7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. 9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
In Romans 3:10-18 Paul quotes from various Psalms and other Old Testament books when he writes, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood. Ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
The Bible speaks often about the wonderful love and grace of God, but it also presents in very sordid detail just how deep our wickedness is. In order for us to appreciate the goodness of God we need to have a clear understanding of just how wicked and evil we really are.
Because of the condition of the human heart, there is the potential to murder and kill within each one of us. As the prophet Jeremiah put it, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”
Standing against all of this though is God’s command: the 6th commandment which says in Exodus 20:13, “You shall not murder.”
This commandment is a lot more relevant to us than we might think. It’s not just aimed at those who do the killing, but also those who support it in any way. We live in a culture that trivialises the death of other people. We live in a culture that glorifies violence. We have been desensitised by our repeated exposure to television violence to such a degree that we regard television shows that feature murder as entertainment.
Because of the way that society has shaped and moulded us, we have a taste for blood which is far too high.
Why did God give this command to not murder another person?
Because we are made in His image, and life is precious – not only to ourselves, but to the God who gives us life.
In Genesis 1:27 it says, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
We bear His image, and we are to reflect God’s glory to others.
God’s image within us is what gives the human life value, and it is what distinguishes us from the animals. All the other creatures were simply created. We are given the breath of life by God.
Genesis 2:7, “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
Because we are created in the image of God it means that we deserve special treatment from each other – we are to give each other respect and dignity, and we are to value each other’s lives.
In Genesis 9:4-6 the death penalty for the murder or negligible death of another person is instituted. And the reason for such a steep punishment? Because of our incredible value. It is a value that cannot be quantified because we are made in the image of God.
Psalm 139 says, “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Make no mistake – life is precious to God, but this is such a contrast to how sinful human beings often regard life and each other.
Not only is there the physical potential for each one of us to become murderers but we must also realise that the command of God not to murder concerns more than just our physical actions; our attitudes are also taken into account by this command.
In Matthew 5:21-22 Jesus says “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.”
1 John 3:11-15, “This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.”
What’s clear is this: the command of God to not murder is not done away with in the New Testament. In fact, it is strengthened to include more than just the physical. It includes our attitudes towards others.
To be lacking in love for one another grieves God. This is what Paul wrote in Romans 4: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
We need to work hard at being more loving, not just to the loveable but also to the unlovable. The ultimate example has been set by Jesus.
Jesus died for us while we yet sinners. This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to die as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
So, at the start of today’s message you might have been quick to say that you are innocent of breaking the 6th commandment.
You might not have murdered someone physically, but it is just as bad to have a murderous and hate-filled heart.
The reason this command exists is because of our special design: we have been made in the image of God, and we belong to Him.
Jesus says in John 13, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
And in chapter 14 He says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
Loving others is not an optional extra for the Christian.
This is the real challenge of the 6th commandment – to obey Jesus, and to love one another, just as He loves us.
Part of the reason behind us not seeing life as precious as God does is all the false teachings about the origin of life we’re being subjected to today.
Every person is a uniquely created being. Each one of us is the product of God’s creative power and not the result of random evolution. We did not evolve from a single-celled organism over the space of millions or billions of years. We are the special creation of God. All other animals were spoken into existence by the Word of God. Man, however, was formed by God out of the dust of the earth and God breathed life into the nostrils of man. The fact that God singled us out for special care in the creation lets us know that there is a vast difference between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom.
This is one of the biggest threats posed by the theory of evolution, as it devalues life itself. And we’re allowing this garbage to be taught to our kids. If we can be convinced that mankind is nothing more than the product of random selection, then human life loses its value. If we simply evolved, then we are no different to a dog or a cat. You kill a man and he just ceases to exist. It simply becomes a policy of survival of the fittest, because if we are nothing more than animals, we can be eliminated if it becomes necessary.
Once we start down this slippery slope, it is very hard to turn back. If the evolutionary theory was correct, there would be no problem with this view, but this is a false view of life, of death and eternity. And we know it’s false because even the evolutionists are confused about this. They tell us that we are simply flesh and blood machines that have evolved out of nothing. But then tell them that their own children and grandchildren are nothing more than machines who have no value and should just be eliminated, and see what kind of reaction you get!
Of course they would be deeply offended. Why? Because even though they vehemently deny it, they were created in the image of God, and whether they like it or not they value life because God values them first and foremost. The mere thought that their loved ones should just be put down because they’re considered weak and expendable abhors them, and so it should. The so-called law of the jungle does not apply to human beings for the simple reason that we belong to the God who created us – even those who insist He does not exist.
Every human is a special being. We are here because we are the special creation of God Himself. The theory of evolution is not just an alternative world view to what the Bible presents as the origin of man. There is something deeply sinister and evil behind it because it robs life itself of its meaning.
We are told that we are made in the image of God. This doesn’t mean that we look like God, or that He has a body like we do. What it does mean is that we were created like God in that the human is a tripartite being. In the Godhead, there is the Father, the Son and the Spirit. In a human, there is the body, the soul and the spirit. God is a three part being, and so are we.
The body is the vehicle with which we move through and interact with our world. It is the body that provides a home for the soul and the spirit while we are in this world. Both humans and animals have bodies. When we die, our bodies return to the earth.
The soul is the seat of the will, the character, the intellect, the thoughts, and the emotions. The soul is where we reason. The soul is what we refer to when we speak of the mind. Your soul animates your body and allows you to interact with your world and with other people. In short, your soul is that part of you that makes you who you are. Your soul makes you self-conscious. There is a sense in which it can be said that animals have souls - that is, they have life within them and they are self-conscious and are able to interact with the world around them.
The spirit is where the similarities between man and animals end. While the soul makes us self-conscious, the spirit makes us God-conscious. Every human that is born into this world, is born dead spiritually. That’s the curse of the sinful nature which is passed down from generation to generation. But when the Spirit of God stirs us, we find our spirits reaching out in faith towards Him. After salvation, the new spirit of life within us begins to transform our souls.
It’s a very simple explanation of a complicated scenario, but basically the soul is our horizontal view with the world, while the spirit is our vertical view with God. As God gives us spiritual rebirth and transforms us from the inside out, He begins to change our view of virtually everything, including how we view each other. When we begin to see other people as unique beings created in the image of God, we begin to get some idea of how precious they are to God.
And this is why we are commanded to preserve life, and not to hate each other.
God has a plan for every human that comes into this world. Psalm 139 tells us that God knew us and had a plan for us even before we were conceived. Do you understand how precious you are to Him?
You are not the product of random chance and hapless genetics. Each one of us is the product of divine sovereignty. We are what we are because God determined it to be the way that it is. Even Job, through all his struggles and suffering knew this. Job 10:8-12, “Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you moulded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.”
Every human that is conceived in the womb is special. Every person whether born or unborn is conceived with and for a purpose. Every human life is precious, and we cheapen life and treat other people with contempt and hatred at our peril.
The sixth commandment tells us not to kill, and Jesus takes it to a whole new level by addressing our attitudes of dislike and hatred – things that we all struggle with.
How can we say we love God when we cannot and will not love and forgive others?
Our reading from 1 John 2 gets to the root of hatred and the dire consequences that go with it: “Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.” May that not be true of us.
The words of Jesus in Matthew 5:21-22 again: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.”
This is what the Life Application Bible commentary has to say about these verses:
“When Jesus said, ‘But I tell you,’ He was not doing away with the law or adding His own beliefs. Rather, He was giving a fuller understanding of why God made that law in the first place. For example, Moses said. ‘You shall not murder.’ Jesus taught that we should not even become angry enough to murder, for then we have already committed murder in our heart The Pharisees read this law and not having literally murdered anyone, felt righteous. Yet they were angry enough with Jesus that they would soon plot His death, though they would not do the dirty work themselves. We miss the intent of God’s Word when we read His rules for living without trying to understand why He made them. Do you keep God’s rules but close your eyes to His intent? Killing is a terrible sin, but anger is a great sin too because it also violates God’s command to love. Anger in this case refers to a seething, brooding bitterness against someone. It is a dangerous emotion that always threatens to leap out of control, leading to violence, emotional hurt, increased mental stress, and spiritual damage. Anger keeps us from developing a spirit pleasing to God. Jesus said that we will be held accountable even for our attitudes. We are hypocrites if we claim to love God while we hate others. Our attitudes toward others reflect our relationship with God.”
Human life is precious. It is so precious that God sent His Son Jesus into this world to save life through His death on the cross. We need to pray for our nation and for our world. In recent years we have taken the first steps down a slippery slope that will lead us further and further away from God, unless if we turn to Him in genuine repentance. You’ll remember from last Sunday that I said we can make a difference because Jesus can make a difference.
Homegroup Study Notes
The 6th Commandment says “Do not murder.”
Our first reaction is to tick this particular box, as the vast majority of people have not directly transgressed this commandment.
But as we have seen throughout this series, there is a much deeper meaning to each of God’s commands.
Read 1 Corinthians 13.
How are we as Christians to set the example of love to the non-believing world?
Read Psalm 139:13-16 and 1 John 2:7-11
There is no doubt that life is precious to God.
How are we to treat others based on this truth?
How have we failed?
What role has the “entertainment industry” played in desensitising us to the high value that God places on human life?
If you feel able, share with your group how bitterness towards another person has affected other aspects of your life.
How have you experienced God’s healing?
Close by praying that the Lord would open our eyes to the needs of others, and that He would teach us to see others as He does: As unique individuals, created in His image.
Next week: “You shall not commit adultery.”