The Fifth Commandment

The emphasis in the Fifth Commandment is on the word you. You shall not kill!

In our world however, human life is so often treated with indifference. We settle our differences with war, killing hundreds of thousands of other people in the process. Criminals steal not only possessions but their victims' lives. So many people view an unwanted pregnancy as simply an inconvenience or an unexpected consequence of their sexual activity that millions of unborn babies are aborted every year.


What a sad contrast to our Creator who promises us the greatest gift possible, the opportunity to share eternal life with Him. The murder of the day is commonly the first topic featured on television news program, especially in larger cities. Many such killings are committed by family members or formerly close associates or friends. Random killings from gang and street violence add to the climate of fear in many communities. Homicides linked to other crimes and drugs are all too common. Untold thousands around the world fall victim to mass murder in the name of politics and ideology. Murder touches the life of almost everyone on earth.


In supposedly advanced societies, television and motion pictures barrage citizens with murders and carnage. Violence is so inextricably woven into the fabric of society that we glamorize it in our literature and entertainment. It's ironic that in spite of our fascination with murder, we follow the example of most societies throughout history in passing strict laws against it. Few people indeed have ever needed to be convinced that murder within their own community was wrong. However, other challenges concerning the value and sanctity of human life tend to generate controversy, particularly the execution of criminals by the state. The taking human life in battles with other nations.


The emphasis in the fifth Commandment is on the word you. You shall not kill! You are not to deliberately kill premeditated or in the anger of the moment. We must control our tempers. Taking another person's life is not our right to decide. That judgment is reserved for God alone. That is the thrust of this Commandment. God does not allow us to choose to wilfully, deliberately take another person's life. The fifth Commandment reminds us that God is the giver of life, and He alone has the authority to take it or to grant humans permission to take it.


The fifth Commandment does not specifically apply to manslaughter, deaths caused accidentally through carelessness or other unintentional actions. Such deaths although serious occurrences are not considered by the laws of God or man to fall into the same category as premeditated murder.


Christ amplified the meaning of murder to include bitter animosity, contempt or hateful hostility toward others. Merely harboring malicious attitudes toward others violates the intent of the fifth Commandment, Because this is mental and emotional warfare, the desire to see a fellow human being suffer. Using words and speech to emotionally injure other people is equally wrong. With our tongues and pens we attack them verbally. We assault their feelings. We annihilate their respectability. We damage their reputations. At times we can be consumed with destructive intentions. Our motives can be diametrically the opposite of love. The spirit of murder can live in our hearts and Jesus tells us the consequences for such thoughts and actions could be our own death in the lake of fire.


Paul instructs us on the proper approach to thoughts of retaliation, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21. This should be the approach of every believer in Jesus Christ. It is the way of love that fulfils the intent of the law of God. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Jesus tells us, “for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9. “You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven…” Matthew 5:43-45


God wants us to go far beyond avoiding murder. He requires that we not maliciously harm another human being in word or deed. He desires that we treat even those who choose to hate us as respectfully as possible and do all within our power to live in peace and harmony with them. He wants us to be builders, not destroyers of good relationships. To accomplish this we must respect this wonderful gift of the precious possession of human life.