The Sixth Commandment
The sixth commandment states: “You shall not murder.” Nothing is added to this commandment. But when we turn to the Sermon on the Mount we find there is a principle of judgment here. Jesus says there is an anger which leads to murder and judgement. But there is also anger which leads to judgement, even if murder is not committed, you have committed murder in your heart. Jesus says murder begins in the heart. The heart is the mind, the will and the emotions. And all three are involved in the path to murder. It begins with anger. Jesus says whoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of judgement. Anger can be righteous. Anger can be just. You can be angry and not sin, we are told in Ephesians 4: 26. But there is anger without just cause and reconciliation, which means it is anger unresolved. It produces a root of bitterness. And our faith must be rooted in love. This is the kind of anger which you see in the Parable of the Prodigal Son when the elder brother was angry and would not go into the party the father was giving to celebrate the Prodigal’s return. We will analyze the murder
THE PRINCIPLE OF JUDGEMENT
Let’s pause for a minute to reflect on the dangers of not obeying God’s commands. If you choose not to obey God’s commands it is because you refuse to deny self. Yet God has made it clear, when we obey Him, we will be blessed. When we disobey Him, there will be judgement and negative consequences for our sin. God commands one thing, man’s sinful nature demands another. For our sinful natures are selfish and drawn to sin by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Now we are not to obey for the motive of gain. Jesus said if you love me, you will keep my commands. Love is to be our motive for obedience. So to sin as a believer is to say to God, I do not fear the consequences of Your judgment. We mock God, knowing God will not be mocked. But the flip side of that decision is to also say, I do not believe your promise of rewards and that all will go well for me in living the victorious Christian life. This is why we are told: “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.”
God makes it crystal clear: “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. (Exodus 19) Now lest you think this if only for the nation of Israel, Peter tells us the same thing in I Peter 2: 9&10: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
One should conclude: Disobedience makes no sense; it is irrational, not to mention foolish and dangerous, to disobey God’s commands. His commands are not burdensome. Sin is burdensome. It ruins your health, produces guilt, shame, anxiety and fear. God’s commands are always beneficial. And God has not left us to do it alone in the strength of our old nature, the flesh. The flesh is to be crucified and reckoned dead. We have been given a new nature, a new heart and the Holy Spirit who indwells us is not only Teacher and Comforter, but also Helper. Every command God has given to us, was given in love. For God is Love. So the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. (Deut 6) And the second is like unto the first, to love your neighbor as yourself. (Leviticus 18) So all of the Ten Commandments are about how to love God with all your heart and how to love your neighbor as yourself. . Love is the heart of the commandments. For the commandments are our blueprint for a happy life.
The Westminster Catechism states: The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. How do we glorify God? Jesus told us the Father is glorified when we bear much fruit.
Fruit bearing is the purpose of life. We bear fruit by abiding in Him. How do we abide? We abide by obeying His commands. How do we obey His commands? Jesus said if you love me you will keep my commands. How do we love Him? By knowing Him. “This is life eternal to know the true and living God and the One Whom He has sent. More we know Him, the more we love Him, the more we love Him, the more we obey Him, and more we obey Him, the more abide in Him and the more we abide in Him the more fruit we bear and the more we enjoy Him. Now you may be asking what is the fruit of the Spirit? “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5: 22, 23) The next verse tells us how this is accomplished: “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. “ (Gal. 5:24) With this background let’s look at :
THE ANATOMY OF A MURDER.
Not just any murder, but the first murder. Cain and Abel were the first two humans born of humans, from their parents Adam and Eve after the fall. We can conclude they had been instructed in the way God was to be acknowledged with offerings.
Let’s notice something about Eve’s judgement for her sin: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Listen to what God says to Cain after his offering was rejected: “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies (crouches) at your door. And its desire is to rule over you.”
Now Eve ‘s judgment reveals how her sinful nature will behave, when her sinful nature has control of her life. And the same is true in Cain’s life. This is the nature of fallen man. Adam and Eve distrusted God’s goodness. They turned from God’s wisdom to their own wisdom and believed the lies of the Deceiver, who said he had a blue print for happy living which was better than God’s blue print for happy living. When sin gets the upper hand in the lives of men or women, they will exploit the other for their own selfish reasons. People will abuse and use others for their own self interest.
THE PRINCIPLE OF THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT IS LOVE
Murder is based on hatred. Hate is the opposite of love. And in summarizing the 10 commandments, Jesus tells us they are based on loving God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength and loving your neighbor as yourself.
Cain did not just hate Abel, he hated God for not accepting his offering, for not respecting him. He was jealous of Abel. He was envious of Abel. He was angry with God. Jesus said the path to murder begins with anger in the heart, a thought which exalts its against the teaching of the Lord. You entertain that thought and it will soon result in action.
Hatred precedes murder. Joseph’s brothers hated him and conspired to murder him. Love is the opposite of hate. God is a God of Love. Satan is a murderer because he is filled with hatred for God and is jealous and envious of God, although God created him and created him as Lucifer an angel of light. But Lucifer was not satisfied with the way God created him. Today we see people with anger at God because of the way their life has turned out. They resent God and the way He created them to the point of changing their gender.
Hatred is preceded by anger, unresolved anger. Joseph’s brothers hated him because their father had placed Joseph over them. Now Jacob had the right to choose Joseph over his brothers, but he did it in such a way they regretted Joseph. Joseph’s brothers were angry at their father, but their unresolved anger caused them to hate Joseph. Just as Cain was angry with God but took out his unresolved anger fueled his hatred of Abel. Even though God dealt with him fairly and told him what to do to be accepted and all would go well for him.
Notice the first reaction when his offering was not accepted: Cain was very angry. Who was Cain angry at? He was angry at God. His feelings were hurt. He turned his unresolved anger at God to anger at Abel. Cain was also jealous of him and envious of his being accepted and respected and his offering was not. He was angry with God because he did not believe God had treated him fairly. He took it out his unresolved anger in murdering Abel, striking him with a stone. God had told him how to resolve his anger. Have you ever been the target of someone’s unresolved anger? They were angry w at someone else (sometimes God) but you ended up as the target.
Abel is the first person mentioned in Hebrews 11, where we read: “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice that Cain…” By faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Both had heard how and when they were to bring an offering. Some believe Cain’s offering was not accepted because it did not include blood. Others believe it was not accepted because the verse tells us Cain did not bring the first fruit of the harvest, but brought it in the process of time. And they were told to honor God with the first fruit of the harvest and the first born of the flock. But either way, Cain did not do what he knew he was supposed to do. He disobeyed God, believing there was no consequences and his way was just as good.
Remember God said if you do what I tell you to do, things will go well with you in the land I have given you. Cain did not bring the offering as God had instructed him to bring. Abel believed and Cain did not. Obedience matters. God tells Cain if you do well, you will be accepted, but if you do not sin is crouching at the door and its desire is rule over you. This is always the desire of the devil to have sin rule over you.
Hatred precedes murder. Unresolved anger precedes hatred.
Offense precedes anger. Cain was offended because God did not accept his offering while accepting Abel’s. Cain thought his offering was better. Cain thought I put more effort in bringing my offering than Abel. Remember in last week’s lesson in Mark 6 we read where the people of Nazareth were offended by Jesus’s teaching. Luke records this same event in Luke 4: “So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things were filled with wrath.” Anger which came from being offended by what Jesus taught because they did not honor Him and held him in contempt, scorn and ridiculed Jesus as – the carpenter, the son of a carpenter. Who did He think He was to teach them? Watch the result of this hatred, this wrath which boiled up out of this anger which sprang from their offense. They tried to throw Jesus off a cliff. They tried to kill Jesus because His teaching offended them. This offense quickly turned to wrath and attempted murder. The Pharisees hated Jesus. It came from anger which had sprung from being offended by His teaching and His criticism of their teaching. They hated His gifts, His wisdom and the fact that many were now following Him. They conspired to murder Him and did.
Now we see the path more clearly: Murder comes from hatred. Hatred is the opposite of love and comes from unresolved anger. Anger which will not forgive the one who has offended them.
What we see is the outworking of a sinful nature. Our sinful nature wants to exalt self. Our sinful nature is in rebellion to God. Our sinful nature when it has the upper hand and is in control will love self above all else and exploit others.
Love is the opposite of hatred. Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
The nature of love is to delight itself in that which it loves. The lover’s delight is his/her beloved. God the Father says this is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased. We are told: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37)
Here is what this love looks like: “as the deer pants for the water, so my soul pants for you, O God, My soul thirsts for God, the living God. (Psalm 42)
This love can find no contentment in anything or anyone without Him.
If you love God you hate anything which separates you from Him. We are as distraught without him as Mary Magdalene was at the empty tomb when she could not find her Lord. This love counts suffering for Him as an honor- as the disciples did when they were scourged went away rejoicing because they were counted worthy of suffering for His sake.
Love is the heart of our faith. If our faith is not rooted in love the branch will wither.
Love is the opposite of hatred. Love forgives, hatred cannot let go. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Hatred, on the other hand festers with unresolved anger which keeps a list of wrongs and reviews them regularly. Hatred and anger which come from an offense they cannot forgive produces an anger which produces a root of bitterness.
And one cannot forgive others they cannot receive forgiveness themselves. And this means they cannot receive grace.
They believe, like Cain, they have not been treated fairly. Sin lies at the door, crouching ready to spring into a hatred fueled by anger, jealousy, unmet expectations and leads to physical murder sometimes, or the murder of another’s reputation.
It is interesting when Peter was restored by the resurrected Lord at that seashore breakfast John records in his last chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus led Peter to restoration by asking Peter one question: Do you love me, Peter?
This is the only requirement, the one thing we must do and if we do this everything else falls in place. Do you love Jesus with all your heart, soul and strength?