6. You shall not murder/ Area: Life
There is a big difference between killing someone and murdering someone. The former is not necessarily sin, but the latter is always a sin. God, for example, kills people, and it is not a sin. He gives life and he takes a life. 1 Samuel 2:6 says: “The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.” Also in Deuteronomy 32:39 God declares: “See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no God beside Me; I kill and make alive; I wound, and I heal.” God never murders anyone as murder is taking an innocent life. We all have sinned and are therefore deserving of death (Romans 6:23; Ezekiel 18:20), and when God takes our lives, he has done no evil. But when we take an innocent life and when we plan to take a life by malicious intent it is evil and as the Bible says: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6). Life is precious in God’s sight, and we should value life because we were made in God’s image. God hates the shedding of innocent blood (Proverbs 6:17). But there is a time for everything as Ecclesiastes 3:1,3 says: “there is a time to kill, and a time to heal.” God has given the governing authorities the right to kill murderers and those who deserve death. Romans 13:4 states that the governing authorities does not bear the sword in vain for he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. To protect and defend your life and kill when a burglar or a murderer wants to take your life or the life of a family member is not sin (Exodus 22:2).
This Commandment commands us to protect the sanctity of life, protect innocent life, defend people who are vulnerable and weak and sick against evil people, evil governments, evil organizations, evil and malicious societies and terrorist. Proverbs 24:10-12 commands: “Deliver those who are drawn toward death, hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter; if you say, Behold we knew it not, does not he that weighs the hearts consider it? And he who keeps your soul does he not know it? And shall he not give to everyone according to His works?” This command does not only imply that we must rescue the unborn babies in their mothers’ womb as life begins at conception (Psalm 139:13-16) and to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves (Proverbs 31:8) but also that we warn the wicked who are on their way to hell and eternal destruction (Ezekiel 3:18-21). If we don’t warn the wicked of their evil way and they die, we are also guilty. This means that we should share the gospel and proclaim the only way of salvation (John 3:16; Acts 4:12; Mark 16:15) with as many people as possible. Would it not be reckoned as hate towards our neighbors if we keep silent about the only way to escape the horrors of hell and the wrath to come? God commanded us not only to love God with all our hearts but also to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-39) and even to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44).
The Heidelberg Catechism goes further and says what God requires by this commandment: That neither in thoughts, nor words, nor gestures, much less in deeds, I dishonor, hate, wound, or kill my neighbor, by myself or by another, but that I lay aside all desire for revenge, also, that I hurt not myself, nor willingly expose myself to danger. Wherefore also the magistrate is armed with the sword to prevent murder. In forbidding murder, God teaches us that He abhors the causes thereof; such as envy, hatred, anger, and the desire of revenge; and that he accounts all of these as murder.
1 John 3:15 states: “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer: and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” Jesus also said: “Whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…and whoever shall say, “you fool,” shall be in danger of hell fire.” There is something like righteous anger towards sin and evil, but we should always be careful not to avenge ourselves on people. Vengeance belongs to God (Romans 12:19). We are however commanded to hate evil and sin (Romans 12:9; Psalm 97:10; Proverbs 8:13), but to cast away unforgiveness and bitterness against people (Hebrews 12:15; Matthew 18:21-35). Jesus went so far as to say: “if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15). Only by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit can we forgive as God forgives, therefore let us always come to God to be filled with His Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
Sins forbidden by this commandment:
Murder: intentional unlawful killing, the premeditated malicious taking of a life.
Suicide: the intentional killing of oneself; an act destructive of one’s own interests.
Abortion: the premature expulsion of a fetus from the womb, an operation to cause this.
Euthanasia: bringing about an easy death to end suffering, through injection or detracting medical machinery or otherwise.
Hate towards people and enemies: extreme dislike or enmity
Keeping the gospel to oneself: not sharing the good news of salvation accomplished through Jesus Christ when the opportunity arises. Also not making use of means to share the gospel to those who need it.
Unforgiveness: not forgiving a wrongdoing of another person/people.
Bitterness: harboring a grudge against someone, unwilling to forgive someone and hatred towards that person. Having resentment towards someone.
Unrighteousness anger: Anger which is not justifiable by God’s law and nature.
Jealousy and envy: resentment towards a rival; discontent arising from another’s possessions or success.
Assaulting someone: attacking someone to do harm.
Putting oneself in unnecessary danger: e.g. driving too fast in public areas, swimming in shark infested waters, etc.
Malice: desire to harm others
Slander: a false statement uttered maliciously that damages or ruins a person’s reputation.
Truths and Scripture to consider: The unwillingness to protect and care for and nurture other human beings is to hate people. James 4:17, therefore, states: “to him who knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is a sin.” Unwillingness to reflect God’s holy and loving character to one’s neighbor and representing God on earth will result in everlasting condemnation (Matthew 25:31-46).