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The Sixth Commandment

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The Sixth Commandment:  A Savior is Murdered

Pastor Oesterwind

December 21, 2008

“You shall not murder.”

Exodus 20:13

Introduction:   Preaching this text a few days before Christmas will probably leave people a bit stunned.  Especially when our society defines The Ten Commandments as follows:

    1.            Have a good day.

    2.            Shop.

    3.            Eliminate pain.

    4.            Be up-to-date.

    5.            Relax.

    6.            Express yourself.

    7.            Have a happy family.

    8.            Be entertaining.

    9.            Be entertained.

10.            Buy entertainment.

Of course, the Savior born became the Savior murdered some 33 years later.  Speaking to his fellow Jews, Stephen said, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.” 

1 Thessalonians 2:15 states that the Jews “killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men.” 

Actually, a text often connected with the birth of Christ tells the story of quite a bloody massacre: 

“Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more. 

Herod sought to murder the toddler Jesus. 

The sixth commandment forbids the unlawful killing of a person.  The NKJ uses the word murder to communicate this.  “You shall not murder.”


·       The Hebrew language has many words related to the concept of killing.  The word used in the sixth commandment is a word that….

o   ….always tells the story of a person being killed.

o   ….is not used of killing animals or even persons during war.

o   ….does not communicate the means of killing. 

o   ….implies intentionality.  It may be premeditated or it may not be. 

o   ….often refers to violent murder.

Psalm 94:6 “[The wicked] slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless.”

Isaiah 1:21 “How the faithful city has become a harlot! It was full of justice; righteousness lodged in it, but now murderers.”

Jeremiah 7:9 “Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know?”

·       ….is used in reference to self-murder (suicide) and in reference to the actions of accessories to a murder (2 Sam 12:9).

This verb is never used for killings that take place in self-defense or killings that occur accidentally.  It is not used when the death penalty is commanded by God. 

Some struggle with this command as it relates to the death penalty.  For example, in Exodus 21:12 God commands, “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.”  Many wonder how God could command people not to kill in the sixth command and then command that murderers be put to death in Exodus 21.12. 

The answer to the dilemma is found when one realizes that Exodus 21:12 is not a command to murder, but a command to carry out capital punishment for capital crime. There is no contradiction between these two passages.

Genesis 9:6 states, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.”  When a man is put to death because he has murdered it stops him from killing again.  It also deters others from following in his footsteps.  However, the reason God gives for the death penalty is clear:  “Don’t murder another because that person is made by Me in My image.” 

Desensitizing America

The average child witnesses many murders and acts of violence through regular TV viewing.  Movies are made with more intense violence; much of it trivialized with no respect for the life that God grants.  Those making movies today even make it humorous when a person is killed. 

Children watch this and play violent video games to such an extent that they become desensitized to murder.  When children practice killing over and over again in the video world, we ought not to be surprised when they carry it out in the real world. 

When America fails to keep a biblical worldview with regard to the sanctity of human life, it leads to the end that some lives are less worth living than others (Ryken 619-20).  That’s why abortion, euthanasia, and suicide are so common today.  This would be unheard of a few generations ago. 

Transition:  There are four common types of murder committed today.  The first is abortion….

Abortion is Murder

Abortion effectively becomes a picture of the idea of sanitized murder in our country.  One passage I shared with my Sunday school as we listened to an anatomist describe the birthing process is found in Isaiah.

“And so it shall be: Instead of a sweet smell there will be a stench; Instead of a sash, a rope; Instead of well-set hair, baldness; Instead of a rich robe, a girding of sackcloth; And branding instead of beauty” (Isaiah 3.24).

There is a five-fold exchange going on in this verse.  It is an exchange that crippled society in Isaiah’s day, and it will do the same today.  Note what is being exchanged:

1.                Sweet smell of perfume accentuating the beauty of a woman becomes stench

2.                The beauty of a silken sash become the rough hewn, utilitarian rope

3.                Well-set hair becomes the scab-ridden baldness of an unhealthy, deprived woman

4.                The rich robe becomes the rough sackcloth

5.                Beauty of freedom is replaced with the branding of slavery

Beauty and gentleness were set aside and mangled by women in the day of Isaiah.  They had forgotten that that they had been created in the image of God.  Today, women fail to understand that biblical Christianity liberates the woman; other religions of the world and society itself subjugate women.  No matter how it is dressed up; it is bondage. 

Women appreciate beauty and order and bring those qualities to men.  Women complete the image of God because they are created in the image of God.  Aesthetic finery is the forte of biblical womanhood - God created the woman in this way.  Women love beautiful things.  Men love women adorned in beauty. 

Women love children because God made them to nurture and have compassion upon them.  Generally, motherhood is very fulfilling for most women.  You just need to look at my family blog to see a good example of that!  Since God protects, women also seek to protect.  This is why they may even defend their children to a fault at times. 

Contrast this with a woman who would seek an abortion.  Such a thing is rebellious opposition to God’s will for her.  She demands rights and the choice to be the captain of her own fate; yet she is made in the image of God.  Everything special about women demonstrates the image of God.

The safest place in the entire world for a child should be the womb of his mother.  Because of the loss of womanhood and the distorting of the image of God, children are torn and ravaged within their own mothers.  It’s the sanitization of murder.  Because of the choice made, these same women are torn and ravaged within the depths of their very being. 

Transition:  So, first this evening, abortion is murder.  Second, … 

Euthanasia is Murder

·       Why?  Because God determines when a person dies.  The problem we have today is that we have technology that keeps the body functioning long after God’s time.

·       This leads to a lot of questions for preachers and family members in hospitals at times of crises.  I’ve faced this more than once.

·       We don’t always need to provide extraordinary measures to keep a person’s heart beating.  In my will, I have stipulated that these measures not be taken to keep me alive. 

·       There is a distinction between murdering a person and allowing a terminal patient to die.  Understanding that distinction takes discernment. 

·       Do we terminate life? No.  Do we terminate treatment at times?  Yes.  By doing so, we put the timing of life and death back in the hands of God. 

·       But let us remember that this calls for wisdom and discernment.  An unsaved doctor does not often have this discernment so he or she may cross the line.

Transition:  Abortion and euthanasia are both murder.  Third, …

Suicide is Murder

·       You don’t have the right to murder yourself.  Physicians don’t have the right to help you murder yourself.  If they do aid a person in self-murder, that’s called being an accessory to murder. 

·       By the way, assisted suicide often becomes involuntary euthanasia.  Just visit the Netherlands…

In the Netherlands, thousands of medical patients are killed every year.  What is especially frightening is that most of the requests for these so-called mercy killings do not come from the patients themselves but from their families who frankly are trying to get rid of them (Ryken 620). 

Transition:  It is very easy for us to agree that abortion, euthanasia, and suicide are forms of murder.  But the most common form of murder is much more often overlooked by all of us.  Why?  We have deceived ourselves into thinking that this fourth form is not murder at all, but the Bible makes it clear that…

Anger is Murder

Jesus taught in Matthew 5:21-24:  “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

Jesus did not come and do away with the sixth commandment.  He filled it out with new meaning.  The new filled-out meaning of the law concerning murder is that whoever is angry with his brother stands as a condemned murderer. 

Some may say that they have never taken a weapon in hand and killed another person.  Jesus was saying, “But did you hate a person in your heart?”  There needs to be a right relationship with other believers before you worship God.  If there is anger toward another and it is unresolved, we should make things right with our brothers and sisters and then worship God.  God will not accept the worship of a person who treats his brother with hatred and anger. 

Maybe we are murderers here this evening. 

·       Have we ever said anything to hurt someone?

·       Have we ever been secretly delighted because someone else is suffering?

·       Do we have someone in our lives that we’d like to get even with?

·       Do we want to make someone pay for what they’ve done?

·       Do we ever get so angry that we are out of control?

·       Are we not guilty of murder?

If we commit murder in our hearts, then we deserve Hell.  Jesus never murdered anyone not even in anger.  But we murdered Him.  We oppressed Him.  We afflicted Him.  He was led like a lamb to the slaughter and did not open His mouth. 

Transition:  Surely, we are all guilty of murder tonight.  Maybe abortion, euthanasia, or assisted suicide.  But certainly anger!  However, there’s good news…

Conclusion:  Jesus died for murderers like you and me.  That’s the hope of Christmas.  Luke 23:34 records one of the last seven things Jesus said on this earth as a Man, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

When Peter reminded the Jews of what they did to their Christ, they were desperate to know what could be done.  Peter said in Acts 2:38, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.”

Even those who murdered Christ …even we can be forgiven.  That’s the hope of Christmas - not the babe in a manger; but the God Man murdered for you and me and by you and me. 

Is there a murder in your closet?  An abortion?  A bitter, hateful thought or word?  You can save your own life by trusting in Jesus Christ!

243 - Room at the Cross for You


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