We are spending the summer in the Ten Commandments. This Sunday, we come to the sixth commandment, “Do not murder”.
Text: Exodus 20:13
It is utterly amazing how God made each one of us in His own image and likeness. The way God made man, you and I reflect God Himself. When you look in the mirror, you are looking at a valuable, meaningful resemblance of your Heavenly Father. Man is the only creation made in “imago Dei” – in the image of God. Man was made to reflect God’s nature, His character, His relational aspect, and His reason. Man’s value is not in himself, but in His reflection of God’s image, made to have direct and personal relationship with God Himself.
That’s why the sin of murder is so damaging and so egregious; not only because it ends the life of another, but because it is an attack on the image of God Himself.
Now, some translations say, “You shall not kill”, giving the impression that there is never any justification for taking the life of another. But the sixth commandment does NOT say, “You shall not kill.” It says, “You shall not murder.” There’s a difference.
What this does (and does not) mean
Murder is the purposeful ending of an innocent human life. This not only results in increased crime and murder associated with crime. But it also includes things like:
-suicide – or self-murder
-euthanasia – killing someone because they are elderly, because they have an incurable illness, or because of their quality of life is diminished
-abortion – the purposeful killing of a child while it is in its mother’s womb
But the sixth commandment does not apply to killing animals, defending your home and family, the death penalty, accidental death, or death in a justifiable war.
Jesus and the 6th Commandment
Since Jesus fulfilled the law, we must go beyond these nuances and consider what Jesus taught:
-All sin (including murder) is an issue of the heart long before it becomes an action of the hands (see Matthew 15:18-20).
-Murder is not only an outward action. But murder starts with anger. So, as God sees our hearts, unjust or unrighteous anger is as sinful as murder. No, it doesn’t physically take a human life, and therefore does not have the legal consequences of physical murder. But to be angry with another without cause, to insult another indiscriminately, to demean another person is still attacking God’s image (see Matthew 5:21-24).
Just when we thought we were innocent of breaking this command, we see we are all guilty. That’s what we’re meant to see – that none of us are innocent. All of us need saving from our sin. And that’s why Jesus came. So, as we think of our sin from that standpoint, that all of us are guilty of murdering in our hearts, let the depth of that sin cause us to see the power of the forgiveness we have in Christ. Our sin is great. His love is greater. There is no sin you’ve committed that Jesus can’t forgive.
And now for those in Christ, we walk in the law of love. If you love someone, you won’t selfishly harm them. You would value and protect them with your actions and your words, and even your life. To prefer someone else above ourselves, to love others, to live life in such a way that removes us and our wants and desires from the center and puts Jesus there, that’s the way we live out life fulfilling the law of love, by seeing Jesus, the Lord of Life, as the greatest treasure and greatest joy of all.
So next time you look in the mirror, instead of seeing all the blemishes and flaws, and all the things you want to change, stop and consider, that you are made in the image and likeness of God. Value that image – in you and in others. Value the gift of life. Be grateful for it. And with God’s help we can live out of that gratitude and be a people who value life, because we were rescued by the One who gave His life for us.