Tuesday, August 15, 2006
“Thou shalt not kill.” (Exo. 22:13)
Without resorting to confirmation from the Hebrew (consult Strong’s Concordance, if you must), we find a reliable interpretation of the word “kill” in Matthew 19:18, where Jesus Christ renders it thus: “Thou shalt do no murder.” (There’s nothing like getting it straight from the Author!) You have often heard the truism “All murder is killing; but not all killing is murder.” Before we delve into that, however, I want to impress upon you, if I can, the reason why something we see portrayed non-stop in movies, television, video games, and nearly all other forms of media—to the point that we have almost come to see it as a viable form of death—is, in reality, an inexcusable affront to God. Whether it is homicide, suicide, infanticide, feticide, or “accela-cide” (my own word for euthanasia), to cause the cessation of life in another human being is to stand in the place of God, whose image we bear. There is at least one occasion, however, where God actually does ask us to stand in His place in the matter of taking a life.
God told the only eight people left on the earth after the Flood, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man” (cp. Num.35:31). New Testament verses such as Romans 13:1-4 echo this mandate, and Paul the Apostle readily admitted that there are some crimes “worthy of death,” even saying, if he had committed such a crime, he would not refuse to die (Acts 25:11). And our Lord, who had committed no crime at all, and who justifiably could have called down ten-thousand angels to vindicate Him (Matt.26:53), claimed no extenuating circumstances, witness perjury, or prejudicial ruling (all true), when He was facing execution. Instead, He submitted to capital punishment, because He was representing you and me, who were patently guilty. Therefore, any argument against the death penalty must look somewhere other than that Bible for substantiation.
It has been suggested that capital punishment is not a deterrent, but unbiased statistics prove otherwise; and, in any case, it is deterrent to the executed murderer! In today’s world of DNA testing, however, where cases of individuals on death row have been found to be innocent, the possibility of executing an innocent person is held up. Frankly, though, it seems to me that in today’s court system, where capital punishment is years in coming, if ever, there are far more murderers are living among us than are executed (i.e., Sirhan Sirhan, who at least a dozen people saw shoot Robert Kennedy).
On the other hand, the lives of innocent babies, just weeks away from being cuddled, are snuffed out, with less compunction than the drowning of kittens. Mark it well; when those who operate these abortion mills wash their hands after performing their unholy procedures, they are like Pilate, whose hand washing was not, nor ever will be, enough. God is not unmindful of their sin or that of the women who willfully deprived the hopeful life within them of seeing the light of day. These little ones, however, have the promise of Psalm 22:10: “I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.”
Finally, it should be remembered that murder can always be traced back to its matrix—hatred. “Whoso hateth his brother is a murderer” (1Jno.3:15a); “Ye have heard that it is 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” (Matt.5:21-22a). Even so-called “senseless” killing is prompted by hatred of someone—the victim, who the victim represents in the perpetrator’s mind…or God. Murder is inward hatred and malice that has been cherished and nursed to fruition. To God, who is ever mindful of the root, hatred is murder. Man, who cannot see the root, is only responsible to punish the act. Those of us who are adamant that the government fulfill its duty to punish murderers should be careful not to allow bitterness to take root in our hearts, where it can quickly metastasize into hatred.
The only place of forgiveness for one who has shed the blood of another human being, however it is done, is at the foot of a bloody Cross. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col.1:14). Only blood covers blood. And, in order to appease a Holy God, only Jesus’ Blood will do. God is the Giver of life, and only He is entitled to decide when it should end. We have no right, as individuals, to take our own or anyone else’s.