“You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13 (NIV)
The first four of the Ten Commandments dealt primarily with our relationship with God while the remaining six will focus on our relationship with others. The Sixth Commandment, “You shall not murder” protects the sanctity of every human life. Life is a gift from God, and only He has the authority to take life. Job says, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.” Since we are made in the image of God, murder is an attack against God. Jesus said that as much as we have done it to the least of these, we have done it unto Him whether it is offering a cold cup of water to a thirsty man or bringing injury and death.
To understand this command it is helpful to first clarify what it is not saying.
- It’s not prohibiting killing animals for food. In Genesis 9:3, God instructed Noah and his sons, “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”
- It’s not prohibiting capital punishment. In the same passage where God permits man to eat every living thing, He establishes a system of justice for social order. In Genesis 9:5-6 (NIV) “And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. ‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.’”
- It’s not prohibiting going to war when necessary. God sent His people into battle and on many occasions. The Jews were allowed to defend themselves and the Law made concessions for accidental death with cities of refuge throughout the Promised Land.
The issue here is one of choice – premeditated murder. Jesus referred to Satan as a murderer and a thief who seeks to kill and destroy life. God’s desire for His people is to choose life, not death. Jesus said, “I came that you may have life….” Obeying the Sixth Commandment then involves three significant choices about life that we will look at tomorrow.
Have you made the choice for life? The Bible says, “He who has the Son has life, He who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:12