The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Deuteronomy 5: 1-21 Then Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the ordinances which I am speaking today in your hearing, that you may learn them and observe them carefully. The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, with all those of us alive here today. The Lord spoke to you face to face at the mountain from the midst of the fire, while I was standing between the Lord and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the Lord; for you were afraid because of the fire and did not go up the mountain. He said, ‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. ‘You shall have no other gods before Me. ‘You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. ‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. ‘Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day. ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the Lord your God gives you. ‘You shall not murder. ‘You shall not commit adultery. ‘You shall not steal. ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field or his male servant or his female servant, his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.’
The variety of ways mankind has devised to murder one another is staggering. The Nazi’s gassed the Jews. Isis has been known to burn people alive in cages. Abortionists pull little babies apart limb from limb. Rocks, knives, guns, kitchen utensils, automobiles, and bare hands are some of the means sinful man uses to murder his neighbor….and this does not begin to scratch the surface. Murder, a very physical, tangible, visceral sin, which most people can easily recognize, has plagued mankind since Cain murdered Abel.
Yet, for all of the manifestations of murder that we see on the nightly news, violations of the sixth commandment, Thou shall not murder, are much more widespread than we may realize. This commandment and its implications go far beyond the realm of the physical, directly into the heart of men, women, boys, and girls, where only God can see.
Jesus said: "You have heard that the ancients were told, 'You SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.'But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.(Matthew 5:21-22 NASB).
1 John 3:15 states “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
The sixth commandment takes on a much deeper, and more pervasive meaning when we recognize that what we have come to recognize as murder, the shedding of innocent blood, actually has its roots in our heart. This is problematic for those who seek to be justified by outward appearances. While the outside of the cup may look clean and pristine, with all of the proper theological and doctrinal boxes checked, saying all of the right things, sounding very much like a person filled with the Holy Spirit, you and I are quite capable of harboring hatred in our hearts where no one but God can see. Bitterness, pride, jealousies, envy, and covetousness all lead to anger, then hatred for your brother and sister, murder. Jesus has said that what defiles a man comes out of the heart, things like evil thoughts, and murder.
Yesterday at drag queen story hour, a man came up wearing a dress and fairy wings, attempting to be a distraction and a hindrance to the Word of God going forth. I watched as he sought to distract brother Mark, had a brief exchange with another brother named Tanner, then turned his gaze upon me. I had some interaction with him myself, attempting to answer his objections and share the Good News with him. His unwillingness to engage with any rationale which pointed to the truth began to frustrate me. This frustration grew as he pulled out the typical playbook that all God haters study from: “What about your tattoos? Why do you pick and choose?” As I attempted to answer the fool, he would switch topics, cut me off, and refuse to allow me to get more than a couple words of response out of my mouth before interrupting with a new objection. I moved from frustration, to anger. God’s Word tells us in the Book of James that we are to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, and, that the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. To be sure, there are times when it is absolutely appropriate to be angry, and I believe that the open mocking of God’s Word is one of those occasions. However, we are to be angry, yet not sin. This is the challenge. Does our anger spring from a heart that loves the things God loves, and hates the things God hates, or, is our anger a response to our own pride taking a hit. Is our anger a reaction to someone attacking our Lord and His truth, or, are we responding in anger because our ego got checked.
Thankfully, Pastor Joseph was there to come alongside and keep me from moving from mere righteous anger, into the realm of murderous rage. That frustrating gentleman was doing everything in his power to suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Rather than anger, my response, our response, should be pity. Rather than pride swelling up, giving way to murderous anger, seeing depravity on display like this should humble us. It should bring to remembrance all the grace and mercy that God has shown us in our own lives, that while we were still yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Brothers and sisters, be angry but do not sin. Murder begins in our heart. Let us hide God’s Word there, so that we might not sin against Him in this way.
Your Word tells us that you are a righteous judge Who is angry with the wicked everyday. You hate workers of iniquity. You hate the hands that shed innocent blood. Your anger and hatred are completely pure, and righteous. You, being the Creator, Whose Law governs the universe, the seen and unseen, are completely justified in Your hatred of wickedness and evildoers. Father, we are created in Your image, and as image bearers, have the capacity for anger and hatred as well, yet our anger and hatred frequently springs from hearts which are prideful and arrogant. Frequently, we are angered, not at things which attack Your character, nature, and Word, but attacks against our own ego. Father, please forgive us for our pride and arrogance which leads to unrighteous, murderous anger. Please help us to be like Your Son, Who was reviled, dishonored, and rejected by men, was angry yet did not sin. Father please be merciful towards us, help us to be humble, help us to repay evil with good, rather than multiplying sin with prideful and arrogant responses. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.
Listen now to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to all that believe:
Ephesians 3: 14-19 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!
(From the 5/19/19 liturgy of Sovereign King Church written by Aaron Sabie. )