The Sixth Commandment

Jeff Wehr

Wehr Publishing
PO Box 88
Orange, VA 22960
(540) 672-2211
email: jeff_wehr21[AT]yahoo[DOT]com

Let us begin our study on the sixth commandment by turning to Exodus 20:13.

"Thou shalt not kill."

Hatred and revenge are included in this commandment. Any act of injustice that is intended to cause harm to someone else, or any unjust act that would shorten another person's life is murderer. When we selfishly neglect the care of the needy we stand condemned. Even the careless habits we form that cause injure to our health, like taking illegal drugs, may be considered violations of this commandment.

We had learned earlier that our study of the Ten Commandments would teach what Jesus loves, which is righteousness, and what Jesus hates, which is sin. See Hebrews 1:9 and the sermon Jesus Full of the Holy Spirit.

So what does Jesus love?

Jesus loves all acts of justice that promote life.

He loves the spirit of loving acts and kind words that promote life.

He loves it when we wish blessings upon others.

He loves it when we practice selflessness by meeting the needs of others.

He loves healthful living that promotes life.

What does Jesus hate?

Jesus hates all acts of injustice that tend to shorten life.

Jesus hates the spirit of hatred and revenge.

Jesus hates indulgences that lead to injurious acts towards others.

He hates it when we wish people harm.

He hates it when we neglect the care of the suffering when it is within our power to help.

He hates indulgences that shorten life by compromising our health.

The relationship between the fifth and sixth commandment

The fifth commandment, Honor thy father and mother, is where life begins. It is in the home with our parents that character is formed. And much of who we are is inherited from our parents.

The sixth commandment, Thou shalt not kill, focuses on the sacredness of life.

Life is sacred and no one has the right to take it from another. How is it that a stranger thinks that he can take the life of another? He did not give life to that person. He has not passed on any hereditary traits. He has done nothing to help in the formation of character. He is not able to restore life. So what right does he have to take another's life?

It is unfortunate that God has to tell us not to murder one another. It shows the depravity of man.

Thou shalt not kill means Thou shalt not murder.

Murder implies a violent or unauthorized killing.

The Bible tells us why man is prohibited from taking another man's life. It reads, "And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man." Genesis 9:5, 6.

We are not to murder because that individual is created in the image of God. So serious is this issue, so sacred is life, that God required the life of the murderer for his murderous deed. That is how sacred life is.

This does not mean that we cannot take the life of plants. To sustain human life we need to eat plant life. But we are not to waste plant life.

When it comes to the animal kingdom, we read, "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." Proverbs 12:10.

Where does murder come from?

The Bible says that Satan is "a murderer from the beginning." John 8:44. His murderous heart started with jealousy of Jesus, which led to hatred toward Jesus, which led to murder.

Types of Killing

Capital Punishment

"And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man." Genesis 9:5, 6

"He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death. But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbor, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die." Exodus 21:12, 14.

The passage from Genesis dates back before the nation of Israel, which places capital punishment on the basis of Creation. In Exodus, the nation of Israel was to continue this rule.

Why do we have capital punishment for murder? We punish murder because "man is created in the image of God." Therefore, murder is against God, because God created and owns man.

Life is so sacred, that to take another person's life you give up your own.

Unintentional Killing

If a man takes another man's life by accident, then his own life is not required. In Old Testament times, the unintentional slayer would need to flee to one of the cities of refuge from the avenger of blood. See Numbers 35.


There are four suicides recorded in Scripture. There was King Saul and his armor bearer, Ahithophel who was a fellow conspirator with Absalom, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus. None of these incidences are presented as positives. Human life is precious. We belong to God who gave us life. We must be careful to protect the sacredness of life of others and our own.

When the jailer saw the prison doors opened where Paul and Silas were in chains, he drew his sword to slain himself. "But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, 'Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.'" Acts 16:28. Life is so sacred. God alone has the right to take life because He alone gave it.

Indirect Murder

"If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit. But if the ox were wont to push with his horns in the time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death." Exodus 21:28, 29.

If you had an ox that was known to cause harm to human life and you did nothing to prevent it from happening, then you and your ox were stoned to death. This may sound rough. But it speaks more to the sacredness of human life than our current system in many states, that allows murderers to murder again.

King David had broken at least four of the Ten Commandments in the indirect murder of Uriah the Hittite. David coveted the wife of Uriah and committed adultery. He had stolen from Uriah what he loved most, and was guilty of the slaying of Uriah. The consequences of his sins were many. The son born from this adulterous relationship died (2 Samuel 12:14, 18), the sword would never depart from his house (v 10), evil would come to his own family (12:11; chapters 15-18), and his wives would be publicly shamed (12:11; 16:22).

Murder by Degrees

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31.

By eating and drinking to the glory of God we are involved in health-promoting practices. But when we choose to break the laws of health we are slowly killing ourselves. This too is a violation of the sixth commandment.

Anything that shortens life like alcohol, smoking, and illicit drugs are a violation of the sacredness of life.


Jesus said, "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: But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." Matthew 5:21, 22.

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

If looks could kill there would be exponentially many more murders in this fallen world. In fact, I wonder how many people would be left.

Jesus looked at people as what they could be transformed by His grace. It was said of Jesus He had compassion on the multitudes. He came to save man from his sinful and hateful ways. Jesus is all about promoting life. Anger has a way of shortening life. It eats away at us and at those that we direct our anger. Hate is terrible, and terrible are the results.

On one end of the scale we have murder. On the other side we have self-sacrificing love. In between there is anger on one side and love on the other. It may be illustrated by the sequence below:

Murder.......Anger......Neutral......Love.......Lay down your life for others

Positive Side

"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Matthew 5:44, 45.

"Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt help coals of fire on his head." Romans 12:20.


Jeff Wehr


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