God says that if you will obey my voice and keep my commandments you will be a special treasure to me above all of the people of the earth. He said if you would do those things, it will be well with you. He asks that you and I walk with Him, follow Him in all that we do.
The Ten Commandments are ten great eternal principles that never change. Those are principles that God gave to guide, direct and to lead your life. They must not be viewed as rules. They are laws, they are principles but they are not rules. Many people have a tendency to look upon the Law of God as rules. When you view God’s law as a rule, it causes you to become legalistic and you will always be looking at other people to see if they measure up to the rule. Jesus and the Pharisees had conflict because of their persistence in coming to Him with some rule that they had made up regarding one of the commandments. Jesus would then give a principle which made them so mad that eventually they figured out how they could kill Him.
The sixth Commandment is, “Thou shalt not kill.” Exodus 20:13.
Genesis 9:6 says, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” This tells us that God made man in His own image and that means that you are special. There is not another individual anywhere in the vast universe of God who is just like you. You are one of a kind, unique!
If the life of an individual who is not saved or does not know Jesus Christ is taken, then that person is eternally lost. Throughout eternity there will never be another person like that one. This is a tremendous loss. You should not take something that you cannot restore and you cannot restore a life.
God is not interested in cloning. He creates. Man clones because he cannot create. God is not interested in having a bunch of people running around that look alike, speak alike, or act alike. God is interested in you being a distinct, special individual just the way He made you. David talked about this in Psalm 139:16: “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed; and in your book they were all written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there was none of them.” David said that God knew you before you were ever born. Life, for that reason, is special.
The last six commandments relate to loving your neighbor, whether it be your parents or the neighbor next door. In Romans 13:9 it says, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, You shall not covet; and if there is any other commandment, it is all summed up in this, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The neighbors next door, no matter how ornery or difficult they may be, are special and there is nobody else like them. God brought them into existence and therefore you and I need to treat them with respect and love because they are special.
The law was not given to give you power to overcome or to help you. It was given to show you a direction on how you should live and which way you should go. In Hebrews 7:19 it says, “For the law made nothing perfect, on the other hand, there is a beginning of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” There is something to help you and me because the law was not given to make anything perfect. The law is going to tell you that you are guilty. There is a better hope offered to you and to me.
In Romans 5:20 it says, “Moreover the law entered that the offence might abound (in other words, it points out sin). But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” Unfortunately, many people do not understand grace or what is involved in grace. Remember the rich young ruler who came to Jesus? He said, “Good Master, what do I have to do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him: “If you would enter into life, keep the commandments.” And the young man responded saying that he had done that from his youth, “what lacketh I yet?” Jesus said if you want to be perfect, go and sell all that you have and give it to the poor and come and follow me (Luke 18:18-22).
What would you do if the Lord told you to go home and sell everything that you have and come and follow Him? Jesus was homeless, and did not know where the next meal was coming from and He said, I am not very well liked and the establishment would like to kill me, but sell everything you have and follow Me. How many of you would? Why would Christ ask that young man to do that? Because it was the only way that this young man would understand grace. All his life he had everything he wanted. He was not dependent on anybody. He was very wealthy and he turned away because he had great possessions. The only way he could understand grace was when he was totally dependent upon God. So with you and me; we have to be in a position where we are totally dependent upon the Lord.
What does the sixth Commandment mean when it says, “Thou shalt not kill”? In the original translation it says, “Thou shalt not murder.” The Hebrew meaning for the word kill or murder also means premeditated. That means I thought about it and then took that person’s life.
There are certain emotions that you and I have and if we do not take care of them they can cause us to commit murder. Let’s look at a few of these.
Envy—This can cause you to murder somebody. Do you remember the case in the Bible of Ahab? Right beside the palace was a vineyard owned by Naboth. Ahab was envious because he wanted that vineyard. He went to Naboth and told him that he would trade another piece of land for it, but he wanted that vineyard. Naboth told him that it had been in his family for many generations and that he did not want to sell. Ahab then offered him more than the vineyard was worth, but he would not sell it. He was so envious that he went home and moped and sulked and went on about it until Jezebel asked him what the problem was and then she took care of it. They murdered Naboth. Read about it in I Kings 21. Envy can cause murder. If you have a problem with envy, you need to look at it very, very carefully.
Hatred—If you hate your neighbor, if you hate your parents, or your brother or sister, you have an emotion that can get you into trouble and cause you to commit murder. Remember the experience of King Saul? He hated David. He did everything he could think of to take his life. Even when time and time again, it was shown him clearly that David was loyal and that he was not trying to take the kingdom, but Saul hated him so much that he continually attempted to take his life. If you hate, it can cause you to commit murder.
Anger—Uncontrolled anger can put you in situations where you will take a person’s life. If you cannot control getting angry, then you need to look at it and do something with that anger because that is dangerous. Cain killed his brother Abel because he was angry because God showed respect to Abel’s sacrifice but not his own. Anger must not be permitted to rule our lives.
Revenge—Revenge is wanting to get back for something that happened to me. I am not happy when hearing something on the news about somebody killing another person because others want to take revenge. When Samson’s wife was killed by the Philistines he said that he would go out and revenge himself and went out and killed over 1,000 of them. The spirit of revenge cannot be allowed to lead or guide the life.
I will never forget a time when I was holding a meeting and a lady atttended, with her was a young man, probably in his 30s. As we got acquainted one night I asked her about him. She said, “Brother Cox, that man killed my father. I went to the prison and told him I forgave him.” She told me she studied with him and brought him to Jesus Christ. When he got out of prison, he has been like a son to me ever since. This lady did not permit revenge to rule her life.
The Scripture does not tell us to be hateful, revengeful or angry. It says that you and I are to be kind, tenderhearted, loving one another (Ephesians 4:32).
Outside of shooting them or stabbing them, there are many different ways to kill people. In 1971 there was a song written called Killing Me Softly with His Song. Over the centuries, the preferred method for killing people was to poison them. Remember Nero who poisoned his mother who died rather quickly. Napoleon was poisoned for months before he died. In fact, poison still kills today and in many cases it is self-inflicted. What would you say to the Lord if He were to ask you, “Why did you commit murder?” You would say, “I did not murder anybody.” He would say, Yes, you committed suicide by slowly poisoning yourself by using tobacco. Every cigarette that you smoked took 11 minutes from your life. You committed suicide. How are you going to answer the Lord?
What about drugs? How do you answer the Lord when you are taking poisons and putting them into your body? The average age of a drug addict is 30 years of age. The same is true with alcohol—it does not kill you quickly; it just pickles you over time.
These poisons that are being used today we find almost acceptable and that it is all right to smoke and to chew and to use alcohol. This is not acceptable with God. To say that you just cannot quit, then you are saying that the grace of our Lord is not capable. Are you trying to say that if you turn your life over to God that He can’t take care of you and take you off those things? Would you tell God that, when He is there ready to help you?
We are talking about what God wants us to be and what we ought to be. There are some people who dig their grave with their teeth. There are women who are loving, kind and sweet wives who are absolutely fantastic cooks. The foods they fix are fabulous and they do that for their husbands, day in and day out. He sits and enjoys it and eats, not realizing that it is absolutely killing him. Look at 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?” The statement is very true that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. But if you prepare a wonderful meal day in and day out, and set that before him, you are asking for real problems; you are going to kill him.
I was invited to speak at a retirees’ convention. When I got up to speak and looked out across the audience of about 200 to 300 people I couldn’t believe what I saw. Ninety percent of the people in that audience were women. All of the husbands were dead. When I went through school, I worked as an orderly in a hospital and I noticed a rather strange phenomenon because a day or two before Thanksgiving or a day or two before Christmas the patient load in that hospital was way down. You could walk down that hall and there was vacant room after vacant room. The evening of Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day when you walked back through those halls every room was full and there were patients in the halls and it is because of what we eat. There has to be limits. The sin of this age is probably the gluttony of people. We need to stop that because it is killing us.
Cannibalism—When you come home from church and you sit down at the table for dinner and you eat roasted pastor or roasted brother or sister in the church you are practicing cannibalism, which is murder. Next time you think you are going to start in criticizing a pastor or a brother or sister, write down on a little pad that you just committed murder. You are not to kill. That is like that song Killing Me Softly with His Words. Step by step I put them to death. God simply says, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has inherited eternal life” (I John 3:15). It is impossible to hate a brother or a sister and still make it into God’s kingdom.
The Bible says that hate, anger, revenge and envy and all those emotions come out from your heart. In Matthew 15:19–21 it says, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” All of that comes out of the flesh. In order to keep from being that way, you cannot be on the throne. You do not have any choice about being on the throne because you were born there. Little babies can get on that throne quite easily; they are born that way. The choice to be made is whether or not you will get off it. God gave you a will so that makes it possible for you to make a decision that you will not ruin your life.
If you stay on the throne, then there are certain things that are inherited and called the works of flesh. Look in Galatians 5:19–21. It says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousy, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, reveling, and such like: of the which I tell you before, just as I also told you in time past, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” You are born into this world only flesh. You need to make a decision of whether you are going to stay on the throne or let Christ reign there. Each must make that decision.
God has given each person a mind that is very smart. Your mind is a big filing cabinet which takes everything in that you hear, taste, see or touch and files it away perfectly so that anytime you want to you can pull it out and think about it. There is a lot in there you have not thought about for a long time, but if the right word is said or the right thing is done, it is immediately brought forth.
I was born in Chicago and lived the first nine years of my life there. I had never been back as far as spending any time there. I wanted to go back to the community where I was raised. I just wanted to go back and see what was there. I could not believe it, but when I walked back into the community all of the sounds and smells just flooded my soul. They were there after all of these years. Your mind files everything away very carefully.
If you are on the throne and running your own life, then you will put things into your mind that should not be there. These are the works of the flesh. You will watch the television and watch programs that encourage violence, hatred, murder, pornography and all of that will be stored in your mind. Then, you can think about it any time you want to. That produces what the Scripture calls emotions. The Bible says that when it comes to the emotions, you and I have to be very careful because it says, “Out of the heart … [Mark 7:21-23].” Heart refers to the emotions. It says to, “Keep your heart with all diligence for out of it springs the issues of life” [Proverbs4:23]. What does that mean? It means that your emotions cause actions—cause you to do certain things. That is why it says to watch your emotions, take care of them because that will cause you to do certain things.
If you permit envy or anger or hatred or any of those things to dwell in your life, those emotions could cause you to commit murder. The only way you can take care of this is by making the decision to put Jesus Christ on the throne.
When you make the decision to put Jesus Christ on the throne, He then makes the decision as to what goes into your mind, because He is in control. Therefore, He is the One who is calling the shots and I am going to read those things that are good and right. The Scripture says that whatsoever things are lovely, pure and of a good report, think on these things and that produces the fruits of the Spirit (Philippians 4:8). It says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” [Galatians 5:22, 23]. Those begin to operate in my life. That is how the Holy Spirit comes in and takes control of your life and changes it.
You must make the decision whether you are going to let the Lord run your life or you are going to run your own life. If you are going to run your own life, then I will assure you that the works of the flesh will be present, but if you turn it over to Christ, then the Holy Spirit will come into your life and He will do His work in your life. The only way that takes place is at the foot of the cross. Day by day I have to come to Him at the foot of the cross and turn my life over to Him and let Him work in my life.
Are you willing to put Christ on the throne and let Him control your life and let Him do His work in your life so that the fruits of His Spirit might be manifested in you?
Kenneth Cox’s sermon was taken from the Ten Commandment Weekend, 2008 series aired on 3ABN. For more information contact www.3ABN.org.