Killing and Murder
The Destruction of the Image of God
We all recognize that killing another person is one of the most serious crimes that a person may commit. Society has generally recognized murder as worthy of the severest of punishment, although some forms of killing have often been seen as acceptable in certain societies.
Just today in the newspaper, I read this headline: 72 Killed in Rebel Attacks in Northeast India. No, this is not an example of Muslim extremists in their practice of Jihad, but the article described certain tribesmen who murdered people in their area whom they consider outsiders. The news report by Anuran Nat stated, The attacks late Tuesday in Assam states Sonitpur and Kokrajhar districtsthe worst in months in the ethnically mixed regionwere carried out by a faction of an indigenous Bodo tribe, which has been fighting for a separate homeland for decades. We dont want to comment on this instance of murder, per se, other than to say that it represents the sin of killing other human beings.
This example is only one of numerous reports of killings every day in the news. As I leaf through the newspaper, I generally read of Muslims killing other Muslims or Muslims killing Europeans. This morning there was the report of a man who drove for miles on the wrong side of the freewayuntil he killed two innocent people. We often read of a man who kills his wife, ex-wife, girlfriend, or in-laws; or we may read of a woman who murders her family. Sometimes we read of someone who murders another person in a tavern or saloon, or perhaps a student who murders several persons in his high school. The examples are endless.
How does society describe murder? This excerpt comes from a popular resource:
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human, and generally this premeditated state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide (such as manslaughter).
Most societies both present and in antiquity have considered murder a most serious crime worthy of the harshest of punishment, under the justification that commission of murder is highly detrimental to good order within society. In most countries, a person convicted of murder is typically given a long prison sentence, possibly a life sentence where permitted, and in some countries, the death penalty may be imposed for such an act though this practice is becoming less common. (en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Murder).
The definition here says that murder wouldnt be the accidental killing of another person, particularly if there was no fault in the person who actually did the killing. We may feel remorse with such a death, but it isnt something we intend to commit. A surgeon may intend to save a life but accidentally kills the person under the knife. A driver may have a tire blowout and lose control of his car with the loss of a family member, but he didnt want such a tragedy to happen.
Murder is common in the world
Although murder is serious, we know that this sin is not as widespread as certain others. For example, such sins as covetousness, lust, greed, impatience, envy, unkindness, profanity, and lack of love surely are manifold more common than the actual taking of another life through murder. However, murder rates themselves are increasing and they reveal a gross indifference to the rights of another person.
The same source we noticed above says that world murder rates are increasing:
An estimated 520,000 people were murdered in 2000 around the globe. Another study estimated the world-wide murder rate at 456,300 in 2010 with a 35% increase since 1990. Two-fifths of them were young people between the ages of 10 and 29 who were killed by other young people.
If you live in the United States, you may be interested to know that some 14,827 people were murdered in 2012. (en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/List_of_ countries_by_ intentional _homicide_rate).
Forms of Killing
We dont intend to discuss the intricacies of murder, homicide, and killing. We are simply thinking in terms of the intentional killing of another person. Do we really think through the extent of such killings? Do we go beyond the police reports and court statistics and account for all forms of these killings? Lets at least notice a few of these categories below
Abortion. Although many people close their minds to this fact, an abortion or the intentional killing of an unborn baby does constitute murder. How many of these killings are committed each year? According to the Guttmacher Institute, there were 1.21 million abortions performed in the United States in 2008, the most recent year for which data is available. This amounts to 3,322 abortions per day. – See more at: prolifeaction. org/faq/abortion. php#total (prolifeaction.org/ faq/abortion.php#total). This form of murder is a shame and blight on America!
How many abortions have been committed since 1973 when this form of murder was legalized? Since the legalization of abortion in 1973, there have been approximately 50 million abortions performed in the United States. – See more at: prolifeaction.org/faq /abortion.php#total). A more up-to-date count would be some 57,481,995 abortions (as of 2014) (numberofabortions.com/). We may think that 50 or 60 million is high (and it is), but what about the world rate? How many abortions have been committed in the world since 1980? At present (2014) there have been 1,359,485,465 murders of babies! (numberofabortions.com/). God will not hold the fathers, mothers, doctors, nurses and providers guiltless in the killing of these helpless and innocent babies!
Infanticide. What is this sin of killing? The word infant in the term gives us a clue.
Infanticide (or infant homicide) is the intentional killing of children under the age of 12 months according to the Infanticide Act 1938 in the UK. Parental infanticide are more commonly done by fathers than mothers but vice versa for neonaticide.
In many past societies, certain forms of infanticide were considered permissible. In some countries, female infanticide is more common than the killing of male offspring, due to sex-selective infanticide. In China for example, the gender gap between males and females aged 0-19 year old were estimated to be 25 million in 2010 by the United Nations Population Fund. (en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Infanticide).
As in the case of abortion, infanticide is an abomination to God our Creator. He has a loving concern for all babies conceived in the womb and born, thus the millions of children killed by parents or medical personnel is an abomination to Him.
Suicide. As we are aware, this sin is the intentional taking of ones own life. It is more common in some cultures than others. This is what one source says:
The most commonly used method of suicide varies by country and is partly related to availability. Common methods include: hanging, pesticide poisoning, and firearms. Around 800,000 to a million people die by suicide every year, making it the 10th leading cause of death worldwide. Rates are higher in men than in women, with males three to four times more likely to kill themselves than females. There are an estimated 10 to 20 million non-fatal attempted suicides every year. Non-fatal suicide attempts may lead to injury and long term disabilities. Attempts are more common in young people and females. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide).
There is much variation in rates around the world. The highest rates (beginning with the very highest) are found in these countries: Greenland, Lithuania, South Korea, Guyana, Kazakhstan, Slovenia, Japan, Hungry, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine. The lowest rates of suicide are found in such places as Nepal, Haiti, Grenada, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Jamaica. (en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/List_of_countries _by_suicide_rate). (Apparently this listing doesnt include Islamic suicide terrorists from Muslim countries.)
We know that those who commit murder are worthy of death and will face the judgment of God (Romans 1:29, 32; 2:2). This would include self murder or suicide. Scripture says that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (1 John 3:15b). Traditionally, most people have recognized that those who kill themselves are beyond Gods mercy. However, in todays liberal and amoral (immoral) society, probably most people dont consider the suicide person to be lost.
Euthanasia. Most of us have heard of this sin. It may be defined in this way: Euthanasia (from Greek:. . . “good death”: . . .; “well” or “good” . . . thanatos; “death”) refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering. (en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Euthanasia). Thus, when one kills himself or herself or when a physician kills a patient [doctor-assisted suicide], this is euthanasia when this occurs when one believes that he has a terminal illness.
As in other forms of killing, euthanasia also is a sin of murder. Whether we refer to killing oneself when a fatal illness overtakes us or whether someone enlists the help of a doctor, the result is the same. All that Scripture says about murder applies here (cf. Romans 1:29; Revelation 21:8; etc.). God has the right to give life and He reserves the right to take life; we must never take this prerogative to ourselves.
Genocide. Weve all heard or read of this sin. It is defined in this way: Genocide is the systematic destruction of all or a significant part of a racial, ethnic, religious or national group. Well-known examples of genocide include the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, and more recently the Rwandan genocide. (en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Genocide).
Whether one murders another person or whether a national dictator seeks to eradicate a certain group of people, both may be considered murder. It has been said that Hitler murdered some six million Jews and many others, for a total of perhaps ten or twelve million persons. This would be considered an act of genocide. And, of course, it is an example of murder. It seeks to play God in the destruction of human life and is the height of pride and cruelty.
War. Massive amounts of killing may occur during times of international war. Consider the First World War. This is a summary of the deaths that occurred:
The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was over 37 million: over 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded, ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history. The total number of deaths includes about 10 million military personnel and about 7 million civilians. The Entente Powers (also known as the Allies) lost about 6 million military personnel while the Central Powers lost about 4 million. At least 2 million died from diseases and 6 million went missing, presumed dead. (en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/World_War_ I_casualties).
We would all say that 37 million persons killed is an astrologically high number, but consider further the Second World War: World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history. Over 60 million people were killed, which was over 3% of the 1939 world population (est. 2 billion). (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ World_War_II_casualties). Beyond this, we know that in America, there were also other wars. Here are some of the others:
Revolutionary War 25,000
War of 1812-1815 15,000
Mexican-American War 13,283
Civil War 750,000
(Union Forces) 364,511
(Confederate Forces) 299,524
World War I 116,516
World War II 405,399
Korean War 36,516
Vietnam War 58,209
Afghanistan War 2,229
Iraq War 4,488
Think of the fact that through history, tens of millions of people have been killed in wars around the world. This would include military deaths as well as civilian deaths. We can see that massive numbers of people have committed murder on the battlefield. I saw one tract that was entitled, All War is Sin! How true. All war involves great offense against God, the Giver of life.
Execution. At one time, the American government executed many more people for their crimes than what we find practiced today. Popular forms of execution have been hanging, the firing squad, the electric chair, and injection. Increasingly, criminals are not put to death for their crimes, even for their crimes of murder.
Scripture is quite clear that murderers must be put to death for their gross sin: Whoever sheds mans blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man (Genesis 9:6). Life is sacred and people are made in Gods own image and likeness. For this reason, those who kill the image of God in another person must, themselves, be put to death by civil authority. (We would suggest that the Christian himself must not be used as the means of such deaths.)
Killing through foolish practices. Whether this is the best way to describe what we mean, you can be the judge. This is what we are suggesting: When one kills himself through foolish and sinful activities, he becomes a murderer and is guilty of self murder or a form of suicide. When he kills another person through one of these foolish and sinful means, then he becomes a murderer of another person.
Consider smoking, the cause of the most preventable deaths in the United States. This is what we discover:
Cigarette smoking causes about one of every five deaths in the United States each year.1,6 Cigarette smoking is estimated to cause the following:1
More than 480,000 deaths annually (including deaths from secondhand smoke)
278,544 deaths annually among men (including deaths from secondhand smoke)
201,773 deaths annually among women (including deaths from secondhand smoke)
Cigarette use causes premature death:
Life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than for nonsmokers.1,2
Quitting smoking before the age of 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking-related disease by about 90%.2 (cdc.gov/tobacco/data_ statistics/fact_sheets/ _effects/tobacco_related mortality/).
It should be simple to see that the smoker is guilty of some 480,000 deaths each yearwhether this be himself or those around him. Indeed, the smoker is a murderer and must give an account to God for his foolishness.
However, this is not the only form of foolish killing. One can kill himself or kill others through drug use. In fact, over the years, thousands have killed themselves through the use of drugs. People can kill themselves through the improper use of medications. Overlooked by many people, but people can kill themselves through the use of dangerous, destructive, but tasty junk foods. Wouldnt parents be guilty of killing their children when they feed their little ones foods known to be detrimental to ones health? When parents teach and train their children to eat a certain way when they are two, five, or ten, these destructive dietary habits and preferences can stay with the child all of his lifewhich may take five, ten, or twenty years from ones life expectancy! How sad! In all of these ways, one becomes a murderer of himself or other people and he will be held accountable by a holy and righteous Judge.
Religious Persecution. Down through the centuries, millions of people have been murdered because of their religion. With regard to Christianity, the true Christian doesnt kill those who are of other religions (whether Hindu, Buddhist, Islam, Jewish, or others). On the other hand, those professing Christianity (most of whom would be counterfeit Christians) have been persecuted from the very beginning. Beginning with the persecution from unbelieving Jews and the persecution from pagan Gentiles, the book of Acts records much persecution. This only increased as the first century progressed and especially as the professing Christians entered the second, third, and fourth centuries.
To this very day, professing Christians are being persecuted in China, the Islamic countries, the Communist countries, and others. Such people have been stoned, shot, beheaded, cannibalized, beaten, hanged, speared, and killed by other forms of mutilation and execution. Jesus warned, You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death (Luke 21:16). Professing Christiansboth true believers as well as false professorshave been murdered for the past two thousand years. Surely countless people will be held accountable for all of these murders.
Vast numbers of non-Christians have also been murdered through religious persecution. Muslims have killed Hindus, and Hindus have killed Muslims. Catholics have murdered Jews and Jews have killed their fellow-Jews. Protestants have killed Catholics and Catholics have killed Protestants. Murder seems to be part of most religions on earth!
Political slaughter. The history of the world has been the history of one nation rising against another nation, with unnumbered people being killed in the process. Hundreds of wars have been fought because of political disagreements. Think of Stalins Soviet Union or Maos China, with tens of millions of people being put to death! Political leaders and their followers will be held accountable for the massive murder they have committed.
Religious murder. Similar to some of the other categories we have already noticed, we mean by this those killings committed because of religious views, beliefs, and commitments. For instance, leaders in the Roman Catholic Church used the secular authorities to persecute and kill thousands and thousands of people across Europe and Latin America. One source puts it this way:
Inquisition is a group of institutions within the judicial system of the Roman Catholic Church whose aim is to combat heresy. It started in 12th-century France to combat religious sectarianism, in particular the Cathars and the Waldensians. Other groups which were investigated later include the Spiritual Franciscans, the Hussites (followers of Jan Hus) and Beguines. Beginning in the 1250s, inquisitors were generally chosen from members of the Dominican Order, to replace the earlier practice of using local clergy as judges. The term Medieval Inquisition covers these courts up through the 14th century.
In the Late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, the concept and scope of the Inquisition was significantly expanded in response to the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation. Its geographic scope was expanded to other European countries, resulting in the Spanish Inquisition and Portuguese Inquisition. Those two kingdoms in particular operated inquisitorial courts throughout their respective empires (Spanish and Portuguese) in the Americas (resulting in the Peruvian Inquisition and Mexican Inquisition), Asia, and Africa. (en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Inquisition# Statistics).
Wide ranging estimates have been given for the number of people killed during this Catholic Inquisition that lasted for several centuries. The Spanish Inquisition was particularly brutal and repressive. Some would say that only a few thousand of these persecuted people were murdered, while some have gone so far as to estimate in the millions. Whatever the count, these Catholic authorities will be held accountable for this abominationand this would include the highest Catholic authorities, called the popes.
We could also mention the Catholic Crusades in the middle ages in which members of the Orthodox Church and Muslims were persecuted and murdered across Europe and the Middle East. Thousands of perpetrators will be held guilty of religious murder.
Muslim Murder. Beginning in the seventh century, Muhammad and his radical followers swept across the Middle East, Northern Africa, and into Spain and France. Ruthless in their slaughter of non-Muslims, and merciless in their murder of civilians, these Muslim invaders killed not only thousands but millions of people who would not convert to their false religion but maintained their own religion (even if their own religions was false). In other words, they expanded through invasion and murder. They believed in conquering through the power of the sword, just as their leader Muhammad had done. Obviously, many centuries of Muslim warriors will be held accountable for murder before the judgment seat of Christ.
But what about today? We know that a day doesnt go by without some report of Muslims murdering either other Muslims of a different sect or Muslims killing non-Muslims. They justify such wanton killing of other people by appealing to Muhammads example and teachings as well as the Koran. Using their doctrine of Jihad, they consider themselves exempt from the charge of murder for they are killing people for their god, Allah, and to advance the cause of Islam.
Many of these killings are committed by zealous and blinded Muslims who commit suicide while thinking that they will immediately go to Paradise and eternally enjoy fleshly pleasures because of their destruction of many people. We know that it is a shock to such people to realize (too late) that they were deceived by their leaders as well as being self-deceived about the result of unrepentant murder. One moment they think they will be rewarded for their massive murder and a moment later they discover that they have been deceived and must pay the penalty of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
Regular Murder. It seems strange to refer to murder as regular murder, but we refer to that killing that doesnt conveniently fit into the former categories. This refers to the kind of murder that we often read about in the newspaper each day.
Murder knows no boundaries, thus this sin is found around the world. The highest homicide rates are found in Honduras, El Salvador, and Venezuela. These are followed by Russia, the United States, France, Canada, Ireland, and U.K. As far as the individual states in America, Maine has the lowest rate of murder while Tennessee has the highest. Far beyond any of the states, Washington D.C. has by far the highest homicide rate in America! How many murders actually occur in the United States each year? Although the rate has decreased, yet an alarming number of homicides do continue to occur:
There were 14,748 homicides in the United States in 2010, including non-negligent manslaughter. (666,160 murders from 1960 to 1996).
Consider the causes of murder in the United States:
In the United States, the number of homicides where the victim and offender relationship was undetermined has been increasing since 1999 but has not reached the levels experienced in the early 1990s. In 14% of all murders, the victim and the offender were strangers. Spouses and family members made up about 15% of all victims, about one-third of the victims were acquaintances of the assailant, and the victim and offender relationship was undetermined in over one-third of homicides.
Gun involvement in homicides were gang-related homicides which increased after 1980, homicides that occurred during the commission of a felony which increased from 55% in 1985 to 77% in 2005, homicides resulting from arguments which declined to the lowest levels recorded recently, and homicides resulting from other circumstances which remained relatively constant. Because gang killing has become a normal part of inner cities, many including police hold preconceptions about the causes of death in inner cities. (en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Crime_in_the _United_States# Homicide).
Whether the murder comes from gang activity, from family arguments, or from robbery attempts, God strongly condemns this work of the flesh and shows the results of it. We read of the first murder at Genesis 4:3-15 where Cain murdered his own brother, Abel. In the same chapter, we read of Lamechs murder of another man (actually called a boy) (vv. 23-24). Down through the years, murder has continued. At the time of the flood, God said to Noah, The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth (Genesis 6:13; cf. v. 5). If the Lord destroyed the world through the great flood (chapters 6-9), partly because of the violence He found on the earth, we can see how important this sin is to His heart.
The Results of Murder
We all know that this sin has resulted in unmeasured loss and grief for the loved ones of the victims. Murder closes the door to the victims opportunity to repent and be reconciled to God. But consider especially the result of murder on the perpetrator.
The Lord Jesus says that murders come from within, out of the heart of men and they defile the man (Mark 7:21-23). A corrupt heart will bring corrupt and violent actions! Paul the apostle says that the sin of murder has disastrous results. He says, Those who practice such things [such as murder] are worthy of death and will face the judgment of God (Romans 1:29, 32; 2:2). He also says that those who remain in sin such as murder are storing up wrath for the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God (Romans 2:5). Indeed, unrepentant murder will bring great punishment!
But why? We have noticed that humans are made in the likeness of God (James 3:9). This raises their value to the Lord and shows why He is so interested in their welfare and also why He is so opposed to those who would destroy His image in another person. Genesis 9:6 gives the reason why God requires the death penalty for murder: Whoever sheds mans blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man. While other sins are equally sinful, murder is a particularly heinous sin that must be punished. Although only a few murderers are put to death each year in the United States, Scripture says that every murder should result in a conviction that brings execution.
Paul the apostle warns against many sins in 1 Timothy 1:8-11 and in this section, he says that law is meant for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men. Gods Law warns against sins of murder! Many murder cases are never solved. The murderer is not discovered and he or she may live life without being brought to earthly justice. But all murder will be punished one day! Scripture warns that murderers will have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Revelation 21:8). Further, murderers will forever be banned from the eternal blessedness of the Holy City, New Jerusalem (21:15). We must escape the consequences of murder!
Some may defend themselves by saying that they have never murdered anyone. Their hands are clean. But God looks deeper into our hearts and is interested in seeing if any murderous thought is harboring there. From the Lords perspective, hatred is just as sinful as actual murder! The Bible says, Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (1 John 3:15). Do you hate? Jesus went as far when He declared that being angry with another violates Gods law against murder (Matthew 5:21-22). Do you ever have sinful anger against another person?
The world knows that murder is serious. If a high profile person is murdered, law officers will expend great efforts to find the criminal who took the persons life. But sinful humans generally arent brought to justice. If 57 million babies have been murdered in the past 50 years, how many of these mothers have been executed for their crime? How many doctors and attending nurses and abortion clinic owners have been prosecuted and put to death for their sins of murder?
In warfare, think of the thousand and millions who are killed. Do the perpetrators receive the death penalty for their bloodshed? Most of those who kill in war and in other ways are never apprehended and never brought to justice for their sins of murder.
Before we condemn the millions of murderers who have remained free in the world, lets consider ourselves. Do we hate someone in our heart? Do we manifest unjust anger toward someone? Have we sought Gods forgiveness for our inner thoughts of murder?
If you now consider yourself a murderer (whether a person who has literally killed another person, or a person who has had any inner heart wrong toward another person), what can you do? If you have never come to Christ for His forgiveness, you need to realize that Jesus died for your sins that the price for those sins might be paid (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Peter 2:24; cf. 3:18). Christ then rose from the dead that He might be victorious over your sins and mine. God offers us complete forgiveness through the death of His Son and calls on us to accept the gift of eternal life.
Peter declared, Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:11-13). We must believe in God and place our trust in Christ and His forgiving death for our sake (John 3:16-18, 36; 5:24; Romans 3:24-25; 5:1). Be willing to confess Jesus as your Lord and be baptized into Him that you might live a new life (Romans 10:9-10; 6:1-11). Be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name (Acts 22:16).
But what if you came to Christ in the past but have allowed an inner attitude of anger, bitterness, or hatred to dwell in your heart? Or what if you literally took another persons life (perhaps you have never been apprehended or you are now in prison serving your term)? Be willing to admit your wrong and seek Gods forgiveness. Repent of this wickedness of yours, Peter said to Simon (Acts 8:22). Repentance is an inner act of sorrow for our wrongs and a determination to walk in righteousness in the future.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Instead of sins of anger and hatred, seek Gods help through the Spirit to be filled with love, kindness, gentleness, and patience toward others (Galatians 5:22-24).
Murder is a heinous sin and this brings Gods wrath! He was willing to destroy His earth at one time (Genesis 6) and He will destroy those on the present earth whose heart and life are filled with wrongful murderous attitudes toward others (2 Peter 3:7-15). Are you prepared?