Murder – Identity and the Sixth Commandment

Cain and Able, Titian, 1542

Cain and Able, Titian, 1542

You shall not murder. – Exodus 20:13

Four words. A command that sets the bare minimum standard for how we are to treat other bearers of the image of the Creator.

You shall not murder.

Murder is not something done in an act of self-defense. Rather, murder is an act born of vengeance, anger, jealousy, fear, and lust.

And as such, it has much to do with identity.

In Matthew 15:19, Jesus says:

For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

It is from a heart that is not in communion with God (see No Other Gods) – meaning an identity that is seeking wholeness on its own terms – that murder originates.

Murder originates in an identity that has put it self in the place of God. Apart from communion with God, such a person does what is right in their own eyes. Determining right and wrong by the values of the false self. Those people who bring value to the false self are right; those that challenge the false self – exposing the shame underneath – are wrong.

Murder originates in an identity that dismisses the inherent value of other image bearers. Apart from communion with God, the worth of people is judged by comparing what they produce, what they consume, how much they have, and how popular they are. There is no such thing as inherent worth as a loved, created being.

Murder originates in an identity that is unable to forgive or experience forgiveness. Idols do not forgive, we can only let them down and try harder to get satisfaction from them. Apart from communion with God, we are responsible for restoring our own identity, building up our own sense of value. Dents and gashes in our sense of significance may be too deep to cover up.

Ultimately, murder originates in our fight to get what we need to support our identity apart from Christ (see Why Do We Adopt an Identity). James 4:2 lays the foundation for murder in our quest to do just this:

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

When we are in Christ, we are immersed in the love of God. It is that love that we reflect to those we come in contact with. Other people are no longer competition for nor needed to support for our identity – those questions of self are securely and definitively answered in Christ.

Love, rather than murder, hate, or anger, is what flows forth from the living waters of the heart in communion with Christ.

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