Thou Shalt Not Murder

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Good morning. Welcome Alpine Bible Church to Church in the Park. I missed you last week. I was backpacking in the Uintas. I got to see Red Castle for the first time. I don’t know how many of you guys have ever been to Red Castle, but I saw some of the most beautiful sites in my life. I got to do that and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves backpacking and seeing awesome sites. Before we begin, I have a few announcements. Baptisms are August 30, if you’re interested in that we have online registration and we would love to have you guys be baptized if you’ve never been baptized before. And number two, a new Bible study is going to start on August 12th in Wine’s Park on salvation and the Holy Spirit. And that is in the southwest corner of Wine’s Park and I’d recommend you guys bring a lawn chair to sit around and discuss that.

Anyways, now to begin I’m excited to open scriptures today with you. All right. I just got to stand really still, don’t move. All right. I wasn’t really expecting to do this today, to speak today, but there was a sickness in the Wall family, and because of present circumstances they are quarantined and they are not here today. So I get to be here and get to share with you. And a few weeks ago we had camp, Grace Haven Bible Camp, which was a blast. I see a few of you out here that attended and came to Grace Haven Bible Camp. And at Grace Haven Bible Camp, we did something that we probably have never done before and something that I’ve never done before. We had a 10-part series on the 10 commandments. And I taught the second half of the 10 commandments and the other pastor Rodney Zedicher who’s the pastor of Ephraim taught the first half of the 10 commandments.

And I have to say, when I first pitched the idea to Rodney, he was definitely skeptical about going through the 10 commandments. And the reason is as Christians, we are no longer under the Law, but we are under grace, right? Romans and Galatians, as well as throughout the New Testament this idea that we are no longer under the Law, but under grace comes up time and time again and the 10 commandments are founded in the Law. Not only that, but it says in the Bible that no one shall be justified by the works of the Law and if righteousness, which is a right standing with God could be gained through the Law, Christ died for nothing. That’s what Galatians 2:21 says. So why did we go through the 10 commandments? And why are we going to go through the 10 commandments today?

Well, there are several reasons. I’m just going to scratch the surface so we can get into what we’re talking about today. The first one is 2 Timothy 3:16 that says, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction for correction and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work.” And secondly, the Law points us to Christ. Galatians 3:24 says, “So the Law became our guardian to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.” Another word for guardian there would be tutor. It teaches us that we need Christ and how it does that is it demonstrates the holiness of God and his Law and how we continually fall short of that in our need of a savior for a right relationship with God. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” And how do we know that we fall short of the glory of God? Is that continually, we see that we fall short of the laws of God and that we are in dire need of mercy.

So, perhaps you didn’t ask for it and this was probably the last thing you thought we were going to talk about today. But because I did the last half of the 10 commandments, we are going to be in commandment number six, which it says in Exodus 20:13, you guys can memorize with me with this real quick. It says, Exodus 20:13, “You shall not murder.” All right. I don’t think you guys are thinking about you shall not murder this morning, but that’s kind of what we’re going to be deep diving in and looking at. And I figure and hope that most of you already know this commandment. All right. How many of you guys already know this? All right. How many of you guys abide by this? I try to abide by this. I can’t say that I’ve ever killed someone, but maybe more than ever, this is what we need to go over because of quarantine, right?

You guys have been in proximity, close proximity with your families for the past several months with no break and perhaps we need to cover, thou shall not murder. Right? But in all seriousness, as far as the 10 commandments go, this seems like a tee-ball just sitting there, anyone could hit it. The other ones, some of them seem like curve ball, sometimes you miss. Like honoring your father and mother always. I can say that I have definitely not honored my mother and father always or other commandments. But with this one do not murder, personally I feel like, yeah, I can do that. Okay, sweet God, I got one. I can check that off the list. I’m good. But as easy as it seems, or as obvious as do not murder seems, maybe it’s a little more complicated than that.

So, first we have to ask, why is murder wrong? And people throughout history have tried to come up with ideas of why ethically murder is wrong apart from God, apart from scriptures. And one line of thinking goes that if you harm someone that is wrong because you do not like being harmed. It’s a utilitarian argument that says that harming others is wrong because you do not like being harmed. But the problem with that is that you can in fact kill someone painlessly at night, or how do you decide if someone is in pain or not, right? Abortion struggles with this argument in this issue, does a fetus feel pain? Or what if you killed someone who was isolated in the woods and didn’t have a community? Is that painful to… If you kill them harmlessly? Because another thing is, if you kill someone it harms the people around them, their friends, their family. But if you kill someone completely isolated, does it really harm their friends or their family? Or what if you kill the whole community at once painlessly? Is that still wrong?

Well, according to this argument, it’s not, but obviously it is. And the other argument goes that you are taking away someone’s potential, or you’re taking away someone’s contribution to society. Every person contributes to society in some way. That is the second ethical argument. For example, if you killed Mozart or Post Malone ever before they made music, you would be taking away something from humanity, something from society. You could argue the Post Malone one, but I’m not here to do that. But we all contribute to society or to humanity in some way. And because of that, murder is wrong. And this can sound like a compelling line of reasoning, but history tells us time and time again, that if you hold to this line of reasoning, that you will come to the conclusion that there are those who add to society and there are those who take away from society.

We have examples like the Eugenics Movement at the beginning of the 20th century that got really popular, that they believed that the world was too dumb and that low IQ individuals tainted society so they went and sterilized people who weren’t as smart. And they got rid of all these people with this line of reasoning saying that they didn’t contribute to society. They tainted, they took away from society. And the Eugenics Movement eventually birthed what is known as Nazism, right? They took what Eugenics said and they said, not just the low IQ individuals, but Jewish people or mentally handicapped or gypsies, they also taint society. They take away from society. And because of that, you know of the horrors of the Holocaust. And this mindset isn’t unique to one people group… All right, I’m going to stand right here… Unique to one people group or unique to the 20th century. This is something that humanity has always faced and struggled with.

How many of you guys know who the Mongols were? They’re pretty crazy. The Mongols, if you didn’t know, were the greatest military power to ever exist before the invention of the gun. Right? At their peak, they still have the largest land empire to have ever existed. They controlled China, Russia, Korea, the Middle East. They owned practically the known world back in the day. And they didn’t even live in houses. They were nomads. They lived on horseback and they lived by shepherding and they rode all through their empire and they viewed people who lived in cities, people who were civilized as oxen, as livestock, as tamed. If you were a farmer, if you lived in a house, they viewed you as not a true wild human being, but as livestock. And because of that, they rationalized killing and wiping cities off of maps.

The first khan, his name perhaps you’ve heard of it is Genghis Khan. And he killed so many people that there are several articles online that talk about him being the greenest conquer to have ever lived. And yes, I just said greenest and not greatest. And the reason why he’s the greenest is because he wiped out over 700 million tons of carbon off the face of the earth, simply by killing people and animals. And it’s somewhere in the ballpark of 40 to a 100 million people and no one really knows why or knows how many. The answer why, is because they viewed people who’re in civilized society as less than, and as livestock. And you might get an idea of the Mongols that they killed that many people, but the crazy thing about the Mongols story is that, it’s not really that unique. The only thing unique about the Mongols, is the scope in which they are able to do things, their efficiency and power.

And they killed so many people, 40 to 100 million people in the span of 20, 40 years, that maybe you get an idea of why China spent so much time and resources and people to create the great wall. Maybe that gives you a little understanding, because they were trying to keep those people out of China. And you may also think that people know in their hearts, that murder is wrong. Intuitionally or instinctively people believe that murder is wrong and that no one can take pleasure in harming someone else. But we have a quote that comes down from history from Genghis Khan himself, it’s on happiness. So are you guys ready for this flowery message on happiness from Genghis Khan? He says, “The greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters.” And that is terrifying.

And the reason why it’s terrifying is not because he’s alive today. He died hundreds and hundreds of years ago. But what is scary about that today is that, we as people are just as capable as feeling, saying, or doing the things that he did. Too often, we look at history and we think of how crazy and absurd people are for the way they behaved and what they did and we say that we could never do those things. But here’s the thing, we are all human and we are all capable of the exact same actions. If someone could create a time machine… All right. If someone could create a time machine and take you as a baby and take a Mongolian baby and swap you, guess what, you would grow up to be a Mongolian warrior. And they would grow up to be… They would maybe be here right now. They would be in skinny jeans, perhaps they would have a really sleek-looking Instagram page, maybe Snapchat. And they might be having a latte this morning on the lawn, right?

And the reason is because we are all human, sinful, capable of murder, and we have the incredible capacity of being able to justify our wrongdoings even if it’s murder. And there’s countless examples of this throughout history. The Mongols, the Nazis, the Eugenics movements are just little examples of how people justify killing. And if intuition fails, if arguments fail, and if people fail, what is the answer? Why is murder wrong? And it’s because scripture says that you like me are created in the image of God and have an inherent value on you because we have been gifted life by our creator. And by taking someone’s life, not only are we attacking someone else, but we’re taking what God has given. And it doesn’t have to do with what you do to society or what you contribute to humanity. But it’s because you’ve been created in the image of God and that is what gives you inherent worth. And that is why killing is wrong because the laws of God aren’t subjective but objective. And that’s why thou shall not kill.

And you might be thinking right now, all right, murder is wrong and I’m capable of it. Thank you, Lincoln. I really appreciate you telling me this. To those that are thinking that right now, you’re welcome. Appreciate it. So if that’s true, if we’re all capable of murder and if murder is wrong, where does it come from? Where does it start? The Bible teaches us that sin doesn’t appear out of thin air. In fact, it first takes root in our heart and then bears its fruit. Jesus in Mathew 15:17-20 says this, “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth, goes into the stomach and then out of the body. But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart and these defile them. For out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person, but eating with unwashed hands are not what defiles them.”

Murder, just like every other sin comes and starts in the heart. And if you didn’t believe me when I told you that murder is a universal problem in human beings, we just have to look at scripture. It’s the second sin ever recorded in scripture. It doesn’t take long for murder to take center stage.

In the story of Cain and Abel, which is in Genesis four, right after the fall in Genesis three. It says this, now reading out of Genesis 4:2-9. “Now Abel kept flocks and Cain worked the soil. Abel was a shepherd and Cain was a farmer. In the course of time, Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord and Abel also brought an offering, fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering, he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door. It desires to have you, but you must rule over it.’ Now Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let’s go out to the field.’ While they’re in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know.’ He replied, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?'”

Why did Cain kill his brother? Well, Cain was angry. He wasn’t just angry with his brother, he was angry with God. He felt like he was being cheated by God, right? The Lord looked with favor on Abel’s offering, but did not look at favor on Cain’s offering. Cain was a farmer, which I don’t know if we have any farmers here, but that is really hard work, right? You’re up at the break of dawn and you don’t quit until the sun goes down. And God doesn’t look at favor on Cain. I can imagine Cain growing in resentment, growing in anger day after day saying, “I worked my butt off and all week and how dare you, God not bless me. I know how I can right this wrong.” That’s what Cain is thinking, “I know what I can do to make this right.” And he thinks this is a matter of justice.

And guess what, God tries to do… God sees the anger, sees the resentment in Cain’s heart, and then he says to him, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door and it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” You know what God is saying here? Is that sin is like a lion that waits outside your door. It’s like a tiger, a lion, a large predatory cat that’s waiting outside, waiting for you to give into it so that it can devour you.

And that is what bitterness and that is what anger and that is what resentment is to the person who harbors and [inaudible 00:22:30]. And murder like every other sin, comes from the heart and it’s the result of nursing resentment, anger, and not ruling over it. Right? It can be the result of many things. Often, the anger at being wronged, resentment at God for the state of things in your life, your circumstances, hatred towards others for cheating you. Hating God and man and ultimately what murder is, is wanting to take the position of God by taking life and executing justice and becoming judge and juror of what is good and what is evil.

This is what Cain saw it as, but in reality, it was revenge. I don’t know if you got that. In reality, it was revenge. That’s what Cain was seeking. Was vengeance towards man, his brother and vengeance towards God as well. His heart was deceived and eventually he was devoured by sin. Verse 10 says, “The Lord said to you, ‘What have you done? Listen, your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.'” Sin devoured Cain. And murder comes from the heart and when anger is fully nourished, murder is the result and so we see that proverb, guard your heart above all things for out of it comes the wellspring of life as something so important.

Don’t let resentment seed in your life and become a sapling or a tree. Dig it out and throw it away before the fruit devours you. Now, you still might be thinking that this lesson doesn’t apply to you or that this isn’t about you. But listen to what the words of Jesus or what Jesus says in Matthew 5:21-24. He’s quoting Exodus 20:13, “You have heard that ancients were told you shall not commit murder. And whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Therefore, if you are presenting the offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go and be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”

Have you ever been angry with someone before? Have you ever told someone that they are worthless or good for nothing? Have you ever said, I hate you? Have you ever held a grudge? Have you ever been bitter? Guess what? According to Jesus’s words, you are guilty. Guess what? I’m guilty. And I’m guessing since you’re human like me, you’re also guilty. And according to the words of scripture, we all are guilty. And if you have broken the Law in one area, scripture says you have broken the whole Law and stand condemned before God.

And this is why the gospel is such good news. Because apart from the Law, this is what Romans 3:21-25 says, “But now apart from the Law, the righteousness of God has been made manifest…” Righteousness, meaning right standing with God has been made known, that has come. “… being witnessed by the Law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe for there is no distinction for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God being justified…” Being made, being free from guilt, being declared righteous… “… as a gift by his grace through the redemption, which is in Christ Jesus, whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in his blood through faith.” And that is the beauty of the gospel.

The fact that we are guilty before God, we are all Law breakers. We’ve all been angry with our brother. We deserve condemnation. But God in his mercy took the punishment that we deserved so that we could be reconciled to him and to others to be in right relationship with God, not by our own doing or by following the works of the Law, but by the grace of God, which is the redemption that Jesus Christ paid for us on the cross. That is what Romans three says. He died because of our anger. He was murdered because of our sin, because we were guilty of being murderers. And while he hung up on the cross… This is one of the craziest things in all of scripture when I think about it, but it just blows my mind whenever I think about it.

While Jesus was on the cross dying a horrific death, he said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” See, there was no anger. There was no resentment. There was no bitterness in the heart of Christ. He laid down his life willingly, willing to be murdered for murderers so that we could have life. And what motivated him? It was the joy set before him. It was love. It was forgiveness. That was the heart of Christ. There was no bitterness although he was the only one who has existed that could make a legitimate complaint that he suffered unjustly. He did it willingly. Not only did he forgive the people that hung him on the cross, but he washed the feet of his friend who betrayed him, Judas.

He forgave his murderers and he loved until the very end and he still loves today. And as a disciple of Christ, we are called to follow, follow the heart of Christ. Follow him. That’s why Ephesians 4:31 through 5:2 says this, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, 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. Follow God’s example, therefore as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Resentment has no place in our lives because it is antithetical to the gospel. In fact, it’s anti-gospel. Jesus died so that we could be forgiven. He gave his life so that we could have life and when we hold onto the pain and want vengeance on others, we are hypocrites who want mercy for ourselves and justice and vengeance on others. And we have a mistrust in the justice of God when we desire vengeance and hold on to bitterness. But don’t take my word for it because I’m just a guy… Listen to what John says. In 1 John 4:19-21. He says this, “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar. For he does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

And this commandment we have from him, whoever loves God must also love his brother. The amazing thing here guys is that if the gospel, we love because he first loved us, we forgive because he first forgave us. And only in the power of the gospel are we able to be forgiven and only through the power of the gospel, only through that relationship with Christ and through his power, are we able to forgive others because of how much we have been forgiven. It’s the same thing with love. It’s the same thing with forgiveness. And there is no room for bitterness in us because like everything else, every other sin it will devour just as it did Cain.

A Cross Before a Crown

Transformed in Struggle