The Sixth Command: Life is Sacred

“You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13 ESV)

Every negative command has a positive. What is the positive way to say “No murder”?

What is the Positive Command?   Love Your Neighbor (Everyone)

“You shall not murder” is a command to love your fellow image bearer whoever he or she is. Your family member. Your friend. Your coworker. And as Jesus told in the parable of the Good Samaritan, every human being we come across qualifies as a neighbor, whether Black or White, young or old, with something to offer us or not—they bear the image of Almighty God, who loves them also. Don’t murder; love. Don’t slander; love. Don’t injure; love. Don’t betray; love. Don’t hate; love.

Now that sounds good doesn’t it? And we are probably thinking of people we wish would apply this to how they treat and feel about us. But let’s be honest, loving others doesn’t come naturally. We are by nature sinners, haters, murderers in action and attitude. How do we overcome this deadly sin?

Here is the irony of Christianity and the sixth command. God uses the violation of the sixth command to save us. He uses hate to save us. He uses murder to save us. Jesus was murdered. He was murdered on the cross. We hated, but God loved.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) It was the sixth command that killed Jesus and the second greatest command that saved us. Jesus loved his neighbor; Jesus loved us. To be a Christian is to receive the love of God in Christ. It is to be changed by this love and by the Spirit of God. God’s love to us creates love for others. We don’t obey the sixth command by not murdering someone. We fulfill it by loving everyone and seeing their lives and image-bearing as precious gifts worthy of my kindness, compassion, and love. But only God’s love in us can do this.

This is why wherever authentic Christianity goes, with it come hospitals, orphanages, schools, pregnancy centers, elderly care, and a host of other expressions of love for humankind. This love doesn’t save us, but it does show that we have been changed by God’s love.

Naturally, we hate. Supernaturally, we love. That is why Jesus would say, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

©2014 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address ( on the copied resource.

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