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The Ten Commandments Series: The Sixth Commandment

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The Ten Commandments Series

The Sixth Commandment

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“You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13 Exodus 20:13You shall not kill.
American King James Version×
; Deuteronomy 5:17 Deuteronomy 5:17You shall not kill.
American King James Version×
).

Murder is a horrible thing. Yet it has been a terribly common occurrence in earth’s history. The world has suffered an ongoing nightmare of murder ever since Cain, the firstborn of Adam and Eve, murdered his brother Abel (Genesis 4:1-8 Genesis 4:1-8 [1] And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bore Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. [2] And she again bore his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. [3] And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the LORD. [4] And Abel, he also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect to Abel and to his offering: [5] But to Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. [6] And the LORD said to Cain, Why are you wroth? and why is your countenance fallen? [7] If you do well, shall you not be accepted? and if you do not well, sin lies at the door. And to you shall be his desire, and you shall rule over him. [8] And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
American King James Version×
). Even the Son of God was murdered. Murder even has special macabre names to differentiate between victims. Homicide, genocide, suicide or aborticide (usually referred to as abortion) are examples. You can search for the numerous articles and messages on these topics on www.ucg.org.

What About Capital Punishment?

Some confusion has resulted from the translation in the old King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, published in 1611, which says, “Thou shalt not kill.” The Hebrew word, ratsach, used here and only a few times in the Old Testament, definitely means “murder,” and almost all modern versions translate it as such. The Hebrew word for “kill,” qatal, occurs hundreds of times.

Based on the translation in the KJV, many have assumed that every type of killing of a human being is forbidden. But one of the first commandments that God revealed to Noah after the Flood was the institution of capital punishment. Genesis 9:6 Genesis 9:6Whoever sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
American King James Version×
says, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.” This disproves the view that any execution must be by God because it says “by man his blood shall be shed” (emphasis added throughout).

The Contemporary English Version (CEV) combines verses 5 and 6 and makes the meaning clear: “I created humans to be like me, and I will punish any animal or person that takes a human life. If an animal kills someone, that animal must die. And if a person takes the life of another, that person must be put to death.”

Contrary to the thinking of many people, God’s law for ancient Israel requiring the execution of murderers emphasizes how highly God regards human life. All of the first five books of the Bible state that murderers should be executed. In Israel, under the Old Covenant, other crimes such as kidnapping and rape were to be punished with the same penalty. When people see honest, fair and swift justice being administered, they “hear and fear”—they are motivated to be law-abiding!

Romans 13:1-10 Romans 13:1-10 [1] Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. [2] Whoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. [3] For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Will you then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and you shall have praise of the same: [4] For he is the minister of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath on him that does evil. [5] Why you must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. [6] For for this cause pay you tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually on this very thing. [7] Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. [8] Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loves another has fulfilled the law. [9] For this, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, You shall not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. [10] Love works no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
American King James Version×
shows that civil governments are authorized by God to administer justice and maintain peace. In the New International Version (NIV), verse 5 says: “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer (Romans 13:5 Romans 13:5Why you must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
American King James Version×
).

Many Spiritual Problems Lead to Murder

One sin leads to another, as described in Romans 1:20-32 Romans 1:20-32 [20] For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: [21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, [23] And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things. [24] Why God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: [25] Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. [26] For this cause God gave them up to vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: [27] And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. [28] And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; [29] Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, [30] Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, [31] Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: [32] Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
American King James Version×
. Many sins can culminate in murder. Lack of emotional control of tempers, resentment and anger. Hatred. Jealousy. Revenge. Greed. Lust. Pride, including a desire to be “famous.” Self-pity. Mental illness, including damage from being abused or abandoned. Intoxication. Chronic viewing of violent entertainment. Zeal for a perverted cause. Lack of conscience based on right values. Ignorance of the sanctity of life and purpose of life.

There are many emotions and reactions that are all called “anger.” But not all anger is sinful. Jesus Christ certainly got angry but never sinned. Some emotions that we call being “angry” or “mad” are not hateful and sinful. There is such a thing as righteous indignation. The Good News Bible translates Ephesians 4:26 Ephesians 4:26Be you angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down on your wrath:
American King James Version×
as: “If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day.”

God created us with the whole range of emotions, but they must be controlled and pointed in the right directions. Hate is a good example. We must hate sin but love the sinners. “You who love the LORD, hate evil!” (Psalms 97:10 Psalms 97:10You that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserves the souls of his saints; he delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.
American King James Version×
).

It’s shocking and sad that many people place no value on their own lives, such as suicide bombers and other terrorists. And we frequently hear of mass shootings where the shooter knows he will be killed or captured! These people have a pessimistic, hopeless, cynical and nihilistic view of life. Suicide is a form of murder, self-murder.

The prevalence of suicides is utterly heartbreaking. In 2017 in the United States, there were 19,510 reported homicides but 47,173 suicides! One of the Great Commandments is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” There is a desperate need for people to learn their God-given purpose in life and how God wants everyone to provide tender loving care for his God-given body and mind (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 [19] What? know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? [20] For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
American King James Version×
). We highly recommend our inspiring booklet, Why Were You Born?

Euthanasia is another form of suicide and murder. However, this should not be confused with a patient voluntarily deciding to let nature takes its course and terminating certain life-sustaining medical treatments, which is legal, moral and reasonable.

The world is sliding into another spiritual dark age. The apostle Paul wrote about the character of many people in “the last days” in 2 Timothy 3:1-7 2 Timothy 3:1-7 [1] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4] Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; [5] Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. [6] For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, [7] Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
American King James Version×
. Of course, the greatest evil influence is from Satan, the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31 John 12:31Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
American King James Version×
; 14:30; 16:11). “The devil . . . was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44 John 8:44You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stayed not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
American King James Version×
).

The Opposite of Murder: Love All of God’s Children

When Jesus Christ came to earth, he came “to magnify his law and make it glorious” (Isaiah 42:21 Isaiah 42:21The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honorable.
American King James Version×
, English Standard Version). By deepening, expanding and elevating the Ten Commandments, He revealed the spirit of the law, showing that obedience is a matter of the mind and heart as well as one’s actions. He made clear that the Sixth Commandment includes the commands to “love your neighbor” and live by the Golden Rule (Matthew 22:39 Matthew 22:39And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
American King James Version×
; 7:12).

Love and good relationships greatly depend on forgiveness. God expects us to be forgiving. God clearly loves us because He is always ready to forgive when He sees godly sorrow, true repentance and the person’s readiness to forgive those who hurt them (see Matthew 6:12 Matthew 6:12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
American King James Version×
, 14-15). And we must make it as easy as possible for others to forgive us by having the humility to admit our faults, ask for forgiveness and seek reconciliation (see Matthew 5:23-26 Matthew 5:23-26 [23] Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has ought against you; [24] Leave there your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. [25] Agree with your adversary quickly, whiles you are in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison. [26] Truly I say to you, You shall by no means come out there, till you have paid the uttermost farthing.
American King James Version×
).

In Matthew 5:21-22 Matthew 5:21-22 [21] You have heard that it was said of them of old time, You shall not kill; and whoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: [22] But I say to you, That whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
American King James Version×
, Jesus revealed that hatred, bitter anger and ridiculing attacks are the spirit of murder. When someone callously damages and scars a person’s heart, mind, reputation, self-respect, and/or aspirations by abuse of any kind, a vulnerable and precious part of that person can die. Whether the abuse is by commission or omission, that is the spirit of murder. Young children especially are often scarred to some degree, although God can give us the strength and hope to heal.

In Matthew 5:38-48 Matthew 5:38-48 [38] You have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: [39] But I say to you, That you resist not evil: but whoever shall smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. [40] And if any man will sue you at the law, and take away your coat, let him have your cloak also. [41] And whoever shall compel you to go a mile, go with him two. [42] Give to him that asks you, and from him that would borrow of you turn not you away. [43] You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. [44] But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you; [45] That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. [46] For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same? [47] And if you salute your brothers only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so? [48] Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
American King James Version×
, Jesus revealed that we must love everyone, not just those who love us back but even our enemies! See Leviticus 19:9-18 Leviticus 19:9-18 [9] And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. [10] And you shall not glean your vineyard, neither shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God. [11] You shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another. [12] And you shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD. [13] You shall not defraud your neighbor, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with you all night until the morning. [14] You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God: I am the LORD. [15] You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: you shall not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. [16] You shall not go up and down as a talebearer among your people: neither shall you stand against the blood of your neighbor; I am the LORD. [17] You shall not hate your brother in your heart: you shall in any wise rebuke your neighbor, and not suffer sin on him. [18] You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
American King James Version×
, 32-37 for some specifics about how to love people in various situations.

Please understand that when Jesus said to “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39 Matthew 5:39But I say to you, That you resist not evil: but whoever shall smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.
American King James Version×
), He didn’t mean that one should allow himself to be abused or that one should never defend himself against injury. One lesson is that God’s people should not retaliate, seek revenge or be spiteful and vindictive. Many scriptures tell us that vengeance is God’s responsibility as only He can execute perfect justice. Romans 12:19 Romans 12:19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, said the Lord.
American King James Version×
tells us, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

The context of Matthew 5:39 Matthew 5:39But I say to you, That you resist not evil: but whoever shall smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.
American King James Version×
is about love, so another lesson relates to the fact that loving someone makes oneself more vulnerable to getting hurt. People often “bite the hand that feeds them.” Jesus is saying that we should persevere in loving people in spite of knowing that we will sometimes get hurt. We should never react to hurt by thinking, “Well, I’ll never try to help him again!”

One of the best indicators of a person’s spiritual conversion is that “we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14 1 John 3:14We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brothers. He that loves not his brother stays in death.
American King James Version×
) with the same kind of love that Jesus Christ has for us (John 13:34-35 John 13:34-35 [34] A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. [35] By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
American King James Version×
). John further stated: “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:15-16 1 John 3:15-16 [15] Whoever hates his brother is a murderer: and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. [16] Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
American King James Version×
).

The Bible also addresses what can be called “negligent homicide.” God warns us that if we are responsible for allowing a dangerous physical condition or situation to exist that causes a person’s injury or death, we can be held accountable for that injury or death. For example, we should not leave something in a walkway that could cause someone to trip. If you have a below-ground pool, it is wise to keep some kind of fence around it to prevent a person from falling into it. Indeed, we are to be our “brother’s keeper.” See Exodus 21:28-29 Exodus 21:28-29 [28] 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. [29] But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it has been testified to his owner, and he has not kept him in, but that he has killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death.
American King James Version×
and Deuteronomy 22:8 Deuteronomy 22:8When you build a new house, then you shall make a battlement for your roof, that you bring not blood on your house, if any man fall from there.
American King James Version×
for examples.

Conclusion

You shall not murder, either in the letter of the law or the spirit of the law. Instead, “love one another!” (John 13:34 John 13:34A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
American King James Version×
; John 15:12 John 15:12This is my commandment, That you love one another, as I have loved you.
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, John 15:17 John 15:17These things I command you, that you love one another.
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, Romans 13:8 Romans 13:8Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loves another has fulfilled the law.
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; 1 Thessalonians 4:9 1 Thessalonians 4:9But as touching brotherly love you need not that I write to you: for you yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
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; 1 Peter 1:22 1 Peter 1:22Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit to unfeigned love of the brothers, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently:
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; 1 John 3:11 1 John 3:11For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
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, 1 John 3:23 1 John 3:23And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
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; 1 John 4:7 1 John 4:7Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God.
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, 1 John 4:11-12 1 John 4:11-12 [11] Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. [12] No man has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us.
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; 2 John 1:5 2 John 1:5And now I beseech you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
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).