Genesis 9:6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
Exodus 21:12 He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.
13 And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee.
14 But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die.
Romans 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
There are many passages that deal with the intentional killing of another human being. We noted yesterday that the life of man is to be respected and honoured. God created man in His own image. As we see in Genesis 9:6, God requires justice. As we look at that verse in the context of the rest of Scripture we know there are times when a person may be killed in self-defence. We also know that God commanded murderers should be put to death. According to the Bible, a murderer is someone who takes another person’s life unjustly.
We noted yesterday that there are many people who are guilty of taking the life of unborn children. They are murderers. They will be held accountable for their sin.
Capital punishment is required by God to remind people of the importance of life. We cannot just trample on others and get rid of people because we feel like it. Today we not only condone the murder of the unborn but we also condone the murder of those who do not meet a certain standard of survival. The elderly are being offered assisted death as an option. We label this form of murder “euthanasia”. It is still murder.
Capital punishment is God’s law to keep order. Those who want to go out and commit robberies or other crimes and will kill to get what they want need to be held accountable. According to the Bible, there does need to be opportunity for the accused to state their case. There are too many instances where the person is caught red handed and it still takes a long time to get to trial and be dealt with.
Interestingly in Canada it is acceptable to murder unborn children, but our society says it is unjust to put criminals to death. We put murderers in prison for a few years and they get to be released to go and commit other crimes. We have people in places of power who do not pull the trigger themselves, but they hire someone else to do the dirty deed. Sometimes those people are caught and sometimes they are not.
What is missed and ignored often is the fact that there is nothing that is hidden from the LORD. He sees everything, and He has an accurate record of every deed that wicked people commit. Revelation 20:12 tells us that at the great white throne judgment the dead will be there and Jesus Christ will have the books opened and the ungodly will be judged according to their works. They will be those who have rejected God’s provision for salvation and thus will not enter heaven.
Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
God will take care of things with complete justice. In Romans 13, the verses that we quoted above, tell us that God requires the government to be in charge of capital punishment. It is not right for citizens to form a posse and go after a criminal and have a lynching. That is how things have been done at times, but that is not God’s way. God’s design is for governments to operate under the fear of God and for judges to operate under the fear of God and they are the ones who have the God-given authority to sentence certain criminals to death. That is lacking in our country and there is much injustice taking place.
The apostle Paul was directed to write those words at a time of great injustice as well. He had been abused often for his faithfulness to the Lord. The Roman government was corrupt and the Jewish religious system was corrupt as well. God-fearing people like Paul suffered at the hands of evil people. However, God told him to write that the purpose of government is to punish evil. The sword in that passage is a reference to the need for capital punishment. Wicked governments will use force in the wrong way. We see that in China and Russia and Venezuela and even in our own country. God will hold governments accountable for their abuse of power. However, God is always just. The criminal may not get caught in this life. He or she may not be judged properly in this life, but God will take care of it all. The criminal has a guilty conscience in this life. They cannot enjoy life as God designed it to be. The bank robber may steal millions and may not get caught. They always need to be looking over their shoulder and they will always be suspicious of others. They cannot enjoy life. The same holds true for all criminals.
God gave us His Word to help fallen man be able to live in this sin cursed world without having to dodge bullets and knives. Cain was the first murderer and as the Bible teaches, that murder started in his heart. It was already committed before he ever laid his hands on his brother. He hated him and that hatred led to the physical death of Abel. God addressed that matter and Cain was a marked man for the rest of his life. He did not enjoy life. He did not pass on any good values to his children. He died a lost man and has been in torment now for 1,000’s of years and will spend all of eternity in torment.
When we take God’s Word seriously, we find His way of peace. When a lost sinner repents toward God and is forgiven and saved through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, they can know His peace. The thief that was nailed to the cross beside Jesus Christ lived a rough and violent life. However, he was given the same opportunity as others to turn to God and be saved. He chose to listen to the convicting work of God in his heart and he turned from railing on Jesus as he had done just before that, and he asked Jesus to forgive him and save him. Jesus heard his prayer and he was forgiven and saved at that moment. He had wasted his life up to that point, but graciously, he was forgiven and given the gift of eternal life. He still died on that cross. That death was necessary to warn others of the consequences of violence. That thief’s salvation did not remove his need to be dealt with justly for his crimes. Salvation is not a scape-goat. Salvation is real and the forgiveness of sin is the most important thing that we all need. If we would listen to God as a child we would avoid much sin and we would spare ourselves much grief.
It is foolish to think a person can plan to wait until the very end and then call upon God for salvation. Many die in their sin. The day of salvation is always today. It is never wise to put off that important decision for another day. If you are a lost sinner, turn to God today and know His peace and blessing for the remainder of your time on this earth and on into eternity.