The Fifth Commandment
Exodus 20:13: Thou shalt not murder.
TCR 309. In the natural sense, this commandment... means not to murder a man, and not to inflict on him any wound from which he may die, also not to maim his body. It means also not to inflict any deadly harm upon his name and fame, since with many fame and life go hand in hand. In a broader natural sense, murder means enmity, hatred, and revenge, which breathe slaughter; for in them murder lies concealed as fire in wood under ashes. Hell fire is nothing else; hence the expressions, to be inflamed with hatred, to burn with revenge. These passions are murder in intention, not in act; but if fear of the law or of retaliation and revenge were removed from them, they would break forth into act, especially if there is treachery or ferocity in the intention. That hatred is murder, is evident from these words of the Lord:
You have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not murder; and whoever shall murder shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother rashly shall be in danger of the judgment. But whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire (Matt. 5:21, 22).
This is because whatever pertains to the intention pertains also to the will, and so essentially to the deed.
TCR 310. In the spiritual sense, murder means all modes of killing and destroying the souls of men. These are many and of various kinds, as for example, turning men away from God, religion, and Divine worship by insinuating scandalous thoughts against them, or by inducing such persuasions as cause aversion and even abhorrence. Such murderers are all the devils and satans in hell. Those in this world who violate and prostitute the holy things of the church are in conjunction with them ....
TCR 311. In the celestial sense, to kill means to be rashly angry with the Lord, to hate Him, and to wish to blot out His name. It is said of such that they crucify the Lord, and they would do this as the Jews did, if He were to come again into the world as before....
TCR 312. The nature of man’s internal, unless it is reformed by the Lord, has been made evident to me from seeing the devils and satans in hell, for they have it constantly in mind to kill the Lord. And as they cannot do this, they are in the endeavor to kill those who are devoted to the Lord. But not being able to do this as men can in the world, they make every effort to destroy their souls, that is, to destroy faith and charity in them. Hatred itself and revenge with them appear like dusky and white-hot fires—hatred like a dusky fire, and revenge like a white-hot fire—yet these are not fires, but appearances.
The cruelties of their hearts sometimes appear above them in the air like contests with angels and their slaughter and overthrow. Such dreadful mockeries arise from their wrath and hatred against heaven. Moreover, at a distance, these same spirits appear like wild beasts of every kind, such as tigers, leopards, wolves, foxes, [wild] dogs, crocodiles, and all kinds of serpents; and when they see gentle animals in representative forms, they rush upon them in fantasy and strive to tear them in pieces. They came to my sight like dragons standing near women with whom there were little children, whom they were endeavoring, as it were, to devour (according to what is recorded in the twelfth chapter of Revelation); but these were nothing else than representations of hatred against the Lord and His New Church.
That men in the world who wish to destroy the Lord’s Church are like these spirits is not evident to their companions. This is for the reason that their bodies, through which they practice moralities, absorb and conceal these things. But to the angels, who behold their spirits and not their bodies, they appear in forms like those of the devils described above. Who could have known such things if the Lord had not opened the sight of someone and given him the ability to look into the spiritual world? Otherwise, would not these, together with other most important matters, have lain concealed from man forever?
Questions and Thoughts for Reflection
- What can we do if we observe that we hate someone?
- How does the commandment against murder relate to gossip?
- Have you read or seen any examples of attempted spiritual murder, that is, leading others to scorn and detest God, religion and Divine worship? How might we, perhaps inadvertently, be in danger of breaking the spiritual meaning of this commandment?
- Have you ever been extremely angry with the Lord?
- Why is it very important to learn what people’s spirits are really like after death?