APPENDIX C : THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT
Dr Luther comments. . .
The Westminister Assemblies Shorter Catechetical questions on the sixth commandment are as follows. . .
Q 67 : Which is the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment is, Thou shalt not kill
Exod. 20. 13
Q 68 : What is required in the sixth commandment ?
A. The sixth commandment requires all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life, and the life of others.
Eph. 5. 28-29, 1 Kings. 18. 4
Q 69 : What is forbidden in the sixth commandment ?
A : The sixth commandment forbiddeth the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbour unjustly, or whatsoever tendeth thereto.
Acts 16. 28, Gen. 9.6
Luther comments on the "sixth"....
"..The following commandments [ six to ten] refer to our neighbour, who is our equal. The first .. five.. to those who are over us. The first [ of these ] is: "Thou shalt not kill" "Not to kill" means not to kill either with the tongue or the hand, or with a sign in one's heart. This commandment is clearly explained by Christ Himself, as you read in Matt. 5 [21-26]. The greatest treasure your neighbour has on earth is his life and body. This God would have secured from all violence and assault and with this commandment He builds a wall around him and says, "Thou shalt not kill". Thus the Lord cares for us by providing us with a protection. He says, Do him no harm, but rather show him all good; do not injure him physically, either with words or deeds in your heart. For to have rancor in one's heart toward a neighbour, or to laugh in one's sleeve when he dies or has "bad luck", is also to kill one's neighbour. If all the murderers were to be stoned, the streets would be flowing with blood. It means, therefore, that we must neither do him any evil or wish him any evil, but rather the contrary. If we do this, it is the same as if you had done harm to him. Therefore, in these commandments are contained the six words of mercy. If he is hungry feed him, if he is naked, clothe him, if he is in prison, visit him, and so on [Matt. 25 : 35-36]; otherwise you are guilty of his death. If you can avert this danger, do so; if not, you become guilty. Therefore, mark these words well : You shall not do him any harm or injury, but rather do good to him and help him. The six commandments of mercy are quite plainly included here.
The sixth commandment therefore requires a heart that is gentle, friendly, and sweet toward everybody, ready to do good to everyone. Anger (the anger of judicial wrath as opposed to a righteous anger, which is permitted by all - Eph. 4. 26) is forbidden to everybody; it is permitted only to those who stand in God's stead, such as parents, princes....Those who are not acting in God's stead. must not be angry with their neighbour. If you want to be a knight, cutting and slashing, then attack yourself first, your own pride and all offences against your neighbour's body and goods. But see to it that you are not found to be a murderer by neglecting your neighbour whom you are able to help. How many there are, who laugh at their neighbour's "misfortune"! Here it stands: "Thou shalt not kill". When evil thoughts come into your mind, remember this : God has commanded me to fear Him and He bids me not to kill anyone, not to harm anyone. I must fear Him who is above and not do this for His sake. You must look at the sixth commandment as a wall which God has built against my anger. You see how hard this commandment is. Though many transgress it, they still go on wanting to be pious, though their hearts, mouths and eyes are full of poison. Therefore, see to it that you fear God; and then afterwards, when you should give to the poor people and help them, see to it that you are not slothful. Feed the hungry; if you have not fed them you have killed them. So also in Matt. 25 [;42-45]. The tyrants who hound the people and despoil them of their goods are well skilled at this. Help your neighbour with hand, mouth and heart for the sake of God, who has commanded you to do this... [ Deut. 15 : 7-8]....Here [that is, in the book of Deuteronomy] Moses is taking the fear of God from the first commandment and applying it in all ten of them."
It is clear, from this commandment alone, that all are guilty before God, that none, of themselves, can be righteous in His sight. How then shall we live in the presence of such a holy God, and not be consumed? The scriptures tell us that "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe : for there is no difference: all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" Romans 3 : 21-23. Luther Comments...
"...This is a most important addition [Romans 3:22] and is directed against the rebellious mind of arrogant objections who say : Very well, then, we know of ourselves that we are unrighteous, we also know that we are inclined to evil and that inwardly we are enemies of God. We believe therefore that we must be justified [ declared righteous ] before God, but this we desire to achieve by our prayers, repentance and confession. We do not want Christ for God can give us His righteousness even without Christ". To this the Apostle replies that such a wicked demand God neither will nor can fulfill, for Christ is God, righteousness for justification is given to us only through faith in Jesus Christ. So God has willed it, and so God is pleased to do, and this He will never change. And who is there to resist His will? Now, however, if that is true then there is no greater arrogance than not to desire to be justified by faith in Christ..."