What Does Exodus 20:13 Mean?

"You shall not murder.

Exodus 20:13(NASB)

Verse of the Day

The Law of Moses which consists of 613 individual laws, begins with the Decalogue, otherwise called the 10 Commandments or more literally translated 'the Ten Words'.

These 10 commandments underpin both the religious and civil law of Israel and can be divided into two very distinct groups. The first four relate to man's relationship with God, while the last ones pertain to man's relationship with his fellow man.

Jesus condensed this down into a simple, universally agreed concept 1) love for God and 2) love for one's neighbour - and although these commands were specifically given to Israel as part of God's covenant with His chosen people, there is much that is supremely relevant to the Christian Church today and much that lines up with the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus which was given to the Church today, and we do well to examine them closely.

Every commandment, with the exception of the command relating to the Sabbath day, were instructions given to the Church in the New Testament epistles in connection with living a holy and godly Christian life in Christ Jesus which is honouring to the Lord. And all God's commands to Israel, clearly outline what behaviour God expects from all His blood-bought children, for love is the fulfilment of the law.

However, the important thing to remember is that righteousness can never be met by keeping the Law, for we are fallen sinners who deserve death. Indeed, a righteous standing with the Lord (i.e. justification) can only be given by faith. The Law was given to the redeemed nation of Israel, to expose sin and teach them how to be a holy people - sanctified unto the Lord.

The pre-Cross Law of Moses given to Israel and the post Cross 'law of life', given to the Church, tells believers how to remain in fellowship with the Lord and lays bare overt and covert sin, in the lives of redeemed people. And the Law always points to Christ Who is the only One Who can save by grace through faith in His death, burial, and Resurrection.

One of the 10 Commandments given to Israel in Exodus and reiterated to the Church is: "Thou shalt not kill. You shall not commit murder. You shall not slay another person." Man was made in the image and likeness of God and the wilful taking of a man's life, or as Christ pointed out, an attitude of hatred in one's own heart for another person is a sin and considered by God as murder.

The literal meaning of the word 'kill' in this context is 'to slay' but this does not include capital punishment, for referring to capital punishment as murder would contradict other aspects of God's law for both pre-Cross and post-Cross believers.

The Word of God teaches us to have deep respect for human life and behind this important command is God's programme for the preservation of society - for every member of the human race is imputed with a sin nature.

Satan was a murderer from the beginning, and in Genesis we read how murder was one of the first sins to be committed by Cain. The apostle John explains how pride and envy is the root cause for this terrible sin. Paul, James, and John all make reference to murder in their various writings, and there are many examples in the book of Proverbs that expose the sinful precursors to the slaughter of another person.

Jesus explained, "that out of people's hearts, come evil thoughts," which includes murder, while James cries out, "you people desire something and yet do not have it, so you murder to get it. You are envious of what someone has and yet are not able to obtain it, so you fight and quarrel over it."

The Bible makes it clear, in both Old and New Testaments, that the taking of another person's life through murder is unacceptable to the Lord - and that the blood of the murdered one cries out to the Lord and so we read in the Decalogue and also in the epistles: "Thou shalt not kill - You shall not commit murder - Do not slay another person."

And we, who have the Holy Spirit dwelling within by faith, should ensure that, day by day, our hearts are examined for any evil intent or murderous thought... and cleanse our hearts from all ungodly thoughts which in certain cases translates into murder.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, Your Laws are gracious and good and expose the dark thoughts of the heart that leads to the ungodly works of the devil. Satan was a murderer from the beginning and we understand how the thoughts of the heart can translate into murder - as brutal as an assassin's blade or the terrorist's murderous bomb. Keep my mind pure and focused on the Lord and I pray that my heart may reflect the grace and love of God for my fellow men and that many may come to faith as I testify of Your goodness and love. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.

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