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Legitimate Killing or Condemned Murder?

 My friend is a Christian and he says it is wrong to be a soldier or policeman or to be in any position where we might have to kill someone, because God commands us not to kill anyone.  Is this correct?

Suggested Daily Reading: Romans 13:1-4

God does declare, “Thou shalt not kill,” i.e. commit murder (Ex. 20:13; Deut. 5:17).  This principle is clearly taught in Scripture.  The Bible also teaches us, however, that there are times in which putting a person to death is not murder.  There are situations when killing is permissible and even commanded by God.

Three examples when killing is permissible are:

  1. Legitimate self defenceWhen protecting self or others from assault. The motive in such a case is not to kill but to protect life.  The example used in Scripture is a thief breaking into a home and the owner hits him to subdue him and protect himself and his family, but the thief dies (Ex. 22:2).  Appropriate, but not excessive or revengeful, self-defence is permissible.

  2. Just warThe Bible provides numerous examples of justifiable killing in defensive war, i.e. to protect true religion, proper liberty and/or rightful land when attacked (I Sam. 17:45).

  3. Capital punishmentGod requires governments to put to death persons proven to be guilty of premeditated murder (Gen. 9:6).

These three Scriptural examples, however, do not diminish the strength of God’s commandment not to murder.  All three further illustrate that any person or nation that attempts to murder a person or people must be put to death.  Because mankind is God’s unique and highest form of creation on earth, created in the image of God Himself, the highest form of punishment, capital punishment, must be exercised by the civil government against those planning and enacting murder.

We all much guard our thoughts, motives and hearts.  Jesus taught us that when we are angry at another person or hatred rises in our hearts, that this too is murder, in its thought and emotional state.  God commands us to do the opposite, to love and forgive others (Mt. 6:12-15 and 18:21-35).

How does God’s requiring someone who is convicted of premeditated murder to be put to death reinforce the strength of His command not to murder?  How does this relate to anger, hatred, revenge, and other similar thoughts and emotions?  Why is it sinful and serious if we hold on to such sins, and do not repent from them?


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