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Author:Rev. George van Popta
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Congregation:Jubilee Canadian Reformed Church
 Ottawa, Ontario
Preached At:Ancaster Canadian Reformed Church
 Ancaster, Ontario
Title:Pro-Life -- The Sixth Commandment
Text:LD 40 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic: 6th Commandment (Murder)

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Readings: Genesis 9:1-7; Matthew 5:21-22; Romans 12:9-21; 13:8-14

Text: The Sixth Commandment (Lord's Day 40 of the Heidelberg Catechism)

Songs: Hy 22; Hy 1B; Ps. 16:1,2,3; Hy. 38; Ps. 33:5,6

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ:

Are you pro-life? When we hear the word's "pro-life" we very quickly think of the anti-abortion movement. And then of course we are pro-life. Our deacons even arrange for collections by which we can support a pro-life effort in Toronto -- "Aid to Women." Many of us support "Beginnings," based here in Hamilton.

That's important work. In Canada, the mother's womb has become a very dangerous place to be. Canada has no law to protect a child from abuse and death while it is in its mother's womb, gently sleeping under its mother's heart. It's a scandal.

Of course we are pro-life in that we oppose the horror of abortion. I don't need to lecture you on that.

Let me rather ask whether we are willing to broaden our pro-life stance well beyond the topic of abortion? Does our pro-life stance affect how we view each other as living people? How we think about each other? How we speak to each other?

Does our pro-life stance affect how we view our own selves as living beings? How we treat our own lives and take care of ourselves?

We need to be consistently pro-life: "pro" the life of the unborn infant; "pro" the life of our neighbour; "pro" our own lives. We need to be consistently pro-life because God is the creator of life: the life of the unborn infant; your neighbour's life; your own life.


1. The Lord God has created life; 2. You must care for your own life; 3. You must care for your neighbour's life.

1. God is the Creator of life -- human life; all life. Life did not evolve from non-life. Life did not come about through some sort of freak, cosmic explosion. God created life.

God created all of life -- no doubt -- but we are interested this afternoon especially in human life as created by God.

God created human life in his image. God created man to be his representative on earth. To care for his creation. That's what gives human life its great value. The great value of man is that God has created him -- male and female -- in his image. Gen. 9:6, "Whoever sheds the blood of man by, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image."

Sometimes you hear people talking about "the intrinsic value of life." They say that because human life is intrinsically valuable-that in and of itself it has value-therefore we must respect life and may not kill. Or they talk about "the inherent sanctity of life." Life, of itself (apart from anything or anyone else) is sacred; and therefore, you may not kill.

This is not true, though. Life does not have "intrinsic value". Life is not "inherently sacred". Life has value-life is sanctified-but only because God created life; only because God gives life. We shouldn't look to life itself to see whether or not it has value. We must look to the Creator of life. And when we think about who creates and gives life, then we see that life has value. And we must respect and honour life.

Life is God's handiwork. Ps. 139: You formed my inward parts. You knit me together in my mother's womb. As Paul says in Acts 17, "God gives to all men life and breath and everything." Disrespect shown to human life is disrespect shown to God's image, God himself. To lift a hand, or a knife or a gun or a sterilized scalpel against the image of God is striking out against God himself. And God does not take that lightly.

God gives people life for a purpose. Art. 12 of our Confession of Faith says that the final purpose of each person is to serve God. Every man, woman and child, whether a believer or an unbeliever (whether or not he is obedient to the call), has the calling to serve God in everything he does. We must respect that.

God created man to live in fellowship with others. Murder attacks the very fabric of society. God has created life to be lived in relationships. Every person has different relationships. A person has parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters, husband or wife, and so on. And then there are all the other relationships-colleagues at work, citizens in the country, friends, fellow students. And, of course, fellowship within the body of Christ. We live in community. If a person is killed, then all of those relationships are broken. Then the person who has been killed can no longer help his wife in all things that pertain to this life and the next. He can no longer raise his children in the fear and instruction of the Lord. He can no longer care for his aged parents. He can no longer be a hand and a foot to his brs. and srs. in the church. It's all gone.

We can mention four reasons for the 6th commandment then in light of the truth that God is the Creator of (human) life: 1. Murder destroys God's handwork. 2. It is an assault against the image of God. 3. It denies someone the possibility of carrying out his calling to serve God 4. Murder is an attack against the community: family, church, society.

There might still be a few questions. What about war? What about capital punishment? Does the 6th commandment forbid a country from ever going to war? Does the 6th commandment exclude capital punishment?

No, it doesn't. The command is against murder- unlawful killing. The NIV brings this out better than other trans. by translating the word as "murder." The cat. also speaks about murder.

Although we all hate war-war is terrible-there might be times when a country must fight and kill in order to protect its citizens. If a hostile army were to attack our country, then Canada would be correct in calling out its armed forces to protect our country. That would not be murder.

Similarly, if the state executes someone who murdered someone else, then the state is not a murderer. As Rom. 13 says, the state does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute God's wrath on the wrongdoer. The gov't, by virtue of it's God-given authority, has the power of the sword. It has the responsibility to use that sword in order to restrain the depravity, the sinfulness of man. As we confess in art. 36 of the BC, the gov't must use the sword to punish wrongdoers and to protect those who do good. The gov't must preserve, protect and defend the life of the citizens of the land. As God's servant, it must protect God-given life. The gov't no longer has the will to fulfil it's God-given calling in this respect. But that does not take away from the fact that it does have this calling and power given to it by God. We must be pro-life because God is the Creator of life. If we are pro-life, then we need to care for our own lives.

2. You must care for your own life.

It's pretty clear in A. 105: "I am not to harm or recklessly endanger myself."

Do we still need to speak about things like smoking? I'm afraid we do. It's tiresome, but we do. Because of how many members of the church do smoke. The jury's not still out on smoking. The jury's been back in for a long time. If you smoke, you are (in the words of LD 40) harming yourself and endangering yourself. You cannot claim to be pro-life if you smoke. It's time to quit. If you want to be consistently pro-life, you will quit the habit.

I know, smokers are an easy target. Let's broaden it beyond this one bad habit, slavery and addiction.

The Bible has much broader things to say about how we need to care for our own lives. We read from Romans 13 (given as a proof text at this point). We need to understand the age we live in. We live in the last days. Jesus Christ may return at any time, and then will be the end. That calls for careful living. You must be careful; I must be careful. If we live recklessly, we run the risk of killing ourselves. Reckless living leads to death in this life, and the next life in eternal hell.

Paul gave some examples of reckless living: orgies and drunkenness, sexual immorality and debauchery. It's amazing how often the Bible warns against sexual sin and drunkenness. The two often feed off each other. You end up under the judgment of God.

Numbers 25 -- the men of Israel indulged in immorality with Moabite women. They had a big party together -- an orgy. God's anger burned against them. He told Moses to execute the men. 24,000 men were killed that day because of their immoral behaviour. Sodom and Gomorrah, wiped off the face of the earth by fire and brimstone from heaven because of their immorality.

1 Cor. 5 teaches us to discipline the immoral brother or sister. To excommunicate a member who is living a sexually immoral life. Who will not repent and turn away from such a life. Who will not convert and turn back to the Lord. * To preserve the honour of God; * To protect the congregation; * Also to call the sinner to repentance.

Why is sexual immorality singled out as such a danger? Paul tells us in 1 Cor 6:12ff. The Christian is, soul and body, a temple of the Holy Spirit. That gives you (body and soul) great dignity. Paul teaches that any sexual activity outside of holy wedlock between a man and a women is an offense against the Holy Spirit. Anyone who lives an immoral life harms himself and endangers his life. There are the dangers for this life associated with such a lifestyle (we don't need to speak at great length about the dangers of AIDS and other STDs). But even greater than the dangers for this life is the danger for the next life. As Rev. 22 teaches, witches, the sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood will find himself outside the gates of the New Jerusalem on the last day, and forever.

In Matt 4:7 (also given as a proof text in LD 40) the Lord Jesus taught us not to put the Lord our God to the test. Don't tempt God. Don't think that you can live recklessly and get away with it. If you do not repent and convert from reckless living, you will fall into the hands of the living God, the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

In Matt 26:52 (also given as a proof text in LD 40) the Lord Jesus said: all who draw the sword will die by the sword. If you live recklessly, you will fall on your own sword. If you are not "pro" your own life -- if you harm and recklessly endanger yourself -- your harmful and reckless way of life will kill you. Perhaps in this life. And if you don't repent, certainly in the next life. If you live by the sword you will die by the sword.

Let us listen to the word of the Apostle Paul. If you are guilty of living in a way condemned by the Lord Jesus and Paul, repent. Repent, receive the forgiveness of your sins, and convert. Change to a godly lifestyle -- a pro-life lifestyle. A style of life that will preserve your life now and later.

Wake up! Salvation is near. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. Put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For reckless living leads a person to death.

3. If we would be consistently pro-life, then we will also care for our neighbour's life.

Acc. to QA 107, the 6th commandment also teaches us to love our neighbour as ourselves, to show patience, peace, gentleness, mercy, and friendliness toward him, to protect him from harm as much as we can, and to do good even to our enemies.

In both passages we read out Romans (12 & 13) we are told to love one another. Hatred kills; love fosters life. We're to be devoted to one another in brotherly love (12:10). Love is something we continually owe each other (13:8).

In conclusion, I want to take this in just one direction. In the context of commanding us to love each other, Paul tells us in 12:9 to hate what is evil and, in 12:21, to be careful that we are not overcome by evil, but that that we overcome evil with good.

If you know that a member of the church is living in such a way that he is heading towards death, then you need to speak with him. Love demands that we do so. The 6th commandment insists on it. While hating the evil we show love to the brother or sister in a patient, gentle, merciful and friendly way. We call him back from the harmful way of life. As James taught at the end of his letter: ... if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

That's why the Lord told us that the unrepentant sinner must, eventually, be reported to the church. So that the elders, and then the whole congregation, can be activated, to try and turn the sinner back from the error of his way in order to save him from death. From bringing everlasting death upon his own head.

Praise God that this congregation is faithful in this! That Christ has been working in our midst in the power of his Spirit to activate and enable the congregation to heed the exhortations made by way of public ann'ts that have been made. Whether the efforts of the congregation will bear the fruit prayed for is the responsibility of the one under discipline. And at the end of the day, we commend the whole matter to God.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters, let us be pro-life. Guard your own life. Be careful about your temporal life and your everlasting life. Don't thrown the dice when it comes to your life. Don't tempt God. Don't live by the sword.

And guard each others lives. Love each other. When old John was about dead and wrote his letters (the three letters of John), that was his message. Not high theology (oh, that too) -- but ultimately his message was: love each other. Be patient, gentle, merciful, with each other. Don't hate; don't be angry or vengeful (it's the root of murder; God considers it murder). Love each other. Live at peace. Be friendly toward one another. Protect each other from harm as much as we can. Even the harm someone brings upon himself due to his own errors.

Let's be pro-life. God created life. Your life, my life, our neighbour's life. As God said in the last verse of Ezek 18: ... I take no pleasure in the death of anyone.... Repent and live! God is pro-life. How could we be anything less?


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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(c) Copyright 2001, Rev. George van Popta

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