Commandment #6: “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13)

This commandment forbids the taking of another human life for no justifiable reason. Tragically, this commandment seems to be ignored more and more.

  • Every 13 seconds, someone in the USA is beaten, stabbed, shot, robbed, raped, or killed.
  • Every 12 seconds, an abortion occurs in America. Twenty-two percent of pregnancies today end in abortion. Since the passing of Roe vs. Wade in the early ’70s, 50 million babies have been aborted. (That is five times the number of civilians who died under the Nazis in the Holocaust.)

Why the increase in violence? Jesus predicted that the last days would be as “the days of Noah” (Luke 17:26). Genesis 6:11 describes that turbulent time: “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.”

Such violence has undermined the sacredness of human life. We call unborn babies such things as fetuses, embryos, globs of cells, or products of conception. This goes directly against the teachings of Scripture, where we read:

“You [God] made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (Psalm 139:13–16 NLT).

When killing is appropriate

While all murder is killing, not all killing is necessarily murder. According to Scripture, there are times when death is acceptable, though not desirable. For instance, the Bible seems to make allowances for self-defense and capital punishment:

  • “Whoever sheds blood, by man his blood shall be shed” (Genesis 9:6).
  • “For [the governing authority] is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:4).

When murder takes place in the heart

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes the idea of murder a step further:

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matthew 5:21–22).

Many people have anger and hatred in the depths of their heart to such a degree that their true desire is for the hated person to be dead. This is clearly forbidden in Scripture: “Whoever hates his brother [Christian] is a murderer” (1 John 3:15). The word used for hate in this verse means “to habitually despise”—not just a transient emotion of the affections, but a “deep-rooted loathing.”

Paul, in Ephesians, gives us the remedy for this hatred: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31–32).

Only through Christ can we change our hearts—and we must!

  • As parents, let us seek to be good examples of followers of Christ for our children.
  • As children, let us seek to obey and honor our parents as God commanded.
  • As believers, let us not harbor hatred or bitterness in our heart toward others.

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