Verse of the Day Devotion: Exodus 20:13
“You shall not murder.” – Exodus 20:13
We move on now to the sixth commandment which we see above in our focus verse.
We are told explicitly not to take the life of another. Now this does not forbid our necessary defense or decisions made by courts who are responsible for keeping the peace. And this is because these authorities are established by God. “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” Romans 13:1-2. And why are we to follow them? Because these authorities are ministers of God for the good. “For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.” Romans 13:3-5.
This command refers to the protection of life from wrongful death. We see the first murder in Genesis four, and we also see how God abhorred it. “Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it. Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper? He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground.” Genesis 4:6-10. And God rebuked him and laid out the punishment. “Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.” Genesis 4:11-12. This punishment was so severe that, “Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is too great to bear!“ Genesis 4:14. God made it clear that any form of murder is unacceptable.
The reason Cain killed Abel was he was angry, for God accepted Abel’s offering but not his. God told him “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4:7. Anger and hatred were welling up in him, and God connects hatred with murder, as John wrote “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3:15. Therefore, we must not hate anyone, but as the scriptures states, “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31.
So, what is murder? From a human perspective, it is the physical act of taking another’s life outside the jurisdiction of the courts. However, we must also consider that God defines it as we do, however He goes beyond this including any thought or feeling of deep-seated hatred or malice against another person. In other words, it is more than just a physical act that constitutes murder to God. for He tells us that anyone who harbors hatred in our hearts for another is also guilty of murder in the eyes of God. The disdain towards another person never has to be demonstrated outwardly because God looks in our heart for the truth. And if we do not obey this, we will face the consequences at the judgement.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.