There are few common truths that are found within the many cultures on planet earth. While politics, religion, and education are viewed with varying approaches and conclusions, the topic of murder is generally viewed as something that various cultures will agree is unacceptable and not good. In Exodus 20:13, God establishes the standard of His law through the sixth commandment: lo ratsach, which translates from Hebrew to English as “not murder.”
After reading this commandment, many people release a sigh of relief as if to say, “Whew, finally a commandment I don’t or haven’t struggled with.” While this may be true that you have never taken the physical life of another human being, Jesus confronts this type of thinking during the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:21-26. In this text, Jesus calls those who are patting themselves on the back for never physically murdering anyone, to consider if they’ve ever been angry with someone. Jesus goes on to say, that if they’ve been angry with someone and committed what equates to “murder of the heart,” then they’ve broken the sixth commandment and should seek to reconcile the situation with those with whom they’ve committed the offense. Kevyn DeYoung, in The 10 Commandments: What They Mean, Why They Matter and Why We Should Obey Them, says “Jesus says that is so serious that we should not only do what we can to eliminate it in our heart but also do what we can to prevent and alleviate it in other. The sixth commandment doesn’t just forbid physical murder of the heart. It positively enjoins us to seek reconciliation” (103).
For some people groups, “don’t murder” is the end of their explanation on the subject, while other people groups try to carefully navigate the complexities involved in such a subject as this. Arguments are established that murder is permissible in certain categories while rejecting it as a possibility in others. Some of these categories that are widely debated include suicide, euthanasia, abortion, capital punishment, and warfare. As followers of Jesus, we must understand the difference between each of these categories and strive to uphold biblical truths as they relate to what is permissible and acceptable. Both Kevyn DeYoung in The 10 Commandments: What They Mean, Why They Matter and Why We Should Obey Them and Philip Graham Ryken in Written in Stone: The Ten Commandments and Today’s Moral Crisis, do a fantastic job at approaching these categories and more from a biblical basis.
Whether we have been angry at our brother, received an abortion, or committed murder, we have all fallen short of the standard that God has established. Romans 6:23 says that “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (ESV). Though certain sins may have different worldly consequences, all sins have separated us from a Holy God, and each of us is in need of a savior from our sin. Jesus, through the miraculous rescue mission He completed, has provided us a way to be reconciled to God. Romans 10:9 says, “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (ESV). Just as much as God demands we preserve life through upholding the sixth commandment, He also desires new life to be found in Him, through the work of Jesus on the cross. No sin is too big. No circumstance is too much. No matter where you find yourself today, God desires that you be reconciled to Him through the saving grace found in Jesus.