10 Commandments Bible Study - You Should Not Murder

The sixth commandment - you must not murder - seems pretty straightforward. We shouldn't kill people. Sure, the commandment does mean not to literally kill anyone, but it has far more meaning that just taking it literally. The idea of murder in this commandment goes well beyond just the idea of physically killing a person.

Where is this Commandment in the Bible?

Exodus 20:13 - You must not murder. (NLT)

Why This Commandment is Important

Taking a life is extremely damaging. If we look at this commandment in the literal sense, there is a reason why murder a big deal to God. We are all created by God. We are part of His design. When we take the life of another person, we are telling God that His design doesn't matter. We are taking life for granted, and we show God that we have little respect for life at all. We are made in God's image, and we need to value that reflection of God. We are taught that our bodies are temples,and when we murder someone, we minimize the importance of caring for what God created.

In the New Testament, this commandment is taken even further. There is a separation between punishment for evildoing, which justifies the killing of the criminal, murder in self-defense, and the selfishly taking a life. In John, there is a connection made between anger and murder. It is anger and hatred that leads to murder, so not turning the other cheek and letting anger fester is tantamount to murder in our hearts.

What This Commandment Means Today

First, let's make sure we understand the difference between "murder" and "kill" in relation to biblical meaning. When we murder, there is a lack of moral ground in relation to taking a life. When we kill, it's just taking a life. This means that killing, at times, has moral justification (e.g. punishment for heinous crimes or killing an enemy in a war).

Most murders today are committed in the heat of the moment. It is a flash of anger that causes someone to lose their senses and kill. Sometimes it's a lack of judgement, like in the case of drunk driving, and sometimes murder is completely pre-meditated. Murdering someone does damage to a person that is difficult to understand if you have never met a murderer. It takes away a piece of yourself, whether you feel remorse or not.

Murder is not, as some would like us to believe, unforgivable in God's eyes. It is heinous, and we would do well to guard against it, because there is no "return to normal" once a murder has been committed. You will never be the same. The world around you will never be the same. Remember, murder impacts more than just the victim. It hurts the murderer, family members of both the murderer and the victim, and it hurts the community. In some cases, murder hurts the world (think the Holocaust). There is a reason why God added murder to his list of commandments, because it is a grievous offense that does irreparable damage.

How to Live By This Commandment

There are several ways you can begin living by this commandment:

  • Think before you act. Most acts of violence against another person happen in the heat of the moment, so it's incredibly important that we develop the skill to think before we act. We have to learn the art of making good decisions, even in an instant.
  • Walk away. Sometimes we try too hard to dig our heels into a bad situation. We think we can fix it or come out the victor. Sometimes we let our pride get in the way of good judgement. When you're faced with a bad situation, or one that continues to make you angry or resentful, walk away as best as possible.
  • Give your anger to God. Prayer is one of the most powerful tools we have in preventing murder. When we're angry, jealous, or hurt, we need to hand that over to God. We need to give Him the chance to work in our lives to help us move away from a murderous heart.
  • Talk to someone. Expressing our anger or hurt to someone we trust can help alleviate the emotions that lead to murder. We need to trust that God has placed the right people in our lives that can help us through the emotions and thoughts that violate this commandment.