Monday, July 23, 2012

What Makes A Murderer

Exodus 20:13 KJV “Thou shall not kill.

In light of the things that have happened in recent days, perhaps our society could use a little clarity on this, the sixth commandment. Firstly, this commandment isn’t the complete ban on ending life. The Hebrew word that the King James translates “kill” is ratsach. Its literal meaning is premeditated murder or manslaughter - in other words, it’s the intentional murder of an innocent person. Actually, every other english version carries the literal meaning of ratsach and translates it as “murder”.

You see, we were created in the image of God - the crown of His creation. We’re the only creatures that have a spirit attached to our soul and body. Every human being is a beautiful thing; and our life is precious. It is so precious, that God demands justice for every innocent life that is cut short wrongfully. What is the price that a murderer must pay? Genesis 9:5-6 tells us: “Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.” God was very clear, anyone who purposely cuts an innocent life short will have his own life cut short.

This isn’t barbaric. This isn’t fighting murder with murder. This isn’t “cruel and unusual.” This is justice. To end the life of a murderer is to give value to the life that he took. It’s saying, “we value life so much, that we’re going to demand in from the hand of anyone who steals it from another.

I probably should clarify - this kind of justice doesn’t belong to the individual. We as individuals have no right to take justice into our own hands! This is what Paul said in Romans 13:4, “For he [the government and authorities] is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” When God set up earthly governments, He gave them the responsibility of carrying out justice for any civil wrongdoing - including murder. He has entrusted them with the protection of human life under their authority, and He will demand an account one day!

But, what I want you to see is that the sixth commandment becomes significant for a believer in another way. Like all of the commandments, God is just as concerned with the heart as He is with the action. This command is much deeper than a simple prohibition on murder. Listen to what 1 John 3:14-16 says, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.  Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

Did you see that? God holds someone who has hatred for his brother equally as guilty as a murderer! Why? Because hatred is murder - in the heart. We are called to love each other, to bear with each other, and to continue in fellowship with each other. When we continue in love for each other, John says we have passed from death to life. So there is a very strong connection between love and life. This same connection exists between the lack of love (hatred) and the lack of life (death). When we step out of love for anyone, we’ve stepped out of life. If we do this, if we begin to hate anyone, the penalty of murder rests on our spirit - death. You see, when we have hatred or bitterness in our heart toward a believing brother or sister, God sees their blood on our hands!

If only more churches realized this! If only this was common knowledge among believers! We would be much more repentant, I’m sure! But instead, we have Christians with murder in their hearts coming and waving their bloody hands in God’s face while they worship! How can we still think that God takes hatred and unforgiveness lightly? Isn’t it clear to us that He views it the same as murdering an innocent life?

Believers step out of love and into hatred for the same reason that most murderers murder - anger. That person did something wrong, hurt us somehow, and instead of pulling a gun and shooting them, we harbor bitterness and unforgiveness in our heart. But in God’s eyes, there’s no difference! Whether you think you have a right to hate them or not is irrelevant. Whether you think they should be forgiven or not is irrelevant! God gave us a very clear command - love them!

Let’s take it one step further. We all know that God is a merciful and forgiving God. His mercy covers all our sin, it’s everlasting, and it’s new every morning! But did you know there is one condition to having your sins forgiven? You can find it in several verses:

Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Matthew 18:35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.

Colossians 3:12-13 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

Do you realize that God will not forgive your sin when you hold unforgiveness in your heart? Do you realize that, as long as you’re holding that person guilty for the hurt they caused, God holds you accountable for your sin? Don’t you understand that loving and forgiving others are the conditions for receiving any forgiveness from God?

James 2:13 “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” I don’t know about you - but I need mercy! Because I need God’s mercy, I must show mercy to others.

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