The Sixth Commandment
James J. Barker

"Thou shalt not kill." - Exodus 20:13

Text: EXODUS 20:1-17



1.    We have been studying the Ten Commandments, and have come to the sixth: “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13).

2.     Here in four simple words God proscribes the most heinous crime against humanity – murder.

3.    Murder is one of the oldest sins of mankind, and was committed by Adam and Eve’s wicked son, Cain, who slew his righteous brother, Abel.

4.    From that first cold-blooded homicide, the history of mankind has been stained with the blood of millions of murder victims.

5.    Every morning as we open our newspaper, or perhaps turn on the radio as we drive to work, we hear of cruel and vicious murders.  We feel like the prophet Jeremiah, who cried out: “My soul is wearied because of murderers” (Jer. 4:31).

6.    Right now the newspapers are all talking about the woman killed allegedly by that bouncer.  (She’d be alive today if she did not drink.)

7.    The sixth commandment deals with the preservation of human life and literally means, “Thou shalt not commit murder” (cf. Matt. 19:18). I am saying this because it is possible to kill and not be a murderer.  For example, a policeman who kills a dangerous crook in the line of duty is not a murderer.

8.    A soldier who kills on the battlefield is not a murderer.

9.    The government is not guilty of committing murder when they execute a criminal (cf. Genesis 9:6; Rom. 13:1-5).

10. Webster’s dictionary defines murder as “to unlawfully kill a human being with premeditated malice.” 

11. I will say more about war and capital punishment later.

12. Murder is a sin that cries out to God for vengeance (Gen. 4:8-10).

13. Murder is a devilish sin because our Lord said that the devil “was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44).  Those who murder are doing the devil’s work.

14. Murder is a polluting sin that defiles the land (Num. 35:33). The spilled blood causes a stench in the nostrils of our holy God.

15. Let us look closely now at the sixth commandment.





1.    As we have noted before, man’s first relationship is to God (cf. Exodus 20:3-11).

2.    All other relationships grow out of this first one, and are therefore subservient to it.

3.    According to the Bible, life is a gift from God, and only God has the right to end it.  A few years ago there was an article in the paper about a RC priest who committed suicide in protest of some government policy.  One of our church members told me that she read that this priest’s supporters are calling him a martyr.  No – he is not a martyr!  He is a murderer.  Suicide is murder.  John the Baptist was a martyr.  Stephen was a martyr.  Judas Iscariot was a murderer.

4.    Our Baptist forebears who were burnt at the stake by the RCC during the Inquisition were martyrs.  But some priest who commits suicide is not a martyr, he is a murderer.

5.    Muslim suicide bombers are considered martyrs by their fellow Muslims, but they are not martyrs, they are cold-blooded killers.

6.    To God, human life is valuable, for He has made us in His own image.  Therefore, only God has the right to end life.  This is why abortion and euthanasia are such horrible crimes.  They are nothing but cold-blooded murder.

7.    The only exception should be when the mother’s life is in jeopardy, and this is extremely rare. Most abortions are for convenience.  Since the United States of America has legalized the barbaric sin of abortion our country has truly become an ungodly, pagan nation (cf. Ps. 139:13-16; Luke 1:41-44).

8.    I read this article recently, “Tragic: U.S. passed 47 million mark for abortions in 2005” by Michael Foust, January 20, 2006.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--In what can only be described as tragic, the United States likely experienced its 47 millionth legal abortion at some point in 2005, more than three decades after the Supreme Court issued its infamous 1973 Roe. v. Wade decision legalizing the killing of the unborn.

The statistic is based on data since 1973 gathered by the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute and on estimates by the National Right to Life Committee. In the first full year of abortion legalization nationwide (1974), Guttmacher counted 898,600 abortions. That number reached a peak of 1,608,600 in 1990, before falling to 1,293,000 in 2002.


Since 1975, the United States has witnessed more than 1 million abortions each year. Unless the nation's laws are changed, the number of abortions post-Roe will pass 50 million in 2008 (Baptist Press, 1/20/06).

9.    Another form of murder is euthanasia.  Here is a recent article by David Cloud, “OREGON CONTINES DOWN THE EUTHANASIA ROAD (Friday Church News Notes, March 17, 2006.
 “In late 1997 Oregon became the first state in America to legalize euthanasia, and since passing the so-called ‘Death With Dignity Act’ 246 people have taken their own lives with the help of medical doctors.   C. Ben Mitchell, a consultant for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, called this practice ‘medieval medicine’ because 21st century physicians have no reason to kill their patients (‘Medieval Medicine,’ Baptist Press, March 10).
Physicians for Compassionate Care, an organization that opposes euthanasia, said the practice ‘does nothing to improve health care at [the] end of life. What the law actually does is protect doctors from peer review and from prosecution for medical killing.’  The
organization also warned that the practice ‘undermines trust in the patient-physician relationship, alters the role of the physician in
society, from the traditional one of healer to executioner, and endangers the value that society places on life, specifically for those who are most vulnerable.’”

10. Referring to the sixth commandment, G. Campbell Morgan wrote: “This commandment, therefore, in simplest words, and yet in sternest manner, flings a fiery law around the life of every human being, reserving to Him Who first bestowed it the right to end it.”



1.    There is no more fiendish crime than the deliberate act of taking another’s life.  It is cruel and criminal whether done directly and deliberately, as when Cain slew Abel, or by proxy, as when David had Uriah the Hittite killed.

2.    Many a murderer would have liked to rescind his foul deed, but it was too late.  Man has it within his power to take a life, but not to restore life.

3.    Some wrongs can be made right, but never the willful murder of another human life.  A man who does not respect the sanctity of human life is a menace to society.

4.    It would be good to stop here and consider two issues that Christians have disagreed over: that is, war and capital punishment.  Do they violate the sixth commandment?

5.    I do not think so.  On many occasions God vindicated His righteousness by sanctioning warfare.  He often instructed the Israelites to fight their heathen enemies.  As a matter of fact, in Exodus 15:3, the Bible says: “The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is His name.”

6.    Our Lord said that there will be “wars and rumours of wars” leading up to the Battle of Armageddon (Matt. 24:6).

7.    I do not believe pacifism is Scriptural.  There are some times when men (I said “men” not women) have to go off to war.

8.    Concerning capital punishment, all Christians agree that it is clearly taught in the O.T. (Gen. 9:6; Lev. 24:17).

9.    Please allow me to explain the significance of Genesis 9:6.  Man was made “in the image of God” (Gen. 9:6) and man therefore bears the imprint of our Creator. Murder is the tearing and destroying of God’s picture. 

10. However, some insist that capital punishment is not taught in the N.T.  Let me start out by saying capital punishment has never been abrogated, repealed, or replaced.  The N.T. presupposes the same basic position as the O.T. for punishing murderers (cf. Acts 25:10, 11; Rom. 13:1-4).  According to both the Old and the New Testament, the murderer has committed a sin of the first magnitude and has therefore forfeited his own right to live.

11. Also, the Bible makes a distinction between accidental killing and willful murder.  For example, six cities of refuge were established in Israel to which any slayer could flee.  If the killing was proved to be accidental, such as an axe flying off the handle and hitting somebody on the head, the slayer was exonerated.

12. But if the killing was intentional, the murderer was put to death.  Our modern laws also distinguish between accidental deaths (e.g. highway accidents) and murder, manslaughter and premeditated murder, etc.

13. Some times innocent people kill others in self-defense. This is not murder.  If a burglar breaks into a house at night, the owner is justified in killing the intruder (cf. Ex. 22:2).



1.    Christians who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and born again by the Spirit of God should live on a higher plane than those who are lost and blinded by sin.

2.    In the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord commented on the sixth commandment (Matt. 5:21, 22).  What our Lord is saying is that we must be careful in dealing with our thoughts and passions, which could eventually lead to murder (cf. Gen. 49:6).

3.    Our Lord says that those who are angry “without a cause” are in sin.  The phrase “without a cause” has been omitted from the new, modern Bibles.  Stick with the King James Bible.

4.    Elsewhere, our Lord says that “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders…” (Matt. 15:19; cf. I John 3:11-15).

5.    I heard a preacher say that he heard a Christian man say, “I hate him, but I love him in the Lord.”  The preacher was right to say that this is nonsense.

6.    Hatred is the root of all murder.  Sinful acts follow sinful thoughts.  Another preacher said: “Hatred is another vermin that feeds upon the blood.  The Pharisees’ deep hatred of Jesus Christ issued forth in their successful efforts to have Him killed.  Their blind rage and hatred of the Son of God has caused their name to go down in infamy.  A hateful heart can lead to homicide” – Frank McClelland (The Ancient Law For The New Age).

7.    Booker T. Washington said: “I am determined to permit no man to narrow or degrade my soul by making me hate him.”



1.    I doubt that there are any murderers here today.  Maybe there are.

2.    A preacher friend of mine in Virginia preached against abortion one day and a lady came to him after the service full of guilt and shame.  She had killed her baby years ago and still felt guilty about it (cf. I John 1:7-9).

3.    Moses slew an Egyptian but God forgave him.  King David had Uriah the Hittite killed and God forgave him.  The apostle Paul consented unto the death of Stephen and God forgave him.

4.    These men found peace with God and God still was able to use them in a mighty way.

5.    There is a crime even worse than murder, and that is rejecting Jesus Christ (cf. Matt. 10:28).

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