The Fifth Commandment
“You shall not murder.
You shall not murder. What does this mean? We should fear and love God that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.
We continue with the Second Table of the Law, our duty to our neighbor, with the Fifth Commandment. The Fifth Commandment deals with preserving all life from womb to tomb, from the cradle to death.
On March 25, 1995, Pope John Paul II delivered his encyclical, “Evangelium Vitae”, or “the Gospel of Life.” While Lutherans do not often quote Popes in a positive way, John Paul II referred to our culture as the “culture of death.” He went on to say that God didn’t create death, it was never a part of His plan, but as Paul reminds us that death came into the world through Sin.
It is 2017 now, and the culture of death continues with a vengeance. The value of each human life is no longer a value to many in society. What does it say about us when more babies were aborted since 1974 than the total of deaths from all wars in human history? How about the 22 Veterans a day who are committing suicide? The Heroin epidemic of the 1960s is now once again a present reality. Gangs roam the western parts of our County, and to enter a gang like MS13 one has to kill someone. Great Britain terminated baby Charlie Gard’s parents rights, taking custody of the baby so that they could terminate treatment that was costing them too much. Say what you will about the Papacy, but John Paul II was spot on.
To Counter this, we turn to the Lord of Life, who triumphed o’er the grave, and rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save.
Our outline today will be the word LIFE: All LIFE is precious to the Lord; I am made by God; God FORBIDS hatred, murder, assualt (physical, verbal, etc…), cheapening of life, yet EVEN NOW God calls us to return to Him, for He is full of mercy and love for us.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
That life is for you.
And that life is eternal.
God knew you when the world was formed and loved you. God loved the world so much that He sent His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. God will love you, through His Son, in whom we have eternal life, forever. God is all about life.
It is God who grants us physical life. declares:
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain. Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
Our outline today will be the word LIFE: All LIFE is precious to the Lord; I am made by God; God FORBIDS hatred, murder, assualt (physical, verbal, etc…), cheapening of life, and the life He gives to us is ETERNAL.
All Life is Precious to the Lord
All Life is Precious to the Lord
God is all about life. In the beginning He created life. From the smallest of the plants through all of the animal kingdoms, life blossomed. And then, creating man in a totally different way, God fashioned him from the dust and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being. Creation was all about life.
All of that came to a screeching halt when Adam and Eve sinned. Life, as God intended, came to an end. Death, something God never created, was introduced by our First Parents disobedience. Creation was ruined along with humankind. Something that was never supposed to be, became the rule of the day. “In the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die” was the warning. But Adam and Eve thought they knew better.
Separated from God eternally by sin and death, Adam and Eve would never realize what God intended. We cannot either. Death, not life, defines our entire existence. We all have a date with it. Its tentacles surround us and choke us. Its sweet doctrine surrounds us. And we see it as the norm and life to us is something that is fleeting away. Stop there and it explains everything of which John Paul spoke. It explains why we don’t even shrug our shoulders at the numbers murdered by violence, indifference or in the name of convenience.
That would have been it for all
For the unbeliever in Christ, this is the end of the story. There is no hope, there is no real joy, everyone for himself or herself, and life’s a beach and then you die.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made
I am fearfully and wonderfully made
But that wouldn’t work for God. His unexplainable love wouldn’t allow Him to walk away. He sends His Son, Jesus, to fix this. And He does it personally for you. Jesus lives, dies, rises, ascends and will come back to claim you as His own. Even though death invaded the world, Jesus life trumps death in your life. THAT’s what this faith we celebrate every Lord’s Day means. So, with the hymnwriter we can exclaim:
Satan, I defy thee; Death I now decry thee; Fear, I bid thee cease. World, thou shalt not harm me nor thy threats alarm me while I sing of peace. God’s great power guards every hour; earth and all its depths adore Him, silent bow before Him.
Bottom line: YOUR life is precious to the Lord. The Psalmist declares,
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
What God FORBIDS in this Commandment
What God FORBIDS in this Commandment
In , Jesus tells us “You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment’. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” This is echoed in
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
Anger. Hatred. These are the seeds of death that infect the soil of the human heart. They’ve taken root in our lives as well, for the world enjoys the tree that grows forth, and it all seems so right to us. But they are the seeds of hell.
Unchecked anger breeds murder. No wonder says
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
Yes, there is righteous anger. But one must be very careful that it leads to confrontation, confession and restoration. If not, it becomes hatred. And hatred leads to murder, whether actual or in the heart.
God forbids the willful, hateful taking of the life of yourself (suicide) or others (homicide).
Notice, by the way, that the Commandment says “you shall not murder” not “You shall not kill.” There is a difference. Killing and animal for food does not violate this commandment.
Additionally, Luther writes in the Large Catechism:
God and government are not included in this commandment. Nor is the power to kill taken away, which God and government have. To punish evildoers, God has delegated His authority to the government, not parents… Therefore, what is forbidden in this commandment is forbidden to the individual in his relationship with anyone else, but not to the government.
What this means is that it is not a sin for a government to send the military into a just war where lives will be lost, or for a police officer to shoot and kill an assailant for just cause, or for the state to execute death upon a prisoner. In God’s eyes such things are just and not murder. Of course, in the world this doctrine is precisely what is seen as unjust. It shows how blind our consciences are to God’s truth.
By the way, when it comes to Capital Punishment, while God allows it, He doesn’t command it. There are committed Christians who stand equally for and against the death penalty. Such is your choice; as long as the reasoning isn’t emotional or accusing the state of murder, it is fine to stand against the death penalty.
There is more. This commandment is broken when we hurt or harm our neighbor in his or her body. When we hit or abuse someone. When we do things to our own bodies— drinking to excess, experimenting with drugs, smoking, all these things can shorten our life span. There’s more: driving recklessly, taking unnecessary risks, not wearing a helmet on a bicycle, anything that could hurt or harm our neighbor or ourselves breaks this commandment.
One begins to see that we are all murderers. We have hated. We have been unrighteously angry. We have said things to our neighbors that cut to the heart and can never be taken back. We have placed our bodies at risk. Whether or not there is a death that takes place because of it is immaterial; murder is first and foremost a sin of the heart for which we all stand guilty before the Lord.
So, what shall we do? God does not allow murderers at His Altar. And Yet, once again, His mercy beams through.
Israel was an idolatrous, murderous nation. But listen to what the Lord says:
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.
The answer to our murdering comes in the murder of God’s Son. Unjust anger broiled into hatred. Justice was replaced with injustice. And death is offered back for life.
You can return to the Lord your God, freed from your murderous life, in the murder of Jesus for the murderous life that you live. He breaks the back of anger and hatred. He goes all the way to hell because you have chosen to live there through your disposable view of life. And He takes it all away.
Now you stand holy before Your Father in Heaven, dripping with the blood that came from the eternal altar of the Cross. Fed with the holy food of the body and blood of the Lamb of God, slain for you.
The Spirit empowers you to forgive your enemies instead of hating them. Pray for your persecutors instead of taking revenge. Help your neighbor who is in need instead of ignoring him/her.
Our God is a God of Life.
You shall not murder.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.