Matthew 5:21-22 NIV
"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell."
The sixth of the Ten Commandments is rendered like this in the King James Version of the Bible: "Thou shalt not kill." However, in modern translations, we find that verse to read, "You shall not murder." Does this mean the modern translators have changed God's Word? No, it simply means they were much more specific in their translation of God's Word. The Hebrew word which was translated as "kill" is "ratsach," which literally means "to dash in pieces," to kill a human being, and most specifically, to "murder." So God was not saying that it's wrong to ever kill another human being. He was, instead, saying that it's wrong to take innocent life. to do murder.
When Jesus made this statement in Matthew 5 about anger and murder, He was not doing away with the commandment against murder, nor was He just expounding on His own beliefs. He was trying to make his listeners understand what God's true intent was. Not only should a person not murder another person, but a person should never become angry enough at someone to wish him dead. Why? Because, at the moment a person wishes another was dead, the angry person has committed murder in his heart.
The Pharisees had never killed anyone, so they felt very self-righteous about never having disobeyed this commandment. They had never murdered anyone, but they were so angry with Jesus that they would soon plot to have Him killed. Even though they would not be the ones physically driving the nails into His hands and feet, their anger was what would cause those nails to be driven. Even though the Pharisees would not physically murder Jesus (because no one murdered Him - He gave His life up Himself), in their hearts, they wished Him dead.
Every portion of God's Law has two parts - the written words and the intent behind them. the Letter of the Law and the Spirit of the Law. For instance, look at the first commandment. "You shall have no other gods before me." Most of us feel pretty self-righteous about this one. We don't worship Buddha or Allah or any of the other "named" gods, do we? But we worship money. We worship possessions. We worship our children. We worship our spouses or our "significant others". We worship our jobs. We worship our televisions.
I can almost hear the shouts from my readers, saying things like, "I don't worship any of those things! I would NEVER worship another god besides God Almighty!" Oh, no? How often does one of these things come between you and God? How many hours do you spend watching television versus the time you spend with the Lord? How often do others in your life come between you and what the Lord wants you to do? How often have you not given to your church or given what I call your "God money" elsewhere so that you could buy something you couldn't have afforded if you had given it? How many times have you watched the clock at church, hoping the preacher wouldn't go too long on his sermon so you wouldn't have to miss the kickoff of the Sunday afternoon football game on TV? How many times have you been engrossed in a movie or a good book, and let the answering machine pick up the call, even though the person who is calling needs your comfort and support - or just a friendly shoulder - at that moment?
When you read God's Word, don't just read the words. Realize first that there is no way to ever completely follow all of God's Laws. That is why Jesus came to save us. since we couldn't save ourselves. Realize that behind every Law there is a "spirit" of that Law. Then try to understand His true intent in giving us those rules for living.
And remember. the letter of the Law will kill you, but the spirit of the Law will set you free!
Used with Permission