You shall not murder. (ESV/NIV); Thou shalt not kill. (AV)
These four simple words taken at face value are very clear. The taking of human live is forbidden. Human life created by God is thus declared sacrosanct. A position that doubtless all who read these words this morning ascribe to 100%. Why then is something so obvious enshrined in the commandments? In considering that question we need to remember that the first recorded sin outside Eden, was that of murder as Cain killed his brother, Abel, and note that Lamech repeated the sin as he killed a man for wounding him (Genesis 4.23)
As time has passed so murder has grown and grown as the Old Bailey of the killer of Sarah Everard forcefully reminds us. We rightly horrified by such events and with clear consciences can say before God ‘not guilty’ with regard to this commandment whereas we probably cannot honestly say the same with regard to the other nine!
This raises the question why is it there seeing that it actually apples to a very small number of people across the centuries and for most people it is self-evident.
Lest we too easily pat ourselves on the back and step out with a clear conscience on this one commandment, I share below the
12 Ways in which we may murder as expounded by Thomas Watson
1. With the hand
2. With the mind
3. With the tongue
4. With the pen
5. By plotting another’s death
6. By putting poison in cups
7. By witchcraft and sorcery
8. By having an intention to kill another
9. By consenting to another’s death
10. By not hindering the death of another when in our power
11. By unmercifulness
12. By not executing the law on capital offenders
The language and some of the ideas may appear quaint in some of these (Nos 6 and 7) and with Capital Punishment no longer on the statute book (No 12) which he expands by saying that if the law enforcers fail to carry out, what was then a legal sentence for murder, the offender might offend again, making the law enforcer guilty by default. However the others should give us pause for thought.
Surely Watson had in mind Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5.21-26) and we need to consider these words carefully before we declare ourselves innocent of breaking this commandment!