In this section of Deuteronomy we come to the conclusion of the exposition of the Sixth Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." In the four laws found in our text we have commandments that insure the promotion of life. These laws deal with the positive outcome of obeying the negative command, Thou shalt not kill." Unfortunately, we sometimes tend to think of God's Law as a series of negations. This is due largely to the fact that only the Fifth Commandment, of all the Tenth has a totally positive formula: "Honor thy father and thy mother." However, mere negation is not virtue. It is true that spiritual virtue includes avoiding that which is evil, to be sure. But it also obligates the virtuous to do that which is good, as well. Some of the laws before us now command positive duty. We could derive a great deal of benefit from studying each of the laws individually, one per message. However, due to the length of Deuteronomy it may serve us better to compact these four into one message to facilitate our being able to finish the book! As we consider these four, let us keep in mind that they are developing the Sixth Commandment and are, thus, enhancing the protection of human life.
But here let me say, I trust no man will misunderstand me. I am not without fear that my meaning will be mistaken, and the description I have given of holiness will discourage some tender conscience. I would not willingly make one righteous heart sad, or throw a stumbling-block in any believer's way.
This was in a real sense a Christian nation. Not that all the people or all the leaders were Christians (they weren't) and not because it perfectly conformed to the Scriptures at every point (it didn't), but because the over-arching vision was one inherited from Christianity, the Christianity of the Reformation, especially as it had come to them through Great Britain. Alexis de Tocqueville observed this phenomena during his visit and travels throughout the country. "There is an innumerable multitude of sects in the United States. They are all different in the worship they offer to the creator, but all agree concerning the duties of man to one another. Each sect worships God in its own fashion, but all preach the same morality in the name of God." He went on to say that surely some men did this merely out of habit rather than conviction for we cannot know the hearts of men, but, nevertheless, America is still the place where the Christian religion has kept the greatest power over men's minds."