Are you a murderer?

23 08 2008

When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.” [Ezekiel 3:18]


Are you a murderer? The comments of Jesus in Matthew 5:21-22 make it plain that murder is more than just the act of taking someone’s physical life. The sixth commandment requires more of us than merely keeping ourselves from choking the life out of someone who provokes us to anger.


In his exposition of the sixth commandment, James Durham talks about the duty that we have to preserve the spiritual life of our brothers. Sin kills. In this respect all who are unfaithful to others in the matter of their souls, or who cause them to sin, or give them occasion to sin, become guilty of soul-murder. God told the prophet Ezekiel that it was his duty to warn men of the judgments that would come to those who refuse to repent and turn to the Lord. If Ezekiel failed to do this, God said, “his blood I will require at your hands.” This is also why the Apostle Paul, when reviewing his ministry among the Gentiles, was able to say, “I am innocent of the blood of all men.”


Here are some ways that we can commit the sin of soul-murder…


  1. By giving advice or counsel that leads a person to a sinful course of action.
  2. By consenting to the sin of others, or in any way assisting, approving, or encouraging them in it.
  3. By provoking others, and stirring them up to sin in their reaction to us.
  4. By setting an evil example, that others imitate by sinning.
  5. By not warning faithfully before sin is committed.
  6. By not rebuking sin after it is committed.
  7. By rebuking sin too lightly, and thus failing to point out its seriousness.
  8. By putting men in leadership positions for which they are not qualified.
  9. By teaching error that leads men into a false hope.


Durham writes, “This sort of murder abounds and is very common, and yet is in a special manner forbidden by the sixth commandment, and the prevention of it accordingly called for; it being a greater evidence of love to our neighbor to be careful of his soul than of his body, the one being more precious than the other. And however false prophets, teachers and seducers seem ordinarily to be most tender of men’s persons, and most desirous to please them, yet are they in this sort horridly guilty of their murder.”


Are you careful for the spiritual welfare of those around you? The law tells us that if we see a person in danger of death, and we have the means to prevent it, but we stand idly by and do nothing, we bear a measure of responsibility for their death. God tells us that the same is true of the spiritual death of those around us. If you see your brother or sister in danger of sin, and you know that the wages of sin is death, what will you do to keep them from sinning? Can you say with Paul, “I am innocent of the blood of all men?”




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