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The Sanctity of Life Print E-mail
Sanctity of Human Life
Sunday, 19 January 2014

Genesis 1:26-27, Romans 5-6

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Justice and mercy are hard to hold together.  It can feel like trying to mix oil and water.  As the people of God, we are called to be just and to fight for justice.  We are not to be soft on crime or soft on sin.  At the same time, we are called to hold out mercy to other sinners like us.  Our message is one of forgiveness and hope.  We believe the good news is for any and every sinner.  Yet, how do we hold justice and mercy together.  How do we call sin ‘sin’ and offer forgiveness for sin at the same time?  Some might quip: ‘We just love the sinner and hate the sin.’  There is some truth in that statement, but it is not always that easy.  It might fit on a bumper sticker, but it will not help us in every situation that justice and mercy meet.


One of the areas where fighting for justice and mercy can be difficult is in the fight for life.  We live in a culture of death.  We live in a country where killing babies is legal.  We live in a place where self-fulfillment and self-satisfaction are more important than self-responsibility.  People all around us champion the right for mothers to choose life or choose death, whichever feels right to you. 

Since Roe v. Wade was passed in 1973, over 50 million mothers have chosen death.  We are called to fight for justice.  Yet, along with those 50 million babies lost, there are also millions of women and men who are struggling to live with their decision.  There are young couples right now who want to choose life but have no idea how to parent or how to provide for a child.  There are those who have been so entrenched in fighting for the right to choose that they cannot (and often will not) see what such a right costs.  We are called to offer them mercy.  When it comes to the battle for life, I believe the Bible calls us to fight for justice while holding out mercy.  In our time together this morning, I want us to look at what the Bible has to say about the sanctity of life and then come back and talk about how we can apply these principles of justice and mercy to our own lives.  Let’s begin by looking at some passages.


I want to begin by looking again at Genesis 1:26-27.  The Bible tells us that when God created man and woman, He created them in His image.  Theologians refer to this as the imago dei, the image of God.  Yet, what does such teaching mean?  What is the significance of humans being made in God’s image?  The answer is that being made in the image of God means that all humans possess intrinsic value simply because they are human.  Men and women, boys and girls, are all valuable.  Not because they are black or white or red or brown (we’ll talk about this more next week).  Not because they are tall or short or athletic or smart.  Not because they come from the right family or wrong family.  Not because they were planned or unplanned, celebrated or scorned, wanted or unwanted.  Every human being that has ever lived has value because they were made in the image of God.  Such value begins at conception and cannot be taken away.  Even the Fall of man into sin, as terrible and life-altering as that was, did not remove the imago dei.  We value all human life because of God creating us in His image.

Not only did God create human life in His image, the Bible teaches that all life is a gift from God.  We see this in Genesis as well.  Look at 4:1.  Eve says about the birth of Cain: I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.  The Bible does not deny procreation, it simply affirms that every child is a gift from God.  Even Cain, who will be the world’s first murderer, was a gift from God.  Speaking of Cain’s action, we should also see in Genesis 4 God’s response to murder.  Look at 4:10-12.  The Lord punished Cain for murdering his brother, Abel.  The taking of life demands justice, as the Lord tells Noah in 9:6.  Look at that with me.  Why is murder such an awful thing that demands punishment?  Because God made man in his own image.


The Lord will speak more about murder and the importance of justice when He gives Israel the Law.  The sixth commandment prohibits murder: You shall not murder (Exodus 20:13).  Likewise, the Lord expects Israel to show justice.  He commands it regarding slaves (21:1ff) and especially concerning the fatherless and widows.  Look at 22:22-24.  The Lord commands the people of Israel to not mistreat the fatherless and the widow.  In their culture, it was easy to view these people as ‘less valuable,’ but the Lord forbid such an approach.


When Moses repeats the Law for the people before they enter the Promised Land in Deuteronomy, we once again see God’s call for justice for the needy.  Look at Deuteronomy 10:17-19.  Here the Lord indicates that He will defend the fatherless and the widow and the sojourner.  He will care for them and provide for them because He values them.  Psalm 10, which we read as our call to worship, calls God the helper of the fatherless (v. 14).  And Psalm 68:5 tells us that God is Father of the fatherless and protector of widows.  God will defend the needy and give them justice.  Likewise, He expects His people to do the same.  Look at Deuteronomy 24:17-22.  The Lord commands His people to provide for the needy.  They are not to harvest all that they can, but are to leave some food for the widows and the fatherless and the sojourners.  The Lord has met their need by rescuing them from Egypt and providing for them, thus, they are to do the same for others.  They are to show them justice. 

Matthew 19:13ff, Luke

What about Jesus?  What did He teach us about the fight for life?  Jesus teaches us to value all of life.  In His culture, many did not value children.  Thus, on one occasion, when some parents brought their children to Jesus for Him to bless, the disciples told them to leave Him alone (Matthew 19:13ff).  But the Lord corrected them and blessed the children.  He valued them and took time to bless them.  And it was not just children, Jesus valued all.  In the Gospel of Luke we saw Jesus reach out to lepers, tax-collectors, prostitutes, the blind, all of whom were not valued in that culture.  No matter what those around Him thought, He valued all and showed them mercy and grace. 

Romans 5-6

We see under the Old Covenant that God commanded His people to not pervert justice for the sojourner and the widow and the fatherless.  Giving them justice was a way of showing them mercy.  Yet, what about in the New Covenant?  Jesus ministers to those that His culture did not value.  He showed mercy to sinners, but He was not soft on sin.  He called out those who would not turn from their sins and pronounced judgment on them.  Justice would come.

So then, how does justice and mercy come together in the New Covenant?  Paul helps us understand this in Romans 5-6.  He has been teaching on the gospel and how even though all have sinned, Christ has come to justly pay for their sins so that God can mercifully and justly forgive them (Romans 3:21-26).  It is mercy because we do not deserve such forgiveness.  It is justice because Christ paid the full price.  He did all of this to bring life to our death.  We were dead in our sins but have to come to new life in Christ.  Paul writes of this in Romans 5-6.  Look again at 5:6-11.  While we were still sinners Christ died for us.  Why did He do this?  He did it to justify us and save us from God’s wrath (v. 9).  He did it to reconcile us to the Father (v. 10).  And He did it to conquer death and give us life.  Look at 5:18-21. 

Christ’s work of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.  Jesus defeated death for us by giving His life and coming back from the grave.  And the new life we have in Him is not to be given to sin.  Look at 6:1-11.  We can have victory over sin because we have died to it in Christ.  In Him, we are dead to sin and alive to God.  We are no longer slaves to sin for we have been set free through our faith in Jesus.  Look at 6:20-23.  Sin had brought us death, but in Christ we have eternal life.

How does all of this come together in our fight for the sanctity of life?  Let me close with a couple of principles that will hopefully summarize what we have been saying.

First, life is a gift from God.  Just like marriage and sex, we must begin by seeing that all of life is a precious gift from God.  Every human is made in the image of God and is therefore to be valued.  Murder is an assault on the imago dei and God forbids it.  We are to value all of life by seeing it as a gift from God.

Second, in the battle for life, we are to fight for justice, while holding out mercy.  Again, holding these two together is not easy, but it is important that we do not neglect either.  We must fight for the life of unwanted babies.  We do this by supporting legislation and legislators who value life.  We do this by supporting those on the front-lines at pregnancy resource centers, like the one we are helping start in our community.  We do this by supporting young mothers and doing everything we can to help them choose life.  We do this by praying for all involved. 

This is a fight for justice and mercy.  For while we battle along these lines, we also hold out the good news that every sin has been paid for at the cross.  Jesus died for the sin of abortion, the sin of supporting/encouraging abortion, and the sin of neglecting the fight to end abortion.  He has mercy for moms and dads and doctors and politicians.  He has mercy for you this morning.  He has given His life so that we could be forgiven and have new life in Him.  If you are here and you are struggling under the guilt of abortion in any way, then I want to tell you the good news that there is mercy at the cross.  He paid the full price for your sins at Calvary.  How do I know?  Because three days later the Father raised Him from the dead.  And He will raise you up this morning and give you forgiveness and mercy if you will turn from your sins and trust in Jesus. 

At the cross, justice and mercy meet.  God justly redeems us by mercifully pouring out His wrath on His Son in our place.  His mercy is completely just.  As followers of Jesus, may we fight for justice and hold out mercy.  May we do all that we can to fight against the culture of death with the glorious gospel of life.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Friday, 07 February 2014 )

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