The age in which we live is terribly violent. There were ages before where there was much violence too, but largely it was related to nations warring against each other. The records of ancient history, near ancient history and modern history informs us of the most horrendous atrocities, and these still happen in so many countries that have internal conflicts, terrorism, genocide and other inhuman wicked acts. Yet by saying we live in an age that is terribly violent, I am referring to gangsterism in neighborhoods, domestic violence, gender based violence, violence at schools, rape, murder, etc. So many people live in fear, and where this was in so called “bad and poor areas”, it has become a phenomena in all societies. Today we have gated suburbs, security and double security villages, high walls and fences, electric fences, motion detectors, camera surveillance, security companies, armed response units, neighborhood watches and more. The commandment we deal with today is:
Ex 20:13 “You shall not murder.”
Older translations used to use the word “kill” but the correct word is “murder”. Kill might be accidental but murder is mostly premeditated. Come join me as we consider a few matters by seeking to answer why God gave this command.
1) Man is created in the image and likeness of God.
Ge 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
The image and likeness does not mean man is like God in His divine attributes, power and separateness. What it does mean is that man at creation enjoyed the capacity to be holy in morals, ethics and love. Remember there was no sin, so man’s feelings, friendship, care, help and support for one another (Adam and Eve) was shaped by holiness and sinlessness. There was truth, integrity and real intimate union with God. But then came sin with all the evil that followed. Take
Ge 4:8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Staggering, is it not? We have the fall in chapter 3 and then the first murder in chapter 4. Thereafter, the Old Testament records as some say, violence, war, death and bloodshed. Some of the acts of the sinful nature are
Gal 5:20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy
Rom 1:29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
Some of these applied to Cain … but we in the 21st Century know all about such emotions and actions! God’s image and likeness has been seriously marred. In place of holiness there is sinful ungodliness.
2) God sanctioned war in the Bible. In the far ancient world, before the nation of Israel, there were warring nations. In Egypt there was persecution and slavery. Egypt had a military … yet God annihilated them not Israel. When Israel entered Canaan, God instructed them to destroy all the people (various nations) because they were idolaters, with depraved shapes of idolatry such a child sacrifice and many other sinister rituals. If you read the relevant Old Testament passages you will see that God sent Saul and David to war to protect His people who were His witness on earth and through who He would send Messiah. Crudely it’s almost, kill or be killed … destroy or be destroyed. The people of God today are not a nation such as Israel situated in a specific geographical region. Today God’s Kingdom is situated within all ethnicities, languages and cultures across the planet.
As Gospel people, we understand that wars and killings and all the emotions and actions that cause things that lead up to wars, be it nations against nations or gangs against gangs or families against families or a person against another person (as listed above) must be avoided to prevent anger, jealousy and hatred leading to murder. The Gospel paints the picture of love and forgiveness. Jesus said we must turn the other cheek … and love our enemies and pray for them. Attachment to the Gospel changes one’s heart. You see others without Christ as hopeless and in great need. They do what they do but don’t know the gravity of their deeds because they have not been convicted of sin for the Holy Spirit does not dwell within.
3) God sanctions spiritual warfare for His Gospel people. God’s new creation understands that there is a real heaven and a real hell. Those in Christ will die and be in Glory and those outside of Christ will die and be damned. No one who is Christian wants any non-Christian to die and go to hell because the Christian understands the magnitude of punishment (as described by Jesus) that will be measured out against them. That is why Jesus is serious when He calls us to love our enemies and pray for them. He wants them saved but they need to believe and repent. Praying for and loving those who oppose the gospel is our warfare, spiritual warfare. We want them to hear, believe and be saved. Jesus changed our hearts so we approach their aggression in love and prayer. We love, we care, we forgive, we suffer the losses and insults and persecution … for Jesus sake.
4) Living on the gospel side of the road. Because we are in Christ we understand that murder in not even an option to contemplate. Jesus was provocative as He preached … look at this:
Mt 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.”
Anger is murder! As an example, how often do you become angry when driving? Are you aware that Road Rage is revenge drummed up by anger?
5) The image of God in the Christian is being renewed. As we become more Christ-like, God’s image and likeness is slowly crafted within us. The way we know our new creation is shaping up is when:
Gal 5:22 the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control
Becomes evident in our public, but especially our private world.
Dear Lord Jesus, Abel’s death was cruel, hateful and wicked whilst yours, although hateful and wicked, was salvific. Today as part of Your new creation and as people called to love and pray for our enemies, please grant us passionate love for all lost souls for Jesus. Amen.