Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

Title: The Sanctity of Human Life

In the Southern Baptist Convention, today is Sanctity of Human Life Day, and that is the subject of our Bible study. 

It’s sad that not all people believe that human life is precious.  Suicide bombers, terrorists and murders have no regard for human life.  Abortion mills and men like Dr. Jack Kevorkian (known as Dr. Death), do not respect human life.  A few years ago, we became aware of the Washington DC snipers (John Malvo and John Mohammed) who killed for no apparent reason—men, women and they even shot a child.  Sadam Hussein killed thousands of his own people with poison gas.  Hitler and the Nazis killed millions of Jews and other races who they said were not human, and last summer the “Arab Spring” began with citizens of the  Middle Eastern nations in revolt against their governments; it’s still going on, and thousands have been killed on both sides. We could go on and on recounting examples of people and regimes that had such a low opinion of human life that they would snuff out a life without a thought.

But let me give you some statistics about our main theme; abortion. 
• Since 1973, one of every three babies conceived in the United States have been aborted.
• 49% of American pregnancies are unintended.
• 52% of all abortions performed in America are on women 24 and younger.
• 53% of American women will have at least one abortion by the time they are 45.
• 66% of women who obtain abortions have never been married.

These are startling figures and I wouldn’t believe them, except they came right out of my quarterly.

What do you think are some of the reasons that women give for having abortions?
• Children would inconvenience them, interfere with their lifestyles, or cause financial hardship.
• They don’t want to be single parents.
• They are having problems with husbands or partners.
• The largest percentage says that having children is just too inconvenient.

Our first scripture is Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” 

People have various reasons for respecting and protecting human life.  They respect and protect their families and want to see them safe.  They may feel the same way about their neighbors and support actions that protect the neighborhood.  Human compassion makes us all sad when a life is lost through illness or tragedy.  However, believers have an important additional reason for respecting and protecting human life.  Human life is sacred because God created man and woman in His own image and gave them life.  Therefore, Christians should value and protect human life for the Lord’s sake.

Every human being is special because each person is the specific and purposeful creation of God.  God created people in His own image.  Chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis record nothing else that was created in God’s image.

What then does it mean to say that people are created in the image of God?  We know that “God is Spirit” (John 4:24), therefore he doesn’t have a physical body so what do you say it means?

The quarterly gave these meanings for the “image of God.”

• The moral, intellectual, and personality characteristics that God gave to people.  One aspect of God’s image in persons has been identified as dominion or rulership.  God created people to responsibly rule over the lower orders of His creation. 
• The ability of humans to reason and make moral choices. 
• The ability to enjoy fellowship with God.
• Probably it’s all of the above.

We are God’s highest and most unique creation and are to be respected appropriately.

God created both male and female.  Both came equally from the hand of God.  Each person, whether male or female, boy or girl has equal worth before God, since all are created in His image.  But I saw something on TV last week that disturbed me.  I was watching a documentary on India which was about the difficulties facing women there.  They said that in many locals girl babies are just set outside to die; they never have a chance at life.  And they went on to say that in some places women must live their whole lives with the possibility that they will be killed if the family faces great hardship.  There is a very low value placed on woman in India. 

But because God created people in His image, we should hold all human life as sacred.

Deuteronomy 18:10 says, “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire…”

This verse is from Moses’ farewell address to the people of Israel as they prepare to enter the Promised Land.  Remember, Moses wasn’t allowed to enter the land because of an act of disobedience.  In his speech, Moses gave them God’s requirements for entry; there were certain things that they were to do, but there were also some things which they were not to do.

One detestable, forbidden practice was a pagan religious ritual in which a parent sacrifices a son or daughter in a fiery offering.  This was the Canaanite practice of offering children as human sacrifices to Molech, an Ammonite god.

Many societies in the ancient world did not value children.  Remember, the pharaoh of Egypt commanded Hebrew midwives to kill all newborn male babies.  Later he ordered all his people to throw into the Nile every boy that was born.

Some societies have abandoned female babies to die of exposure and neglect.

In Deuteronomy 18:10, the Lord commanded the people of Israel not to kill children by using them as human sacrifices.  Moses, whose own life had been spared as a child taught that children’s lives were sacred, because God is the giver of human life.  We should respect and treat all human life as valuable because God created each of them in His image.

Now, let’s look at the 139 th Psalm.  It’s a Psalm that David wrote.  Throughout the Psalm, the poet focuses on God’s presence with him.  David acknowledged that God had an all-encompassing knowledge of him.  The Lord knew all about him from the first moment he was conceived in his mother’s womb.  These verses are extremely relevant to this lesson on the sanctity of human life because they teach us how God views human life in the mother’s womb.  The Psalm reveals that God continues His creative work through human conception.  The psalmist indicated that he was already a unique person while he was yet in his mother’s womb.

Verse 13 says, “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.”

God has His eye on us before we are born. David knew that God’s creative hand was at work in his life from the moment of his conception.  David recognized that God knit him together in his mother’s womb. The process of knitting or weaving requires great skill and patience to produce an intricate and beautiful product.  That process took place in the womb before birth.  What he is saying here is that God had put his parts together as one who weaves cloth, or who makes a basket.  The weaving of the bones, tissue, and organs of the unborn child are under the control and guardianship of God.  The psalmist recognized that he existed as a person from the time of conception and that God had been with him even in his mother’s womb.  We are in a real sense “prescription babies” in that God has a custom design for every individual, equipping each for specific achievement and purpose.

Verse 14 says, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”

David praises God for the wonderful way in which He fashioned our bodies, our minds, and our spirits.  All the glory for creation is given here to God, entirely to him; for it is he that has made us and not we ourselves.  In other words what David is saying is, “I will praise thee, for you are my creator; my parents were only the instruments of it.’’  God’s creative work in forming the human embryo was so awesome to the psalmist that it almost left him speechless.  His response of praise reveals his understanding and respect for a child as God’s unique creation.

Verse 15 says, “My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.”

Though David knew that God formed him in the secret place, God’s creative work was not hidden from Him.  The secret place referred to the womb.  He says that even in the womb God knew every bone in his body.  God made him and knew him inside and out.

Though the formation of a baby, in the womb, was hidden from people, that formation was not hidden from God.  He sees, knows, cares, and oversees the entire process. 

Even with his limited understanding, the psalmist praised God for His creative work in forming him in the womb.  Don’t you think we should praise God even more in light of the knowledge that has been given us through science?

Verse 16 says, “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”

The psalmist believed that even before his body was formed, God had established His purpose for his life.  The word “substance” refers to the growing child that began to develop from the moment of conception.  The psalmist lacked knowledge of human conception and development that we have today; nevertheless, David knew God’s creative hand had formed him from the very beginning.  Human conception and development in the womb are part of God’s continuing creative work.

 God’s knowledge of the psalmist included all of his days.  God sovereignly ordained the psalmist’s life span while he was in the mother’s womb.  When he speaks of the “book”, he is referring to the record of God’s decisions and purposes that exists in the mind of God.  God has a purpose for each person.  Given this truth, it is little wonder that those who have faithfully followed the Christian faith have understood life to begin at the moment of conception, and not at birth. They, too, have solidly stood in opposition to the taking of that human life by abortion.  We should celebrate, value, and protect every human being from the first moment of conception to the last breath of human life.

Now let’s read Mark 10:13-16 to see what Jesus said about children.

Verse 13 says, “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.”

Children are and always have been important and precious to Jesus.  He chose to use a child to illustrate the type of person who can enter God’s kingdom. 

In this verse parents are bringing their children to Jesus with the intent of having them blessed by a Person recognized as holy.  This is a reminder to us to lift up our children and grandchildren to the Lord in prayer every day, and I am glad that when we meet we always pray together for them.

The disciples however did not approve of the peoples actions.  They rebuked the people for bringing their children to Jesus.  Why would they do that?  Maybe the disciples thought Jesus was too busy or had too much on His mind.  Perhaps they thought that Jesus was too important to be bothered with such unimportant persons as children.

Verse 14 says, “But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

Here we can see Jesus’ response to the disciple’s actions.  He was indignant, which was a sign of His deep displeasure, when He saw His disciples trying to prevent children from coming to Him.  His command to the disciples was twofold: “Let them come to Me” and “do not hinder them.”  Jesus wanted each child brought to Him.  Rather than viewing children as a nuisance, Christ accepted and valued them.  Today, Jesus wants little children to come to Him as soon as they are capable of coming to Him.  It is always best to come to Christ when you’re young, so you have longer to serve Him and to get to know Him and to love Him.

Verse 15 says, “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”

To enter the kingdom of God a person must receive the kingdom like a little child.

But what does that mean?  What do you think Jesus meant by this statement?

The quarterly said that some of the characteristics of a child are helplessness and dependency.  A child is dependent on others to meet his or her needs.  A child does not become distracted by all the complexities of life. When he trusts, his faith is simple and unwavering. Jesus was teaching that belonging to God’s kingdom depends upon God’s willingness to offer eternal life and a person’s willingness to accept that life with childlike faith in Him.  The kingdom of God must be received as a gift.  It cannot be earned or achieved by human effort.  It can be received only by those who realize they are helpless, without merit, and are willing to depend solely on God’s grace.

I read this in a commentary about this verse, and I want to share it with you.  It said, “That there must be something of the temper and disposition of little children found in all that Christ will own and bless. We must receive the kingdom of God as little children; that is, we must stand affected to Christ and his grace as little children do to their parents, nurses, and teachers. We must be inquisitive, as children, and must learn as children, and in learning we must believe.  The mind of a child is white paper, you may write upon it what you will; such must our minds be to the pen of the blessed Holy Spirit. Children are under government; and so must we be. Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? We must receive the kingdom of God as the child Samuel did, Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth. Little children depend upon their parents’ wisdom and care, are carried in their arms, go where they send them, and take what they provide for them; and that is the way we must receive the kingdom of God, with a humble acceptance of Jesus Christ, and a simple dependence upon him, both for strength and righteousness, for guidance, and provision.”

Verse 16 says, “And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”

 He took them up in his arms, and that shows His love and concern for them.  He put his hands upon them, as their mothers desired, and He blessed them. But see how he out-did the desires of these parents; they begged that He would touch them, but he did more. He took them in his arms. Now the scripture as written in Isaiah 40:11 is fulfilled.  It said, “He shall gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom.” There was a time when Christ himself was taken up in old Simeon’s arms. And now he took up these children, not complaining of the burthen, but pleased with it. If we can just bring our children and grandchildren to Christ, he will take them up, not only in the arms of his power and providence, but in the arms of his pity and grace.  When He put his hands upon them, He blessed them with the spiritual blessings he came to give. Our children are happy, if they have the blessing of knowing Christ.

Through His actions, Christ showed that He loves and values children; He does not see them as a nuisance.  All people especially believers, should follow Christ’s example and show care and concern for children, including the unborn.

Since we have time, there are two questions that I want to ask:

1. What practices that devalue human life does God want us to avoid today?  (Abortion, mercy killing, pornography, slavery, how Moslems treat women)
2. What can believers do about these issues? (pray, make our views known to our government, support Right To Life groups)

I have a precious memory of leading my children to accept Christ as their Savior; and from years of teaching Children’s Church I have brought the Gospel to many children. It is hard to tell if children truly understand, but remember our job is to sow the seed, and others may harvest them for God’s kingdom. I praise God for my grandmother who took me to church and read the Bible to me and for the preacher at the Rosedale Tabernacle that harvester my soul for our wonderful God and  Savior.


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