Thou Shall Not Kill
“You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not kill. And whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment.” Matthew 5:21
A murderer in Israel was executed according to the letter. (Leviticus 24:17). Our Lord teaches us, however, that one may be a murderer at heart without actually committing the deed: and He says, “But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou Fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Matthew 5:22. These three terms find their expression in our emotions.
Just as the murder needed to die the natural death under the law, so the man who hates his brother is a murderer:
“And you know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in himself.” (I John 3:15). This teaches us even a saved person can lose his salvation by holding a grudge against his neighbor, and if he thus sins he stands accursed and condemned.
Every one that is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgement, even though he may not scold him with rash unchristian words, for wrath -fits of anger - itself is is a great sin according to Galatians 5:20; then following our text we have first “anger”: then its partner “insult”, the the expression “you fool”. Your hands may be clean of your brother's blood, but how about your mouth and your heart, if you allow your emotions to be swayed by such evil thoughts?
The Lord then goes on to instruct us what to do if we fall into this temptation and approach a brother in an unchristan way and in our rage, hurt his feelings in anyway or also if both parties engage in such unchristian tongue lashings with one another, then the Saviour instructs them thus: “If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath any thing against thee; Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother: and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24). We no longer need to go to Jerusalem into the temple to sacrifice for our sins, for we have a passover Lamb which is Christ sacrificed for us; therefore, let us keep the feast not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth-Jesus Christ who has died for us that we might have eternal life.
Since we are such weak creatures and because God knew our inconsistencies a thousand time better than we did ourselves, He gave us these beautiful Christians instructions through His Son: that if we wish to have peace with Him, we must first seek to make peace with our brother whom we have mistreated. Then Jesus says “ After you have done this, then come to Me and confess your sins with a repentant heart, and a perfect willingness, with divine help, to avoid future repetition of the error, then I will forgive your sins and mention them no more. And will give you rest, if you are willing to take My yoke upon you, and walk step by step with Me, learning My meekness and lowliness in heart, and there finding rest unto your soul. For my yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Ezekiel 33:16; Matthew 11:29-30).
Perhaps there are some who have never seen a yoke. Back in the day a thresher (a person that separates grain from the plants and chaff by beating), would pull his engine from place to place with an ox team. When he reached his destination he unhitched his chain from the yoke and turned the oxen loose so they could graze, but always left the yoke on them, so that where ever one went the other had to follow. This yoke was carved to fit the neck of the oxen, from a piece of wood about 4 by 6 inches in size, and about 5 feet long. It had an iron ring in the middle to fasten the draw-chain, and half -hoops held it onto the necks of the oxen. These pulled a heavy load, and their load was not light. It was a cumbersome burden lying on the neck continually, nor was it padded, only the bare hard wood. But Jesus tells us that His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. Yes, many children of God can testify from experience that his yoke is easy and his burden is light, because they trust him for their salvation, and are completely surrendered to His guiding hand from day to day-thus yoked together it is easy to follow, but hard to resist-not wishing to go anywhere that they could not take Him along or enjoy His fellowship. As we read in I John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he also is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Is this not a glorious and encouraging promise? But notice that it is given on condition that “we walk in the light, as he also is in the light”. On the other hand, if we walk in darkness, hiding our light under the bushel of sin and Satan, then this promise is not for us, but much more as we read in I John 2:9-10, “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother, abideth in the light, and there is no scandal in him”. Yes, love constrains him to be reconciled with his brother, when the Lord reveals to him in any way, if only through his conscience, that his brother has ought against him, and he will promptly drop all his other affairs of life, and go to his grieved brother and instantly seek and plead for his pardon. It would take a heart as hard as stone indeed to be unable or unwilling to forgive, if you are sincere in the effort and there is no better way to win the goodwill of your brother than to bow before him with a contrite spirit, even though he may have spoken unkind and unchristian words in his rage.