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Catechism Class – Source of Murder


Catechism Class :  THE SOURCE OF MURDER

Matthew 5:21-26 – H/C Lord’s Day 40  

In our last lesson, we began to look at the sin of murder, as forbidden in the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”  We saw that while not all killing is murder, we must be very reluctant to take away a person’s life.  We saw that in the bible, abortion is murder, punishable under the rule of limited retribution, a life for a life.  Isn’t it strange then, that in our modern society, the judicial killing of a criminal, a murderer, is forbidden, but the killing of an innocent baby in the womb is not only permitted, but by some people, actually celebrated?  How morally dysfunctional is our world!  In this study we come to Q106-107, and we see how murder begins in the heart of man, and we are going to look at this subject with the help of Matthew 5:21-26.

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1. The CAUSE of Murder. Anger in the Heart!

106. Q. But does this commandment speak only of killing?

A. By forbidding murder God teaches us that he hates the root of murder, such as envy, hatred, anger, and desire of revenge, and that he regards all these as murder.

Murder is not just an outward act! It begins in the heart. It begins with bitterness and anger and enmity. The catechist insists that God … hates the root of murder, such as envy, hatred, anger, and desire of revenge, and that he regards all these as murder.  Murder is born within the human heart!  Matthew 5:22  Anger is dangerous! It festers and it grows and gets out of control and can even lead to murder!  

Notice that there are several separate types of anger dealt with by Jesus here.  

  • SELFISH ANGER.  whosoever is angry with his brother. This is a kind of brooding anger that thinks primarily of my rights over everyone else’s! It’s not the kind of sharp flash of anger that dies away quickly, it’s a long deliberate smouldering anger and resentment! Jesus says that such anger is brings the angry person into danger of judgement.  Colossians 3:8, 
  • CONTEMPT. ‘whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca’ The word is almost untranslatable. To call a man Raca was to despise him with arrogant contempt. It is the kind of snobbery that arises from a love of money and position and power, and pride in material things. This sin of anger with contempt will judged even more harshly than that personal smouldering anger. It shall bring the sinner into danger of the council. The Greek text actually uses the word Sanhedrin.
  • DESTRUCTIVE PERSONAL RAGE. ‘whosoever shall say Thou fool.’ Now raca could be translated fool. But now Jesus uses another word, which the English translations have rendered ‘thou fool.’ It is the word ‘μωρε’ Literally it would be TO  call your friend or brother a moron.  To call a man a moron in this sense was not to question his mental ability, it was to cast aspersion upon his character, to take his name and reputation and drag them through the mud, to brand him as an immoral and loose living man.

The word translated ‘Hell Fire’ (γεενναν του πυρος ‘hell fire’) is actually ‘the fire of Gehenna’ – Gehenna is ge-hinnom, the place where King Ahaz introduced into Israel the fire sacrifice to the pagan God Molech.   2 Chronicles 28:3  Because of this the Valley was loathsome to the people of Jerusalem, regarded as a filthy and evil place, and used as fit only for rubbish. Jesus used that filthy burning rubbish tip as a picture of Hell for His disciples.  Mark 9:43-44  That is the level of punishment reserved for those who store up anger in their hearts toward another person. We have been warned by Jesus.  We MUST heed the warning.

Now we need to ask another question, “Is there ever a kind of anger that IS right and justified?”  When Jesus spoke about anger in the Sermon on the Mount, he qualified it with this phrase, Matthew 5:22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother WITHOUT A CAUSE. Paul reminds us that there are times when we should be angry. but that it must not lead us to sin! Ephesians 4:26 It is the kind of anger that that every believer must have against sin. It is always disciplined and controlled, it is always restricted to those who do wrong.

2. The CURE for Murderous Anger!

Q. 107 Is it enough, then, that we do not kill our neighbour in any such way?

A. No. When God condemns envy, hatred, and anger, he commands us to love our neighbour as ourselves, to show patience, peace, gentleness, mercy, and friendliness toward him, to protect him from harm as much as we can, and to do good even to our enemies

The catechist shows the positive side to the commandment.  We cannot be neutral, just ‘not killing people’ is not enough.  We must love our neighbours!  So, now we come to the two areas in which Jesus APPLIES His teaching on murderous anger, and in Matthew we see the basis of what the catechist is teaching us. Jesus says:-

  • Be reconciled with your brother. The first situation in which Jesus applies this teaching is in the case of Christians who are seeking to worship God.   Matthew 5:23  
  • There is a deeper application of Jesus’ first principle being taught here. It is that reconciliation with a brother is impossible without some attempt at RESTORATION! It is pointless in going to the altar to ask God to forgive your sins, if you have not repented of that sin, and attempted restoration! If you have stolen money from someone, and you ask God to forgive you, will you get that forgiveness, while you are still spending the money you have stolen?  
  • We cannot claim to be right with God if that right-ness is not reflected in our relationships with our fellow men. How many of us are trying to worship God, and we still have outstanding conflicts with our brethren, and then we wonder why there is a barrier to our prayers!
  • Don’t let anger build! Matthew 5:25 Here is some of the most practical advice you could ever receive. You’ll not get angry, and the sin of murder will not start in your heart if you deal with your problems early! Always get things settled and straightened out before the problem becomes too large to handle! Paul also gave wise advice when he said, let not the sun go down upon your wrath.

So, Jesus teaches that you can murder a person with your thoughts and with your words, for murder begins with anger in the heart of man. Anger comes in different forms, but when it is ‘without a cause’ ‘it always brings down the judgement of God. To avoid such judgement, practice reconciliation with your fellow believer, and never let anger and unforgiveness grow in your heart.

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