2016-5-15 Life Is Sacred

EXODUS 20:13                                                                                          MAY 15, 2016


A cursory look at the sixth commandment would lead many people to think that this command is relatively simple to keep. However, Jesus made it clear that this commandment has much greater implications. Matthew 5:21-22 (NIV) 21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” Anger is a cause for concern. I am reminded of the classified ad that was in a newspaper twenty-five years ago. The ad said: “Wedding dress for sale, never worn. Will trade for .38 caliber pistol.”

I find that the Westminster Confession of Faith in the Shorter Catechism provides a useful statement of what scripture teaches regarding this commandment. (Questions 68 & 69) “The sixth commandment requires making every lawful effort to preserve one’s own life and the lives of others and forbids taking one own life or the lives of others unjustly or doing anything that leads to suicide or murder.” This commandment does not apply to wartime or to a government providing justice for malicious acts that take the life of another. Both of these areas (war and capital punishment) are listed in Deuteronomy. Paul also spoke of the right of the government as an “agent of wrath to bring judgment on the wrongdoer” in Romans 13:1-5.There is not time enough to discuss capital punishment, so we will focus our attention on the commandment as a whole.

We must never forget that God created us. We are not the random combination of single cell organisms that crawled out of the primordial ooze millions of years ago. Genesis 1:27 (NIV) 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” God did not create junk! God made us in his image. Life is sacred!

Anger can lead to murder as it did with Cain when he killed his brother Abel. Genesis 4:10-12 (NIV) 10 The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” God punished Cain for murdering his brother by casting him out from his family and by making farming unproductive.

God made it very clear to Noah and his sons what he expected from them. Genesis 9:5-6 (NIV) 5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. 6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.” Human life is sacred! We honor God by treating others with respect. We are to love ourselves and our neighbor. This love for self and others should lead us to responsible action.

We must not dismiss or ignore our attitudes of anger or resentment toward others as being of no consequence. Hostile actions toward others most always begin with wrong attitudes and feelings. The Apostle John made this clear. 1 John 4:20-21 (NIV) 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

Because all life is sacred, a gift from God, this commandment forbids abortion. Psalm 139:14-16 (NIV) 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Scripture is clear that life begins at the moment of conception. Advances in science have recently shown a spark occurs at the exact moment sperm fertilizes the egg inside the mother’s womb. The LORD calls on us to protect the weak and the needy. Psalm 82:3-4 (NIV) 3 Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. 4 Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Abortion is taking the life of a child. There is not time enough to examine abortion when the life of the mother is threatened. Thankfully this is a rare occurrence!

The sixth commandment also forbids suicide and euthanasia. You shall not murder yourself. Many people suffer from depression and other psychological conditions where they despair of life itself. I am very sympathetic of those suffering from mental illness but this does not change the fact that God is in control of the day we are born and the day he will call us home. Life is a gift and we must trust God that he knows exactly what he is doing. This commandment also addresses the fallacy of assisted suicide or as it is sometimes misnamed “mercy killing”. It is not mercy; it is murder! We allow veterinary doctors to give a shot to a suffering animal. But God breathed life into man and we are made in his image whereas animals are not! We must not think that we know better than the Lord who made the universe. It is presumption to think otherwise.

We who believe and have been called to faith are in conflict with a society that refuses to acknowledge that God should be the one who sets the rules. We should not allow the so-called wisdom of the world to mislead us to travel down paths of disobedience to his will. In the time of the kings of Israel when the nation disobeyed the Word of God King Ahab had sought to kill Elijah who had asked God to bring a drought on the land as a sign of judgment. 1 Kings 18:3-4 (NIV) 3 Ahab had summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of his palace. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the LORD. 4 While Jezebel was killing off the LORD’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.)” Obadiah put his life on the line to protect the lives of those 100 prophets. He did not stand idly by and not become involved. He did all he could do to protect life.

The purpose of the law is to reveal our sinfulness and to lead us to Christ. I have yet to find a believer who has not struggled with anger, malice, bitterness, or a desire for revenge, etc… God offers forgiveness and mercy to the one who asks to be forgiven of their sins. May we forgive ourselves for any past failures in keeping all the demands of this commandment. May the Lord now fill us with zeal to protect those who need protecting. This is to be our mission. This is how we are to honor him!

We must stand up for the truth found in the Word of God. We must stand up for life and do all we can to protect it. Proverbs 24:10-12 (NIV) 10 If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength! 11 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. 12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?”

May our Heavenly Father give us the courage to stand up for our convictions! May we do all we can to protect life!

Let us pray.