It is estimated that eleven million people were killed in the Nazi Holocaust.1 The introduction of Marxism in Russia and China resulted in an estimated sixty-one million and seventy-eight million lives ended respectively.2 It is estimated that in the United States from 1973 to 2017, at least 56.5 million children have been put to death prior to birth.3 God, the author of life, commands us in the Fifth Commandment, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13 NASB). There is not much we can do about the Holocaust and the Marxist exterminations. We can, however, hear God’s Word about the value of life, be champions for life, and proclaim forgiveness for lives broken because we have not cherished God’s gift of life.
There is maybe no more perfect picture of the value of life than that expressed in the 139th Psalm. David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote these heart touching words:
“For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth…” (13-15).
Jeremiah also knew the preciousness of life before birth as it was then that God called him to his prophetic ministry,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).
Jesus himself had a moving effect on his relative John before either one of them was born. After the conception of Jesus in Mary, she went to stay a while with her relative Elizabeth. Here is what happened: “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy’” (Luke 1:41-44). John, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb, recognized the presence of Jesus in Mary’s womb and “leaped…for joy.” Life is precious and holy from conception to natural death.
Our understanding of the sanctity of life begins with creation and God’s account of how we came to be. “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth…’” (Genesis 1:27, 28a). We are created by God in His image. The first task God gave us, and the first purpose of marriage, is to be fruitful and multiply. We might even say that God has invited us, even charged us, to join Him in continuing creation and filling the earth with His image. When we violate this charge, we break God’s will for us. When we do not honor the life God has given us beginning from conception and ending with natural death, we break the Fifth Commandment. Life is a gift from God, and we are to be faithful champions and protectors of life.
The reasons we choose to end life are varied. Whatever the reasons, they are always a result of the sin and brokenness in our lives. We choose to be our own gods and decide for ourselves, against God’s will, what we want to do with our lives. The essence of all sin is this same rebellion. Whether it is breaking the First Commandment and placing ourselves or our things in priority over God or whether it is breaking the Seventh Commandment and robbing our neighbor of that which is his or hers, we sin. Sin is sin, and all sin results because we are sinners. But God does not want the death of sinners. God does not want that we should be eternally separated from Him. So, God has provided the solution to this terrible condition in which we find ourselves. No sin--not having other gods, not murder, not coveting--is unforgivable. Jesus took our sin to the cross. Jesus became our sin on the cross. Jesus died for us the death we deserve. Jesus experienced separation from God, the consequence of sin, for us. He became our sin, He died for us in our place, so that we could be declared, as a gift, free of the guilt of our sin. He wants to place on us His perfection so that we can live in God’s holy presence.
Life is precious, a sacred gift from God. To take innocent life, to murder, is against God’s will for us. God’s love, however, is bigger than we can understand. God’s grace far exceeds anything we might do or might have done. God wants to heal us of the pain and turmoil that is in us because we have not lived according to His plan for us. God, in His great mercy, wants to, and does, extend to us forgiveness of sin and new life.