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Four Little Words

Exodus 20:13



“Thou shalt not kill.”  In the Heb., lit. “Thou shalt do no murder”


To be the shortest verse in the OT it sure has a lot of meaning and application behind it.  To fully understand we need to look first at what it does not mean, and then look at the literal interpretation and the many practical applications to today.


This commandment certainly forbids some things, but some today have twisted it to mean things God never intended, so we need to look at what this commandment does not forbid:


1.     The killing of animals.

Activists quote this verse and say it’s wrong to kill an animal for any reason.  But in this same chapter, v. 24 God gave instructions concerning the sacrifice of animals. 

Genesis 9:3
Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

Don’t become a vegetarian based on this commandment.  Jesus ate fish.  He had caught and killed them, and I believe since He never sinned He breaded and deep fried them!  If you’re glad to be a step above the animals on the food chain say amen!


Joke—man was arrested for shooting a California Condor.  He was taken before the judge who was an animal rights activist, and everyone knew this guy was going to prison.  The judge said, you have killed this rare bird, and my duty is clear.  But do you have anything to say for yourself before I pronounce your sentence?  The man said, yes, we were starving, hadn’t eaten in weeks.  I’m out of work, and too proud to accept government help.  I’m ashamed of what I have done, but it was a matter of life and death for me and my children.  The judge said, I feel sorry for you, and since you killed it to eat, I’m gonna let you go this time.  As the man walked out of the courtroom the judge said wait, I have to ask, what does California Condor taste like?  The man replied, Kinda sweet like spotted owl but as tough as bald eagle.  [There’s a man who didn’t know when to shut up]


2.     Capital punishment.

The execution of criminals for the crime of murder is Biblical, and not a sin.

Exodus 21:12
He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.

This command was given before the Mosaic law was given.

Genesis 9:6
Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Throughout the Word of God it has never been revoked.  In fact, the NT book of Romans says legitimate government can carry out executions under the right circumstances.

Romans 13:1, 4
1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Some say, yeah, but capital punishment isn’t a deterrent to crime.  First of all, it doesn’t matter...God said it and that makes it so.  Who are we to question God’s Word?  Secondly, it is a deterrent, but here in America capital punishment is no longer carried out swiftly and consistently.  Only 1 in 1,000 murderers are executed.  And that only after a decade or more of appeals.  Let it be swift, certain, and consistent.  Plus, it’s always a deterrent to the man who did the murder...he’ll never do it again!  Now if that sounds too harsh then you can come apologize to me later and I’ll forgive you!


70% of all violent crimes are committed by 7% of male criminals.  How can this add up?  Because it is these same men committing violent crimes over and over again.  So the government comes up with their brilliant scheme called ‘3 strikes and you’re out.’  That’s about as ridiculous as giving your child ‘til you count to 3 to decide to obey you.  It’s a promise in advance that you’re not in big trouble...yet.  The Bible teaches it’s ONE strike and you’re out!


Anytime a society backs off from punishing its criminals it’s like the lamb defending the lion’s right to eat.


The National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas, TX released a report a few years ago stating that the average prison stay for murderers in America is 1.8 years.  Rapists=60 days.  Arson=23 days.  Career criminals are laughing at the judicial system in America.  They don’t fear God, they don’t fear the law, and they have no fear of you, the citizen.  Government blames our violent crime problem on poverty, racism, and lack of education...what nonsense.  It’s a moral break down and so the system has broken down as we err on the side of the criminal instead of the victim.


3.     Self defense.

Exodus 22:2
If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him.

According to the Bible in the case of someone breaking in to your home and threatening your life, if you kill them, a murder has not been committed. 

Ill.—sign in front yard with picture of gun read:  “Forget the dog, beware of owner!”  When you outlaw citizens from having guns the only people with guns will be outlaws!


But today the law protects the thief’s rights.  Be careful, they can sue you if they slip on one your tiles!


4.     Declaration of war [if the cause is just and noble]

War is a terrible thing, and no one in their right mind wants to go to war.  But there are things much worse than war, like losing your freedom.  The Bible permits and in many cases commands us to go to war. 

Ill.—King David killed many people who attacked Israel, and God was with him as he did so.  But when he killed one single innocent man, Uriah, God was much displeased and held him accountable.


So, what is the Bible talking about when it says, ‘Thou shalt not kill’?


1.     Intentional killing.

        a.     Homicide.

Tens of thousands are killed in America every year in cold blood.  That’s about 2-3 people every hour of every day.  Look at the 5 biggest cities in the US and every year those 5 cities have more homicidal deaths than the entire running total of US soldier deaths throughout the war on terror.

Genesis 6:13
And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence...

And Jesus said it would be the same in the end of the world.


        b.     Suicide

Every year in America 400,000 attempt to take their own life, and 30,000 succeed...and 5,000 of those are teenagers.  The ‘right to die’ movement has made big progress in the area of ‘physician assisted suicide’, but the Bible says this is wrong.  No one has the right to take their own life, because your life is not your belong to God, who gave you life, and will take it when it is time.  No matter the pain or heartache you may undergo, the Bible says

1 Corinthians 10:13
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Allow God to give you the grace to get thru it.


Is it possible for a Christian to commit suicide?  It is.  But it is never God’s will.  Some people say they just want to ‘end it all.’  But suicide doesn’t end it all.  Not for your family.  There’s no way to bring them more pain or grief.  Not for you, even as a Christian, how ashamed you would be as you face the Savior and answer for your last sin on earth.  You trusted Him to save your soul, but not to get you thru this life, or to help you with your burdens.  Now, in some cases depression or mental illness cloud someone’s thinking and I’m sensitive to that.  If you have a dark cloud hanging over you, talk to somebody, because there is hope and help!


        c.     Infanticide.

In 1973 our nation made it ok for a mother to take the life of her unborn baby, and tens of millions have done so since, around a million each year today, about 3,000 every day.  The mother isn’t the only killer, for a doctor who has sworn to preserve life invades her womb and kills her baby.  Life begins at conception...this is an unarguable fact.

In 1967 the first International Congress on Abortion was held in Washington D.C., 6 years before abortion became legal.  At that conference there were 60 major authorities from the fields of medicine, ethics, law, and social sciences.  After several days of meetings this was their official statement passed with only 1 dissenting vote:  “The majority of our group could find no point in time between conception and the birth of an infant at which point we could say that the fetus is not a human life.  The changes occurring between implantation, a 6 week embryo, a 6 month fetus, a 1 week old child, and a mature adult are mere stages of development.  Here’s a weightier statement from God:

Jeremiah 1:5
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee...

The Greek word for infant is ‘brephos’ and it is used 8 times in Scripture.  6 times it is used for a child already born, and 2 times for a child still in the womb.  The point?  There’s no difference!


So why is abortion so vicious a sin of murder?  Because the victim is unquestionably innocent.  Because the victim is totally helpless.  Because the order to kill comes from the victim’s own mother.  Because it is always a calculated, premeditated murder.  Because it is often painful, even torturous to the baby, being burned, crushed, or ripped apart...and it is always painful to the mother.  In every crowd there’s people who have been guilty of this, and our intent is not to heap more guilt upon you.  If you’ve been saved you have been forgiven, and you are my strongest supporter in what I’m now saying.


Intentional killing...


2.     Indirect Killing.

It’s possible to be guilty of murder even if you didn’t pull the trigger.  David was labeled a murderer though he only gave the order to have Uriah killed.  There’s a lot of indirect killing going on the killing going on thru the sale of alcohol and drugs like fentanyl.  It’s a secondary killing.  A large percentage of murders involve controlled substances, most often alcohol.  [same for suicides and traffic fatalities]  You can rationalize it or try to explain it away, but these controlled substances are killers!

Habakkuk 2:15
Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken...

3.     Inward Killing.

Here’s Jesus’ commentary on this 6th commandment:

Matthew 5:21-22
21 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: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:

Mark 7:21-23
21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

1 John 3:15
Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

Why does it say they aren’t saved?  Because the reason they can’t forgive is they haven’t experienced forgiveness themselves.  The reason they can hate a Christian brother is because they actually aren’t one of the brethren themselves. 


Some of you have been disturbed by the fact that someone hates me.  I appreciate your concern but really it’s misguided if the Bible is right and they are lost.


If you’ve ever wished someone dead...if you’ve even hated someone, Jesus said, you are guilty of murder.  And our world today is full of hatred.  [Racial / Religious / Revengeful]

Joke—woman went to the doctor who said she had rabies.  They would give her a series of shots that might cure her, or might not.  She could die.  She began writing on a piece of paper frantically.  He asked, is that your will?  She said, no, it’s a list of people I’m going to bite!  [Revengeful spirit]


Moses – David – Paul ... what do these 3 greats of the Bible have in common?  They were all murderers who were saved, forgiven and are in heaven today.  Some say this is the only commandment they’ve never broken, but we’ve seen today that we’ve all broken this one too!  

Revelation 21:8
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

We’re all murderers, and that’s bad news unless you’re a forgiven murderer...a pardoned murderer.  Have you been saved?  Has the sin of murder been placed under the blood on your account?  4 little words, thou shalt not kill.  But Jesus spoke 4 other little words many times:  Thy sins are forgiven!

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