Our culture today is awash in violence and murder. Everywhere we look, we see it. We see it on our television screens. We see it in theaters, in music and in video games. And sometimes we even see it in real time.
The taking of lives is so overwhelming that we become numb to it. But just imagine how different our world would be if we obeyed this commandment from God: “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13 NKJV).
The Bible does not condemn all killing. In fact, it plainly states the difference God places between killing and murder (see Number 35). All murder is killing, but not all killing is necessarily murder.
Take self-defense, for example. The right to defend yourself is clearly supported in the Bible. We also know that God has established the military and law enforcement for our protection. Romans 13 tells us, “The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong” (verse 4 NLT).
However, some people would say that God is against all of this, that God doesn’t like violence of any kind. God is not for war, but there are times when there is a just cause for a war.
In the New Testament, we read that Jesus met a Roman centurion who pleaded with him to heal his servant. Now, if Jesus were against war, the military and people in uniform, he would have said to this solder, “Forsake your armor and your weapons, and follow me.”
Instead, Jesus said to the soldier, “I will come and heal him” (Matthew 6:7 NLT).
But the centurion told him, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it” (verses 8–9 NLT).
In other words, “Just speak the word, Jesus, and it will be done.”
Jesus commended him by saying, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” (verse 10). Then Matthew tells us the servant was healed that very hour.
What does the word “murder” mean, then? Translated from the original Hebrew, it means “to dash in pieces.” In Scripture this word is never used to describe the death of an animal, the death of an opponent in war, or death that comes through capital punishment.
God himself, in my opinion, established capital punishment, because Genesis 9:6 says, “If anyone takes a human life, that person’s life will also be taken by human hands. For God made human beings in his own image” (NLT).
The Bible views capital punishment as a deterrent, as a protector of life. And what I find ironic is that some of the people who oppose capital punishment also support abortion on demand. Basically they’re saying, “Spare the guilty, and take the life of the innocent.” An unborn child in the womb is innocent and has every right to live.
Of course, there are varying degrees of opinion, even among Christians, on capital punishment. But I will not concede any point on the topic of abortion, because life begins at conception, and we were made in the image of God.
If you don’t agree with that, then frankly you disagree with the Bible. The psalmist David wrote, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. … You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (Psalm 139:13, 15–16 NLT).
Also showing that God has a plan for us, even before birth, he said to the prophet Jeremiah, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5 NLT).
I like this statement from Max Lucado: “You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on this earth by the Master Craftsman.”
If a woman doesn’t feel that she can raise her child, then there are many, many people who would love to adopt that child. But abortion should not be on the table as a possibility, because every child is created by God and should be given the chance to live.
You might be thinking, “Well, this doesn’t really apply to me. I’ve never murdered anyone. I haven’t had an abortion.” However, Jesus took it a step further in the Sermon on the Mount and said, “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment!” (Matthew 5:21–22 NLT).
That hits closer to home.
Jesus was saying, “Look, you can say that you have never killed anyone, but do you hate someone so much that you wish they were dead? Then, in effect, you’re a murderer in your heart.”
There are some people who are driven by anger and hatred. But hatred is clearly forbidden in Scripture. The Bible says, “Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them” (1 John 3:15 NLT). Of course, even Jesus exhibited righteous anger (see Matthew 21:12–13; Mark 11:15–17; Luke 19:45–46). But it’s a fine line, and we must be very careful not to cross it.
The apostle Paul wrote, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31–32 NLT).
Every one of us has broken God’s commandments. But the commandments were not given to make us holy; they were given to show us how unholy we actually are. It all comes down to our need for Jesus. And he stands ready to forgive any sin we’ve ever committed, if we will turn from our sin and start walking with him.
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Author: Greg Laurie
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