21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

Matt 5:21-22 (NIV)

Here our Lord takes the sixth commandment and without adding anything new, He limits and restrains the license as to the adherence of it in order to expose our motivation and to prevent our abuse while all the while expanding it by showing the breadth, strictness and spiritual nature of the command according to its true intent.

13 “You shall not murder.” Ex 20:13 (NIV)

Jesus was neither doing away with the Law nor adding His own belief rather giving a fuller understanding and depth of purpose behind it. The laws of God are not new and upstart rather eternal - never changing nor obsolete. Murder has always been and will always be forbidden by God Who is the God of all life.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.” Acts 17:24-25 (NIV)

“Truth must enter into the soul, penetrate and saturate it, or else it is of no value. Doctrines held as a matter of creed are like bread in the hand, which ministers no nourishment to the frame, but doctrine accepted by the heart, is as food digested, which, by assimilation, sustains and builds up the body.” Charles H. Spurgeon

In chewing and assimilating this command we see it extends further than just the mere act of murder. What is the motivation behind an anger or hatred so strong as to manifest itself in killing? What are the inward lusts from which fights and quarrels come? It is a fundamental error to teach a divine prohibition of an act without delving into the sinful thought lurking behind the action. Jesus goes further still and tells us not only are we are not to murder but we are not to be angry to the point of wanting to do the act for then we have already carried out the deed in our hearts. The Pharisees felt righteous because they had not literally committed murder yet they were guilty in that they were angry enough at Jesus to plot His death though they did not dirty their own hands with the actual deed. One misses the intent of the law when one does not seek to understand the why behind it. The Law of God – the God of all life - is to be a hedge of protection around our lives. When we are “walled in” with this hedge we are able to lie down in green pastures with restored souls. God desires for His children to be examples of His love to one another and the world.

“Though salvation is not by the works of the law, yet the blessings which are promised to obedience are not denied to the faithful servants of God. The curses our Lord took away when He was made a curse for us, but no clause of blessing has been abrogated. We are to note and listen to the revealed will of the Lord, giving our attention not to portions of it but to ‘all these words.’ There must be no picking and choosing but an impartial respect to all that God has commanded. This is the road of blessedness for the Father and for His children. The Lord’s blessing is upon His chosen to the third and fourth generation. If they walk uprightly before Him, He will make all men know that they are a seed which the Lord has blessed.” Charles H. Spurgeon

The Apostle John writes:

11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. 1 John 3:11-15 (NIV)

Furthermore, Our Lord tells us we are not to maliciously slander our brothers and sisters in Christ. However light we may make of these sins which He prohibits, they will one day be reckoned for. Malicious slanders and those who critically rebuke others have poison under their tongues. Jesus tells us out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks:

45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45 (NIV)

What I Glean

  • Jesus states I am not only to guard my actions but also the motivations behind them.
  • I am to assimilate God’s Truth allowing it to penetrate and saturate my soul.
  • I am called to love.