Robert Jeffress - Preserve Life - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". Tragic stories of homicide often dominate the news cycle, but in reality, the sinful act of killing someone is quite rare. So does that mean that most of us have never broken the sixth commandment? Today, I'm going to expose common attitudes that creep into our minds that when allowed to fester can lead us down a path of destruction. My message is titled "Preserve Life" on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
You know how there are just some things that happened to you never forget. This was the most bizarre thing. One time my brother, sister, and I inherited rent houses and then one of our relatives died and left each one of us a rent house. I quickly learned why my grandfather once said, "If you really hate somebody and want to get even with them, give them a rent house". 'Cause you're always worried about keeping it filled, you know, and keeping it maintained. And you know, I had this rent house, had a couple living in it and I was trying to unload it on the... I mean sell it to them at a reasonable price. Thought we had it all worked out, had the contract signed.
On a Monday morning, the realtor called me, said, "Robert, that contract fell through". I said, "Oh no, not again". She said, "In all my years in the real estate business, I've never had this happen". I said, "Well, what happened"? She said, "Well, that couple signed that contract on Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, the husband bludgeoned his wife to death and left her unrecognizable remains in the back bedroom". Now, if that were not creepy enough, a few days later I received in the mail that signed contract from that husband and wife. And I thought as I looked at that contract, this couple were unified at least enough to agree on a major purchase in the afternoon, but by evening anger had entered that relationship and caused that husband to extinguish the life of his life partner.
That is the power of unresolved anger. And that's why Jesus said in Matthew 5:22, "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court". Anger in and of itself is not a sin. The Bible says be angry but do not sin. You need to resolve anger before nighttime comes. Don't let the sun go down on your anger. Jesus said another attitude, an action that leads to murder is an insult. He goes on to say in Matthew 5:22, "Whoever says to his brother, 'You good for nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court".
That word translated "good for nothing", it's an Aramaic word, it means somebody's mental aptitude. Literally, it means empty-headed. You dimwit. You know, when our girls were growing up, we tried to keep them from using the "S" word stupid. Don't say stupid, stupid. Of course, I would undercut myself when I'd yell it out when somebody tried to cut me off. But I tried to as much as possible not have them use the word stupid because you're assaulting somebody's mental aptitude, somebody God made. And that leads to a third wrong attitude in action that leads to murder. Defamation. Matthew 5:22 says, "And whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell".
That word "fool" is moros. We get moron from it. We think of mental aptitude, but it really is a character assassination, somebody who's devoid of good character. You know, in Proverbs 11:9, Solomon said, "With his mouth, the godless man destroys his neighbor". You can destroy a person by the words you strike them with. You know, just as murder, robs somebody of physical life, wrong attitudes, whether it's anger, insults, defamation. They rob a person of their God-given dignity. That's where the apostle John said in 1 John 3:15, "Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him".
When you insult somebody, defame them, spill out bitterness on them, you are assaulting somebody Christ made. Now, there's a third area that this command encompasses acts of murder, actions or attitudes that lead to murder, and third, activities short of murder. When God talks about violence, he's not just talking about murder, he's talking about anyway we assault another person. I want to tell you something very interesting. If you study Genesis 6, right before God destroyed the world, do you know the reason he destroyed the world? He says himself in Genesis chapter 5. In fact, he says it twice in Genesis 6:11, it says, "Now the earth was corrupt and was filled with violence". And then it says in verse 13, God said, "The earth is filled with violence and I'm about to destroy it".
Don't think this attitude or this idea of violence is some secondary issue. God hates violence, and we need to remember that. That's the reason he destroyed the earth. When you strike another human being, you are striking somebody who's been created in the image of God. I don't know if it was this way with you growing up, but it was for me. You know, my parents went to great lengths to make sure we didn't see anything that was immoral or overtly sexual. You know, certain TV programs, certain movies, you know, you just couldn't watch those. Didn't ever want to see anybody in their underwear. I mean, it was terrible.
But see somebody have their head chopped off, oh, that was nothing, you know. People gunned down, you know, in a brawl, you know, that was fine. Violence was okay, sexual immorality was wrong. No, both are wrong. Both cheapen the value of life. And that's why we've got to be very careful about what we allow our children to see. I think not the only reason, but one reason, violence is so prevalent in our society. As we glorify violence through television and movies and video games, we teach people that life is cheap. Now the Bible says we're not to engage in any kind of violence whatsoever, and if you're in a situation where there is violence in the home, that must be dealt with.
And the third question is, why is the punishment for violating this sixth commandment so severe? Let's be clear. There's no wiggle room in God's law for taking the life of another person. Exodus 21, verses 12 and 14 say, "He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. If a man acts presumptuously toward his neighbor, so as to kill him craftily, you are to take him even from my altar, that he may die". If God did not prescribe such a severe punishment for murder, then it would devalue human life. No, but here's another reason. God is so against violence and especially murder. I describe Psalm 139, verses 13 to 16, that talk about how intricately designed we were by God.
Now listen to Psalm 139, verses 17 and 18. This is worth the price of the sermon right here. This is what David is saying, "How precious, God, are your thoughts about me, O God! They cannot be numbered. I can't even count them. They outnumber these grains of sand, and when I wake up, you're still with me". Isn't that an amazing thought? God doesn't just think about you occasionally. He is constantly thinking about you. When you wake up, he's thinking about you, through the day he's thinking about you. When you go to bed, he's thinking about you. You can't count the number of times a day that God is thinking about you because he loves you. You can understand then why God reacts so violently to somebody destroying that person that he loves, that person that he sent his Son, Jesus to die for. And you can understand his outrage at the first murder when Cain murdered his brother, Abel.
Remember the story, God told Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve, to bring an offering, and he told them exactly what kind of offering to bring. Abel obeyed God and brought the right kind of sacrifice. God accepted his offering, but Cain decided he would try to approach God in his own way. He had a better way he thought to approach God, a better offering to bring. In fact, that same pattern continues today. There's a phrase throughout the Bible, the way of Cain, beware of the way of Cain. What is the way of Cain? It's trying to approach God on your terms instead of God's terms.
People today say, "Oh, I don't need to believe in Jesus. I can come to God in my own way through another God or through my own good works". No, Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me". Cain didn't believe that God rejected his offering and Cain got angry. Now, his anger really was toward God, but he knew the principle, don't pick a fight with somebody bigger than you are. So, he directed his anger not toward God, but toward his brother who was made in the image of God. He killed Abel. And what did God say in verse 9? He said, "What have you done"? God knew the answer. He wanted to know if Cain would confess.
Cain didn't confess, and so God said it straight in verse 10, "The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground for justice". Up to that point, no human being had ever died. Can you imagine how Adam and Eve must have felt when they stumbled upon the lifeless corpse of their son Abel? They perhaps better than anybody understood the sanctity of the value of human life. Why? Because life was truly a gift from God for them. God had personally breathed the breath of life and to each one of them, and they understood that nobody had a right to extinguish that breath of life. Life is valuable to God. How do we apply this commandment? What are some things that we can do?
There's a scene in the novel "Lonesome Dove" by Larry McMurtry, in which cutthroat murderer named the Blue Duck stumbles upon a group of gamblers and he wants to enter the game, the hardened gamblers don't want to let Blue Duck in. So, without warning, he pulls his gun and shoots one of them. And another one of the gamblers says, "Man, life sure is cheap up here on the Canadian River". And Blue Duck says, "Yep, and it may get even cheaper". We live in a society in which life seems to be cheap. We may think, well, we're powerless to do anything to stem the tide of devaluing human life. But let me close today by just some practical things that we can do. First of all, if you're able give your time, give some of your money to support shelters that protect abused women and children.
We have a pregnancy center that we support here at First Baptist Dallas, and what I love about it and many pregnancy centers is they not only care for the child inside the womb and make sure that child is taken care of, but also for the mother and the child once they're born. Remember again, the sanctity of life means caring about all children, both the born and the unborn. Second, if you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, deal with that immediately. We have a wonderful counseling center here at our church Pathway's counseling, Pam Green and her team are able to see and to help you. If you're watching this right now, you live in another city and you're struggling with suicide, talk to somebody immediately. If you have nobody to talk to, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. It operates 24 hours a day.
I've asked the number to be put on the screen, it's... Thirdly, maybe you have elderly neighbors, they deserve dignity of life as well. Check in on them, make sure they have water and food and utilities and what they need to live and survive. And fourth and perhaps most importantly, remember murder, whether it's overt murder or attitudes that lead to murder comes from the heart. If you've got a root of bitterness in your life toward the way a family member has treated you, maybe a friend has betrayed you, a parent has disappointed you, root that bitterness out. We are never more like Christ than when we forgive a wrong committed against us. Remember unresolved anger metastasizes into a tumor of bitterness and can destroy everything and everyone important around us. That's why the writer of Hebrews said in Hebrews 12:15, "See to it that no one of you comes short of the grace of God, that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled". Simply put to preserve life means to carry the light and protect God's precious gift of life.