Thou Shalt Not Murder

A high school senior, lettering in two sports, sits in a car with a friend.  Before either knows what hit them, the athlete’s life is snuffed out and the other is wounded by gunshots.  Two young men attend a party at a club.  They and their families assumed they would be home later that night.  The facility had armed security and everything was supposed to be wrapped up by midnight.  But the two teenagers didn’t make it home as bullets littered the parking lot of the club sending the young men to early graves.  A man dresses up and goes downtown to join hundreds of others in an annual Halloween party.  He thought it might be fun to enjoy the food and festivities, never imagining that the evening would be interrupted by gunshots, one of which tore through his body and left him for dead.  A successful doctor returns home early from a family vacation.  She left her loved ones to enjoy a few more days away while she came home to tend to her practice and livelihood.  She comes through the door after a late night flight expecting to get some rest before going back to the grind the next morning.  Instead she finds two men with hammers who beat the life out of her.  We’ve been engaged in a study on the Ten Commandments during Wednesday nights and this month’s newsletter will focus on Commandment Number Six, “Thou shall not murder.”

The Only Source For Anti-Murder—The Bible (Gen. 9:6; Gen. 1:26-27; Psalm 8)…Those who watch the news, our local news that is, are well aware of these stories of murder that have plagued and shocked our own community over the recent past.  We are struck by the horror of these terrible crimes.  Our hearts go out to the victims and we long for justice to be rendered to the evildoers.  But why?  Why are we so moved to sympathy for those murdered and for their families?  Why do we want those responsible to be captured and punished?  Evolution teaches that mankind is just an animal.  We, along with all other species that currently exist, are only here because of survival of the fittest.  If those who were murdered were physically unable to protect themselves from their attackers or were intellectually deficient so as to be smart enough to escape those who plotted their doom, then why shouldn’t these weak ones be eliminated and why should these strong killers be punished?  The harsh truth is that evolution, the dominant belief of human origins by those in the United States and Europe, provides absolutely no basis for saying that murder is bad and murderers should be punished.  When a society buys into the views that humans are just another animal, that right and wrong are only relative, that there is no such thing as an afterlife with Hell as a punishment rendered by an Almighty and Righteous Judge for violations of His immutable law, then we should not be surprised when there is a rise in cold-blooded, heartless killing.  Yet, even with these terrible repercussions, evolution is taught as more than a theory in our public schools and universities.  In fact, if you dare to disagree with Darwin you’re labeled a Dunce!  More than one politician has had their mental status and fitness for office, indeed even their fitness for life, questioned if they dare to publicly express their view in Biblical Creation.  Yet, sadder than the fact that many in the public eye will not openly defy Darwin and confess Creationism is the fact that the church (at least the professing church) tends to stay silent on such matters anymore.  Many “believers” are more than willing to discard the Genesis accounts in favor of turning the Bible into a book of fables teaching moralisms but deficient in historical fact or scientific truth.  (And our youth, especially our youth, are paying the price.  A dear brother recently sent me a survey of young people leaving the Christianity they were brought up with—and they are leaving in droves—and one of the main reasons why they were leaving, as described by them, is the teaching of evolution that they receive in schools and universities).

The Bible is true because it’s true, so we don’t proclaim it as true merely as a means to the end that we would have less murders.  That having been said, only Christianity, only the Bible, provide the foundation that gives value to human lives.  Only Scripture instructs us that God made all that is by saying “let there be” and then at the end of Creation week made man in His own image and likeness as the crown of that Creation to rule and have dominion over it.  I know evolutionists will dismiss faith in Someone who made everything, but I wonder if they have ever considered what great “faith” they must have to believe that everything came from nothing and No one!  I know evolution would shudder to think that humans are more valuable than other animals and that mankind should have rule over the Earth, but still the facts remain that we have humans who run zoos while animals are in cages and we have humans saving endangered species while the endangered species show, as best as I can tell, little concern for us!  The fact that any person is concerned about the welfare of another, even about the taking of another human life, stands in agreement with God’s Word that He has given each man a conscience (Rom. 2:14-15).  (That conscience can be seared as with a hot iron, as seen in our society’s increasingly low view of human life.)  May we pray that the church would return to a biblical view on Creation and the value of mankind, and may the church spread that view near and far.  Otherwise, I assure you, the killings will only get worse and murder will forever be on the rise.

The Source That Leads To Murder—Jealousy and Hatred (Genesis 4; James 4:1-3; 1 John 3:15-16; Matt. 5:21-26)…The first murder on record comes to us from the fourth chapter of Genesis.  Cain and Abel were brothers.  Cain was a farmer while Abel was a shepherd.  Both of them were brought up with a knowledge of God.  Both of them had heard of their parents’ disastrous fall from the Garden of Eden and of the terrible punishment for sin.  Both of them knew, either from their parents or from the mouth of the Lord Himself, what kind of offering would be acceptable to God.  Abel brought the required animal sacrifices, foreshadowing the necessity of the shedding of blood for the remission of sins and giving a firm picture of the sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God slain for the sins of the world.  Cain, however, brought an offering of vegetation, the fruit of the ground.  The Lord accepted Abel’s offering but rejected that of Cain.  In His graciousness, instead of bringing fire and brimstone on Cain’s head immediately for his blatant disobedience, God confronted Cain, told him what he needed to do that could make things right, and warned him that if he rebelled instead of repented, sin was crouching at the door, ever ready to attack and devour.  Rather than heed the Lord’s rebuke, Cain decided to kill his brother.  Why would Cain do such a thing?  He was jealous of Abel’s acceptance, and that jealousy led to murder!  James 4:2 lays this out succinctly, “you lust (are jealous for pleasures) and do not have; so you commit murder.”  Some people kill for money.  They want it and don’t have it, so their jealousy leads them to murder.  Some people kill for fame.  They want it and don’t have it, so their jealousy leads them to murder.  Some people kill for romantic relationships.  They want it and don’t have it, so their jealousy leads them to murder.  Some people kill for what they perceive as respect.  They want it and don’t have it, so their jealousy leads them to murder.  Some people kill for vengeance.  They want it and don’t have it, so their jealousy leads them to murder.  Some people kill for a better position on the highway.  They want it and don’t have it, so their jealousy leads them to murder.  Some people kill for quiet during their video game playing.  They want it and don’t have it, so their jealousy leads them to murder.

            In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says that the biblical prohibition against murder shouldn’t just be viewed in light of shootings or stabbings and the like, but also in terms of anger and insults.  Our Lord, in addition to raising the standards of character for His followers, is also pointing out that if we allow ourselves to harbor hatred and dehumanize our fellow man, then we can easily fall into murder.  How many people have committed acts of violence, even murder, because they allow small seeds of anger to grow into bigger weeds of hatred and ultimately into a huge harvest of homicide?!  Therefore, Jesus warns us of the danger of hell fire for hatred (yes, He actually wielded Hell as a deterrent for bad behavior!), and then goes on to instruct us that we should settle disputes with our brother quickly, even if it costs us something, even if that cost is a big dollop of humility.  Settle quickly, then no seeds of anger blossom into the weeds of hate and have no opportunity to yield the harvest of homicide.

The Supreme Murder—The Crucifixion Of Christ (Acts 2:22-23)…The most well-known rendering of the 6th Commandment is “Thou shalt not kill.”  However, I think “You shall not murder” is probably a better translation.  Killing and murder are not the same thing.  Murder is prohibited, killing is not.  A soldier at war taking the life of enemy combatants who are trying to destroy his country is certainly involved in killing, but not in murdering.  A police officer defends himself in the heat of battle responding to a crime and the malefactor doesn’t make it through.  Killing has taken place, but murder has not.  A man defends his home and family from the schemes of an armed intruder and the invader is mortally wounded.  Killing occurred, but murder did not.  The State executes a convicted murderer who has gone through due process.  Certainly a life has been taken in the course of the electrocution or lethal injection, but what took place is killing, not murder.  As Scripture says, the State doesn’t bear the sword for no reason (Rom. 13:4).

Jesus was the Word of God made flesh and dwelling among us (John 1:14).  Christ fed the hungry, healed the sick, raised the dead, and taught the truth.  Indeed, He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil (Acts 10:38).  The Lord never did wrong to anyone and yet humanity’s ultimate response to the sinless Son of God was to cry out for His crucifixion!  The religious leaders couldn’t find any agreeing testimony that He had committed any crime.  Pilate declared that he could find no fault in Christ.  Yet they murdered Him just the same!  The Pharisees and Sadducees were jealous that Jesus was taking their crowds and had hatred for Him as He pointed out their errors in interpreting the Scriptures they claimed to know so expertly.  Pilate may not have hated Jesus, but he was jealous to keep his power and was afraid if he didn’t yield to authorizing Christ’s murder then a riot would start that would threaten his position.  Still, don’t think that we’re off the hook simply because we weren’t there 2,000 years ago to either call for or carry out the crucifixion.  Christ didn’t die because the religious leaders or Pilate had the power to hold Him to the cross, but rather because a payment had to be made for the sins of mankind.  So, if you have ever sinned, in a very real sense you are guilty of the murder of Christ!  (By the way, don’t be so sure you wouldn’t have called for the Lord’s crucifixion or wouldn’t have been the one hammering in His hands and feet if you had been around at the time.)  However, I have good news!  What the devil meant for evil, what the religious leaders meant for evil, what Pilate meant for evil, and yes, what we meant for evil, God the Father and God the Son in infinite knowledge and sacrifice planned before the foundation of the world to be the means by which the price for sin would be paid and the offer of salvation made for all who would repent of sin and put their trust in Christ!