, it’s the truth. “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”