Q. What is God’s will for you in the sixth commandment?
A. I am not to belittle, hate, insult, or kill my neighbor- not by my thoughts, my words, my look or gesture, and certainly not by actual deeds- and I am not to be a party to this in others (1 ); rather, I am to put away all desire for revenge (2). I am not to harm or recklessly endanger myself either (3). Prevention of murder is also why
government is armed with the sword (4).
Read: (1) Gen. 9:6; Lev. 19:17-18; Matt. 5:21-22; 26:52; (2) Prov. 25:21-22; Matt. 18:35; Rom. 12:19; Eph. 4:26; (3) Matt. 4:7; 26:52; Rom. 13:11-14; (4) Gen. 9:6; Ex. 21:14; Rom. 13:4.
Common graves discovered in Guadalajara, Mexico. Mother and baby murdered by the father. Rocket exploded in Gaza. Militia bombs hospital. Raids kill many in Chibok and 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. Legalized abortion. Couple of old age humanely end their lives through assisted suicide. We live in a culture of death and violence. Violence is so prevalent that we are becoming desensitized to murder. Some instances of murder still appalls us; but other instances are simply choices we are legally allowed to make. But what does God say about this? Let’s study question 104 of The Heidelberg Catechism to find out.
Two words in Hebrew (ratsakh and mut) and two words in Greek (phoneuo and apokteino) for “murder” and “killing”. One means to put to death while the other means murder. The sixth commandment in the Ten Commandments talks abou Ratsakh, premeditated murder but not manslaughter or self-defense, capital punishment or wartime killing (in which there are divisions of opinions). So why is this difference important? Because many times in The Bible, we see wars where lawless towns are obliterated under God’s commandments. And God does not break His own Law.
But why is premeditated murder so bad? Well, first because we are created in God’s image and when we kill someone we are destroying His own image. We cannot take the “Imago Dei” (image of God) lightly. Unless there is clear proof of a committed crime that establishes death as punishment by witnesses and as directed by The Bible, taking the life of a human being, created in God’s image is unlawful. This means that killing may be justified but killing becomes murdering when it is not justified by The Bible.
We have only talked about the external action of killing. But, as we have seen, it all starts in the heart…and according to Jesus, murdering starts in the heart too (Matthew 5:21-22). Usually no one goes out to murder someone without first having a deep heart conviction and a plan. And it usually happens when they are angry. Human anger that becomes hatred is the first way we murder someone. Again, this is what we read in the newspapers. Common drug related graves- a drug lord angry with someone decides to take action. Mother and baby killed by dad- an angry dad because the wife wasn’t ok with his drinking. Rocket explosion in Gaza- anger between neighboring countries…and so on. Yes, even abortion and euthanasia have anger and hatred components. Women hate the idea of having their lives ruined so abortion becomes their choice. Society think of the dollars “lost” on aging, sick people and so in their hatred, push euthanasia as a “humane” alternative to end their lives. I know, many of these issues are more complex but at some point, there is an anger component that starts in the heart and ends in death.
So sister, I hope you have never murdered someone…but truly, if we live by Jesus’ standard we all probably have. Anger that leads to angry words are murdering and so, what we need is to return to Christ in repentance and “above all, guard our heart with all diligence” (Prov. 4:23) for every single sin that we see starts when we harbor evil in our hearts.