Five wrong views of murder
- The sin of killing is not the death of animals because they were not made in the image of God.
Since animals do not have souls, killing them is not murder. Eating meat is not wrong. Peter was even commanded to eat meat (Acts 10:13; Mark 7:19). It is a species of paganism to forbid meat because of killing.
- The sin of killing is not justifiable self-defense.
Taking the life of a home invader to guard your family (1 Tim. 5:8) is not murder. Joshua Gianavello (1617-1690) was a godly Baptist (according to Orchard’s research) who killed Catholic soldiers as they attempted to murder his family in the Waldensian wars in Italy.
- The sin of killing is not taking life by God’s decree in a divinely mandated war.
There are none in this category today because the canon of Scripture is closed. Joshua and the Israelites were not guilty of murder because God Himself mandated the destruction of the Canaanites in Joshua 6, 8, 10-12.
- The sin of killing is not taking life in a defensive war for the safety of citizens against an encroaching power.
Scripture records Israel’s defensive wars such as David’s 18 wars (all victories) against the Philistines, Ammonites, and Syrians. Great Britain and the United States fought defensively in World War II.
- The sin of killing is not capital punishment by the state.
Before the law, but after 1,600 years of lawlessness, God told Noah that murder requires men to unite together in agreement in order to take the life of the murderer. Paul believed in capital punishment as a NT missionary (Acts 25:11).
The sin of killing is murder.
Murder is taking a life that you have no authority to take.
- Motive: Autonomy
When you determine that your life would be easier without this person in it, you have made yourself king. Auto + nomos = self + law. Cain did this with Abel (Gen. 4). Then his grandson Lamech followed him (Gen. 4:23). Even though David was king of Israel, he had no authority over the life of Uriah.
- Action: Taking a life
Murder can be either active or passive. Active: Taking steps to get the result. Passive: Restraining yourself from an action that would save a life.
11 If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; 12 If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works? Proverbs 24:11-12
Connected to murder and aggravating it are all the other sins that lead to it and support it. The Westminster Larger Catechism lists many sins that are counted in the command not to murder.
Question 136. What are the sins forbidden in the sixth commandment?
Answer: The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defence; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life; sinful anger, hatred, envy, desire of revenge; all excessive passions, distracting cares; immoderate use of meat, drink, labor, and recreations; provoking words, oppression, quarreling, striking, wounding, and whatsoever else tends to the destruction of the life of any.
Murder is the unjustified taking of life. Clear definitions are foundational to clear judgments. Our world hates clear definitions (like “What is a woman?”) because it hates Biblical truth. But now we need to evaluate how bad this sin is. In the next post, we will see 7 arguments for the evil of murder.