Matter of Life and Death

Scripture: Exodus 20:13, Genesis 9:6, Matthew 5:21
Date: 05/18/2013 
The sixth commandment is "Do not murder". Do not take another person's life in a pre-meditated, malicious way.
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We're very thankful you're here today and if you're visiting, you're probably wondering if we've begun to worship like those at stonehenge, with these big monuments here. We're doing a series on the Ten Commandments. Now I always like to say at the beginning to remind you, the ten commandments are not like rungs on a ladder by which we climb to heaven. We do not earn our salvation by keeping the law but, at the same time, we are not saved when we deliberately break the law or violate God's will. They are not the ten suggestions.

They're not the ten recommendations or good ideas, these commandments represent the perfect will of God and, yes, he wants us to obey them. And so today we find ourselves in commandment number 6. We're going to be talking about a matter of life and death and, you know, I think I'd like to direct your attention, to start with, to talking about something that happened very early in the Bible. You can read in Genesis about two brothers - the first two brothers - children of adam and eve. What were their names? Cain and abel.

And there in Genesis 4 it tells us that abel was a keeper of sheep. Cain was a tiller of the ground and, evidently, they were not only different in occupation, they were different in disposition. Abel brought an offering from his flock. He worshiped God the way that God had designed and designated. Cain thought that he could improve on that and he wanted to worship differently.

Now, don't miss this point, I've made it before but here at the very dawn of man you've got a split among the children of adam regarding how to worship and there's a dispute and the one who worships God the way that God commands is persecuted by the one who worships according to his own devising. And while they talked in the field, evidently abel was trying to encourage cain to submit and follow God's way of worshiping. Cain became angry. You ever try to talk to someone and when they find out they're wrong they just get madder instead of humbling themselves? So much so that in a rage, when he couldn't resist the wisdom of abel's arguments, he maybe grabbed a rock or a club and he killed his brother - murdered his brother. Now that is a shocking thing to consider.

Here in California, just in the last couple of weeks, we've all been stunned by the reports of a 12-year-old boy who, evidently, took his 8-year-old sister's life and made up some story about some big hairy man that came in the house and did it. Makes me shudder because I had one brother and I would get so angry at him that I remember saying, 'I wish you were dead.' I won't ask you if you ever had that. Or 'I'm going to kill you.' He was my older brother and there wasn't much chance of that, but just even those thoughts that - do we ever think about what's involved in that? When cain killed abel - have you ever considered the angels looked on in horror - not only just by the dastardly thing he had done, but up until that point no life in the universe had ever stopped. Every life that God made continued. There was no death.

None that's recorded that we know of. And so when abel's heart stopped beating and he died and his body began to deteriorate and decompose, this was the first time, even the angels looked on with a horrified wonder. 'What is this thing called death?' And then they learned that their king of heaven was going to someday have to experience death to save this race. Death is an enemy. Now, when you read the commandment - you find it here in the Bible - it first appears as 'you shall not kill.

' But, actually, the sixth commandment, to be more specific, it's - and you can read it in the new king James, it's a little more accurate, it says, "you shall not murder.' Now that's four words. In the Hebrew it's two words. You know what it is? In Hebrew it simply says, 'don't murder.' Two words - it's very clear - 'don't murder.' A lot of people have been confused, because they hear the word 'kill' - about what that means and killing is a little different than murder. Have you seen this face in the news in the last month? Probably more than you needed to. But as of last week I think she was finally convicted of murder and now they're spending their time trying to figure out what the penalty is.

Is it going to be life in prison or is it going to be execution? We are a culture that is steeped in murder. Even just in California - in 1960 - in the state there were 616 murders. By 1970 there were 1,376 murders. By 2007 there were 2,260 murders. I'm not talking about people that died through drug overdose or car accident, just one person, in a premeditated way, taking the life of another.

And maybe I should read that definition. What is murder? Because the commandment says, 'thou shall not murder.' Murder is 'the unlawful killing of one human being by another, especially with premeditated malice.' There's something that we also describe as manslaughter that's a little different category. Some people might kill another person by accident and that's not usually described as murder, that's manslaughter. If you doubt that, if you go to the new testament and you read Jesus talking about this commandment in Matthew 19 when Jesus is going through the Ten Commandments - he's citing at least half the commandments - the ones on the second table - to the rich young ruler. You remember that story? Jesus said unto him, 'you shall do no murder.

You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal.' Etcetera. But Christ, when he talked about the sixth commandment, he specifically used the Greek word - or it's recorded with the Greek word - 'murder'. Now, I say that because some people say - or they think - any kind of killing is breaking the sixth commandment. And some people are troubled that I would even say that.

But when you swat a mosquito, do you mourn? If there's a fly buzzing around my house and I manage to get up close enough to flick and kill him, I rejoice. I mean, I'm sorry. Or if you pull up weeds - killing, technically, is when, you know, you cause anything to die. We're not talking about the buddhist idea - be careful that you don't step on an ant or an earwig or a cockroach - that's different. We're talking in the commandments it's talking about murder, which is something much more serious than that.

So with that definition, if a policeman has to take a life to deliver somebody who is innocent, are they called a murderer? If a soldier comes back from defending his homeland from an invasion and he has had to take life in the process, do you accuse him of murder? No. So that's why the definition is very important to understand. It's, in a premeditated way, the taking of innocent life. Now, I fully understand, support, and respect if Christians are drafted into military service that they should seek to take some non-combative position and find an office where they can heal life and save life and - there's a thousand ways to serve in the military other than pulling a trigger. But at the same time, here you've got a real conundrum for the Christian.

Do we have examples in the Bible where God called soldiers into battle and he blessed them with the ability to sling stones and wave swords and take out the enemy? You can't argue that, friends, I'm sorry. If you argue that then you and I just aren't on the same page. You read your Bible - there is an abundance of evidence where God raised up everybody from gideon to David to sampson and gave them supernatural power to fight and, ultimately, kill the enemy that were threatening their people. What someone does in national defense is a little different than what happens in our interpersonal relationships. You understand that distinction? But when Jesus comes along - Jesus actually expands the truth.

Keep in mind, in the old testament they had laws regarding divorce and, for a variety of reasons, a man might divorce his wife. Jesus said, 'because of the hardness of your hearts, God allowed that but, for me, it's not that way.' And if we want the ideal, the ideal is to give life. Jesus came to save life - to heal life. And so that would be the ideal a Christian would seek for. But I think Christians are sometimes conflicted about how to relate to the military being that we're supposed to be a peaceful nation.

And it is a conflict. I think that we should show love, appreciation, support for our military because you would not have the freedom to worship God the way you do if it wasn't for our military. And, at the same time, we need to recognize and respect that, as Christians, we seek those offices in support of our country that do not require that. How do I explain this to you? I am so thankful that somebody, somewhere right now is keeping the power running for our church, aren't you? But it's the Sabbath day. I'm not the one who's going to be doing it - but I'm thankful somebody's doing it.

You know what I'm saying? And so this is one of those enigmas that we sometimes grapple with of how the Christian can be supportive of people who are in the police force that might carry a gun and pull a trigger, or be in the army and be thankful for that and appreciative of that and, yet, as followers of Jesus our ministry is one of peace. 'Blessed are the peacemakers', amen? So killing, even if it's killing of an enemy, should not be right or easy for anybody because it is foreign. God wants us to save life - to preserve life. Now, part of the reason that this is in God's commandments is because life is sacred. You know, back in the days when darwin was developing his theory, his idea of a single cell of life was extremely primitive.

They did not have powerful microscopes where they could study all of the machines of a cell. Cells are virtually a city filled with factories. But back in the days of darwin they thought that a cell was a little primitive gelatinous blob of protein that could somehow form all by itself. Now we know - and even the evolutionists must admit that when you look at a cell, there are as many as 100,000 individual parts in the simplest cell that we know about. The odds of that happening spontaneously are ridiculous.

It requires incredible intelligence and sophistication beyond anything - no - you know, any urban myths that you've heard that people have created life in a laboratory are just that. It's a myth. They ought to try that on 'mythbusters' someday. You hear about scientists that say, 'oh, we've recreated life in a laboratory.' Oh really? I'd like to see that. No they haven't.

No scientist has ever recreated life - one cell of life. All life is composed of cells - whether it's a plant or whether it's an animal - and it is extremely sacred and sophisticated and complex. Every cell of life just screams that there is a God because it is so complicated. Do you know even the simple cell of an e. Coli bacterium has 4,000 genes.

We're not talking about wrangler and levi - genetic genes - and if you were able to magnify the dna of that e. Coli to the thickness of a clothesline - you know, common clothesline string? Its dna of the simplest cell would be five miles long. That's extremely complex. And all the data - if you change one little article in that the whole thing just disintegrates. Life is extremely complicated and sophisticated and it's sacred.

And God tells us that we should remember that. Now, in the world, Jesus made it clear that there are variations of value in life. For instance, Christ said in Matthew 10, verse 31, "do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." Meaning that a human is worth more than a sparrow. If there was a house that was on fire and you've got your parakeet in the house and you've got your grandmother in the house and you only have time to save one of them, which one are you going to save? Oh, come on guys. You're going to save tweety bird and leave grandma, huh? Of course, human life is infinitely more valuable, right? And parrots are so annoying anyway, right? And Jesus said, 'you're of more value than many sheep' - Matthew , verse - I'm sorry, Matthew 6, verse 26, "are not you of more value than they?" Matthew 12, verse 12, "of how much more value then is a man than a sheep?" And Jesus talks about if you would get your donkey out of the ditch on the Sabbath, then how much value is a man than an ox or some beast? Now even on the scale of things that God created - you know, there's no chart given in the Bible but you see that the Lord made his creatures in order of importance.

The crowning act of creation was man and the most complex was the last, which was woman. But he made them in order of - it's true - he does - he made them in order of complexity, didn't he? Yeah, humans are much more complex than, you know, fish and birds. And he saved the most complex - well, really, a woman is truly - I'm serious - women are more complex than men. I mean, you think about everything a woman's body's got to do to nurture and reproduce life, it's extremely complex. Even Solomon sat back in wonder and said, 'who can tell how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child.

' It was a mystery. All they could do was just to consider it. And so, because he made things in order of their complexity, you've got the simpler forms come first. You've got the sky and the dirt and the water and then he starts making life. And he did not do this over long stretches of time.

The Bible uses the very clearest language - this was in six literal 24-hours. Jesus refers to it that way. Jesus refers to Genesis 1 through 11 as being literal. He talks about Noah. He talks about adam and eve.

So those who say that they evolved, the other problem with that is that if we believed that life evolved slowly over millennia, then with animals that were dying and killing and eating each other before man even came on the scene - well it's because of man you have death, according to the Bible. The whole scheme of the Great Controversy is because everything was perfect - everything was good, good, very good - and because of the sin of man, then the thorns and thistles and death entered the world. The idea that things were dying and killing and eating each other for millions of years before man even evolved where he wasn't dragging his knuckles anymore - suddenly he stood up one day and became what we call man - no. So God created life. Now it's very important to remember because if we follow with the world's notion that we came from nothing, that we're here with no purpose and that we're going nowhere - really, that's what evolution teaches.

We came from nothing, we're here for no reason and we're going off nowhere into oblivion - well then, abortion - people can understand that. You're just, sort of, survival of the fittest - evolution. Suicide, euthanasia, murder - all these things start finding an excuse if everything is an accident. But if God made man in his own image and he inspired man - he breathed into man an element of that which is divine, if we are divine by virtue of being made in the image of God - I don't mean divine like God, but there's something sacred about life - there's something noble and fantastic - especially about human life. Man was made - the God of this world - as God oversees the universe, man was made the steward and the leader of this planet and he named the animals.

It changes the whole view of life. So it shouldn't be a wonder to us that there's such a low estimate of life in our culture. Not only because of being taught evolution, but just the way people are entertained. Everywhere you turn, people find their entertainment through watching things die. Well, I'm kind of getting ahead of myself now.

While we're talking about the variation of value - and this is a very delicate subject, so be patient with me. I'm not even sure how to approach it because I know it is so volatile but I want to go by the Bible. Abortion - you know that not only do people take human life in the middle of life - whether it's travis alexander who's 30 years old or that little girl that was 8 years old or - it's just unimaginable to us what people do. There's this other character who is - what's that doctor that's just in the news the last couple days? I think I've got his picture on the screen - dr. Kermit gosnell.

This was revolutionary, friends, because it's one of the first times, with the abortion debate, that an abortionist was actually tried for murder and convicted. They realized, finally, when they saw the evidence and heard the testimony that when you have children born viable, alive, moving and then you kill them because it's somehow a botched abortion, or a very, very late term abortion - I'm not sure how they define that. After they looked at it and they realized, 'look, if life is going to be sacred then there is only one way to define this.' And he has been convicted now of murder. Now nobody is happy to hear anybody being convicted of something like that but, you know, that was actually progress for our culture. To finally realize you've got to draw the line and say, 'maybe a baby is human life and needs to be protected and maybe it's wrong to take human life.

' You know how creeping compromise works? Gradually, little by little, in degrees you can rationalize things and justify things and so you can say, 'well, you know, in those first few weeks after conception it's barely viable - it doesn't know what's going on. It's just like a little vegetable - it's a fetus.' And we use these technical terms but really, what it amounts to, it is a very, very little human. But what do you do with a human when they have some kind of a tragic accident and they're not fully developed mentally? Do you say their lives are not valuable anymore? And you can start graying the area and things can get muddy and you can rationalize so that through that creeping compromise of rationalization you can end up like the people in nazi germany that say, 'because we believe in evolution, and these Jewish people or other groups or gypsies, they're not as highly developed as the aryans are' - and I'm not trying to pick on anybody here - I married a Jewish - a german girl and I'm Jewish. So we realize it was a terrible time in history, but do you see what happened to a culture? And we're not talking about a primitive culture. I drive a german car.

They make the best cars. They're very technologically scientific and sophisticated. 'You mean people who are very scientific and educated can come to the place where they mass murder other humans because they think they're inferior? How could that ever happen? That could never happen again, could it?' If we don't understand the value of human life it could. That's why this is an important thing to consider. 'Thou shalt not murder.

' Whether it's one person or genocide. Back to the issue of abortion - even in the Bible you look and - again, there are people here and that's why I just wonder how to say this because I've talked to young men and women - that have made this decision before and they have just broken down in tears and they're just overwhelmed with guilt and they realize what's happened. And I'm not trying to make anyone feel worse, but my responsibility is to tell you what the Word of God says and to be faithful. Biblically, when bathsheba found out that she was pregnant, she went to David and she didn't say, 'I've got some fetal tissue.' She said, 'I am with child.' And when mary went to visit elizabeth and both were pregnant, the babies in both wombs were responding to the announcement that they were in the presence - one the announcer, John the baptist, and the other Jesus the Messiah - and they're still in their stomachs. And by the definition in some states, they are eligible for abortion - when they were responding to the divine presence of the other human in the mother.

You know what story I'm talking about? When mary goes to visit elizabeth and both women are pregnant? And so the Bible definition is pretty clear. Even flavius Josephus in - he was writing his document against apion - 97 ad, section 25 - he said, "the law, moreover, enjoins us to bring up all of our offspring and forbids" - raise all your offspring - I counseled last night with a gentleman on the phone, has a seriously autistic child. Well, in some cultures, in some ages they would have thought it's a defective product - throw it in the scrap pile. But not the jews. Even way back in the time of Christ, whatever God gives you, you praise him for and you raise.

You take care of. "The law enjoins us to bring up all of our offspring and forbids women to cause abortion of what is begotten or destroy it afterward. If any woman appears to have done so, she will be a murderer of her child." So this is - this always was the biblical understanding. I don't want to take that any further. What was the - what was the penalty, biblically, for breaking the sixth commandment? Let me read it to you.

Genesis - that goes back pretty far - Genesis 9, verse 6, "whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in" - why? - "For in the image of God he made man." Now the most serious thing you could lose is your life. Where there's life there's hope, the Bible says. The Bible tells us that a living dog is better than a dead lion. The lion was considered the most majestic of animals. Christ is even sometimes compared to the lion of the tribe of judah.

Dogs were outside the new Jerusalem. Dogs were considered scavengers. Now, I know, in America we worship our dogs, but in the Bible they didn't feel that way. They looked on them as scavengers. Yes, the shepherds had dogs but they - dogs have got some unseemly habits, we all know about and so - but the Bible says - Solomon says, 'a living dog is better than a dead lion because where there's life there's hope.

' And so when you take away a person's life, you rob them of every ounce of their future opportunity. For some people, when you take away their life, you have taken their eternity. What do I mean by that? What if you take a person's life before they have an opportunity to accept eternal life? You've robbed them of eternity. And for the greatest robbery there is the greatest penalty. What is the ultimate penalty? Death.

That's pretty serious. Exodus 21:12 - this is right after the Ten Commandments are given. If there's any doubt, Moses goes on and he gives a definition, "he who strikes a man so that he dies" - talking about in malice - "shall surely be put to death." Leviticus 24:17 and 18, "and he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death. And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for beast." Now, do you see the variation in value there? You kill a man - life for life - it says. You kill a man's animal, you've got to pay for the animal.

Not that God doesn't care about animals - he does - the Bible says, 'a righteous man regards the life of his beast.' Christians ought to be the best owners of pets and livestock. We ought to care about them, but they're not people. And I think it's so tragic when I hear about people that are dying to save whales. What's wrong with the culture when people will die to protect some fairy shrimp somewhere or make laws to protect some spotted owl or kangaroo rat and will set up clinics to abort humans? Is there something wrong with that? I mean, how backwards can it - that's when you - that's the influence of evolution. We're just a different creature - we're all the same.

No we're not. People will die trying to save a tree. People are, you know, they've gone in where people are logging trees and they're hugging trees in the middle of a falling season and they don't understand there's a variation of value there. Back again to what the penalty was. In Numbers 35:16, "but if he strikes him with an iron implement, so that he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death.

And if he strikes him with a stone in the hand, by which one could die, and he does die, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death. Or if he strikes him with a wooden hand weapon, by which one could die, and he does die," - it doesn't matter what the weapon is - "he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death." "Whoever kills a person" - Numbers 35:30 - "whoever kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the testimony of witnesses; but one witness is not sufficient" - now this is very important - because it's the ultimate penalty you need multiple witnesses. It says you should have - you need two or three witnesses - "moreover you shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death." What does that mean? If you're guilty of murder and you have a big bank account - have you noticed many times celebrities seem to get caught in these things where they're guilty of murder and if they've got good enough attorneys and enough money, somehow they manage to get shortened sentences or even get off the hook? Moses and God said, 'I don't care how much money you've got. There is no ransom. Whether you're poor or whether you're rich, if you take another life you're guilty.

And it was the ultimate penalty. And this was supposed to strike fear into the heart of people so that they would never even contemplate this. Romans 13, verse 4 - here Paul says, "for he is God's minister" - talking about the army, the sheriff, the marshals - "for he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister; an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil." So yes, if you are a robber and a murderer you ought to be afraid of policemen. If you are obeying the law you should be thankful for policemen.

Do you start to sweat when the policeman pulls up behind you on the street? That depends on whether your registration is expired or you've been driving too fast or something like that. But if you're not doing anything wrong, you're glad he's there. Matter of fact, if you've ever driven through a dangerous neighborhood and a policeman pulls up, you suddenly feel a little better, don't you? Now, while we're talking about this, I'm hoping we don't have too many people here that have any skeletons in their closet that - I mean literally - that, you know, you don't have anybody buried in your backyard. It's happened in California. And we're trusting that you folks understand this part of the commandment.

We don't have too many murderers here. We actually did an afcoe program once where partway through the program, one of the students got up and she gave her testimony. She said, 'I was in prison for murdering my husband.' She had no problem telling everybody that and those of you who were here back then, you remember sister rosina. And you should have seen the look on the other classmates' faces when they finally discovered that they were in class with someone who freely admitted that they had killed their spouse. Now, she went through a dramatic conversion and there were other circumstances that you don't know about and she ended up going free and gave her heart to the Lord and went to an afcoe program.

Now you're going to think twice about signing up for afcoe, right? So who knows who might be sitting here right now? But the reason I especially think this is important for you is Jesus expanded the definition for the sixth commandment. He said, it's not just - you heard our memory verse - "you've heard that it was said to those of old, 'you shall not murder,'" - Matthew 5:21 - "'and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.' But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment." You may not have murdered anybody physically, but do you have homicide in your heart? It's not just an action, according to Jesus, you can break the sixth commandment with an attitude. As I told you, I got so exasperated with my brother. He would tease and torment me - he was older and smarter and I'd get so mad that I'd just wish he was dead. I wasn't a Christian back then but I remember distinctly wishing that - and my brother passed away from cystic fibrosis about 20 years ago.

And, you know, I've always regretted that I even thought that. We became very close as we finally grew out of that - those tantrums you have when you're young, but I murdered him in my heart. And even after becoming a Christian, I have had my days where, I will confess to you, there have been some people that troubled me so much that I've thought to myself, 'I wouldn't feel too bad if they forgot to watch the traffic signals.' You've heard me tell the story before - I learned a lot about myself. A few years ago I was playing racquetball and - with another member of the church - and I stepped out to get my bag after a game and my racquetball - my sports bag was not outside the court where it usually was. And I thought, 'oh no!' My keys were in there.

And I ran out - my car was gone - my '98 subaru. And because I was with a friend, right away we called it in. He took me home and I thought to myself, 'they've got my keys, they've got my master key to central church, they've got all the keys to my house, the keys to Amazing Facts' and then I realized, 'they've got my garage door opener - they've got the keys to the house and, being an old thief myself, I knew exactly what these guys would be thinking. And so, I went in the garage and I stood on a little step ladder and I thought, 'i'd better change my garage door codes' and so I've got the garage door open and I'm changing the codes and I look up the street and I could see from my garage - I could see the corner and I saw - I thought, 'that looks like my car.' And I thought to myself, 'well, maybe they just borrowed it and they're bringing it back.' And they came around the corner and they're driving slow and they pulled up to my house and they're looking at address Numbers and one of them is holding a map and probably my registration that's got my address on it and they figured that they had my keys and they had my address. They'd get to my house before I got home and they'd rob it and all of a sudden they pull up and they see this is the right address and they look and there I am standing in the garage looking at them.

I saw these two characters. And there was this moment of 'aha!' And they peeled away in my car and I thought, 'I'm going to chase them.' So I jumped in Karen's car and I reach for my keys and I realize they've got my keys. So I go shouting through the house because now - if you've been to our neighborhood you know it's sort of an enclosed neighborhood and I thought I could cut them off because they went right into the depths of the neighborhood. I'll cut them off at the entrance. I run upstairs and I get Karen's keys and I go rip-snorting out of the driveway and I'm tearing around the neighborhood like a maniac in a honda minivan and I'm mad, you know? I don't know how you guys would feel but it made me mad that they stole my car.

It was fairly new back then - it was like two years old. And I didn't know what I was going to do but I was prepared. I thought, 'if I see them, I don't have any weapon on me but I've got my car. I've got a minivan and I've got airbags.' And I was prepared to ram them. Well, I never did track them down.

They got out of the neighborhood. I never did find them. I went looking up and down the streets. I thought, you know, 'I've got to catch them somewhere at the crossroads.' And then that night - this all happened, by the way, on Friday. Did I mention I'm a pastor? And so then I'm at - my office is right by the street - I look out on the street from my office and I had the blinds open and I'm there and I'm working on my sermon about the love of Jesus.

Something about that - they're all somewhere about Jesus - and I kept peeking out the window because it's disconcerting when you see people steal your car and they're predators and they prowl up the street because they're going to rob your house. They still have my keys and my garage door opener. And I keep going...and so I sit down and I'm trying to think about my sermon - love Jesus - here's a good verse - and I'm looking up the street and I'm thinking, 'boy, if I see those guys.' And I had homicide in my heart, let me just tell you. Because think about it, men, if someone breaks into your house and you've got a wife and children in your house and they're threatening them in some way, would you be prepared to take their lives as opposed to them taking your family's life? And when Jesus talks about turning the other cheek, he's talking about someone slapping you, not someone coming out to destroy your family. And so, you may disagree with me on that, but my natural response - you've all got that carnal side where you'd at least think that way - was that - if I see these guys coming anywhere near the house.

So here I am trying to prepare for my sermon. Well, you know, the way it worked out, God was very good. I was having a miserable Friday afternoon and we got a call from the police and they asked if I was the owner of such and such a car and I said I was and they said, 'I guess these guys got - somehow they were in the parking lot of a church in carMichael - baptist church doing donuts in the parking lot and someone called and the police came and cornered them and they took off and ran away. They never caught them but they got my car back with the keys still in it. And they had also taken my racquetball bag and they dropped it in a park somewhere and I had the name of one of our members in the bag and they called emily and she said, 'well that sounds like - my pastor plays racquetball, maybe that's - anyway, I got my racquetball bag back, I got my Bible back, I got everything back.

God was good, you know? But - and this all happened within 24 hours but, boy, I didn't have any idea the murderous designs that I was capable of. And you wonder what we've got hidden in our hearts. Now, you're thinking, 'yeah, Pastor Doug, I can relate to you. But,. You know, you couldn't help it, someone stole your car and threatened your family and so for you to think that way is understandable.

' But what about when we're entertained by murder? We can become calloused about killing. When you see it done over and over again - deliberately - do we have that going on in our culture? You know, you might think, 'well I would never kill anyone. I'll have someone else do it.' Isn't that what David did? David never took a sword and stabbed uriah. David worked things out where uriah was killed by the enemy soldiers. And God finally told him, 'you killed him.

You did it with the sword of ammon, but you killed him.' And some of us will pay money to watch people get killed. Is that right? Let me read something to you. By the age 18, the average u.s. Youth will have seen 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence on television. No wonder a 12-year-old boy can stab to death his 8-year-old sister - when you see it acted out so many times.

And I wish I could tell you that this only happens in pagan homes. It happens in Christian homes on a regular basis. It's called vicarious homicide. Romans 1:32, "who, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death," - this is new testament - "they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them." So it's one thing to commit murder, it's another thing to just have pleasure in watching someone else commit murder - being entertained by it. Is it any wonder that we've become such a violent culture? What was the condition of the world before the flood? 'The thoughts of men's hearts were only evil continually and filled with violence.

' Are we coming to that stage and that age again? We just get callous. John 4:20, "if someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?" Can a person even be forgiven for murder? Was Moses forgiven for murder - and David? What if someone murdered your child? Could you forgive them? I had a friend whose son was murdered and he had to grapple with - he was a Christian - he had to grapple with forgiving the murderer - and he did. He thought 'the only way that I'm ever going to have peace - otherwise I'll be so chewed up with bitterness - is I need to forgive.' By the way, I'm glad our Heavenly Father is willing to forgive us for murdering his son. Jesus died for our sins and maybe it wasn't murder, but he died for us. Then there's - I see the clock and I don't want to go too long, but I talked about abortion - difficult subject.

What about suicide? If it's wrong to kill, what about self-murder? I mean, if you kill someone in a premeditated way - what if you calculate to kill yourself? Do you know it used to be the law of most lands was it's against the law to commit suicide? And when the lawyers really delve into it, the reason that it's wrong for you to take another life would be the same reasons it's wrong for you to take your own - because life is sacred. It's a gift. It's to be preserved, protected - as far as possible prolonged. And I know there reaches a time sometimes at the end of a person's life where, through modern medicine and life-support systems you can just have a person go beyond the heroics and there's a time when it is appropriate to stop all these artificial means of trying to keep the heart beating when a person reaches the end of their life. But suicide.

Now, I've got to be very delicate because when I talk about this I'm talking to two people - I think in my mind of two groups - on one hand, I get phone calls at the radio station - teenagers will call and say, 'if I kill myself, can I still be saved?' My answer to them is that would be the dumbest thing in the world you could ever do. Why would you want the last act of your life to be one of murder? If you are going to kill yourself because you think you're improving your circumstances' - it was heartbreaking to hear about these girls that they had embarrassing pictures circulated on the internet of inappropriate behavior and they thought their reputations were so terribly ruined - even though they were healthy, they thought it was irreparable. They killed themselves. I wish I could have talked to them first because the idea that you'll somehow improve your situation - what is the next thing - if a person dies in a lost condition, what is the next conscious thought they will have? Will it be improved circumstances or will it be utterly hopeless circumstances? Having said that, I want to be careful to also talk to those who say 'can a suicide be saved?' I do believe it's the exception, but there are exceptions. God looks at the heart.

Sometimes a person is struggling with pain that we don't understand - during the final stages of a terribly painful disease where it's agonizing and they are just not in their right minds. God will not judge them for that final act. He'll judge them for the course of their life. God looks on the heart. There are some people who, because of circumstances or chemical imbalances that may be happening - that in a fleeting moment of overwhelming depression they make a very foolish decision.

And I'm glad that God is just and he's merciful. It's a difficult issue, but the Bible's pretty clear. Those that committed suicide - you look at ahithophel who betrayed David and took his own life - probably not going to look good for him in the judgment. Judas did the same thing. Saul, who grieved away the Holy Spirit and fell on his sword - the suicides in the Bible don't have very good hope.

Your life is sacred and if you get discouraged - you know, a lot of times when you're discouraged, if you can hang on and pray God can change your circumstances. He can change your attitude. And things that we think 'there's no way out of this.' Can you imagine a person jumping out of a window because the stock Market crashes? Is that where your treasure is? People who are healthy - movie stars - they get a bad review they kill themselves. Just wait, it'll get better. The devil can do things with our minds and make us think it's hopeless.

That's why suicide is such a terrible thing is because we're saved by faith. Suicide usually indicates people have lost faith - they've lost hope. And he wants you not only to respect others' lives, he wants you to respect your own life. In that theme, you probably don't need me to talk very long about what they're doing now with - it's an oxymoron to talk about physician-assisted suicide? Would you call the doctor to kill you? I mean does it - is that what - he used to make house calls for that? But we've got states - it's still illegal in most states but there are a couple of states in North America - Oregon - I forget the other one - where they've legalized physician-assisted suicide. You know, at the beginning of life, when we stop treating it as sacred, and at the end of life - in a culture when you stop treating it as sacred, then we stop respecting what's happening in between.

It's just a sign of the times. I mean, after all, if we've evolved - if we came from nowhere and we're here for no purpose and we're going into oblivion, then you can understand why culture does that. But if we were made in the image of God, and if life is so precious - if you want to know about life and how precious it is - how do you put a value on something? They say that - what's something worth? What's something worth? What somebody will pay for it. Is that right? You go to a thrift store 'what's it worth?' 'It's hard to figure.' 'Well, what will someone pay for it?' What are you worth? What is life worth? How much did Jesus pay for it? Was Jesus murdered? The devil is a murderer, the Bible says, and we either follow Christ and we give life, we save life, we respect life or we follow the enemy. There are only two options.

Jesus came to show us what life is worth and how valuable it is. He gave his life to put a price tag on your life and mine. And the Bible is all about life. It's about how we can go from a world where everything was perfect and good and we were meant to live forever - and we're trying to get back to that garden where there is no more death, amen? Everything is good, good, very good - we're going to live forever. And he's offering us, right now, eternal life when we surrender our lives to him.

Life is precious. Wouldn't you like to have a good life forever? Jesus has made it possible for you to have that.

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