Exodus 20:13

"You shall not murder."

Having seen how Paul summarizes the moral law of God with the law of love, and exploring how we are to keep His commandments and walk in His light in our sanctification, it will now be helpful to look briefly at several of His rules for what the life of love looks like. Dr. R.C. Sproul's teaching series God's Law and the Christian will guide our study.

God's law against murder, or the sixth commandment, is the first commandment we will consider. Let us first note the use of the word murder in the English Standard Version (ESV) translation of Exodus 20:13. Older translations such as the King James Version (KJV) render the verse as "Thou shalt not kill," which, while not incorrect, runs the risk of introducing a misunderstanding into the minds of those who read the text in English. The specific Hebrew term translated with the word "murder" in the ESV and "kill" in the KJV is usually used in the Old Testament for murder. We must draw a distinction between murder and killing. All murder is killing, but not all killing is murder. There are times when it is lawful to kill, such as in self-defense or when the state executes a murderer (Gen. 9:5-6; Ex. 22:2-3a). But we are never permitted to commit murder, to kill an innocent person. In fact, what we would call first-degree murder was the one crime in ancient Israel where the death penalty always had to be applied (Num. 35:31). Attempts to criticize Christians for supporting capital punishment but not abortion, as we have seen in recent years, are beside the point. Scripture does not forbid all killing; it only forbids killing those who have committed no crime. The state has the right—indeed, the duty—to execute murderers (Rom. 13:1-7).

Speaking of abortion, we see in the practice of abortion-on-demand the violation of the sixth commandment. However, not only are parents and abortionists complicit in this act of murder committed against an unborn human being, but so is the state itself for refusing to do its duty and outlaw the practice. Abortion, no less than the murder of a child or an adult, destroys a person made in the image of God. It is, indirectly, an attack against the Lord Himself, for if we show such contempt for His image-bearer who has done nothing deserving of death, how much more contempt will we show for our perfectly holy Creator? As Christians, we are called to do whatever we can to bring the scourge of abortion-on-demand to an end.

Coram Deo

Ending the practice of abortion-on-demand seems like an insurmountable task, and it is if all we have to trust in is ourselves. But we trust in the Lord, and we are bound to fight for what is right, knowing that He will honor our struggle. There are many fronts on which we can fight abortion in our culture, including electing pro-life politicians, supporting crisis pregnancy centers, promoting adoption, and caring for unwed mothers in our churches and communities.

For Further Study