JUNE 14 2015

The Sixth Commandment

Part One


[I. Introduction] 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. Let us seek to do that with the sixth commandment this morning.


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


Some older translations of the Bible translate this verse as “Thou shalt not kill.” This is incorrect because the word denotes the taking of an innocent human life, whereas “kill” is too general of a word that does not represent the original intent.


 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. To receive the manifold blessings that attend to His name we just call, “O Lord Jesus! O Lord Jesus!” When we call with the name we get the Person of the name! And, the Lord Himself is our greatest need!


The sixth commandment also carries with it negative and positive intent. These intents are not something invented by man but, since the commands have come from God, their intent is also from God Himself.


[II.] The negative aspect is plainly stated. You shall not murder. The most obvious application is too clear.


[A.] Homicide is forbidden. Homicide is the taking of a human life. There are exceptions. Homicide is allowed for individuals in self-defense. And it is allowed for governments in capital punishment as well as in just wars. The reason these three exceptions are known to be so is because Scripture presents them as not only allowable but even mandates them. Hence, we are back to our original definition: The negative aspect of this command forbids the taking of an innocent human life.


[B.] Suicide is prohibited under this commandment. Suicide is a violation of this commandment for many reasons. But this principle is foremost: Only God has the authority to take a human life. As we just heard, He does delegate this authority to man because man is to be His instrument to carry out the death penalty for capital crimes. Likewise, God delegates His right to take life in the other two circumstances of self-defense and just war. However, man does not have the right to take a human life at all, unless it has been so prescribed by God. Only God has the authority to take a human life. Therefore,


  • suicide is a grave sin because it usurps God’s authority and claims it for its own.
  • It is also a sin because it is selfish.
  • It is also a sin because it causes emotional harm to those who love the perpetrator.
  • It is also a sin because it is cowardly. Rather than choosing to face up to and overcome the difficulties of life (and sometimes they can be taxing to the extreme) the self-murderer takes what they think is the easy way out. Sadly, on Judgment Day they will alarmingly discover that it was not the easy way out, but it seems easier in the moment of despair.
  • It is a particularly grievous sin because, of every sin under heaven – and there are so many – it is the only sin that cannot be repented of. You can repent of drug abuse and be forgiven. You can repent of adultery and be forgiven. You can repent of every sin and be forgiven because the necessity of repentance is the condition for forgiveness. One can even repent of murdering another person. But one can never repent of self-murder. And without repentance there is no forgiveness.
  • It is a sin because it ends the great good that one person can do in this life. And this world is in need of those who do good. There are few who do. Most live for themselves.


There was a rich young man in England who had a series of disappointments which made him feel that life was not worthwhile, as if he really had nothing left to live for. On his way to the river where he intended to end his life, a homeless boy met him and begged for a little money to buy bread. The young man, seeing by the pinched face of the child that he was really hungry, said to himself, "I will see that this boy gets one good meal before I die."

He took the boy to a good restaurant and ordered for him such a meal as he had never before seen in his life. As the young man saw the child eat, a strange feeling of joy crept into his own heart. Then he thought that if he were to commit suicide, the boy would soon again be as hungry as before.

So he decided that he would make it his business to see that that child always had enough to eat. He became a friend to the child and gave him the love and provision he needed. In doing so he found that his own melancholy lifted.


Suicide breaks the sixth commandment and brings with it untold ramifications.


[C.] Euthanasia is sinful by this commandment. Euthanasia is so-called “mercy killing.” Many times the motives can be questionable. A husband advocates for the withholding of food and water for his wife who is in a coma. He says that it would have been her wish. But he really wants to get on with his life and marry another. A woman decides to direct the nursing home to withhold food and water from her elderly mother who is also in great pain because of her medical condition. She says that she does not want to see her mother suffer, but there is this will and she will receive $150,000 when her mother passes.


It helps to understand that euthanasia is not the withdrawal of artificial means of life support by medical technology. The reason that this is not euthanasia is because it still leaves the life of the person in the hands of God. Euthanasia is either the administration of chemicals to cause the death of a person or the withholding of basic necessities like food and water. The former is the reason Dr. Kevorkian became infamous and for which he was convicted of second-degree murder: he administered chemical “cocktails” that ended a person’s life. (It does not matter whether you consider Kevorkian’s actions as assisted suicide or euthanasia.) He received a ten year prison sentence and served 8 years before being released. Four after his release he contracted liver cancer and died.


But motives can be good also. Not everyone who advocates for euthanasia has hidden motives. Some truly are heartbroken over the suffering of a loved one. They wish to see an end to their suffering. In order for an action to be right both the motive and the action itself must be right. Even if the motive is right and the action is wrong then the act is still a sin.


Euthanasia is a sin because:


  • It takes an innocent human life when only God has that authority. And,
  • It denies the power of God to change the circumstances, the causative factors behind the pain, of the person suffering. It thereby presumes upon the future which only God knows.

Many so-called mercy-killings are perpetrated upon people in comas. But those decisions rest upon the advice of doctors who are so often wrong. They will say that there is no hope for a person who is in a coma to come out. Coma survivor Ayanda Nqinana's story contradicts that notion. His coma lasted seven years, from 2005 until 2012. As is the case with many other high-profile comas, Nqinana's was caused by a car accident. Unlike other coma revivals, his was sparked by a regimen of a sleeping pill similar to Ambien. Based on amateur research conducted by Nqinana's wife, Nomfundo, doctors agreed to treat Nqinana with the drug. After five days of treatment, Nqinana's seven-year coma was over. Nqinana is one example of a multi-year coma survivor, but he is not the only one to experience such a recovery.


A 19-year coma survivor was a Polish man named Jan Grzebski. A railroad worker, Grzebski, 46, suffered his coma in 1988 in what was initially believed to be a workplace accident but was later attributed to a 5-centimeter brain tumor. Grzebski was able to survive the tumor, and eventually emerged from his coma in 2006. In an interview after he woke up, Grzebski admitted to being overwhelmed by the abundance of foods in his local shops, cell phones, and the fall of communism.


There are several stories like this, including the 12-year coma of Martin Pistorius who was aware of what people were saying about him during his coma.


God can deliver people from comas, from pain, from disease. The Lord can heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually!


[D.] Abortion is a violation of the commandment because it is the taking of an innocent human life. Opponents of legislation to ban abortion usually obfuscate the issue by raising other issues that are not germane to the central and, truly, only relevant question. Any moral ambiguity regarding abortion can be removed by answering just one question. It's a question no one talks about. Christian teacher and philosopher Greg Koukl explains the question masterfully: “Imagine that your child walks up when your back is turned and asks, "Daddy, can I kill this?"

What is the first thing you must find out before you can answer him? You can never answer the question "Can I kill this?" unless you've answered a prior question: What is it?

Abortion involves killing and discarding something that's alive. Whether it's right or not to take the life of any living thing depends entirely upon what kind of being it is. The answer one gives is pivotal, the deciding element that trumps all other considerations.

Let me put the issue plainly. If the unborn is not a human being, no justification for abortion is necessary. However, if the unborn is a human being, no justification for abortion is adequate. Some say the unborn is not a human being. They contend it's just a non-viable tissue mass, merely a part of a woman's body. Others say it's only a "potential" human, or a human that is not yet a person. If any of these options turn out to be true, then it's hard to imagine how any additional considerations could make a difference. No further defense would be necessary.

Have the abortion.

On the other hand, maybe the unborn child is a bona fide human being, deserving of the same care and protection you and I enjoy. If that's the case, then abortion takes the life of an innocent child simply because she's in the way and can't defend herself. This is not a reason to kill another human being.

This distinction simplifies what, to many, seems to be an intractable moral problem. Talk-show hosts, educators, politicians, even religious thinkers reflect and nod solemnly, "Oh, yes, abortion. It's a very complex issue. There are no easy answers."

Answering the foundational question "What is it?" removes the complexity. When one clears away the irrelevant thoughts on both sides--the name calling, the misrepresentations, the circular reasoning, the medical misinformation, the emotional language--the issue becomes very clear and, I think, reasonably easy to answer. The hard part is applying what we discover.”


The answer to the question, “Are the preborn human beings?” is clear from both Scripture and science. Both reply with a resounding and indubitable “Yes.”


Considering science first, author Warner Wallace summarizes the answer this way: “It is a medical fact that a sperm, with just its 23 chromosomes, is not a human being; nor is an ovum, with its 23 chromosomes. But when they unite into one entity with 46 chromosomes, the result is a human being. Genetically, the fertilized ovum is a human being, with its own UNIQUE, lifelong, characteristic code. From this point on, it is simply a matter of its location, and growth, not of its kind. Don’t you think that if all human beings have a right to life, so, too, does an unborn baby? Around the 3rd week, the blood cells and the heart are formed. By the 4th week, there is a heartbeat. By 6 weeks, it has a nervous system. Around this time, it has its own brain waves, which it will keep for life. By 7 weeks, it has all the internal organs of an adult (even though it is less than one inch long.) By 8 weeks, all external organs are formed. Before it is born, it can suck its thumb, and recognize its mother’s voice and heartbeat. Tiny, yes, but definitely human.”


Scripture also answers this question for us.


Psalm 139:13-16For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. You eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.

Isaiah 49:1Listen to me, O islands, and pay attention, you peoples from afar. The Lord called me from the womb; from the body of my mother He named me.

Jeremiah 1:5Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.


Could Scripture be any clearer on this subject?


Abortion is a violation of the commandment because it is the taking of an innocent human life.


Here's a family history: The father has syphilis. The mother has TB. They already have had four children. The first is blind. The second had died. The third is deaf. The fourth has TB. Now the mother is pregnant again, The parents come to you for advice. They are willing to have an abortion, if you decide they should. What do you say? Of course, there are many in the world who would recommend abortion. But, if they did, they would have murdered Beethoven.


The world would have lost this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srsfCr7mmlc, among many other marvelous works.


But, it does not matter that he was a great artist. For we do not measure the value of a person by what they offer or what they do. People are valuable because they are people and that is all. If Beethoven would have been a collector of garbage instead of melodic tunes that continue to be loved by the world, the tragedy of his death would have been the same.


[III. Conclusion to Part One] Yes, homicide, suicide, euthanasia, and abortion are all murder because they are the taking of an innocent life. And some in my hearing may be guilty of this sin. The release and freedom from your guilt will never and can never be accomplished by defending the sin. This is because no matter how eloquent or detailed a defense may be the Arbiter is God. And God has already spoken on the subject.


The only path to freedom is forgiveness. And forgiveness is available to all those who confess and repent. David, the king of Israel and author of the Psalms, was guilty of murder and he received forgiveness. Forgiveness is waiting for the guilty because of the price that Jesus paid on the cross. Jesus made it possible for the Father to forgive those guilty of every form of murder. You only need to come to Him with a contrite heart and ask, trusting in His promise to forgive; because He has promised to do so. It is that simple.


Many of you may be thinking, “I have not been guilty of assisting suicide, or euthanasia or abortion.” Well, praise the Lord for Him keeping you from those sins!


There are two things I would say to the rest. Do not judge harshly those who have been guilty of this sin. It is only God’s grace that has kept you from such. When a person is forgiven they are forgiven completely. Do not hold against them what God does not hold against them. Love them because God loves them.


And I would also encourage you not to be an armchair Christian. Get involved with saving lives. Whether it is a suicide hotline, an advocacy group for the elderly, or saving the lives of the preborn (for many young lives have been saved on the very sidewalks of abortion mills), get up!! Help the helpless and you will also find that you help others. When you save a preborn child from abortion you also save the mother from the burden of guilt and psychological problems. When you talk a person out of suicide you not only save their life, but you prevent great anguish in those closest to them.


You may also discover that, like the young man from England who fed a child on the streets, your heart will be strangely warmed and greater meaning enters your life.


“Lord give us the strength to receive your forgiveness and also to got out of our chairs and save others from death. Amen.”