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A Time to Kill? - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
September 12, 2020 2:00 am

A Time to Kill? - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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September 12, 2020 2:00 am

You are alive! You will die! Those two absolutes are as basic as it gets. But since life is a gift from the Creator, what right does anyone ever have in taking it from another? One of the commandments on God's Top Ten list is, "Thou shalt not kill!" Is there ever a time to kill? Does the justice system of a land or an army ever have the right to kill? How can we as responsible Christians ever come to a balance regarding this very difficult issue?

This teaching is from the series God's Top Ten.




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Last week we started on this sixth commandment found in verse 13 of Exodus chapter 20, you shall not murder.

We began with the premise. It's a negative commandment, but we noted that the positive spin on it is that God values life. He's the creator, we're made in His image, therefore, thou shalt not murder. When we value life, we value keeping things alive, but at times that can take an unusual turn. Many of us follow a diet of some sort, but some diets are stricter than others. For fruitarians, all life is valuable, including plant life.

Therefore, many will not eat any fruit that has not fallen off a tree or a plant, and some will not eat seeds because they contain future plants. Well, today in Connect with Skip Weekend Edition, Skip Heitzig continues an engaging and in-depth study of the Ten Commandments with our newest series, God's Top Ten. And today's topic is definitely a hot button issue.

We know murder is wrong, but is there ever a time to kill? That's humans, not plants. We'll talk about that more here in just a moment. But first, this update from our Connect with Skip Resource Center. I've enjoyed watching the growth and the ministry of my friend, Levi Lusko. And now we're offering you his Take Back Your Life Study Guide and DVD.

Here's Levi to tell you about it. It's all around this idea of taking back your life. It's a 40-day interactive journey to thinking right so you can live right. And it's going to be really powerful and special, I think, for people to have this.

Not only is it in hardcover, which just makes me happy because I've never had a book released in hardcover, but it has a ribbon. So you'll be able to keep track of your progress through these 40 days. It would be an incredible gift to someone who is looking to grow in their faith or for any of us who want to maybe kind of do an oil change for your heart, a checkup on your wellness, on where you're at. It'll deal with internal difficulties and help you deal better with external circumstances that are challenging as we explore how we can get to the very best version of ourselves that we are meant to be. This hardcover book by Levi Lusko will help you take back your life. It's a 40-day interactive journey to thinking right so you can live right.

1-800-922-1888. The focus of our teaching today is Exodus chapter 20, but we'll also be in Deuteronomy, Matthew, and Romans. So get ready to jump around a bit in your Bible. And now with our teaching, Skip Heitig. Well, let me tell you about a judge named Alexander Sanders who was the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Court of Appeals. And Chief Justice Sanders was speaking at a graduation ceremony commencement for the University of South Carolina. In that graduating class was his daughter Zoe. So as the judge gets up to address the students, he tells a story about when Zoe was three years old. It seems that Judge Sanders came home from work one day to a crisis. Zoe's pet turtle had died.

And Mrs. Sanders turned the situation over to the venerable judge to figure out a solution. So Judge Sanders said to his three-year-old girl, Zoe, sweetheart, don't worry. We'll go to the pet store and I'll buy you another turtle.

That didn't help. That little girl knew that you can't transfer the life from one turtle to another. She wanted her turtle alive.

So Judge Sanders said, sweetheart, I'll tell you what. We'll have a big funeral for your turtle. Being three years of age, little Zoe didn't know what a funeral was. So the judge tried to explain, well, sweetheart, it's like a big festival in honor of your turtle.

Again, being three years of age, she didn't quite get the meaning of festival. So Judge Sanders says, look, honey, a funeral is like a birthday party. We're going to have cake and ice cream and lemonade and balloons.

We'll invite all of your friends over to play all afternoon. Well, that did the trick. Little Zoe brightened up, got a smile on her face. The tears dried out.

She was so happy. And then something very unprecedented happened. They were looking down at the turtle and it started to move. And not only did it move, it wasn't dead. It started walking away.

Now the judge was speechless, probably for the first time in his career. Didn't know what to say. But little Zoe appraised the situation very quickly and looked up and with all the innocence that a three-year-old can muster up said, Daddy, let's kill it. Daddy, let's kill it. That funny little story underscores a very sobering truth about our culture.

And that is this. We value life as long as life doesn't stand in the way of our party. We say that things and people are important, but if those people stand in the way of our party, maybe they're dispensable.

So the whole issue of euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, abortion, can often play into how does that affect my party. Last week, we started on this sixth commandment found in verse 13 of Exodus chapter 20. You shall not murder.

We began with the premise. It's a negative commandment, but we noted that the positive spin on it is that God values life. He's the creator.

We're made in his image. Therefore, thou shalt not murder. We then saw the problem and the problem wasn't with the commandment.

The problem is with us. Mankind has never been able to successfully keep this commandment since the beginning. We then went back all the way to the passion that fuels the breaking of this commandment, which is sinful anger. We saw that according to Jesus, if you harbor grudges and bitterness and anger in your heart towards someone, that is really the seedbed of all murder. Whether you pull the trigger or not, everybody's guilty. Today, I want to look at the practical relevance of this commandment.

Is all killing always bad? Is there ever a time for it? Now, I'm not going to discuss the more obvious issues like abortion or euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide. I think there's been enough sermons and radio play and books written. I think as Christians we know those are wrong. We can't touch on every single subject that every verse of the Bible touches on, else we'll be here on this very commandment for the next 30 weeks.

We are doing a survey of the Ten Commandments and we've already spent a week and now a second week on this. We can only cover a certain amount of ground. What I want to wrestle with are a couple of controversial issues. Issues that are not just confined to the cognitive, the philosophical, the theological.

These are practical issues. They touch and they will affect the way we hear news and process it, how we vote, how we have conversations with people. You know, if you go back to the ancient rabbis, they said there are legitimate times for killing and that wouldn't be considered in their view to be murder. And where the conversation typically begins is a verse out of Ecclesiastes chapter 3. Some of you who were in the 60s remember the song where they set these verses to the lyrics of a very famous song.

But Ecclesiastes 3 nonetheless says, to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant, a time to pluck what is planted, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time of war and a time of peace. Now I realize that what I'm going to say, the things we're going to touch on this morning are controversial. And to be quite honest with you, most pastors would shy away from them. I have a hunch that you would like some real answers. At least you'd like to decide what does or find out what the Bible has to say, if anything, about a couple of these issues.

So you can decide if you're going to follow along with that or not. Now remember last week, we noted that though the old translation says thou shalt not kill, that the word for kill can only mean murder. The Hebrew word ratzach, there are several words from Hebrew that could be translated to kill.

One is given to murder and that's the word used here. So the accurate rendering is you shall not murder. Now that's chapter 20 verse 13.

But notice something. After that statement is made in chapter 21, the very next chapter. Verse 1, now these are the judgments which you shall set before them. God is still speaking. Verse 12, he who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. However, if he did not lie in wait but God delivered him into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee. But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor to kill him by treachery, you shall take him from my altar that he may die. Now go over to that passage in Deuteronomy chapter 20 that I had you mark. Deuteronomy chapter 20 verse 1. When you go out to battle against your enemies and you see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them for the Lord your God is with you who brought you up from the land of Egypt. So it shall be when you are on the verge of a battle that the priest shall approach and speak to the people and shall say to them, hear oh Israel, today you are on the verge of a battle with your enemies. Do not let your heart faint. Do not be afraid.

Do not tremble or be terrified because of them. For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to save you. Now here are two instances where you might say you could call it a case for killing. Right after the commandment, you shall not murder, there are two allowances for that.

One is the courtroom. It's a judicial setting where the death penalty, capital punishment, is imposed and the other is a battlefield scene, a combat zone. Now in the Bible, the death penalty, the ultimate punishment, capital punishment, was never seen by the ancients as murder. You say it wasn't, how was it viewed?

This way. It was righteously administered judicial execution. Listen to that again. Righteously administered judicial execution. And it was a requirement in the Old Testament, get this, for the same, very same premise and reason as the sixth commandment was given. Remember we said the sixth commandment was given because God gave life and it was precious and were made in the image of God. It's the same reason he required the death penalty.

Same premise. If you go back to the beginning in Judea, Judea is the same reason beginning in Genesis. The very first crime was murder. Cain killed Abel.

We saw that last week. And it's interesting the punishment that God gave to Cain. It was not the death penalty.

Remember what it was? He was exiled forever. A mark was put on him and he was banished. Probably because number one, there was no city of refuge at that point.

Number two, because it was a crime of passion. It wasn't long premeditated and so God banished him. But shortly after that, a flood came on all the earth. Noah and his family were saved.

After the flood, there's just a few of them. They're told to fill the earth, be fruitful and multiply. And then God in Genesis 9, verse 5 and 6 says this. Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning from the hand of every beast I will require it, from the hand of man. From the hand of every man's brother I will require the life of a man. Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed. For in the image of God he made man. Did you get that?

Why? For in the image of God he made man. Now what I just read predates the law, predates Moses, predates the children of Israel, predates all the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. By the time we get to Moses and the law of Moses, God will give and largely in chapter 21 of Exodus, 18 different crimes for which the death penalty is prescribed.

Righteously administered judicial execution. Okay, that's a hot topic today. Not everybody agrees on this. It's a subject of debate. Even people in the church are polarized over it.

We have been for a long time. Back in 1969 it was abolished in Great Britain. 15 of our states in America including District of Columbia outlaws it.

38 states however to some degree have instituted the death penalty for certain crimes. I do believe that every society has the responsibility to rehabilitate criminals, to restore them and I would say that none can do a better job of that than the Church of Christ. If anybody should be willing to forgive and to restore and to bring back if possible into society to redeem them, it's the church.

However, having said that, when a government, when a state becomes more concerned about the rights of the criminals than the rights of the victims, that's wrong. In fact, it's sin according to the Bible. Now often the dissent here in the argument is, well that's Old Testament, that's not New Testament.

Well you might be surprised to know the answer to that. I'm going to give you just one striking example. Paul the apostle was on trial for crimes leveled against him that he did not commit. And so here's Paul before a Roman court and all of these charges are against him.

And listen to the apostle speak, listen to his words. This is Acts 25. For if I am an offender or if I have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying. Now it's one thing to agree with the death penalty when somebody else is on trial. It's another thing when you say, if I'm guilty, kill me. And that's essentially what Paul said in the New Testament.

Okay I just touched on that, that's just enough to stir some of you up. Let me move to the second one that we looked at in Deuteronomy, the combat zone. What about military involvement? What about in armed forces?

What about law enforcement? Which stand should I take? Well you got an option. Option number one, the pacifist. Now the pacifist will say all war is always wrong because God said in the 10 commandments, thou shalt not kill.

Again that's a misinterpretation of it. It's really thou shalt not murder. That's the pacifistic position.

Second is activism. You got to overhear pacifism. War is always wrong all the time because God said don't kill. On the other end of the spectrum you have activism, which says I must engage in every war that my government is engaged in because God has given human government for me to obey and if I don't obey the laws of the land I disobey God. They will quote Romans 13 which says let every soul be subject to governing authorities.

Whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God. So you got this option, complete pacifism, it's always wrong. Complete activism, it's always right. You got another option, selectivism.

Now maybe that's not even a word but it is now. Selectivism says that not all wars that governments engage in are always just. Case in point, the Nazis. When the Nazis waged war using the German regime it was not just and so you had dissenters like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and others who came out against it. Or the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia with Pol Pot some years ago. And there are numerous examples of governments who have gotten involved in illegitimate, wrong, dictatorial, unjust wars.

But the selectivist will also say sometimes war is justified in the case of self-defense or standing against a greater evil. Now we struggle with this and we're not the only ones to struggle with it. Everybody struggles with it. In fact did you know the early church struggled with it?

And here was their struggle. How can I be involved in the Roman military if I'm a follower of the Prince of Peace? And so from that struggle came eventually a position known as the just war tradition. Some of you have heard of that, the just war tradition. That has dominated the view of most Christians for the last 1600 years, the just war tradition.

Now I'm going to give you just a thumbnail, quick historical overview of how that came about. Between the second century and the fourth century A.D., during the early church and just that post apostolic era, Christians were absolutely non-military. None of them were. None of them were involved in any army, in any militia. They were non-military.

Now you might go, aha! But you need to understand why. Their rationale is that they couldn't be involved in the Roman army unless they were participating in idolatrous practices. To be in the Roman army you had to worship the emperor, the Caesar. You had to burn incense to him. You had to swear allegiance that he was your God.

And so Christians couldn't do that and be following the Lord at the same time so they were not involved in the military. And then something dramatic took place in the Roman empire. If you know your history, you know that in 410 A.D. Rome was the first Roman empire to be formed. In 410 A.D. Rome was sacked by the barbarians, the Visigoths. That upset the whole empire. After the 410 attacked by the Visigoths, people in Rome started pointing their fingers at the Christians saying, it's you guys. You haven't been involved in civil issues.

You haven't been involved in our military. You, Christians, have undermined the state of Rome. So a guy over in northern Africa, Hippo, by the name of Augustine, you've heard of Saint Augustine, wrote a book called The City of God, which is his argument against that accusation by the Roman government. In his writings, he outlines that there are certain times when Christians can be and should be involved in military and in wars. Well, The City of God by Augustine was a great influence to other great theologians and writers through history, one by the name of Thomas Aquinas.

You've heard of him? Thomas Aquinas years later wrote a, I was going to say a little book, it's a quite thick book called Summa Theologica, where he gives three criteria to fight what he calls the just war. And that has become the basis by and large for many western countries.

We've adopted that. It had influenced a lot of people, including Martin Luther. Martin Luther said these words, quote, without armaments, peace cannot be kept. Wars are waged not only to repel injustice, but also to establish a firm peace. Violent means must sometimes be used to preserve the life and health of the body politic, just as a physician must at times amputate an arm or a leg in order that the whole body may not perish. And this, said Luther, can be a work of Christian love, close quote.

In other words, if I may paraphrase for Martin Luther, he said, I love peace and I love peace enough to fight for it, if need be. Well, there's still a lot to be said about these issues, but we're out of time for today. And the teaching you heard today was titled A Time to Kill. Part two of this teaching is coming up next time here in Connect with Skip weekend edition. This message is just one part of our current teaching series, God's Top Ten. And if you haven't yet, I hope you'll consider adding a copy of this important series to your audio library. All 17 messages are available as an audio CD package for only $39 plus shipping. Learn more and order today at or when you call 1-800-922-1888. Is there a biblical precedent for the death penalty? We'll talk about that more next time here in Connect with Skip weekend edition, a presentation of Connection Communications. Connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-15 07:46:05 / 2024-03-15 07:54:30 / 8

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