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Bible Study Nineteen: The Sixth Commandment

1. How does the sixth commandment read? Exodus 20:13

“Thou shalt not kill.” Exodus 20:13

2. How did Jesus magnify the sixth commandment? Matthew 5:21, 22

We know that murder is wrong, but hatred and revenge are included in this commandment. Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Matthew 5:21, 22

Angry words come from the heart. Therefore, if we wish people harm we break this commandment. In fact, any act of injustice that is intended to cause harm to someone else, or any unjust act that would shorten another person’s life is considered a violation of the sixth commandment.

Let us take it one step further. If we selfishly neglect the care of the needy, do we stand condemned? Can we break this commandment by failing to care for those when it is within our power to do so? I believe we are guilty.

Let us go a little deeper. If we shorten our own life through poor lifestyle habits, are we guilty of shortening life? I think we are. This would make the use of alcohol and illegal drugs violations of the sixth commandment. Those who sell these items would then be guilty as well. Some may disagree, but this is where we must consider the broader and deeper meaning of each commandment. After all, when we study these commandments, we are particularly interested in understanding what Jesus loves and what Jesus hates.

Clearly Jesus hates all things that tend to shorten life. He would then love those things that promote life. He loves it when we care for the needy, and He is disappointed when we pass by those when it is within our ability to help. Did not Jesus commend the Samaritan for his caring spirit and condemn the priest and Pharisee for their neglect?

3. How sacred is life? Genesis 9:5, 6

The fifth commandment which commands us to honor our father and mother is where life begins. Much of who we are is inherited from our parents and formed in the home environment.

The sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” focuses on the sacredness of life. How sacred is it? Life is so sacred that no one has the right to take it from another.

Think about it! How is it that a stranger thinks that he can take the life of another? He did not give life to that person. He has not passed on any hereditary traits. He has done nothing to help in the formation of character. He is not able to restore life. So what right does he have to take another’s life? The answer is, “He has none!” It is sad that God has to tell us not to murder one another.

When the commandment says, “Thou shalt not kill,” it means “Thou shalt not murder.” I know we all feel terrible when we run over an animal with our car and it dies. But this is not murder. Murder implies a violent act. The Bible prohibits such behavior. The reason for this prohibition is very simple. The Bible says, “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man.” Genesis 9:5, 6.

We are not to murder because that individual is created in the image of God. So serious is this issue, so sacred is life, that God required the life of the murderer for his murderous deed. That is how sacred life is.

What is someone is killed unintentionally? See Numbers 35:22-25

But some might ask, “But what if the death is not due to some violent act? What if it was an accident?” Let us consider some of these various scenarios.

If a man takes another man’s life by accident, then his own life is not required. However, in Old Testament times, the unintentional slayer might need to flee to one of the cities of refuge from the vengeance of a relative. See Numbers 35.

4. What about indirect murder? Exodus 21: 28, 29

If you had an ox that was known to cause harm to human life and you did nothing to prevent it from happening, then you and your ox were stoned to death. The Bible says, “If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit. But if the ox were wont to push with his horns in the time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death.” Exodus 21:28, 29.

5. What does the Bible say about suicide?

There are four suicides recorded in Scripture. There was King Saul and his armor bearer, Ahithophel who was a fellow conspirator with Absalom, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus. None of these incidences are presented as positives. Human life is precious. We belong to God who gave us life. We must be careful to protect the sacredness of life of others and our own.

When the jailer saw the prison doors opened where Paul and Silas were in chains, he drew his sword to slain himself. “But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.’” Acts 16:28. Life is so sacred. God alone has the right to take life because He alone gave it.

6. What about death by harmful habits?

The Bible says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31. By eating and drinking to the glory of God we are involved in health-promoting practices. But when we choose to break the laws of health we are slowly killing ourselves. This too is a violation of the sixth commandment. Anything that shortens life like alcohol, smoking, and illicit drugs are a violation of the sacredness of life.

7. What about anger?

John said, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3:15.

If looks could kill there would not be enough prisons to hold all the inmates. In fact, I wonder how many people would be outside the prison walls.

Jesus looked at people as what they could be transformed by His grace. It was said of Jesus He had compassion on the multitudes. He came to save man from his sinful and hateful ways. Jesus is all about promoting life.

Anger has a way of shortening life. Hate is terrible, and terrible are the results.

8. Does the Bible allow for capital punishment?

The Bible says, “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” Genesis 9:5, 6

“He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death. But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbor, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die.” Exodus 21:12, 14.

The passage from Genesis dates back before the nation of Israel, which places capital punishment on the basis of Creation. In Exodus, the nation of Israel was to continue this rule.

Why do we have capital punishment for murder? We punish murder because “man is created in the image of God.” Life is so sacred, that to take another person’s life you give up your own.

9. Where did murder come from?

The Bible says that Satan was “a murderer from the beginning.” John 8:44. His murderous heart started with jealousy of Jesus, which led to hatred toward Jesus, which led to murder. Like all other sins, it begins with the heart. If these sinful tendencies are cherished, it often leads to disastrous results.