Sunday, July 22, 2012 - 10:45am
Sermon Series: 
Bible Reference: 
Exodus 20:13


EXODUS 20:13

        When I moved to Madison, I had to register my boat and buy tags for my cars.  So I went to the courthouse and I waited in line for like, half a day.  I finally made it to the counter and while the lady processed my paperwork and took all my money, and I studied all the specialty licenses plates that are offered.  Of course I noticed that you can buy a University of Alabama licenses plate, but we won’t go there. 

        Actually, the one that really caught my eye was the “Choose Life” license plate.  I am sure you have seen them.  You may have even thought about getting one for yourself.  I was curious about the origination of that plate, so I went to the internet and discovered that the state of Florida was the first one to issue a “Choose Life” license plate.  Marion County Commissioner, Randy Harris was the motivating force driving the idea through the Florida legislature and onto the Governors’ desk where it was signed into law. 

Since November of 1999, the Choose Life license plate has become the tenth best selling specialty tag in the state of Florida.  In the intervening period the tag has raised over $3 million dollars for the pro-life movement.  It continues to raise $70,000 dollars a month.  It goes to help maternity homes, pregnancy care centers and certain non-profit adoption agencies.

You could take the four words of the sixth commandment and state it positively to read - Choose Life - and you would understand what this commandment is all about.

        Now some of you are thinking that this is one commandment we could skip.  Your desire to commit cold blooded murder probably isn’t too great, except when your kids have gotten on your last nerve.  We probably don’t have a professional hit man in our church. 

        But many of you might agree with Clarence Darrow who said, "I haven't killed anybody, but I've read a whole lot of obituaries with glee."       By the time the average American child has reached the 6th grade, they have already witnessed over 8,000 murders and over 100,000 acts of violence on television.

We live in a violent society. Every 22 minutes in America somebody is stabbed, shot, beaten or strangled to death. We have the highest homicide rate in the world. More kids die from violence than they do from illness.

We need a revival in this country that renews our appreciation of and willingness to obey the 6th Commandment. 

When you look at this verse, "Thou shalt not murder" it seems like a very straightforward command, but actually it's often misunderstood, misapplied, misappropriated, misinterpreted and so we want to talk about what it means and what it doesn’t mean.

        In the Hebrew language it is just two words literally translated, "no murder."  In the Hebrew language there are nine different words that can be translated "kill".  God passed over eight other words that mean things like: "to kill", "to slaughter," or "to sacrifice."  He bypassed all of them and chose the word "RATSACH" which means "murder."  It always means murder.  The best translation of this verse is simply "You shall not murder."

This commandment does not prohibit the killing of animals.  Verse 24 of this very chapter gives instruction on the sacrifice of animals to the Lord.  This commandment does not prohibit capital punishment.  After God gave Moses this commandment, He gave another commandment in Exodus21:12 that reads, "He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death." 

This commandment does not prohibit self-defense.  Exodus 22:2 says,

"If the thief is caught while breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there will be no blood guiltiness on his account."

Self defense is not only your right, but in the case of your loved ones it is your responsibility.  Neither should this commandment be used to justify pacifism - the belief that all war is wrong.  War is a tragedy and war is horrible and nobody likes it.  Nobody likes surgery either, but sometimes surgery is necessary

So what does this commandment refer to when it says, "You shall not murder"?  Believe it or not, it has a lot to do with your family.  I heard about a Sunday school teacher who was discussing the Ten Commandments with her six year old class and after explaining the commandment to "Honor your father and mother."  She said, "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?"  Without missing a beat, one little boy said, "Yes.  Thou shalt not kill."  The reason this commandment relates to the family is because it deals with the very life of every member of your family.  Because God gave this commandment, we can learn three things about life.


        First, we can see that life has value because God created it. 

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; …

        The Bible plainly states that we are not here by random chance; we are here by sovereign choice.  We are all created in the image of God.  The reason it is wrong to murder a human being is because of the value that God gives to human life.  The reason why human life has value is because God has credited it with value, and God has deemed it valuable because God is the one who has created it.

Listen to what God said to Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 1:5  "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."  


So, life has value because God created it.  Also, life has value because God controls it.  The same God that creates our life is the same God that has the right to control our lives.  The reason murder is so wrong is because it denies the sovereignty of God.  It usurps a right that only God has, because there is only one being in this universe that has the right to control both life and death and that is God.

I Samuel 2:6 "The LORD brings both death and life; He brings some down to the grave but raises others up."                 

You don't have the right to control the life or the death of any other individual.  That authority and that right belongs to God alone.

When you think about it, a murderer really commits three sins at the same time.  First of all, he is a murderer, because he takes another person's life.  He is also a thief, because he takes someone's life when they didn't give it.  He is also a blasphemer, because he takes someone's life when it was God who gave that life and only God who had the right to take it.

Obviously, we understand this commandment clearly tells us that murder is an action.  This commandment prohibits physically murdering anybody.  But we must realize that murder is not only an action it is also an attitude.  Listen to what Jesus said when He gave His own commentary on this sixth commandment.

Matthew 5:21-22, NASB

"You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' 

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell."

I John 3:15 says,

"Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."                         

If your heart is a headquarters for hate, bitterness, or revenge you do have a murderous heart that needs to get right with God.  If you have an issue with anger, you need to take that to God and let Him work on you.  If you have a temper problem it is no one’s fault but yours and you need the transforming work of God’s Holy Spirit engaged in your life. 


And finally, we need to value life because God can change it.  I realize there are many who are convinced they have never broken this commandment.  If we were to take a survey and ask anybody on the street which, if any, of the Ten Commandments they had never broken, this commandment would win in a landslide.  Yet, I tell you today that if there is one commandment that everyone on this planet has broken, it is this one.  Why?  We are guilty of crucifying Jesus Christ with our sins.

The Bible spells it out plain and simple.  We are all guilty of putting Jesus on the Cross.  We are all guilty of murdering the only innocent man to walk this earth.  We are all equally guilty.  There is not a perfect person on this planet and it was our sins that sent Jesus to the Cross.

Do you realize it is because of the murder of one man that the sin of murder can be forgiven?  And not only murder, but every other sin. 

If you were to ask any person that knows the Bible to name the three greatest men in the Bible, outside of Jesus Christ himself, arguably the top three could be Moses, David and the Apostle Paul.  After all, Moses wrote the (first) five books of the Bible.  David wrote many of the Psalms and was the greatest king in the history of Israel.  Paul wrote one-half of the New Testament.  Did you know they all had one thing in common?  They were all murderers.  Moses murdered an Egyptian.  David murdered Uriah.  Paul murdered many early Christians.  They also had one other thing in common.  God forgave them of that sin and went on to use them in a great and mighty way.

Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who was murdered on a cross by our sins, comes to every one of us who took His life and offers us eternal life.  The message of the cross is the same message as this commandment - Choose Life, because the One who gives you physical life is willing to give you eternal life.