Exodus 20:13. You shall not murder.
Matthew 18:6. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believes in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
Here our Lord tells us how serious is the sin that results in the destruction of a soul.
This surely is the greatest crime of all because God’s image is planted more upon our souls than it is upon our bodies. When we rob a soul of eternal happiness, we become guilty before God. We can destroy a man’s soul by corrupting him with our bad example. All of us have people within our sphere of influence who look up to us and admire us – hold us in esteem. All of us can exert influence somewhere, upon somebody and somebody’s opinion. Through a corrupting example and life style, we can destroy all their aspirations to reach out to Almighty God.
Secondly, we commit this crime by enticing somebody else to sin. There are always people who are weaker than we are and will follow our example. This happens particularly in the realm of male and female relationships. We can entice somebody into sin and lead them into actions that go against everything they have known to be right and true. In this way we contribute to the eternal destruction of their souls.
A third way in which the souls of people can be harmed is by withholding the truth of the gospel from them. We should be speaking to others about Jesus and persuading them to become Christians. In this regard ministers and preachers need to be especially careful.
You should see to it that you are involved in a church where the Word of God is proclaimed and clearly taught. This is the only way you can grow spiritually. Preachers therefore have a very great responsibility. In 1 Peter 5:2-3 it says:
‘Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by constraint but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.’
True preachers will always try to uplift the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel. They will seek to turn the attention of people to Christ – not themselves. They will know that wrong teaching may poison the minds of people against the truth, or that if the Word of God is not taught consistently, people will begin to starve spiritually. To withhold the gospel from people is to commit a form of ‘murder’ of the soul.
You need to bring your unconverted friends into a church where there will be a warm welcome and a clear exposition and declaration of God’s word and God’s will. In word, worship and in daily life we must take care that we do not turn people away from the gospel as this is the only means whereby they may receive eternal life.
In the same way we must be sensitive to the people God has placed in our care especially children. We must never withhold spiritual help and guidance from them. They need constant loving instruction, at home and at church, which is all the more reason for us to exercise godly leadership and be real examples in our homes. We need to be extremely careful because God will hold us guilty on the great Day of Judgement for the breach of this very commandment, when all the while we think we’ve never harmed anybody.
This sin includes not only the actual violent act itself but also the spirit within us that gives rise to anger, resentment and malice. These are the precursors to deeds that harm and destroy us physically, mentally, emotionally and, finally, spiritually. Thus we need to face the challenge of violence in our society and the need to exercise self-control. We need to see that it is possible to harm and destroy people in more ways than one and we need to take great care to live honourably for Christ’s sake.
Do you need to repent of anything?
Are there changes to be made in your life and home?
Will you make them?
Almighty God, today I need your power and grace in a special way. You know why O God. Please help me this very day to display my changed heart and my trust in you. Amen.