The Sanctity of Human Life

Bible Book: Psalms  139
Subject: Abortion; Life, Preciousness of; Creation, God of
Series: Psalms - Kirksey

Rev. Tim Wilder, pastor of the First Baptist Church Kissimmee, Florida, observes, “Isn’t it strange that we have to set aside a day to remember human life? According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife services website, there are 388 endangered animals and 129 threatened species. Americans have gone out of our way to protect all kinds of life. However, we have overlooked one species. We have failed to protect human life. Since Roe v. Wade in 1973 over 50,000,000 babies have been aborted. That’s 1.5 million a year/4,000 a day/1 every 20 seconds, 120 babies during this sermon.

What does it mean to say ‘sanctity of life?’ Sanctity means the quality of being holy or sacred. Put simply, then, sanctity of human life means human life is set apart from all other life—human life is unique.”[1]

I. The Mystery of Life (Psalm 139:13-18)

Rev. J. E. Graham shares the following in a message titled “The Gates of Death”, “No one has ever seen life itself. Its secret is hid with God. Scientists are searching for life, but find it not. No one has ever seen life itself leave the body.”[2]

When does life begin? David the psalmist writes, “For You formed my inward parts; / You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; / Marvelous are Your works, / And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, / When I was made in secret, / And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, / The days fashioned for me, / When as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; / When I awake, I am still with You.”

We read in Jeremiah 1:4-5, “Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; / Before you were born I sanctified you; / I ordained you a prophet to the nations.’”

From Genesis chapters one and two we discover man is the crown of God’s creation. Human life is sacred.

“During the early days of Adolf Hitler’s [1889-1945] rise to power in Germany, he invited a number of pastors and community leaders to a personal meeting with their new leader. As he laid out his vision for a new Germany, only one young pastor objected. ‘What about the soul of Germany?’ the pastor asked. ‘You take care of your church,’ Hitler snapped, ‘and leave the soul of Germany to me!’”

In Seduction of the Heart: How to Guard and Keep You Heart from Evil, Dr. Tim LaHaye and Dr. Ed Hindson further explain, “Unfortunately, that is exactly what most church people in Germany did. They went about their normal religious duties and rituals while der Fuhrer stole the hearts of the Germans and corrupted the soul of Germany and much of the rest of Europe was spiritually dead.”[3]

II. The Mockery of Life (Psalm 139:19-22)

David the psalmist, writes, “Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God! Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men. For they speak against You wickedly; / Your enemies take Your name in vain. Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies” (Psalm 139:19-22). Note the description of the wicked ones in these verses. They are “bloodthirsty men” who speak against God wickedly and take His name in vain, who also hate Him and rise up against Him. They make a mockery of life.

According to William Shirer (1904-1993) in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, “German citizens were allowed only two options in religion: to acknowledge Hitler and the Nazi Party as their only ‘secular religion,’ or to worship Thor and Odin and the other "old gods". In all Christian churches the Bible was replaced on the altar or lectern with Hitler's book, Mein Kampf, and the Cross of Christ on the central wall facing the congregation was replaced with a German officer's sword. Many of the orthodox Lutheran pastors resigned at this point. Some would join the underground "Confessing Church" (and of these, many would end their lives in concentration camps). They were replaced in the churches with loyal Nazi Party members wearing military uniforms in place of clerical vestments. Many of the more theologically liberal clergy simply donned the brown uniforms and began preaching from Mein Kampf.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was a Lutheran pastor in Germany who was first imprisoned and later executed (by hanging) by the Nazis during World War II...just a few weeks before the end of the war. Nazi policy was to execute all prisoners before the arrival of the Allies' liberating armies could free them.

Pastor Martin Niemoller (1892-1984) reportedly shared these words with a group of students in 1946 in answer to the question: Why didn’t the churches get involved?: "First they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out - because I was
not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out -because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me!"[4]

Theologian W. G. T. Shedd (1820-1894) writes, “An evil heart, if not restrained by divine grace, is certain to act wrongly.”[5] Solomon writes, “Keep your heart with all diligence, / For out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19).

In Genesis 4:1-15 records the account of the first murder, where we read, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, ‘I have acquired a man from the LORD.’ Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.

So the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”
Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’
He said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’

And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.’

And Cain said to the LORD, ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear! Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.’

And the LORD said to him, ‘Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.” Cain was guilty of murder sometimes called homicide in the courtroom.

All killing is not murder. Remember, there are instances of killing such as self-defense, national defense, and capital punishment that are not the same as murder. Luke records, “And [Jesus] said to them, ‘When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?’ So they said, ‘Nothing.’ Then He said to them, ‘But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one’ (Luke 22:35-36). Paul the Apostle writes, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:1-4).

Judas Iscariot committed suicide. Matthew records, “Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ And they said, ‘What is that to us? You see to it!’ Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:3-5).

Matthew records, “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men” (Matthew 2:16). This speaks of infanticide. Abortion is a form of infanticide or the murder of children. The Lord said about Jeremiah the prophet, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; / Before you were born I sanctified you; / I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).

Dr. Jack Kevorkian also known as “Dr. Death” became infamous for his physician assisted suicide. Euthanasia or “mercy killings” are increasing in the Netherlands. According to an article by Charlie Butts, titled, “Assisted suicide = medical treatment?”, there were 2,500 reported cases this past year. Rita Marker, head of the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, explains that the Dutch want to legalize euthanasia. The reasoning behind such legislation is to allow them to “have a better handle on it” and so they will “know what is happening”. Their rationale is that euthanasia “will be more carefully done.” This is a troubling development in light of the attitude of some attempting to cut health care costs.[6] Moses writes, “You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:32).

Josh McDowell explains, “Situation ethics teaches that there’s no right or wrong before you enter into a situation.”

Once you're in the thick of it, whatever you do is right if your guiding factor is love. That is, in any moral situation, if you do the loving thing, then it's right.

People who believe in Situational ethics quote Romans 13:8, 10: ‘He who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law,’ and ‘Love is the fulfillment of the law.’ Look, they say, if you go into any situation and do the loving thing, then you've fulfilled the law.

But there's a problem with this viewpoint, and it becomes immediately evident when you apply it to dating. ‘Well,’ someone says, ‘I thought the loving thing was having sex with him. He needed me, he said please, and he wanted love. So, because I love him, it must have been right.’

The problem with Situational ethics, and the place where most people miss the boat, is when they say ‘Do the loving thing,’ they never define what the loving thing is. What happens is, once they're in a situation, they end up doing their own selfish thing.

It is true that the Bible says to do the loving thing (Romans 13:8), but it doesn't stop there. The Bible defines what that loving thing is. Look at Romans 13:9, the verse right after the verse on love I referred to above: "The commandments, 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not covet,' and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

The Bible is saying that in every situation, we should do the loving thing. It is then defining for us what that loving thing is. If you truly love someone, for instance, you won't murder him or steal from him. You won't even commit adultery with him.

The wonderful thing about Christianity is that it not only tells us to do the loving thing, it also tells us what that loving thing is.”[7]

Jesus said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10a).

III. The Mastery of Life (Psalm 139:1-12, 17-18, 23-24)

To be born once makes you a member of the family of man. To be born twice makes you a member of the family of God. Those of the family of man are only two thirds alive. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Bill Gaither sings, “Fully alive in Your Spirit, / Lord, make me fully alive. Fully aware of Your presence, Lord, / Totally, fully alive.” Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b).

Under the mastery of life, I invite you to see three further things from our passage.

A. The Meaning of Life (Psalm 139:1-12)

David the psalmist writes, “O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; / You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, / And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, / But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, / And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; / It is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; / If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, / And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, / Even there Your hand shall lead me, / And Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me,’ / Even the night shall be light about me; / Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, / But the night shines as the day; / The darkness and the light are both alike to You. . . .” (Psalm 139:1-12).

David’s son Solomon shares the chronicle of his experiment to discover the meaning of life in the Book of Ecclesiastes. After all of his foolishness he arrives as a wise conclusion when he writes, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, / For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, / Including every secret thing, / Whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

B. The Mission of Life (Psalm 139:17-18)

David the psalmist prays, “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; / When I awake, I am still with You. . . .”(Psalm 139:17-18).

The mission of life is to think God’s thoughts after Him. This is the key element of discernment. If you fail to think God’s thoughts after Him, you are merely following a philosophy based upon humanism. Either self is on the throne of your life or Jesus Christ is on the throne of your life. Unless you are trusting and obeying Him by submitting to His Word you are blazing your own trail outside the will of God.

William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) penned the words to his poem “Invictus” in 1875 from a hospital bed in the midst of suffering. Timothy McVeigh (1968-2001), convicted of the Oklahoma City bombing, chose "Invictus" as his final statement prior to his execution in 2001. Note these words written by Henley:

“Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.”

John exhorts us in his first epistle chapter two and verse fifteen, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

May we hear the Lord say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:21).

C. The Music of Life (Psalm 139:23-24)

As Walt Whitman (1819-1892) metaphorically expresses, “I hear America singing”, we could say, “I hear believers singing.” Are you in tune with heaven? David prays, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; / Try me, and know my anxieties; / And see if there is any wicked way in me, / And lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

It is written of this sweet singer of Israel, “He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will’ (Acts13:22b).

Paul writes in Ephesians 5:15-21, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.”


Evelyn Christenson writes the following, “I am not afraid of death, because I know it can be a blessing. It is humanism to think that the best that could ever happen to us is here on earth. That is not true.

I view death as a coronation. My death will be a victory. I want the "Hallelujah Chorus" sung at my funeral. I don't want to leave my family, but I know it is going to be fantastic on the other side. As Paul said in Philippians 1:21, "To live is Christ and to die is gain."

The keys of death are in Jesus' hands, not Satan's anymore (Revelation 1:18). When I die, I am going to get my crown. I am going to live with Jesus. I am going to be able to touch his hand. I will see my children that have died before me, my father, my husband's father. That is what death is.

There are many people whose lives seem to be prematurely snuffed out. When my seven-month-old daughter died, I came to the conclusion that the purpose for her life was fulfilled in those seven months. That experience transformed me; my view of death has come into focus because of Judy. We are not here to fulfill our own purposes, but God's.

If I am living in conformity with God's will, if I am obeying him and doing what he tells me step by step every day, then when it comes time for me to die, I know this is just the next step in his will.”[8]

John writes, “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:11-13).

“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

May we continue to observe the sanctity of human life.

[1]Tim Wilder, “The Invitation Stands” Available from: Accessed: 01/13/10

[2]Funeral Sermons and Outline Addresses: An Aid for Pastors, compiled and edited by William E. Ketcham, D.D.., Rev. J. E. Graham, “The Gates of Death” (New York and London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1899), p. 112

[3] Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Seduction of the Heart: How to Guard and Keep Your Heart from Evil (Colorado Springs, CO: W Publishing Group, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2001), pp. 79-80

[4]Available from: Accessed: 01/10/10

[5]W. G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, Volume 7 (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1983), p. 188

[6]Charlie Butts, “Assisted suicide = medical treatment? “ - OneNewsNow - 1/16/2010 4:10:00 AM, Available from: Accessed: 01/16/10

[7]Practical Christianity, Compiled and edited by LaVonne Neff, Ron Beers, Bruce Barton, Linda Taylor, Dave Veerman, Jim Galvin, Josh McDowell, “All You Need Is Love?”, Copyright © by Youth for Christ/USA., p. 235, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

[8]Practical Christianity, Compiled and edited by LaVonne Neff, Ron Beers, Bruce Barton, Linda Taylor, Dave Veerman, Jim Galvin , Evelyn Christenson, “Death”, Copyright © by Youth for Christ/USA., p. 219, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on and / / (251) 626-6210

© January 17, 2010 All Rights Reserved