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JULY 12 2015

The Sixth Commandment

Part Two

 

[I. Intro and summary of part one] For the past several weeks we have been examining the Ten Commandments. The ten commandments were given to Israel 3,500 years ago. But the commandments were not just for Israel. They are a codification of the law which God has written on every person’s heart. This is because they are moral in nature and reflect the character of God Himself. Hence, the law of God is for all mankind and is applicable to both the believer in Christ and the unbeliever. Every person is amenable to God’s law. The only exception to this is a righteous person. That would be a person who is both saved and, according to the words of Hebrews, mature and has powers of discernment that are already trained. (Hebrews 5:12-14) Even for that person, though, the law may still be studied to bring clarity to what is already known and practiced.

 

The law is loved by those who love God. As David said, Oh how I love your law!

It is my meditation all the day. (Psalm 119:97) David, of course, was a righteous man who yet meditated upon the law and loved it.

 

To the one who possesses the law, loves the law, and lives the law there are many blessings that God sends their way. God promises blessing to the one who obeys the law. In order to obey and live out God’s will, God’s law, we must understand it. This is why we have been examining them: so that we may better obey them and experience the fullness of life that the Lord intends for you to have.

 

Three weeks ago I began a message about the sixth commandment. We needed to hear other things the last two Sundays, but this morning we will conclude with “part two” of the sixth commandment.

 

The sixth commandment, along with the eight, is the shortest of the commandments. It consists of only four words: You shall not murder.

 

Last time we saw that this prohibits homicide, the most obvious application. It also condemns self-murder, suicide. It also makes criminal, with respect to God’s law (not necessarily man’s), euthanasia and abortion. All of these acts violate the sixth commandment and make the perpetrator accountable to judgment on that Great Day. However, every violation of the sixth commandment will be forgiven for the one who repents, that is, for the one who confesses the sin and turns away from it, trusting in Christ’s sacrifice! Hence, the pathway to freedom from judgment, peace with God, and even inner peace (God’s gift) is to forsake attempting to justify our sin (an impossible task) and to simply repent. Peace awaits the one with a contrite heart.

 

 

 

Having covered the outward acts that constitute sin with respect to the negative side of this commandment we have one more aspect to consider.

 

Our primary passage this morning is Exodus 20:13. But this only consists of four words: You shall not murder. Let us read a passage that will give us a deeper understanding of this command.

 

            “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.    

(Matthew 5:21-22 ESV)

 

This is part of the most famous sermon ever preached: The Sermon on the Mount. Just prior to these verses, Jesus reaffirmed the ongoing validity of God’s law. When I was a young Christian I came under a teaching that said that the law of the Old Testament was no longer binding upon the Christian. Because the group that I met with relied upon the Bible so much and seemed to be right about so many other topics I simply went along with that doctrine as well. Even though I was faithful to the teachings of this group whenever I would read verses 17-19 of this same chapter my spirit was troubled. It seemed so plain that Jesus was teaching that the law continues, not that it is abrogated.

 

            “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

(Matthew 5:17-19 ESV)

 

So, after Jesus reaffirms the law he then explicates it. Throughout this portion of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus shows us that the true intent of the law is not limited to outward acts. This was how the scribes and Pharisees viewed the law – as merely regulating outward behavior. They believed that as long as they adhered to the outward forms they could think and feel whatever they wished.

 

Jesus radically corrects this notion. He reveals that God is after our heart. Yes, laws such as “You shall not murder” do regulate our behavior, but they should also adjust our thoughts, our feelings, our hearts.

 

The law functions both to reveal what we are and to guide us where we should be.

 

[II. E. as a continuation of Part One outline] The sixth commandment, according to Jesus, includes the prohibition of anger.

 

Some of you may be thinking, “I’m in trouble.” You may be. Anger is one of those sins, like complaining, that is common. It is so common that people have a tendency to either not view it as a sin at all or, if they do, to think lightly of it. However, neither of those options are available to the Christian. Jesus made it plain that being angry with our brother or sister in Christ makes one liable to the judgment. Only sin makes one liable to the judgment.

 

There are occasions when anger is not only permitted, but is the proper response. Jesus became angry. When is anger proper and when is it a work of the flesh? As we look at the times when Jesus became angry, and when we consider when anger is condemned, we learn the answer.

 

When there is a hindrance or blatant disregard for the working of God then anger is justified. When there is a hindrance or disregard to ourselves then anger is sin. We can become angry when we are insulted or perceived as having a rightful thing denied.  To put it in more simple terms: we become angry when others cross our pride or our profit. This is a sinful appropriation of anger.

 

Why is it a sin to be angry? You have heard me say time and again that God’s laws are for our good. God cares about us. When he forbids something it is because it is harmful to us.

 

1. It is an enemy to love and to another’s good. When you are angry

 

  • you are inclined to hurt those who angered you.
  • Hurtful thoughts arise in your mind.
  • Hurtful words emerge from your mouth.
  • You are prompted to take harmful actions.

 

There is a biblical example of this in I Samuel 25. 

 

2. It leads others into the sin of anger. Anger is like a disease. One property of a disease is that it can easily spread from one person to another. Anger is like that. Often, when one person is angry, their anger arouses anger in the one who made them angry. If it is not the anger that arouses anger then the hurtful actions that an angry person takes can and often does arouse the anger of the other person.

 

3. It makes you unfit for holy duty. There are certain duties that we should cheerfully and gladly engage, such as

 

  • family devotion with our husband, wife, or close companion, and with our children. But if you are angry you will not enter in to such devotion.
  • We should tell others about their need of salvation, but if you are angry you are not so inclined and will neglect this duty.
  • We should meet with our fellow saints on Sundays and mid-week, but if we are angry we will avoid those meetings and so impair our own spiritual health.
  • It even makes you unfit to pray because it steals your desire to commune with God.

Anger, then, distances us from God on more than one level.

 

Therefore, we must avoid anger and, if we possess it, we must overcome it. To that end, should you have a struggle with this sin, please pick up Seven Strategies to Overcome Anger in the foyer.

 

 

[III] Even though eight of the ten commandments are stated negatively (You shall not…) and only two are stated positively (You shall…), yet every command possesses both a positive and negative aspect. This is because whether a command is positive or negative it necessarily implies the opposite.

 

For example, the first commandment, You shall have no other God’s before Me, necessarily means that we should worship the true God. Of course, that command is found elsewhere in Scripture. Likewise, You shall not take the name of LORD your God in vain, necessarily means that we must use His name in the way He intended. One way He wishes His name to be used is by calling upon Him using His name.

 

So it is with the sixth commandment. If the death of, and anger against, our fellow man is forbidden with severe sanctions then the promotion of life, as well as that which is opposite of anger, is enjoined by necessity.

 

God’s interest is not merely in preventing death but in promoting life. God’s interest in not merely in preventing anger but in promoting a disposition of mind and emotion that is under the control of the Spirit.

 

Why does God promote life?

 

[A.] Most obviously, God promotes life because he created life. Paul, in his sermon on Mars Hill says:          “nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”

(Acts 17:25 ESV)

 

Since God created life He is for life and desires to see it extended and purposes that it flourish. The devil, on the other hand, is the promoter of death. Jesus said this about him when he was addressing the Pharisees:        “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

(John 8:44 ESV)

Death is of the devil and under the power of the devil, according to Hebrews 2:14.

 

Satan desired to kill Job but the Lord did not allow him to do so.

 

Life is of God. Death is of the devil.

 

[B.] God promotes life because He is Life and God rightly promotes Himself.    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

            (John 1:1-4 ESV)

 

Since God is life and He promotes what He is, He promotes life.

 

[C.] God created three kinds of life. He created physical life. He created soulish life, that is, our minds, emotions, and will. He created spiritual life – that deepest part of who we are that was created to contact and even contain God.

 

Because God created all life He promotes all life. He desires the welfare of our bodies, our minds, our emotions, our will, and our spirits.

 

[IV.] The sixth commandment in its positive aspect calls us to imitate God by promoting life.

 

[A.] We ought to promote the welfare of our physical lives. Both our own as well as others. When faced with choices that are sometimes uncertain we may ask the question: How will this choice affect my body? How will this choice affect the bodies of those in my house, my community, my state?

 

[B.] We must promote the welfare of our minds, our emotions, and our wills? God desires that our minds be clear, that our emotions be healthy, and that our wills be directed aright. Hence, we should pursue these same things. Ask yourself: How will this action that I am considering affect my mind and my heart?

 

[C.] We must promote the welfare of our spirits as well as the spiritual well-being of our neighbor. Am I sure that I have eternal life? If I have it, will this decision I am considering help me spiritually?

 

[V.] Finally, the sixth commandment calls us not only to flee anger, but to react with the opposite disposition. What is the opposite of anger? It is calmness. The fact that they are opposites is self evident, but Scripture shows us they are. When the Lord was bringing judgment against Israel he says:          So will I satisfy my wrath on you, and my jealousy shall depart from you. I will be calm and will no more be angry.

(Ezekiel 16:42 ESV)

There is a slogan that has recently arisen and now seen on t-shirts and posters almost everywhere you go. It is quite popular. It is “Keep Calm and Carry On.” The “carry on” part has been replaced with a person’s favorite activity. So… [show slides].

 

Keep Calm and Carry On was a motivational poster produced by the British government in 1939 in preparation for the Second World War. The poster was intended to raise the morale of the British public, threatened with widely predicted mass air attacks on major cities. Although 2.45 million copies were printed, and although the Blitz happened, the poster was hardly ever publicly displayed and was little known until a copy was rediscovered in 2000. It has since been re-issued by a number of private companies, and has been used as the decorative theme for a range of products.

 

In 2000, Stuart Manley, co-owner with his wife Mary of Barter Books Ltd. in England, was sorting through a box of used books bought at auction when he uncovered one of the original "Keep Calm and Carry On" posters. The couple framed it and hung it up by the cash register; it attracted so much interest that Manley began to produce and sell copies.[Other companies followed suit, and the design rapidly began to be used as the theme for a wide range of products.[14] Mary Manley later commented, "I didn't want it trivialized. But of course now it's been trivialized beyond belief.”

 

Yes, it has been both popularized and trivialized, but I like it! Although it is true that people can generate and possess calmness by an act of the will (because our emotions can and should be directed by our will, not the other way around), the success of such endeavors is often quite limited. Real calmness is of the Holy Spirit. When your calmness is of the Spirit then it is real and lasting.

 

[VI. Application and Conclusion] Over the years, before my mother passed, I would go to visit her and, because I was concerned for her soul, the gospel would come up in the course of our conversation. She used to resist it and her first line of resistance was “I’m not a sinner.” She would say something along the lines of, “I don’t steal things. I don’t murder. I don’t try to hurt people.” The sixth commandment, “You shall not murder,” carries with it far more than a prohibition to murder. Jesus taught us that.

 

It entails not getting angry with our brother and sister. It entails the promotion of life:

 

  • the welfare of our bodies and even others.
  • The benefit of our minds and others.
  • The happiness of our emotions and, to the extent that it is within our power, others.
  • The benefit of our will and, to the extent of our influence, others.
  • The safety of our spirit and others.
  • In short, the promotion of biological, intellectual, psychological, and spiritual life!

 

Even more than this, it carries with it that we must possess the right frame of mind and condition of heart when we are insulted or verbally attacked. We should not only not be angry but we are called to be calm.

 

This is all good and true. But, isn’t this too much? Yes, it is too much…if left to our own abilities and efforts we will fall short all too often. It is not naturally within us to fulfill this commandment.

 

But we can live this commandment out, even on a daily basis by doing two things: by loving the Lord and being infused with him.

 

If we have been born again we discover that we love Him like we have never loved Him before. We can nurture that love still more on our journey.

 

What we need in the present hour is more love for our Lord and, especially, to be infused with Him! In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

 

  • This life becomes a river of living water that can flow out of us!
  • This infusion is just the Holy Spirit.
  • This river is just the Spirit moving within us.
  • When the river is flowing we fulfill this commandment without effort of our own.
  • We will even find that we Can Keep Calm and Be Filled with the Holy Spirit.