Murder? Surely you would never think about doing such a thing to your spouse. But there are other ways to break this commandment. And they can very likely kill your marriage.

“You shall not murder.” – Exodus 20:13

Do you think of the Ten Commandments as part of the Old Testament law that doesn’t really apply anymore? Can they truly have a significant impact on our lives…on our marriages? The truth is they can–and must. This Couple’s Bible Study covers what the Ten Commandments mean to us today and how they can guide our lives and marriages to bring great blessing. 

This week we continue our study of the Ten Commandments and how they apply to our marriages. We are looking at the last six of the commandments which deal with our relationships with one another. And this includes our marriage relationships.

The sixth commandment is found in Exodus 20:13: “You shall not murder.”

As with the last commandment, this is very direct. But we will learn there is more to it as God reveals an even deeper meaning than what we see on the surface.

Jesus helps us understand more about this commandment through his teaching in Matthew 5:21-22: “‘You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, “Raca,” is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell.’”

Obviously to murder someone is always a sin and never acceptable to God. But Jesus helps us understand the full application of the commandment from God’s perspective.

The act of murder never begins with the action. Like everything else, the act begins in our hearts and minds. It begins with what we think and allow ourselves to continue to think.


Jesus says that becoming angry with a person indicates a heart already open to further sinful actions. He tells us it can even lead to murder if it is not dealt with.

Our words will show this drift away from godliness before our actions do. 

Jesus tells us further in Matthew 12:33-35: “‘Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”

When someone says “Raca” to another, this is a term of ultimate insult. The word is what we refer to as an onomatopoeia–a word that imitates the sound it represents. “Raca” imitates the sound a person makes just before they spit at someone. Thus to say this to another, you are saying that person is so valueless that you spit on them.

When Jesus says calling someone a “fool” is bad enough to condemn us to hell, He is using the Greek word “moros.” It means that the person is stupid and lacks the ability to understand, even to the point of lacking a grip on reality. Again, you would be saying the person is of no worth to you.

Harmful words such as these come from a heart that has no concern for the other person. In essence, we kill them in our hearts, minds, and with our words. They are–as some say– “dead to us.” Speaking this way is very damaging to our marriage.

God instructs and warns us in James 1:19-20: My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

We must be slow and careful about what we say to each other. The wrong words can kill a marriage.

We must instead follow God’s command in Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

When we speak only words that are helpful and beneficial, these words will bless our spouse and bring a marriage that is full of love and joy and honors God.

What do we do if our words have hurt our husband or wife? Jesus has the solution for that as well in Matthew 5:23-24: Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.’”

It is your responsibility to make things right with your spouse when there is trouble between the two of you. Even if it was not your words that began the problem, you can take the first step toward the solution.

Aren’t you glad God didn’t wait for us to start the process of reconciliation?

Remember what we’re told in Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (bold mine).

Men, we must begin this process of reconciliation as leaders in our home. We cannot be right with God when we are not right with our wives.

God says to us in 1 Peter 3:7: “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”

Also, ladies, you will only have a right relationship with God if you follow God’s Word and forgive your husbands when they take that step.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15: “‘For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.’”

So we can see that we don’t have to physically hurt one another to break this commandment and harm our marriages. Our hearts, thoughts and words can be just as damaging.

Following this commandment will please God and lead to a wonderful relationship between us. So let’s live out all God intends by this commandment, and have the marriages He wants for us.

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♦   Read the teaching together. Discuss what God has taught you through it.

♦   Have you spoken to your husband or wife in a derogatory way? Did you say it and follow it up with a statement such as: “I was only teasing?” Did it seem like something minor to you?

The put down has become an art form in our culture. But to God, teasing and put downs at another person’s expense are not a form of art. If you have done this to your spouse, ask her or his forgiveness and ask God for His.

Re-read Matthew 5:23-24. Make a commitment to carefully choose your words and speak what is beneficial. Memorize Ephesians 4:29 to help you remember God’s instructions. Let God’s Word and not our culture be your guide.

♦   If you have been hurt by your spouse let them know this in a calm, loving way. They cannot seek forgiveness and reconciliation if they do not realize what they have done. That’s why Jesus says in Matthew 18:15: “‘If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.’”

We also must practice what Jesus teaches in Luke 17:3-4: “‘So watch yourselves. If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying “I repent,” you must forgive them’” (bold mine)

♦   Close your time in prayer together. Ask God to help you not to bring harm to one another, including with your speech. It is always good to pray Scripture where it is appropriate. Here you can pray Psalm 141:3: Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
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Next week we will study the seventh of the Ten Commandments and how it applies to our marriages.

Until then, may God bless you in all His wonderful ways,

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Making God First
Part 3: Worship and Honor
Part 4: A Sabbath Day
Part 5: Honoring Your Parents
Part 7: On Adultery and Stealing
Part 8: Being Honest
Part 9: Being Content
Part 10: Love and Devotion
All Scripture is from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Header photo by Sabra Penley.
Woman photo by Aidan Meyer via (CC0), cropped/text added.
Church photo by Aaron Burden via (CC0), cropped/text added.



About David Penley

A devoted husband and father, former pastor and seminary professor, who longs to grow closer to the likeness of Christ each day and share God's love and truth with everyone.