In this week’s message we look at the 6th commandment: “You shall not murder.” On the one hand, this commandment is not difficult to understand (nor should it be!). When we look a little deeper, however, we find that we are more guilty of breaking it than we might think.
There are several words for ‘kill’ in Hebrew but the word used here is not used elsewhere in the OT to describe killing as part of a just war or in the context of carrying out (capital) punishment which was sanctioned by the law. The word here means to kill someone from self-motivation or self-inducement, without sanction/justification, with premeditation, or through negligence.
While most of us have never physically killed someone, there is a deeper issue in Scripture that underlies the act of murder of which we are all guilty: anger. The story of Cain and Abel illustrates the power of anger and how it is one of several things that can result in murder. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that our anger, and often our words, are murderous.
So, while we certainly obey the commandment in its most literal form, we must also be on guard against violating it in less literal ways. We must beware of stepping into God’s place. God, alone, is sovereign over life and death and we are not to attempt to occupy His place in the lives of others. We must also beware of denigrating a fellow image-bearer. Murder is the ultimate form of denigration to the image of God in another person but Jesus was clear that our words (and other actions) can do the same. Finally, we must beware of what’s on our own doorstep. The Lord warned Cain that sin was crouching at his doorstep and desired to “have” him but that he must rule over it. Whenever anger wells up in us, we must retreat, pray, confess our sin, and ‘look up’ to the Lord instead of ‘looking outward’ toward others in our anger.