In this sermon, Pastor Babij teaches on the deeper meaning behind the Sixth Commandment: “Thou shall not murder.” Pastor Babij explains how the Scriptures teach that people are to fundamentally care for and protect human life. Making note that the correct interpretation is “murder” not “kill,” Pastor Babij delineates the different kinds of killing that exist as well as their different and associated penalties. Pastor Babij concludes with an admonishment against holding onto anger against anyone, warning that all who do so do not have eternal life.
When death was arrested, our life began for those who are in Christ. Amen. That is something that we can rest in and trust in for eternity.
This morning, we’re going to be looking at Exodus 20, and then we are going to be looking at other passages in Deuteronomy and Numbers. It is important for the understanding of this particular commandment, which is going to be the sixth commandment.
The commandments clearly spell out what is involved in our relationship with God, but also in our relationship with others. In the first commandment, we recognize that He alone is God and he has to have first place in our hearts and lives.
Secondly, the second commandment showed us that man must not attempt to make any visible representation of the invisible God. To do so would actually distort who God is and His holiness.
The third commandment brings us to a place where we are responsible for taking up the name of God. As we go into our world and as we live our life, we are to be an example before a dying world on how we treat and honor the name of God by our words, deeds, and thoughts.
The fourth commandment brought us the responsibility of worshipping God one day in seven by attending to God’s honor and to our own soul on that day. Then, the fifth commandment brought us the responsibility to honor our fathers and our mothers.
Today, we are going to look at our responsibility in the sixth commandment and that’s found in our Bibles in Exodus 20:13:
You shall not murder.
Our responsibility for that commandment is to care for and protect others welfare and their physical life. It is all of our responsibilities to do that before God. Now, there’s much more detail than that, which we’re going to look at this morning, so let’s pray:
Father, we thank You for this privilege to come, have Bibles, and be able to open them up, read them, study them, and take them home with us where we can read them throughout the week and think about the words of God in our mind. It was created for that purpose, so our ears can hear Your truth and our minds can think about it. I pray as that happens, Holy Spirit, You would take us and You would transform our minds so we would know the good, the acceptable, and the perfect will of God. Then, Lord, that we would put into practice what we’re learning and our whole character would be transformed by You, so we can be Your vessels on this Earth to bring the light and the salt to those who don’t have it yet. I pray that You would use us in that way and specifically understand this commandment as we go from the Old to the New Testament. I pray in Christ’s name, Amen.
In the Hebrew, this commandment is only two words. This commandment is something that seems straightforward as soon as you read it. However, there are further Scriptural boundaries that are around this command. We need to find out what they are so we can grasp the scope and the control of this particular commandment.
In today’s culture, there’s still plenty of killing and murder. In fact, one statistic said:
By age 18, our children, with all the media we have, will witness 80,000 or more murders.
This simply makes children numb to life and often robs them of the preciousness of life. However, that’s the day in which we live in and that has to be controlled by parents, so they don’t get a steady diet of what the world is giving. Though, we, as people, have not advanced beyond such sinful and depraved behavior. It’s all around us every day. It’s in the news. It makes good novels and great movies.
The more and more we drift away from God’s holy standards and the Biblical understanding of the true nature of man, the more we opted out for a new morality in which everything is being redefined by new ideas.
For example, a number of psychologists say that murderers are mentally ill and simply needs therapy. Some and most sociologists claim that murderers are usually helpless victims of an unjust society, and their taking of someone else’s life is simply lashing out against the society in which they have been oppressed and depraved. Erwin Luther said:
It is a dangerous thing when we too easily accept new ideas as truth.
Unfortunately, in our day, our news wants to push upon us things that are not true at all, but they make them seem true. They pound it on so much that they become true to people even though they’re not. Thank the Lord when we come to the word of God, what we get is true. We get pure truth, and there’s a certain ring about truth. When something is true, you know it’s true. When you read the word of God, you know it is true and you cannot argue with that.
When we come to this commandment, it contains a principal where we have to flush out the meaning of it throughout Scripture. There is a distinction in this command, which is to care for and to protect the welfare of human life.
All loss of life is a serious matter in Scripture. The reason for the seriousness is that God has placed an emphasis on the sacredness of human life and even His own sovereignty over that life. Only God has the right to say when it begins and when it ends.
The Bible places a high premium on life of a human being. Unlike other creatures, we were created uniquely. Humans are unlike animals that can be killed to be eaten and sacrificed in an offering. The reason why taking a human life is so serious in Scripture is because life is made in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 says:
God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
In the word of God, human beings are of unique value in the sight of God. When we get to Genesis 9:5-6, it prohibits the taking of human life:
Surely, I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man.
6“Whoever sheds man’s blood,
By man his blood shall be shed,
For in the image of God
He made man.
The reason why we’re so different from every other created thing is because we were created in the image of God. We have certain aspects and characters that God wanted in our being that He has in His being. Thus, the act of killing a human being is a killing act against God himself. Murder is a sin against a victim, against a family, and against God. There’s no such thing as a perfect murder.
The reason for that is because God is all-knowing and sovereign over all things. No one can hide that deed from Him. In fact, right in the beginning when Cain killed his brother Abel it says in Genesis 4:8-10:
Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. 9Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground.
The Lord will vindicate and punish all who take human life. Whether they could get caught in this life or not, they will stand before God. God knows what has happened and no one will get away with it. So, thou shalt not murder.
In Hebrew, the word murder is “ratzákh,” and it’s a word closely related to physical force and violence. The term really should not be translated as just simply kill, and the reason why is because there was a difference between killing and murder. In 1 Kings 21:19, this word ratzákh is translated as kill, and in Numbers 35:6, it is translated as man-slayer.
The word itself doesn’t necessarily make a distinction between premeditated or involuntary killing. In other words, the context in which this term is used often determines the meaning. This can be identified by different passages that this word murder, or ratzákh, is used.
In other words, there is a different kind of killing that the Bible teaches us. When we think about killing, there are two general things that must be taken into consideration. When we consider murder and killing, we consider the circumstances in the matter, which the Bible uses, and the intentionality of the killing – what was the intention and why did that take place?
The first killing the Bible mentions is that of involuntary killing. This killing is involuntary manslaughter, accidental killing, or a lack of intent or design to commit the killing. Deuteronomy 4:41-42 says:
Then Moses set apart three cities across the Jordan to the east, 42that a manslayer might flee there, who unintentionally slew his neighbor without having enmity toward him in time past; and by fleeing to one of these cities he might live.
We see that there was something that was not intentional. In this case, it was an accident. It was an accidental death. Numbers 35:22-23 says:
But if he pushed him suddenly without enmity, or threw something at him without lying in wait, 23or with any deadly object of stone, and without seeing it dropped on him so that he died, while he was not his enemy nor seeking his injury
There are circumstances in which the Bible teaches that it is not murder. It is actually an involuntary or an accidental killing that happens even today. People could lose their life because of an accident that happened on the job, on the road, or something where somebody didn’t have an intent in their heart to do that.
When it just happens, there’s nothing you can do about that. Those are still painful and hurtful times when someone gets robbed away from a family. It is something that is not easily forgotten by people even if it didn’t have intent behind it.
This brings me to the second kind of killing in the Bible, which is premeditated killing. Premeditated killing, or premeditated murder, is an intent and a design in the act of taking a human’s life such as harboring some hatred, grudge, anger, malice, or deceit toward a person. Even some personal gain that someone could acquire by taking someone else’s life.
Also, there is a plan to carry out the act. Then, there is also the actual carrying out of it. Someone can be convicted of murder and not actually have murdered someone if the intent and the plan was there and it could be proved. Of course, they would be lesser charges because a life was not actually lost. Nonetheless, somebody can actually go to jail for that. Concerning premeditated killing, Deuteronomy 19:11-13 says:
“But if there is a man who hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him and rises up against him and strikes him so that he dies, and he flees to one of these cities, 12then the elders of his city shall send and take him from there and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. 13“You shall not pity him, but you shall purge the blood of the innocent from Israel, that it may go well with you.
We see the plan and the intent, in the word of God, that shows us that this was definitely a murder. This was taking someone’s life with intent and design, which leads to a certain penalty. In Scripture, there are certain penalties concerning the killing.
First, it is the loss of liberty. In Deuteronomy 19:1, the Lord gave the Levites six cities of refuge and he gave that to them for an inheritance. Also, those cities were given for the purpose if someone killed someone unintentionally, then they were to flee to one of those cities of refuge for their own safety. The cities of refuge were established by God’s law to prevent vigilante violence against someone who is suspected of killing someone whether it would be proven or not, or whether the person did it intentionally or not.
If a person unintentionally killed someone, they were, at that point to run to that city, the nearest city they can go to, and stay there. If the one who was appointed to be the manslayer would find him, even before he made it to the city, could put him to death. This was God’s provision of mercy. Deuteronomy 19:1-5 says:
“When the LORD your God cuts off the nations, whose land the LORD your God gives you, and you dispossess them and settle in their cities and in their houses, 2you shall set aside three cities for yourself in the midst of your land, which the LORD your God gives you to possess. 3“You shall prepare the roads for yourself, and divide into three parts the territory of your land which the LORD your God will give you as a possession, so that any manslayer may flee there. 4“Now this is the case of the manslayer who may flee there and live: when he kills his friend unintentionally, not hating him previously— 5as when a man goes into the forest with his friend to cut wood, and his hand swings the axe to cut down the tree, and the iron head slips off the handle and strikes his friend so that he dies—he may flee to one of these cities and live
Here’s a Biblical example on how it happened. It can happen at any time, so the avenger of blood was not permitted to pursue him once that person got to the city of refuge. However, if the person who committed the killing wandered away from that city, they could be caught by the avenger of blood, who has the authority to put that person to death. Deuteronomy 19:6, 10 says:
otherwise the avenger of blood might pursue the manslayer in the heat of his anger, and overtake him, because the way is long, and take his life, though he was not deserving of death, since he had not hated him previously…10So innocent blood will not be shed in the midst of your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance, and bloodguiltiness be on you.
God is giving Israel, the people of God, guidelines on how to carry out the sixth commandment. I think these are very important for us to do so. Even though they killed somebody unintentionally, they will lose their liberty and they could not go back to where their home was until the high priest in that City died.
That means, if the high priest was old, then maybe he would only be there for a short time, but if the high priest just got in there and he has plenty of health, then he may be there a long time, and you may die before he dies. This was a measure where you would not be put to death, but you would have the mercy of God to run to that place.
A second kind of penalty would be the loss of life. If they are found to be a murder, then Deuteronomy 19:12-13 says:
Then the elders of his city shall send and take him from there and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. 13“You shall not pity him, but you shall purge the blood of the innocent from Israel, that it may go well with you.
In the Bible, there is a death penalty in place by God. Another way to pay would be a fine. In Exodus 21, a fight took place resulting in permanent injury or death. In this case, it says in Exodus 21:18-19:
If men have a quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist, and he does not die but remains in bed, 19if he gets up and walks around outside on his staff, then he who struck him shall go unpunished; he shall only pay for his loss of time, and shall take care of him until he is completely healed.
Thus, he pays a fine, which includes medical bills and taking care of them until they are able to get off on their own and be completely healed. Then, he’s released. Also, there was a payment that fits the incident or the crime. Again in Exodus 21:22 says:
If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide.
There is no real injury here, but there was a fight that caused woman that to give birth prematurely. Therefore, he’s to be fined for that matter. Also, there is what the Bible calls an accidental, non-negligent death of someone by an owner’s animal. Exodus 21:28 says:
If an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall surely be stoned and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall go unpunished.
That’s something you could not help just like when somebody gets in a car accident. Sometimes death could occur, but it wasn’t intentional, yet that person is not going to be convicted of murder if nothing happened. Then, there’s a negligent death of someone whose owner’s animal was unruly, and he didn’t do anything about. Exodus 21:29 says:
If, however, an ox was previously in the habit of goring and its owner has been warned, yet he does not confine it and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned and its owner also shall be put to death.
This is a negligent homicide. A person did not take care of something that they knew was wrong, and it ended up killing someone. In the Bible, you see the wisdom spread out concerning this commandment on how to handle it, and how different situations and circumstances can determine what kind of killing it was, which is still very important today. In Scripture, nobody can be put to death, even when it came to capital punishment, who didn’t have at least two trustworthy, reputable witnesses.
Interesting enough, there are several areas in which the sixth commandment would not forbid the taking of human life or life of another creature. Number one, the sixth commandment does not forbid capital punishment, which I just mentioned, imposed by an established court of law of a legitimate government. Capital punishment is a defense of the image of God where it says in Exodus 21:12:
He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.
If somebody died, there was intent, and it was proven by witnesses in a court of law before judges, then, in Scripture, that person would be killed.
Secondly, it does not forbid the killing of an enemy in just wars. Whatever a just war is, I don’t know, and I’m not here to find out right now. Nonetheless, because we live in a sinful, sin-cursed world with demonic influences, war is sometimes necessary to keep and defend peace. Is it not?
Military killing of an enemy with the interest of one’s nation and freedom is not forbidden in Scripture. In fact, you can find many examples where God says to go and attack your enemies so they would not teach you their lifestyle, and you’re to war against them until they fall, until they are done, and until they are completely annihilated.
Sometimes, war becomes an awful necessity. I don’t think we should ever be in a war that we shouldn’t be there. Some of the wars we fought, we should have never gone there. Going to war is a very serious matter. It should be one of the heaviest and weightiest matter.
The reason why is because we send young people into battle, and sometimes they don’t come back, or they come back severely wounded whether it would be physically or mentally. When they come back, the suicide rate from war-torn areas, where they have seen people killed, is very high. Like the song writer says, “war changes a person,” and you never come back the same.
You come back dealing with very heavy things and images in your mind that you can never get over, so war has to be taken very seriously by any nation. I think the reason why our country needs to keep a strong well-trained, well-equipped military is for the purpose of avoiding war. President Reagan used to say:
We are going to negotiate on the position of strength.
Meaning, I got a lot of muscle back here, and I want to negotiate, not use that muscle. We always have to have a strong military because we live in a sinful world. We can’t forget what the Bible says about Satan in John 8:44:
You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning…
He incites murder and is often the one who is the source of murder, wars, and our human heart. James tells us war starts in the heart, which produces all kind of carnage when that happens. Then, the sixth commandment does not prohibit self-defense. Exodus 22:2-3 says:
If the thief is caught while breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there will be no bloodguiltiness on his account. 3“But if the sun has risen on him, there will be bloodguiltiness on his account. He shall surely make restitution; if he owns nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.
If somebody has to use self-defense and then kill somebody, it is not prohibited in Scripture, which also has to be proved. Lastly, the sixth amendment does not prohibit the slaying of animals for necessary and responsible uses. However, in general, Scripture does say that we ought to show care and kindness to animals because they are God’s creatures, so be kind to that pooch. Animals are unique creatures that God’s given us.
I wanted to bring these things about because the Bible mentions these things surrounding the sixth commandment. However, deliberate violation of one of the first six commandments carry a mandatory death penalty because such violation invites the Lord’s wrath, and thereby threatens, in this case, the foundation of Israelite society.
Of course, the violation and disregard for these commandments will threaten the foundation of any society because these are things that should be in place for life to be safe and enjoyable to live. There’s a disease released and a dark cloud of impending gloom that hovers over a nation that is on the slippery slope of unrighteousness when they decide against God’s Sovereign mandate, which is to put aside the ten commandments.
This becomes evident in a nation when we’re not putting murderers to death. Because of this commandment, Israel didn’t have jails or prisons. We have been convinced, in the general population, that the death penalty is barbaric. The New Testament has not an annulled capital punishment. According to Romans 13, it says on government:
for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.
The government does not carry the sword for no reason. The sword refers to the power to take life and to make judgments. It is the designated instrument for capital punishment for those found guilty of murder. The word of God never gives unauthorized private persons or groups the right to end human life or to be judge and jury on them. He only gives governments that right.
However, when the government stops doing it, then they’re already setting aside God’s mandate and that nation will suffer the consequences. Another way that becomes evident is by putting to death the innocent. Making abortion, the killing of innocent children, not only legal but acceptable. Even telling women, who are thinking of having an abortion, that adoption is sinister advice and a violation of free choice.
The myth that the fetus is not human has become the driving thought in the new morality. Did you know that 97% of all abortions occur simply for convenience? There are over 1 million abortions a year. It has become this nation’s means of birth control. Years ago, Peter Singer wrote in a medical journal called Pediatrics and said:
We can no longer base our ethics on the idea that human beings are a special form of creation made in the image of God and singled out from all other animals.
Today, abortion is considered a reputable business, raking in millions and millions of dollars annually. It was the past US Surgeon General C, Everett Koop, who I believe was a believer, said:
More than a million unborn lives a year cannot be violently terminated without taking its toll on us as a nation. The story of the incarnation leaves no room for doubt: the angel told Joseph that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. From the moment of conception, God has entered human life. Pregnancy begins with fertilization, not with implantation.
Again, these are things that we sometimes don’t even think about or consider anymore. Righteousness exalts a nation. When somebody lays aside the righteous standard of God, that does not exalt a nation. Rather, it causes a nation to implode from the inside. We don’t have to worry about armies taking over. We’re doing a fine job destroying ourselves.
We have thrown God out. We have thrown his standard of living life with each other and giving Him honor, so we are going to suffer the consequences. Evolutionary theory has helped this along because they regard humans just as a higher form of animals. We are not created in the image of God. We’re just an animal and be discarded as someone wills.
This is a great sin before the Lord, and the Bible warns us about taking the life of the innocent. In fact, some of the idolatrous worship in the country was that Israel was told to go in and annihilate were they were offering up children on the altars before their gods and burning them.
So, we’re just doing the same thing, but we package it in a nice way. We convince people that everybody’s doing it and you don’t want your life to be destroyed by having children. All that stuff goes on and it’s destroying our nation.
Christians, we need to rise up and we need to say something. When you come up across a young lady who is thinking about an abortion, then you need to come alongside of her. Thank the Lord for all those who are believers. They’re forgiven of a sin if that was part of their life. Jesus Christ’s blood has covered that sin and will cover all sin.
However, it’s a good opportunity for you if you meet somebody who’s going to be thinking about it, and they’re not going to get the other point of view because nobody’s giving it to them. Unless there’s a crisis pregnancy center that’s got the guts to do it, and they’re still in business to help women make a choice that is honoring for the Lord and that they’re not going to regret for the rest of their life.
This commandment moves us to realize that just because we look the other way, it doesn’t mean we’re not guilty of certain crimes going on in our world if we’re not saying anything about it, if you’re not doing anything with it, and if we’re just sitting there going downstream. We need to be swimming against the current and be somebody who has a voice to say:
No, that is not right, that’s not what God intended, and this is what you are to be doing.
All of this leads me to the New Testament. The Lord takes up this issue in the Sermon on the Mount and begins to reiterate and talk to the religious leaders about the real intention of the sixth commandment. They were thinking this sixth commandment forbids and punishes the outward act and restrains the end not the beginning of the scene. The person was liable to the Judgment of the court and is guilty before the court if they are found guilty of this particular sin.
In this passage of Scripture, Jesus is correcting fallaciously held interpretations of the Old Testament. He does not start off by telling them what the Old Testament said, but what they heard it said. Jesus is not negating something from the Old Testament, but something from their understanding of the Old Testament was incorrect, so the people heard that anyone who murders under the Mosaic legislation had to appear before the court to be judged.
However, was the outward action, the mere external act of murder, the only thing at stake even in the sixth commandment? Absolutely not. It was not just external acts, but it was internal motive. Jesus goes much further than the Mosaic Law and explains that murderers’ despicable anger and venomous wrath lurk in the dark shadows behind the deed itself. The root of sin, a corrupt, wicked, and selfish heart lie in the backdrop of the premeditation of murder. Matthew 5:19-22 says:
Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 21“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
This is a very important understanding of what the sixth commandment actually meant, and what it means for the church and for believers today. Jesus is giving us the ethical attitude of this command and is using, in this passage of Scripture, three illustrations. In Matthew 5:22, He talks about costless anger or unjust anger for He says:
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court…
Jesus is saying even anger toward a brother is forbidden. We are not even to have hard feelings against another brother or sister in our heart.
Jesus says it’s not only the external deeds that are sinful and are in danger of judgment, but the innermost thoughts are sinful and are in danger of judgment. How many people do you know that have been tried and convicted for anger and found guilty in the court of law? Nobody, but what if a person was tried first based on what they were thinking? The person would be guilty.
Anger is the seed and the bud of murder, but Jesus does not say that anger leads to murder. Jesus is saying anger is murder. Anger seems trivial in appearance, but the offense is deadly. In Christ’s eyes, the principal that causes anger is what matters. Not merely the letter of the law, but the spirit in how we carry it out in our heart.
Christ is saying that as Christians, to hate, to feel bitter, or to have this unpleasant unkind feeling of resentment toward another human being without a cause is murder and subject to judgement. Now, the question is what is anger with a cause? In Ephesians, it says to be angry and to sin not. Holy anger proceeds from love and righteousness.
Also, it has in view the good of him against whom is it is exercised. It looks to glorify God. For example, if you meet a woman who is thinking about an abortion, Holy anger should move you to tell her the truth and to help her through that process, so she makes the right decision. Holy anger is a very powerful emotion.
The Lord knows we can’t shut it off, but we can to redirect it, and the Holy Spirit of God directs our anger to the right place where we can actually have righteous anger. Again, we cannot handle anger very long before it turns sinful.
Unholy anger comes from pride and selfishness. It desires revenge against the one who it is directed at and it seeks to injure the one who it is directed to. Anger is lawful only when it burns against sin. Actually, Holy anger leads you to hate what God hates, not want it in your life, and put it to death. If you’re going to kill anything, kill your sin. That’s what we are to be killing and we do that by righteous anger. The Lord gives us an example of contemptuous, snobbish, and frightful content towards another person in Matthew 5:22:
…and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court…
Notice that the level of the court is going up. This is where our anger explodes into words, which is coming from an uncontrolled temper. He’s expressing contempt towards the man by saying, “You stupid and your brainless idiot.” This is anger in danger. The Bible says of the Supreme Court, which would be the highest level of court in Israel.
The principal with contemptuous anger is that we can destroy a man’s reputation and shake someone else’s confidence in him or her by whispering criticisms or by deliberate fault-finding against that person. The Bible is saying that murder is worthy of judgment in the highest human court. Then, He takes it up a notch and says in Matthew 5:22:
…and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
To the Jews, a moron is significant and is equal to a rebel against God, so that one using this term assigned himself the passing of judicial sentence on someone else, which had no authority to do so. The Bible is saying that this murder in the heart is worthy of hellfire. This is the final and eternal judgment. You cannot get a worse judgment then your sin landing you in hell. Here, landing someone in hell is the sin of a heart of murder.
They never committed the act, but the intent has always been there. The way we think about other people in our mind, whether we commit the act or not, is what the Lord’s looking at, and he’s really saying:
Listen, if the regular habit and pattern of your thinking is to murder people, and if you had the chance, you would eliminate them and move them from out of your way, then you are guilty of hellfire.
You are guilty of the worst judgment, which will lead to be separate from the Lord, His character, and His standards forever. 1 John 3:14-15 says:
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 15Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
This chapter is talking about habitual sin. Someone who commits habitual sin is someone that does not have the seed of God in their heart. Now, they’re not a child of God, they’re a child to Satan even if they’re claiming to be a child of God. In other words, if this habitual pattern of sin of a murderous mindset has been in you all along, then there’s no salvation evident in you at all, so you are not a believer.
Of course, the Lord doesn’t want us to have this kind of mindset in an hour as a believer. He wants this mindset to go out. It has to be gone. In Scripture, there is no foundation at all for you to have a just reason to be angry at someone. Long-term, there is none. If God removed his wrath from you, His anger from you because of Chris, then you and I should never have that anger displayed towards someone else because we think we’re justified in it.
We are believing the lie of Satan and not the standard of God. If that’s our mindset, we’re not aligned with Scripture at all. In Matthew 5, it says that if you have that barrier in your life, there’s a way to remove that barrier so you can maintain a right standard before God. Matthew 5:23-24:
Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
This is urgent so that one can keep unhindered worship with God. We should actually take steps to remove the cause of the trouble. God is concerned that you and I maintain a right relationship with Him vertically and with others horizontally. He uses Old Testament pictures to bring across the points a person who makes a ceremonial sacrifice to cover his moral failures where he brings the sacrifice before the priest.
He is in the very act of presenting that sacrifice to the priest, so the priest can take it to God, which is meant to restore and to forgive a broken relationship between that person and God. That’s what they sacrificed, so they could offer the blood to be shed for the covering of a sin.
Thus, that’s the picture that he’s giving us in this passage of Scripture. All right. Meaning, there are three things we do to remove the barrier of a habitual pattern of anger.
Thus, that’s the picture that he’s giving us in this passage of Scripture. All right. Meaning, there are three things we do to remove the barrier of a habitual pattern of anger. A sin that so easily bests you is that you remember.
Suddenly, it flashes through your mind that you have done something to a brother fitted to provoke angry feelings either with him or with you and lay it down. Lay that offering down on the spur of the moment before the altar without handing it to the priest to be offered by him at your place.
Don’t do it yet because you’re coming before God, so you’ve got to get rid of that sin first. Sometimes, we have to go to somebody and say that you were either angry with and you want to clear the air because you can’t worship God with this in your heart. You must get rid of it.
Secondly, interrupt your religious action and go to that errand right away if any sacrifice was to be valid. Confession and restoration were involved so it could mean going to that person or could mean calling them on the phone. It could be emailing them, or you could text them. You can send them a letter or card. Maybe the best way is to do it face to face.
In the sight of God, there is no value whatsoever in an act of worship if we harbor known sin if we remain angry with someone. You can’t worship God and have these things festering in your heart. Once you get right, you go back and present your offering from a pure conscience, from a confessed heart, from a desire to make a relationship right, and you go, and you make it right. This is how barriers are removed between people and God and people and people.
When we come to the Lord’s table, one of the first things we are come with self-examination. We’re examining our own heart and we’re also examining how we are doing with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are making those relationships right and are we confessing sin and we are not harboring anything in our heart. That should not be there, so we are getting them, laying them down, and putting them to death.
Every first Sunday of the month is getting those things right, so we can continue to worship God unhindered and without that garbage collecting in a heart. Bottom line, you shall not murder in your heart, which is where the root of that sin starts from. Let’s pray:
Lord, the word of God has evident information and very clear principles on what you think, Your commandments, and how they are to be lived out and worked out. I pray Lord, as we think of these righteous standards that are beneficial for all of us in our worship to you in a relationship with one another, You would allow us to search your heart honestly. Lord, if there has been anything in our hearts festering, anything that has not been confessed, then I pray, Lord, that we wouldn’t go one step further, and we would come before You in confession. If that means we have to go to somebody and make things right, then I pray that we would do that. Give us the ability and strength to do that. Then we come back and resume our walk with You and worship You. Lord teach us to be people who are considering what’s going on inside of our heart before it ends up on the fruit of our branches. I pray, Lord, that You would allow us to examine our self-deep in the recesses of what we think because You know what we think, and You know the intents of our heart. Your word reaches deep down into the dark places of our heart and exposes us for who we are. I pray, Lord, as You do that, we know that when we come to Christ and what He accomplished on our behalf, we can have healing, we can have real forgiveness, we can have restoration, and we can have a joyful and a peaceful spirit because you’ve taken care of things on that Cross. Lord, I pray we would rest in that today and that You would allow us to continue to have unhindered worship to You and good relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ for the sake of the advancement of all that You say in the word of God, for the preaching of the Gospel, and for the lack of grieving the spirit of God and quenching Him. That we would have the power of God’s spirit to live our Christian life. Bless us with that today and every day. I pray that in Christ’s name, Amen.