The sanctity of life finds its root in the heart of our loving heavenly Father. As the God and Father of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, He is not only the giver of life, He also is the sustainer of life. He is, in fact, life! As God, sovereign and eternally existent, He commanded life in the very act of creation from His eternal throne. Because He breathed His life into the nostrils of created man, He retained the only means by which fallen man could be brought back into His sovereign and holy presence after man had forfeited his special relationship with God. The sin of Adam and Eve precipitated the consequence of sin in every person without exception.
As righteous judge, holy in every capacity, God could not, in any way, tolerate the sin of man. Spiritual and eternal death is the only way to satisfy God’s justice. This is the “wage” of sin Paul speaks of in Romans 6:23. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The giver of life gave life through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus gave His life in full atonement for the redemption of all who would repent of their sin and come to Him by faith. No wonder Jesus was able to say, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
In this commandment, God establishes Himself as the sole and sovereign giver, sustainer and taker of life. “You shall not murder” was not designed to give His children the right to choose. Rather, it was designed to make one thing very clear: Do not kill. Murder is the taking of life! And every life, beginning at conception, is not only given by God, but also taken by God at His choosing.
Human life is sacred because God is involved from beginning to end. Of course there are many who have opinions concerning biblical exceptions. John Calvin, for example, was careful to say that this commandment meant that we must defend the lives of others. The great commentator Matthew Henry believed this command did not include the taking of life in “lawful” war, the necessary defense of personhood (in a home invasion, for example), and also the death sentence in a proven case of murder.
While there will always be the great need to be loving and sensitive in important matters such as the threat to a mother’s life and the violence and criminality of rape and incest, it is tragic to consider the deaths of millions of voiceless and defenseless babies in America since the enactment of Roe vs. Wade. God said, “You shall not kill.” Is it not time to take God at His word?
The Ten Commandments are not a detached series of instructions. They are a basic unity. They begin in God’s heart and are expressed through our hearts. Murder is about a heart problem. Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19). The Hebrew verb râtsach has a wide range of meanings, generally describing destructive activity but including “to break,” “dash to pieces,” and “to slay, kill or murder.” Interestingly, the Bible never uses râtsach in conjunction with war.
What the Scriptures do teach is that God’s commandment involves three major issues. First, the sovereignty of God. He is the giver, sustainer and taker of all life. Second, the sanctity of life. All people are wonderfully and fearfully made by the hand of God. Third, the significance of every person. There is not one single person ever made that was not made by our God. This unique relationship between creator God and created man is so precious to God that He gave His only Son to die on a cross so that all people can be reconciled to Him and have peace with Him (see John 3:16).
It follows that the manner with which we regard life is a direct reflection of our view of God. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. His position has never changed, and His Word remains the one true absolute in our rapidly changing and divided world. God’s Word is “a lamp to my feet And a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).
God always shows us the way. He shows us the way to salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ, and He shows us the way through life. He knows how difficult it is for us to negotiate our own darkness, and He knows how confusing the court of public opinion can be. The human heart is sinful by nature and sinful by choice. It follows that not everything a holy and righteous God has to say about life and death is designed to find agreement with man’s propensity to design his world around either his feelings or his popular belief.
God is still God. His grace has called us into a right relationship with Him. His love has provided the only means by which we can live in peace and harmony with our maker and with our fellow man. The clarion call to follow Christ is the call to follow Him in life and in death. We follow Him in life because He is life. We follow Him in death because He conquered sin and death and the grave. His life is our life. “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life”!
(1 John 5:11-12).
©2013 Don Wilton
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.