Summary and Application
The Sixth Commandment
“You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13
In this one commandment God protects society from the ravages of hate, maliciousness, and impetuous acts of temper. It condemns all acts of injustice that tend to shorten life. It condemns the spirit of hatred and revenge, or the indulgence of any passion that leads to injurious acts toward others, or causes us even to wish them harm (for “whoever hates his brother is a murderer” 1John 3:15). Gossip is also forbidden. In another place in His word God states that he who would dwell in heaven is “he who does not backbite with his tongue nor does evil to his neighbor nor does he take up a reproach against his friend” (Psalm 15:3). See also Psalm 39:1; Psalm 52:2, 4; Psalm 64:3, 8; Proverbs 6:17; Proverbs 12:18, 19; Proverbs 21:23; James 1:26.
God warns against a selfish neglect to care for the needy or suffering. He warns against self-indulgence or unnecessary deprivation or excessive labor that tends to injure health. Indeed, all these are, to a greater or lesser degree, violations of the sixth commandment. In reality, the underlying principle of this precept is respect for life—whether of an unborn baby or an elderly senile senior citizen. Inordinate or out-of-control lifestyle habits that tend to shorten life by bringing disease and premature death is a violation of this commandment. The apostle Paul wrote, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. Let no man deceive himself” (1 Corinthians 3:16-18).