Summary: A sermon regarding the command to not murder
Islington Baptist Church
March 3, 2002
Scripture reading: Romans 1:18-32; 3:9-18
The murderer in me
Romans 3:9-18 details for us the depths of a persons wickedness outside of Jesus Christ. In the latter part of this passage it says, “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.”
On the basis of this verse and the Bible’s portrait of the human heart I have entitled this sermon “The murderer in me” for the potential to murder and kill lies within every person born.
Standing against all of this though is God’s command: the 6th command which says “Thou shalt not murder”
It sounds so simple doesn’t it and on one level you are saying, such a command is easy for me to keep. However, I beg you to reconsider: for we live in a culture that trivializes the death of other people. We live in a culture that glorifies violence. We ourselves have been desensitized by our repeated exposure to television violence; to such a degree that we regard television shows that feature murder as entertainment.
In reflecting upon this command, the scriptures teachings, my television watching habits, and in particular a number of articles on Christian pacifism I discovered this about myself: my taste for blood is too high. I wonder this: Do you unwittingly have a similar taste?
Our primary text today is Exodus 20:13 which in the NIV says “You shall not murder”
What we are going to do in the time that we have today is this:
1. Answer why God gave this command
2. Consider what exactly is prohibited by this command
3. Consider what is not covered by this command
4. Consider the N.T perspectives on this command
I. Why God gave this command to not murder another person
Because we are made in the image of God
In Genesis 1:27 it says “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them”
Our being created in the image of God is a big deal for it means that every single person is in some way like God.—for example it is shown when we create, work, rest, exercise authority over something, also: every person to varying degrees reflects something of God’s character. And: as ones created in God’s image we are to reflect God’s glory to others.
Our incredible value and the sanctity of human life finds its base in our being created in the image of God.
Being created in the image of God is what distinguishes us from the animals
Being created in the image of God means that we are deserving of special treatment from each other –respect, dignity
Because we are created in the image of God it means that we, and our service belong to God
In Genesis 9:4-6 the death penalty for the murder or negligible death of another person is instituted: The reason for such a steep punishment: Because of our incredible value, a value that we have because we are made in the image of God.
II. What exactly is prohibited by this command
a. Murder: being a premeditated act
b. Manslaughter: i.e killing of another on the spur of the moment
c. Death resulting by acts of negligence
In Exodus 21:28-31 it says “If a bull gores a man or a woman to death, the bull must be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible. If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull must be stoned and the owner also must be put to death. However, if payment is demanded of him, he may redeem his life by paying whatever is demanded”.
As a side note: it amazes me that people have such debates about what to do with dogs that attack and hurt people or are a threat to others. The answer is pretty simple.
In Deuteronomy 22:8 it says “When you build a new house, make a parapet around your roof so that you may not bring the guilt of bloodshed on your house if someone falls from the roof”
It used to be in England that employers would take young children and have them working in their factories around all sorts of unsafe machines. Hundreds upon hundreds of children were killed. This command covers such things. Negligence that results in death. One of the things that led to reformation in terms of factories and safety was this command and scriptures that address death by negligence.