Summary: An Exposition of the Sixth Commandment with Emphasis on its Current Application
q This commandment continues the focus on our relationship and duties to our fellow human beings. It underscores the fact that life is sacred. The fifth protects proper authority, while the sixth protects our neighbour’s life.
I. The Sixth Commandment is based
A. On the characteristic of God as the creator and giver of life and the consequent truth that the power of life and death belongs to God only.
1. Giver of life (Gen. 2:7; John 5:21; Acts17:24-27; I Tim. 6:13)
2. Power of life and death (Lev. 24:17; Rev. 1:17,18)
B. It is also based on the fact that human beings are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27). To take another human life is to strike at the very image of God (Gen. 9:6).
C. God is concerned about the preservation of life
A. All murder is killing; but all killing is not murder. Hebrew had different words for kill (grh harag) and murder (xur ratsach) e.g.
1. Animals (Gen. 9:3; I Tim. 4:4)
2. Accidents (Num. 35:11; Deut. 19:3-12; Josh. 20:3)
3. Self defence (Exod. 22:2-3)
4. Capital Punishment (Gen. 9:6; Rom. 13:4)
B. Murder is the wilful taking of another human life (Exod. 21:14). “…unlawful killing…the intentional killing of an innocent human being.” (J. John, p. 127)
III. The Significance of the Commandment
A. It forbids the wilful taking of any human life
3. Euthanasia (Mercy Killing)
4. Unjust and selfish war. War should only be a desperate and last resort after every alternative has been explored and exhausted.
B. It forbids all acts that have the effect of wilfully endangering life
1. Physical violence
2. Withholding food, clothing or shelter
3. Careless and dangerous driving, etc.
4. Wilful unnecessary risks and harmful habits that damage or lessen life, e.g. drinking, smoking, illegal drug use
C. From a positive standpoint, it requires us to hold life in high esteem – image of God in man (Gen. 1:26-28; 9:6)
D. …it requires us to control our anger, to avoid bitterness and resentment, and to pursue forgiveness, and reconciliation (Matt. 2:21-24)
E. …it requires the exercise of charity to those who are in need.
F. …it requires the resistance to attitudes, laws, structures and practices that devalue human life (eg. Large scale arms sales, the trivial use of capital punishment, racism, genocide, exploitation of children and the poor, slavery), and the support for life affirming laws and activities.
A. Summary & Conclusion