Sixth Commandment- “You Shall Not Murder”
Written by Pastor Jim Law
Several years ago Christianity Today printed a cartoon which depicted two public school administrators watching a line of students pass through a metal detector. “It’s the latest in school safety devices,” one of them explains. “That light and horn go off if a student tries to smuggle in a gun, a knife, a bomb or a copy of the Ten Commandments!”
Let’s be honest, the Ten Commandments are offensive to many and have created an irrational fear concerning their influence upon life in our culture. However, that being said, there is almost universal agreement with the sixth commandment. This commandment, which is only two words in the Hebrew text, translates into English as, “You shall not murder.”
Most people don’t need to be convinced that homicide is bad and that suicide is devastating. I’m greatly encouraged that many in our country are beginning to see that it is difficult to avoid application of the sixth commandment with regard to abortion.
The Hebrew word for ‘murder’ used here was never used for capital punishment or self-defense or the military. The thrust of this commandment is focused upon the premeditated taking of a life, the deliberate killing of another.
The reason the taking of life in this way is so grievous is because human beings are made in the image of God, and God views such behavior as a violation of His creation and an assault of His glory.
Sometimes I will hear people say to justify personal vengeance, “The Bible calls for an eye-for-an-eye and a tooth-for-a-tooth.” But this provision was given to a nation (Israel), not to individuals. This was to be a just principle to guide Israel’s jurisprudence. God knows we (as individuals) would not do well under such guidelines because when angered we would take a face for an eye and a head for a tooth!
Upon first reading the sixth commandment, maybe you find yourself letting out with a collective sigh of relief, “Ok, I’m good on this one.” Umm, not so fast. Maybe you have not pulled the trigger, or thrust the knife, or hatched the plan to accomplish homicide, but that doesn’t mean you are not guilty of this commandment.
Consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:21-23 as He enlarges the understanding of what it means to murder. He taught that if you and I are angry with another, or even if we call others by a derogatory name from a murderous rage, we are guilty of the sixth commandment as God evaluates guilt. (Matthew 5:21-23)
This is consistent with Jesus’ teaching which went to the condition of our heart, namely that from our heart flows murderous thoughts which left to themselves will act out with murderous behavior.
Once again, the Ten Commandments do not commend us, rather they show us how badly we need a Savior. One who can heal our hurts, forgive our past, and grant to us a future and a hope. I urge you to look to the One who was murdered for our sins on a cross and who rose triumphantly from the grave. Look to Christ and and embrace Him today by faith as your only Savior.