The Sanctity of Human Life

(Greek words can be viewed using the Symbol font)

Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
January 2004

The Sanctity of Human Life
Selected Scriptures


This morning I want to talk about the sanctity of life. Part of the reason for this is that this Thursday, Jan. 22nd, is the anniversary of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision. In the 31 years since that day, more than 40 million American babies have been aborted. Infanticide has also increased as a percentage of homicides. The American homicide rate is 11th in the world, but our are rate of
murder of those under 4 years old (not counting abortion) is No. 1 in the world.
The abortion drug R.U. 486 has been approved for use in the United States despite its negative medical side effects. In 1994, Oregon passed the “Death with Dignity” act. In the first five years 129 people legally killed themselves in that State under the provisions of this law. Thankfully, other states have not been successful in passing such laws, and the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the suicide prevention laws that have been legally challenged, including here in New York. In light of these attacks on the right to life, it is good for us to look at the Bible and know why human life is valuable.

The Value of Human Life

Many of the arguments against attacks on human life such as abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia are very logically presented to persuade a person that these things are not good and should be stopped. One line of reasoning even includes the negative economic impact of having 40 million fewer consumers, while another line of argument portray abortion providers as an evil big
business. (The emphasis being it is evil because it big business making multiple millions of dollars per year). However, unless there is some absolute ethical reason that human life has intrinsic value, then all logical arguments against murdering a human will collapse.

If human life is put into simple economic terms, then strong arguments can be made that society is better off killing its nonproductive members. It is cheaper for the government to pay for an abortion than for it to pay all the welfare costs in raising a child to adulthood. It is less expensive to kill an handicapped child than it is to pay for medical and rehabilitation costs associated with helping such a child. Vast amounts of money could be saved in
medical costs alone if active euthanasia was practiced on those who are old and get sick. As harsh as these ideas sound to us, there are those in our society that advocate them.

Some will argue that human life is valuable simply because it is human, but immediately the arguments began about why human life should be valued more than other types of life, or what qualities about a human make that life valuable. There are many in our society that do not believe human life is more valuable than any other type of animal life, with some seemingly valuing animal life more than human life. At the foundation of this argument is an evolutionary philosophy. If humans are simply animals that have evolved like all other animals, then there is nothing to say that mankind is more important than any other life form.

The other side of this argument is that humans are valuable because they possess certain qualities that animals do not. That leaves the door open for the quality of life arguments. That means that an individual whose life does not meet the quality of life standards set by whatever current powers may be will lose the right to continue to live. Ultimately this is the basis for the current
case concerning Terri Schindler-Schiavo in Florida. Her husband, Michael, does not think her quality of life is high enough to justify the care being given to her. He wants to all treatment including food and water to be withheld. He wants her to starve to death. It is hard to believe that he has some real concern about Terri’s wishes when he is currently having an affair with another woman,
and will gain several hundred thousand dollars when she dies. He has already been using the money granted to Terri for  rehabilitation to pay lawyers in the effort to kill her.

If the superior qualities of human life are not what make men valuable, then what does? Why should humans be considered more valuable than animals? Why shouldn’t economics be the deciding factor of who lives and who dies? Why shouldn’t abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia be practiced? What basis is there for believing that human life has intrinsic value?

The answer is not found in man himself, but in the God who  created him. Turn to Genesis 1:26.

The Uniqueness of Man

On the 6th day of creation God made each of the beasts of the earth and the
creeping things after their own kind. He also made man, but we find man is made differently than the animals. In verse 26, God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea andover the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 And God created man in His  own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” We find additional detail concerning this in chapter 2:7 which says, “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Later that day God took a rib from Adam and from it fashioned Eve.

Like the animals, man was made from the material of the earth  (except for Eve who was made from Adam’s rib — she is refined dirt). Because of that, man shares many common characteristics with animals in our physical body makeup. But even in physical makeup the human body has many differences from other animals.
More importantly, unlike the animals, man had the breath of life breathed into him by God himself. Unlike the animals, man became a living soul. Unlike the animals, man was made in the image and likeness of God. These are the facts that separate man from the animals. These are the reasons that man is more valuable than animals or any other part of Creation. These are the reasons that man has an intrinsic value greater than just having life itself. Man has a living soul which means he has been given an eternal nature, and he is a reflection of God his Creator.

What gives man his greatest value is that he is made in the image of God. This is brought out in Genesis 9 when God institutes capital punishment for the murder of a man. When Noah comes out of the Ark, God includes in his diet not only the green plants but also animals (vs. 3) with the restriction that he may not eat its blood. In verse 5 God commands what is to happen to an animal or man that murders a man. “And surely I will require your life blood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I willrequire the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.”

The issue of capital punishment for those who murder is not about the value of life itself that was taken, but that human life is created as a reflection of God. Murder is actually a rebellious act against God. The main reason for capital punishment is God’s holiness, not determent, retribution or human justice, even as important as those issues are. Some accuse those who advocate the right to life as being inconsistent on this point. They say that if a person
truly valued human life they would be against capital punishment. However, the same reason that makes man’s life valuable is the same reason that demands capital punishment for murder. Man is made in the image of God. The inconsistency is with so many of the abortion and euthanasia advocates who stand against capital punishment. They value the life of a criminal, but they do not
value the life of an unborn baby or those whose quality of life is below their standard.


Many people are simply confused when it comes to abortion. It has become a political football between those who believe in the right to life and those affected by feminist philosophy that believe abortion is a right of a women to control her own body. Many churches are confused about when a child becomes human – at conception? 10 weeks? 6 months? birth? only if it breaths?

How do we respond to the arguments for abortion such as: “We must protect a woman’s right to choose.” “Without legal abortion women will die at the handsof back alley butchers.” “Abortion helps every child be a wanted child.” “Abortion protects people from experiencing the pain of having a quality of life not worth living.” “It would be cruel to make women who were pregnant by rape or
incest bear that child.” “Don’t force your morality on others by making abortion illegal.”

The supreme question for true Christians is very simple. Our concern is not all the philosophical arguments – though they should be addressed and can be answered. Our concern is not the politics that have gotten involved in this question – though we, as citizens of this nation have a responsibility before God to be involved in setting the direction of our nation. Our concern cannot
even be how we are personally affected by the topic. Our concern has to be only one thing – What does God think! We must be grounded in knowing what God has said concerning human life, its nature, its value and how it is to be treated. Until we know what God says, then we are only ignorant people adding our opinions to the discussion. Once we know what God has said, then we can
respond appropriately and speak authoritatively to the issue

But what has God said? Even here there is confusion because of the senseless talk of people claiming to speak for God. Remember, there are many false prophets and deceived people out there who promote falsehood and foolishness. Consider the letter to “Dear Abby” by a fellow who signed it “Bible Student.”

Dear Abby – “A woman has the right to abort an accidental pregnancy if she so chooses. The fetus is not a living soul, but a living organism. It is part of the mother’s body – connected by the umbilical cord. The fetus is no human soul until the umbilical cord is severed and the fetus takes its first breath of air, and is able to survive on its own outside its mother’s body. The Bible clearly states, “God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life, and
man became a living soul (Gen. 2:7). – Bible Student We shall see in the course of the message how erroneous this “Bible student”
is in his conclusion, but it does point out the great confusion we find in the issue of abortion.

I have already pointed out from Genesis 1 & 2 that God is the creator of all life. He created Adam from the dust of the ground, and then Eve from one of Adam’s ribs (Gen. 1:27; 2:22). Jesus makes the same claim in Matthew 19:5 as does Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:8,9. To deny that God created man and woman is to
deny the writings of Moses, and the Apostle Paul, and the words of Jesus Christ.

But more important to our discussion than the general fact that God created human life, is that God controls the creation of each individual human life. The life that is in the womb is not just the product of an act of two humans, but also involves the action of God. Human life comes from the hand of God both generally and specifically. Let me give you some examples.

1) Sarah – the wife of Abraham

In Genesis 16:1,2 Sarai tells Abram, “Now behold the Lord has prevented me from bearing children.” She understands that it is the Lord that opens or closes the womb. In Genesis 17:15-19 Sarai’s name is changed to Sarah and the birth of a son to her is promised. Note vs 16 “I will bless her and indeed I will give you a son by her.” It is the Lord that will give Abraham the son through Sarah. That is emphasized again in verse 19. “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son.” It would be Sarah herself that would
have the child and not anyone else on her behalf. It would be the Lord that would accomplish this. In Genesis 21:2 – the promise is fulfilled, “and the Lord did for Sarah as He had promised. So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him.”

2) Abimelech & his wife and maids.

Genesis 20:17,18 says, “And Abraham prayed to God: and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his maids, so that they bore children, For the Lord had closed fast all the wombs of the household of Abimelech because of Sarah.” Part of God’s judgement against Abimelech was that neither his wife or maids could conceive children until after Abraham prayed to God. God
controlled what happened in their wombs.

3) Isaac and Rebekah.

Genesis 25:21. “And Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived.” Rebekah could have not children until the Lord answered Isaac’s prayer and opened her womb.

4) Jacob & Rachel

A similar case is that of Rachel. In Genesis 30:1 Rachel is complaining to Jacob because her sister Leah (Jacob’s other wife) is bearing lots of children (which Gen. 29:31 says that is because the Lord opened her womb). Jacob responds in verse 2, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of
the womb?”
It is not until the end of the chapter, vs 22, that we find, Then God remembered Rachel, and gave heed to her and opened her womb. So she conceived and bore a son…”

5) Hannah – 1 Samuel 1:5

Verse 5, “…but the Lord had closed her womb.”

Verse 11 – Hannah’s prayer that the Lord would give her a son.

Verse 19,20, “And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her and it came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, ‘Because I have asked him from the Lord.”

6) Ruth 4:13, “So Boaz took Ruth; and she became his wife, and he went into her. And the Lord gave her conception, and she gave birth to a son.

7) The testimony of Job

Job 10:8-12; Thy hands fashioned and made me altogether, And
wouldst Thou destroy me? Remember now, that Thou hast made me as clay; And wouldst Thou turn me into dust again? Didst Thou not pour me out like milk,And curdle me like cheese; Clothe me with skin and flesh, And knit me together with bones and sinews
Job 31:15, Did not He who made me in the womb make him, And the same one fashion us in the womb? Job 33:4, Elihu also gives testimony, “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of
the Almighty gives me life.”

8) The testimony of the Psalms.

Psalm 22:9,10, “Yet Thou art He who didst bring me forth from the womb; Thou didst make me trust when upon my mother’s breasts. Upon Thee I was cast from birth; Thou has been by God from my mother’s womb.”

Psalm 100:3, “Know that the LORD, Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”

Psalm 127:3, “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; The fruit of
the womb is a reward.”

Psalm 139:13-16, “For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully andwonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from Thee, When I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Thy book they were all written, The days that were ordained for me, When
as yet there was not one of them.”

What more need be said? Is there any doubt that each individual in the womb is there because God has been at work? God opens or closes the womb. God forms the individual in the womb. A child in the womb is not just the “product of conception” as euphemistically referred to during abortions. He or she is a
unique individual formed by God. The argument that the un-born child is part of the woman’s body is totally false both in terms of its spiritual identity before God and its physical/genetic makeup. Physically, the child is separate from but totally dependent upon the mother. Genetically the child is a mixture of her chromosomes and that of the father and thereby a unique individual. She does not have a right to terminate the life of the body growing within her. I will add that she has a responsibility to protect and nurture that baby within her. Mothers who neglect to protect their children are charged with child endangerment.

Let me also add that the claim that a woman has a right over her own body is erroneous. If she is a Christian, her body belongs to the Lord (1 Cor. 6:19,20). If she is married, she belongs to her husband – just as he belongs to her (1 Cor. 7:4). We humans are not as autonomous as we would like to think.

But what about the argument that the unborn child is not human until it is outside the womb – breathing on its own?

The Scriptures we have examined have already hinted at the Biblical concept that a child is fully human at conception, but lets examine some stronger evidence.

1) Luke 1:39-45

“Now at this time Mary arose and went with hast to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And itcame about that when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb;  and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice, and said, ‘Blessed among women are you, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord
should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.

How did the unborn infant John the Baptist respond to the presence of the unborn infant Jesus if neither of them were human and John in possession of a soul to recognize the Messiah. Lets add to that –

2) Jeremiah 1:4,5

“Now the Word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

I do not know when the Lord formed my soul, but according to this passage, it was before my conception. The question of when a human becomes a true human in terms of “potentiality” or its ability to survive outside the womb is a non issue because the word of God is clear that at conception a human life is created and that he or she has a soul. To end that life by abortion is nothing less than murder – the willful taking of a human life. That is the choice
pro-choice people are talking about. They want the freedom to murder.

As we have already seen, it is a seriousness sin to take a human life because it is a direct attack against God, for human life was made in His image. Paul reaffirms this in 1 Cor. 11:7 saying that man “is the image and glory of God…”

Man as an image bearer of God has a soul and an eternal nature and is therefore of infinite more importance than any animal. Yet, with the current state of abortion in our land, man has less value than an animal. You cannot treat animals in a slaughterhouse the way babies are treated in an abortion clinic. If you did, there would be animal rights groups all around you trying to close your business down with the backing of animal protection laws. All you
need to do to understand this is read how various abortion procedures are done. I will not do that now, but one of the information sheets on the back table does.

You should also know that less than 4% of all abortions are due to rape, incest or medical threat to the mothers’ life. Several studies put the figure at less than 2%. The real motivations behind abortions are to hide illicit sex, lessen financial hardship, remove an obstacle that would block a current goal – school, career, etc., preserve physical sex appeal, sex selection of the child, appease the father. In short, it is homicide for the sake of personal convenience. But then we live in a convenience society. How easy to dispose of the problem by dumping him or her in the trash.

Abortion is nothing less than the willful taking of a human life by another human. It is a crime against humanity – but even more significant, it is a crime against God Himself. Let us realize that abortion is an attack against God among all the other things that it is.

Infanticide and Euthanasia

Everything the Bible says about murder also applies to infanticide and euthanasia. There is no question about a baby that is already born being human. The reasons for infanticide and euthanasia are that the murder of individual makes it easier for the survivors. In the cases of those who are severely handicapped in some way or are old and sick there are those that advocate their death as “mercy killing.” There are two major problems with this line of

First, in Exodus 4:11 God makes it clear to Moses that He makes the dumb, the deaf, the seeing, and the blind. Moses could not speak eloquently, but God would use that handicapped to glorify Himself. There is no right to health, that comes as a mercy from God. In John 9, Jesus pointed out a particular man who was born
blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him. He then healed the man. It is not up to the individual or others to decide the value of life based on some judgment of its quality. All people are created for God’s glory. It is up to Him to determine how he will use the individual. We can add to this that just because a person cannot do things that you can does not mean that they do not value their own lives even when the handicapped seems extreme to you.

Second, it is not up to man to decide when he will die. The timing of a person’s death is also up to God (Job 14:5; 30:23; Ps 89:46-48; Heb. 9:27). For someone else to play God and purposely take a life is murder. For a person to play God and purposely take their own life is suicide – self-murder. Suicide is
always presented as a negative in Scripture. Like Paul in  Philippians 1, the Christian may long for Heaven which is very much better than life here, but we remain in the flesh for the sake of others and let God determine when we go home. Infanticide, euthanasia and suicide are all acts of selfishness.

What is our responsibility toward these issues? Lets keep in mind first of that people, even an unborn child, are neighbors.

In Matthew 22 Jesus reaffirmed the O.T. laws when He said in verses 37, 39 that the two great commandments are to 1) love God with all your heart, soul and mind, and 2) love your neighbor as yourself. How then can and should we respond to our neighbors?

First, we need to respond with the message of hope – the gospel. Understand that the people involved in abortion, infanticide and the euthanasia movement are dupes of the devil, blinded by the god of this age. Even the most evil abortionist in really nothing more than a pawn of Satan. Women more often feel the guilt of the sin, but the men involved are just as responsible and guilty
before God. We need to let them know that God can and will forgive them if they will ask. Jesus came to die on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sins – all of them. Abortion can be forgiven. Our first response needs to be the offer of the hope of the gospel to guilt ridden people.

Second, we need to be informed. We need to be aware of the issues involved, what occurs in abortions, the laws that pertain to these issues and the activities of organizations that are striving to stem the tide of blood. I have literature on the back table about these issues.

Third, we need to pray. I put this after being informed because we need to be informed in order to pray intelligently and specifically. Prayer needs to be more than just saying, “God, do something about all this killing.” We need informed, fervent prayer such as: “Lord God, abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and suicide are all abominations before you and an attack against you. Show me
how I can help prevent them. Give me opportunity to share the hope of the gospel to those who are hurting because of these great sins. Give me opportunity to share your truths with those who may be considering them. Lord, direct our leaders in dealing with these issues. May your Holy Spirit bring conviction upon
their souls and change their hearts and minds and conform them to your will. Remove as you see fit those who oppose your law, etc.”.

Fourth, Financial support. Again, there are many organizations fighting these evils. Each one has a different mission. Some are primarily educational, some political, some activist, some provide personal care to those considering abortion – crises pregnancy counseling, homes for unwed mothers, adoption agencies. All of them can use financial support. Check some of them out to see
if the Lord would want you involved on this level.

Fifth, get personally involved. Maybe you can be involved in some of the political ramifications – write letters to / call on your representatives. Maybe you can be a pro-life speaker going to schools, clubs, and other organizations to present the truth about the infant in the womb. Maybe you can take time to be
involved with a Life Savers or the Crises Pregnancy Center. Or perhaps you could even provide a home for a pregnant woman who is in difficult circumstances and share the love of Christ with them. Even if you can not provide a home, you can provide friendship and emotional support. The brochure included in last week’s bulletin even tells you how to help extend someone’s life through donation of your own organs and tissues when you die. I would personally encourage you to enroll on the New York State Organ and Tissue Donor Registry. Perhaps the Lord might use a body part you know longer need because you are with Him to extend the life of another Christian, or extend the life of a non-Christian that they may yet hear the gospel and the saved.

Pray and let God show you how and at what level He would want you involved, and then do it.

Study Sheets

KIDS CORNER – Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help.

Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up later. 2) Count how many times the word “life” is said.  Talk with your parents about the value of human life, and what you can do to help protect it.

THINK ABOUT IT!- Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.

What are some of the negative consequences of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision? What have been the economic consequences of abortion since 1973? Why are economics a poor argument against abortion, infanticide, euthanasia? What is the relevance of quality of life issues to the value of human life? What unique features of men separate him from all animals? Why is this important? What is
the biblical basis for capital punishment? How has politics  confused the abortion debate? What is the primary pro-life argument? What is the primary pro-abortion argument? What is the primary concern of the Christian on these issues? What is God’s involvement in human life both generally and specifically?
What scriptures support you review? When there’s a human life receive personhood/a soul? Support your answer. Less than 4% of all abortions are due to rape, incest or medical threat to the mothers life “€“what are the primary motivations behind abortions? What is infanticide? What is euthanasia? What is suicide? What biblical principles apply to these? What is the problem with
“mercy killing”? Backup your answer Biblically. What is the problem with suicide? Backup your answer Biblically. What do you think of organ/tissue donation? What is the Christian’s responsibility toward all these issues? What is your involvement with these issues? Should you do more? If so, what?

Sermon Notes – January 18, 2004


The Value of Human Life

Secular Arguments

The Uniqueness of Man

Genesis 1:26

Genesis 9


God and Human Life

1. Sarah – Genesis 16:1,2; 17:15-19

2. Abimelech – Genesis 20:17,18

3. Isaac and Rebekah – Genesis 25:21

4. Jacob and Rachel – Genesis 30:1,2

5. Hannah – 1 Samuel 1:5, 11, 19-20

6. Ruth 4:13

7. Testimony of Job – Job 10:8-12

8. Testimony of the Psalms: Ps 22:9,10; 100:3; 127:3; 139:13-16

The Human Soul

1. Luke 1:39-45

2. Jeremiah 1:4,5

Infanticide and Euthanasia

Exodus 4:11 – John 9

Job 14:5; 30:23; Ps 89:46-48; Heb. 9:27


A. The Gospel

B. Be Informed

C. Pray

D. Financial Support

E. Personal Involvement