The 6th Commandment: Why Everyone On Earth Is Guilty Of Murder

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The 6th Commandment: Why Everyone On Earth Is Guilty Of Murder

Cain Slaying Abel (Jacopo Palma, 1590)

 

Have you ever “lost” an argument?

If you’re like most people, you always replay the argument in your mind. Of course, in the replay you always win the argument! You always smash ’em down and put them in their place. You’re like, “They say that, but then I make this super-amazing argument. That would have been great!”

Indeed, we’ve all lots many arguments—but we’ve never lost a rerun. While our mental replay may not seem to have any harm in it, at its core is a murderous spirit, which is exactly what the Sixth Commandment prohibits:

Exodus 20:13 says, “You shall not murder.”

Observing the Sixth Commandment is more than just dealing with physical murder (though it does do that!). Essentially, this commandment is about valuing the lives of others and realizing that people are precious image-bearers of God Himself (Gen. 1:26). This commandment means that the most valuable things on Earth are others. And loving others and leveraging your life to protect and prosper them is of utmost importance.

Why Do People Murder?

First, let’s remember that the Bible says that sin extends to everyone and sinfulness is total. Read Romans 3:9-20. We are all sinful. There is not a culture, time or ethnic group that is not sinful. There are no excuses and no exceptions. Sinfulness is total. It affects every part of us—every thought, word and deed. NO ONE seeks God and no one fears God.

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Second, people murder due to greed (Esau tried to kill Jacob because he took the family birthright), jealousy (Cain murdered Abel because his sacrifice was better), fear (King David killed his faithful soldier Uriah because he was fearful of having his sin uncovered), and personal revenge (Absalom killed his brother for raping his step-sister).

The 6th Commandment: Why Everyone On Earth Is Guilty Of Murder

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What’s the common denominator here? Someone values a thing, idea, or power more than they value the life of someone else. Again, each commandment goes back to an idolatrous heart. To live in idolatry is to live in such a way that you can’t live without something. Like all sins, murder begins there. You’re not satisfied with something, and you take someone’s life into your own hands.

What Does the Bible Say?

  • Genesis 9:6: God says the price for taking a life … is life. If you take a life, you must pay with your life. There’s nothing on earth that you could use to pay for life. This is to say that human life is invaluable, irreplaceable and matchless. There’s no worldly equivalent to it. When you think of men and women as anything less than the image of God, you devalue life.
  • Matthew 5:21-22: In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus “ups the ante” and equates having anger toward someone as a murderous spirit. And viewing people as anything less than the special image-bearer of God that they are is a type of murder.
  • James 2:1-11; 5:1, 5: From this passage, we understand that not to murder has all to do with how we regard the poor.

What About…?

  1. “What about self-defense?” In certain situations, the Bible allows for self-defense (Exo. 22:2).
  2. “What about capital punishment?” Deadly force by police and capital punishment aren’t essentially murder. Only the living God has the authority to take human life. But God has implemented that right through the power of the governing state (Exo. 22:3; Gen. 9:1-6; Rom. 13:1-4, etc.).
  3. “What about going to war?” Honestly, most wars are brutal and unjust—perhaps, even some of those fought by our country. On the flip side, some wars are meant to protect innocent life. And if battles, wars and such are carried out for that reason, then the Bible wouldn’t consider the actions of those fighting as “murder” by definition.
  4. “What about abortion?” The Sixth Commandment is denoting to an exact type of killing—the taking of innocent life. As Christians, we believe that, from conception, the baby in the womb is human life (Psalm 139). And contrary to cultural wisdom, human life in general doesn’t come in stages. Just as you’re not more of a human when you graduate from high school than when you graduate from third grade, you’re not more human when your head is fully developed than you were when it was smaller.

What’s the Practical Takeaway?

Perhaps you thought you had never broken the Sixth Commandment, but now you see the stains of breaking it on your hands.

So, what are you to do?

  • Put to death your anger. It is a sin of the heart that flows out of pride, self-centeredness (James 4:1-3) and fear. Don’t take you anger lightly—the Bible doesn’t! Don’t stuff or even ventilate your anger. Instead, pray about it and process it.
  • Value life of all kind. All heresy begins with a partial truth. Don’t believe the lie that the unborn, mentally challenged, physically challenged, a person of a different race or the elderly aren’t fellow image-bearers of God. Pray that each person of each background in each culture would come to know the living God through Jesus Christ the Son.

As the old Heidelberg Catechism says, “God requires us to love our neighbor as ourselves, to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy and kindness towards him, and to prevent his hurt as much as possible; also, to do good even unto our enemies.”

Friend, there is so much we could apply this to in life. But the bigger questions are: What are you pursuing? What are you leveraging your life for? Is your aim to glorify God with this commandment?

The 3rd Commandment: What Does It Mean To Take God’s Name In Vain?

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The 3rd Commandment: What Does It Mean To Take God’s Name In Vain?

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It always amazes me how young our children are when we see rebellion in them. I recall that our toddler daughter didn’t want to submit to my authority – or her mom’s authority. If she didn’t want to eat her veggies, she’d try to throw the jar across the kitchen or knock the spoon from my hand. If she didn’t want to be held and if she wanted to walk—never mind the fact it was 100 degrees outside—she’d try to hurl herself out of our arms.

But we always had her best interests in mind.

Likewise, many believe the Ten Commandments to be limiting instructions given by a far-off God who doesn’t want you to “live a full life.” He’s seen as a “cosmic killjoy.”

But, truth be told, the commandments provide us a look into the character of God, a look into our own sinful heart, and — rather than restrict, they give us a way to be free. The commandments were given to the Israelites after coming out of Egyptian slavery, and given as a way to live free.  Thus, it’s for our good—indeed, our eternal perspective—that the commandments were given.

From Exodus 20:7, the Third Commandment reads:

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

So, what does this mean? Literally, this means to falsify who God is and what He stands for. Indeed, each person should actively reflect God’s nature in actions, speech, thoughts, plans, etc.—all of life! Taking God’s name in vain, then, is to reflect His nature in an erroneous way.

The character and names of God speak to His nature and person (Ps. 20:1), His teaching (John 17:26), His saving work (John 1:12; Acts 4:12), and His power (Acts 3:6). In this way, it’s impossible to disconnect God from His name.

Are You Guilty of Breaking This Commandment?

If you are a Christian, the name “Christian” means “little Christ.” And, as such, when we take on the name of Christ by repenting and believing the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-8), and then misrepresent God in our sin, we’ve broken this commandment.

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Here are some common ways we break this commandment:

1. We swear by God’s name and character when a promise won’t be fulfilled.

Simply put, we use our language carelessly. How often do we say, “I swear to God” as if it means zilch? In truth, we’re vowing by the name of a God that can’t lie and whose word can never be broken. Jesus said to let your “yes be yes” and your “no be no” (Matt. 5:37).

2. We try to make our name more famous God’s.

Even after being saved from all of our sin, we’re unenthusiastic to lay down the desire to make our name great. Though it is Christ’s name that should be propagated among the nations, many times we want our name, our talents and our personality to ring out to the world. We reverse the words of John the Baptist (John 3:30) and say, “I must increase, and God you must decrease.”

3. We link God’s name with ideas it should not be associated with.

The 3rd Commandment: What Does It Mean To Take God’s Name In Vain?Think of the Crusades from the Dark Ages. People were rallied around “God’s will,” and this led to a complete abandonment of biblical principles in just war and the sanctity of life. And today we do this by attaching God’s name to political parties and ideologies.

4. We don’t worship in a manner that uplifts God’s name.

You have been there, right? Our minds wonder during church, we come in late, we’re texting or checking our e-mail, as if nothing has been done for us, at all. And our lack of excitement and enthusiasm in worship misrepresents God’s name.

5. We employ God’s name lightly.

Let’s be honest: People stub their toe on a table and blurt out a curse word related to God’s name. You aren’t asking God to eternally judge the table, are you?

Surely as Christians who bear His name, we’ve broken this commandment. But, if you’re a non-Christian reading this, you were created to display His image. You were created by God and for God. And, therefore, you take the name of God in vain also when you twist who God is.

Can Jesus Save Us From Our Guilt?

Jesus did justice to God’s name because He never took the name of His Father in vain. Even in His final hours on the cross, the question was still churning of what name should be attached to Jesus. He was asked in Mathew 26:64, “Are you the Christ, the Son of God?” And Jesus retained that name, and lived up to it perfectly to the point of death.

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A guiltless man—Jesus Christ, the God-man—was seized guilty so that you, being guilty, could be avowed guiltless. Paul speaks of these commandments as a mirror into our sinful hearts (Galatians 3:19-29). The commandments were given by His grace so that we would see our need. We don’t live up to God’s standard and, therefore, we need a Savior. Not one drop of the blood of Christ was shed in vain. None for whom He died will ever perish.

We must recognize the greatness that is in the name of God. In this name is salvation, love, mercy and grace. The psalmist said, “Great is His name and greatly to be praised” (Psalm 96:4). Knowing, seeing, meditating and living this out puts you on the path of sanctification in not taking His name in vain, but, rather, living in reverence and honor to it in all you say, think, plan and do.

And, finally, Christian, let me say something about your work for God. It is not a vain thing to serve the living God. If you are doing the work God called you to, it can’t be in vain, whatever the apparent outcomes (1 Cor. 15:58; Gal. 6:10). Don’t be discouraged today, wondering if it’s worth it. It’s impossible for anything you ever do in God’s name to be in vain. Just when we think that all of our ministry and work efforts have been in vain, we see that God has been working above and beyond our greatest hopes (Eph. 3:13-17).

Are you trusting your vain efforts — or the great God today

The 2nd Commandment: No, We Don’t Get To Define God

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The 2nd Commandment: No, We Don’t Get To Define God

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Imagine someone coming up to you and saying, “I want to write a memoir about your life. In my biography of you, you are an Olympic athlete, you’re terrible at personal relationships, and you live with 25 birds and 10 fish.”

You respond, “Well, that’s interesting. But I’m not an athlete, I love being around people, and I’m more of a dog person.”

The man, though, won’t budge: “But this is how I desire to see you! You’re much more fascinating like this.”

How would you feel? You’d be offended.

It’s the same way with the God of the Bible. We can’t just remake Him into what we want Him to be. God is who He is, and is this why the Second Commandment is so important:

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me” (Exodus 20:4-5).

Image source: Pixabay.com

Image source: Pixabay.com

The truth is this: It doesn’t matter how we “want or like to see God,” God is who He is, and He gets to define Himself to us as shown in the Bible. Our job is to conform our preconceptions of God to His reality, and not vice versa. How we “want or like to see God” and how “we believe God should be” is utterly irrelevant. All that matters is what He’s really like.

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People say that “their” God wouldn’t:

  • Punish sinners in hell (Rev 20:11-15).
  • Claim Jesus is the only way to heaven (John 14:6).

We make God into what we want Him to be, rather than just believing Him for who He is. When we do this, not only do we get angry and disappointed, but we also rob ourselves of the joy of really knowing God.

From the Second Commandment, we learn at least three things about idols and false views of God:

1. Carved images spring from idolization.

The Israelites created carved images because they were scared. Frankly, they didn’t trust God, weren’t satisfied with Him, and felt like they needed something besides Him (or something more) to protect them.

Certainly, they made an image that mirrored God on some level. However, the whole attempt was to guarantee God’s protection. Their real idol was a need for guaranteed protection, and they thought they needed that more than they needed God.

That is the textbook answer for idolatry. You “carve out” an idol out of anything whenever you believe it so central to your life that you couldn’t be content and safe without it. So, you prioritize it or hold on to it over God and His Word.

Here are some common “carved idolatries” in America today:

  • We must have more money and wealth to be happy, so we invent a “god” that will guarantee that to us.
  • We want to understand ourselves as “decent people,” so we invent a “god” who is madder at other’s evils than He is at ours.
  • We need to see punishment on our enemies, so we invent a “god” who dislikes our enemies and prefers us and our philosophy best.
  • We really need domestic steadiness to be happy, so we invent a “god” who guarantees it!

2. Carved images misrepresent the actual biblical God.

In not seeing God for who He is, we end up seeing Him as our idolatrous, dysfunctional messed-up heart wants Him to be. God just becomes a reflection of ourselves and a reflection of our idolatry. Truthfully, your God may have elements of reality in it, but you’re not seeing the true picture.

The 2nd Commandment: No, We Don’t Get To Define God

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Yet, the biblical God can’t ever be reduced to a stone figure or a single attribute. No, He is a being complete in all of His holiness, perfections, almighty in strength, fully just and infinitely loving, transcendent above the heavens, and also close and intimate in our hearts.

Friend, that’s the problem with a carved image of God. It shows you only one dimension of God—never all of Him—and that ends up distorting who God actually is.

For example, imagine you sketched an image of God. Would you draw Him laughing or scowling? If you drew Him laughing, you might capture His goodness but not His wrath and judgment against sin. But if you drew Him scowling, you might capture His wrath against sin, but you wouldn’t show His grace, love and forgiveness.

Christianity was unique among religions in the ancient world in that it was a religion of Word—the Bible. The secular world of the time was filled with big, impressive statues of gods.

After Jesus rose from the dead, His apostles didn’t run around the world building big glorious statues of Jesus or cathedrals that boasted His size. No, what the first Christians did is they went around preaching, because Christianity is a religion of Word—the preached word.

God discloses Himself in words because images and pictures can never contain Him.

At our church, now and then, someone will say, “Well, the pictures honestly help me worship God. In fact, they bring to mind God for me.” That’s because human nature loves to break the Second Commandment and twist God down into something you can manage, handle and control.

But, friend, if you want to know God, then you should think on Scripture, memorize Scripture, and meditate on Scripture. Even our worship is built around the Word.

3. Carved images create tainted behavior in our lives.

Authentic, strong spiritual growth comes from seeing and knowing God as He is. All of Him, not part of Him. If you only focus on one dimension of God, then you’ll grow in a deformed way.

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For example, if your god is divine and just but not compassionate and gracious, then you are probably judgmental.

If your god is kind but not just and holy, then you tend to treat casually things that He abhors.

Image source: Pixabay.com

Image source: Pixabay.com

If your god is sovereign but not affectionate and concerned, then you become an angry Christian who argues continually about theology but rarely tells anyone about Jesus.

If your god is not fully sovereign (which means that He’s in control of even the miniscule details of your life), then you tend to get worried and stressed out when something goes wrong.

If your god is a god of uprightness but not the God who gave Himself for you on the cross, then when things go wrong in your life, you think that He’s angry at you.

If your god is not stunning and all-satisfying, you’ll find you serve Him lukewarmly (so you won’t go to hell). But you won’t desire Him with all your heart, and you’ll fight a lure to the sin of this world and its pleasures.

If your god is a god that promises wealth, then when things go wrong in your life, you’ll lose your faith.

What does this mean for you?

First, quit trying to playing the umpire on God and just let God be Himself. Indeed, you’ll find it is hugely satisfying,

Second, remember that we want clarification but God gives us revelation. If you would ever quit trying to control God like He’s a lucky talisman in your pocket, you’d find it would fill your life with so much more comfort!

Do you follow God for who He is in the Bible — or follow one of your own making?

The 1st Commandment: What Does It Mean To Love God?

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The 1st Commandment: What Does It Mean To Love God?

Stop reading this for a moment, and try to say the Ten Commandments from memory. Do you know them? Many people may have heard about them on the news, but they have never read them.

Exodus 20:7 lists the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me.”

A world of good flows from this confession: There is one God, and I am not Him!

Salvation, love and who God is are all tied together in what Jesus taught as being most important. From Mark 12:28-34 and Exodus 20:7, we see elements that help us understand and apply the first commandment.

1. Who is God?

This God is the only God, and He is one. A.W. Tozer said:

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

The Shema from Deuteronomy 6:4 declares: “Hear O Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord is one.” Have you considered the importance of this truth? Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Is Christ divided?” Paul recognized that the unity of the church reflected the unity of God.

God isn’t only one; He is the only one. The entire religious world goes along just fine until Christians show up and declare that there is only one God and one Savior: Jesus Christ. We see this idea throughout the Old Testament. Only God can make himself really God to us. There is one God, one mediator, one sacrifice and one way. The true God is unique (Isa. 45:5).

Jesus said in Mark 12:29: “Hear, O Israel, ‘The Lord our God, the Lord is one.’”

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What threatens the exclusive place of God in your life? Comfort, job, getting ahead, reputation with family?  What vies with God for your chief reason for existence?

No one other than this God is to be worshiped. Since He is the only one, we give ourselves only to Him. Every day should be lived for Him, and every step should lead us closer to him.

2. What does God most want us to do?

God wants us to love Him exclusively, uniquely and totally. Jesus teaches that all of our passion, our wit, our intelligence and our enthusiasm is owed to God. There’s no part we can leave to the side—He wants it all.

ten-commandments-wikipediaHave you had some lesser notion of Christian discipleship? Jesus teaches that the greatest command is to love this God with all that we have. Jesus defines Christianity as a religion of love. And He exemplified that in His own life and death. If we claim to follow Him, then this is how we are to live. All of us belongs to Him—we are totally His.

Many people say “only God can judge me” – and they live like He won’t. Yet, there’s two betrayals: to worship a false god, or to worship the true God falsely (Deut. 12). Our idols promise life but always lead to death. It’s the difference between the true God and a false god.

Our heart’s inclination is to be to God, not evil. All of our soul means we’re to love Him even at the cost of our life. All our strength means even at cost of all we own.

3. What must accompany love for God?

This love that we claim to have for God must be accompanied by love for others made in His image. Did you realize that loving your neighbor was so important?

In 1 John 4, we understand if anyone claims to love God while hating his brother, he is a liar. If a love for God isn’t matched with love for others, it isn’t true love for God.

Jesus quotes from Leviticus 19:18 here. Moses teaches that as God is loving, we are to be loving.

Jesus, in Mark 12:28-34, summarizes the law and His teaching, which He is about to exemplify in His death. It is important that both these commands are given here together. We cannot claim to truly love man without love for God, and vice versa. Jesus was only asked for one command, but gives two. He knew that to omit the second would risk misunderstanding the first.

This is a warning against any privatized idea of Christianity.  There are no “lone-ranger” Christians before this one God. Love for God necessarily involves you in love for others and not just your friends. Love those who you may find inconvenient to love.

We can’t know how to love one another apart from having love for this one true God. Is your relationship with your fellow church members and Christian friends—or the person who irritates you at work—described by 1 Corinthians 13?

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If we claim to love God, that love must be linked with love for one another. What does it mean to have all kinds of knowledge about God and have it not affect your life in love for others?

4. What does it mean to be in God’s Kingdom?

This exchange is so different from the earlier verbal duels in which Jesus engaged. This lawyer notices that Jesus answers well. He then asks about the most important commandment. Notice Jesus’ compassion. Even with one who came to test Him, Jesus answers with grace. The lawyer seemed to understand what Jesus had been saying. Jesus, upon hearing him, responded wisely: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

Jesus let us know how to get into the Kingdom of God. Can we enter the kingdom of God by loving perfectly? No! He gave us this command to exhaust us, and to show us that we cannot come close. He gives us this law to lead us to Himself, who perfectly fulfilled this law. He loved God perfectly. He has loved others as Himself.

He also gives us this law to instruct us. Some may think that because God saved us by grace, any command we find in Scripture is only to show that we cannot do it, that we must rely on His grace. Of course, we can’t do it, as we must rely on grace. But we must also learn from these commands. We are to love God fully and to love others as ourselves.

One can only be in the kingdom of God if one confesses his lack of love for God and others. We have known God’s rich blessings. He calls on us to love with our hearts, souls, and minds and strength. Love this God and so be under his reign.

Is your life being spent for that which is truly important? Love this one and only God with all your heart, soul and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. These are more important than all else.

Separation Of Church And State: Everything You Were Taught In School Is Wrong

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Off-Grid Life In a $4,500 Converted School Bus

With the Fourth of July only days away, Americans soon will be looking to the past – to the country’s founding – for words of wisdom and inspiration.

But as is often the case, what we hear on TV and read online about the Founding Fathers isn’t always factual. In fact, if the subject is religion and the so-called separation of church and state, then seemingly everything the mainstream tells us is skewed.

On this special holiday edition of Off The Grid Radio, we separate fact from fiction in the First Amendment as we talk to Stephen Mansfield, the author of some 20 books, including Ten Tortured Words: How the Founding Fathers Tried to Protect Religion in America . . . and What’s Happened.

Those 10 words – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” – have been used to take down memorial crosses and Ten Commandment displays, and even to prevent schoolchildren from singing Christmas carols.

Mansfield tells us:

  • How the words of the Founding Fathers have been twisted.
  • The real reason the Founders wanted a religious liberty clause.
  • What Thomas Jefferson and others truly believed about government and religion.
  • How a forgotten Supreme Court case from 1947 wrongly changed how we view church and state.

Mansfield, who also has written books about Lincoln and Churchill, concludes by telling us how we can lead American back to the original intent of the Founders. If you’re a patriot or a lover of history, then you don’t want to miss this week’s program!