Thou shalt not Kill

 Written by: Damian Chambers | 2/27/2015 6:57:52 PM |

God’s purpose in giving the Ten Commandments is to preserve unity, love and happiness among His people. These are the principles by which heaven is governed, and since Israel was entering into a covenant with God as His people, they needed to live by these same principles (Exodus 19:4-8). The principle is love—1) love to God; love to neighbor.

In order to have a positive view of the commandments—to see them as a blessing and not mere restrictions, it is important to understand the value behind them. Based on the “ethics of command”; each commandment find root in a value.

For example, in the case of the commandment that we are looking at, “thou shalt not kill”, we can find its root as follows:

  • Value – Human life (Genesis 9:6 – “made in the image of God”). Man is made in the image of God and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. “In the gift of His Son for our redemption, God has shown how high a value He places upon every human soul, and He gives to no man liberty to speak contemptuously of another.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 56
  • Principle – Life is precious and belongs to God. No man has the right to devalue it.
  • Rule – Do nothing to devalue life. Cherish the life of your neighbor.
  • Command – You shall not kill

That is why Jesus took the time out to teach the principles behind the commandments in Matthew 5. The Pharisees had narrowed them down to simply rules; they forgot the value and principle behind them.

In the case of the 6th commandment, according to Ellen G. White, “while they condemned the murderer, they cherished bitterness and hatred towards the Romans; their oppressors.” Ibid, 55

Therefore, Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Matthew 5:21–22, ASV

Jesus goes deeper than the command and takes the people to the level of value and principle.

The value of human life.

Jesus makes it clear that murder begins with having a scant regard for the life of another—it starts with being angry at a brother; looking ‘down’ on him/her.

According to E.G. White, “The spirit of hatred and revenge originated with Satan, and it led him to put to death the Son of God. Whoever cherishes malice or unkindness is cherishing the same spirit, and its fruit will be unto death. In the revengeful thought the evil deed lies enfolded, as the plant in the seed. ‘Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.’ 1 John 3:15”.

This is what happened to Cain. He became envious and angry with Abel. God attempted to help him to put away the anger, but he did not. It eventually bore fruit in murder (1 John 3:12, 15).

Duty to reconcile

That is why, in explaining the principle, Jesus moved to the 2nd phase of our duty. It is not only to avoid being evil; we must also be positive.

Jesus says, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23, 24, NIV)

The idea is reconciliation. Jesus is saying, we should, as far as possible, remove from us any reason to cherish feelings of anger or for someone to cherish feelings of anger towards us.

Therefore, our duty to the 6th commandment, is not only to avoid killing, we have a duty to reconcile our differences; to make up; to stop keeping malice.

“When one who professes to serve God wrongs or injures a brother, he misrepresents the character of God to that brother, and the wrong must be confessed, he must acknowledge it to be sin, in order to be in harmony with God. Our brother may have done us a greater wrong than we have done him, but this does not lessen our responsibility. If when we come before God we remember that another has aught against us, we are to leave our gift of prayer, of thanksgiving, of freewill offering, and go to the brother with whom we are at variance, and in humility confess our own sin and ask to be forgiven.” Ibid, 58

God wants us to be at peace with each other. He wants us to live in love and unity. The blood of Jesus has removed every excuse to being at variance with each other.

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