Hands that Shed Innocent Blood: What Does it Mean?
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Hands that Shed Innocent Blood: What Does it Mean?

You open your Bible to Proverbs 6:16-19 and read the sobering words:

“These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.” (NKJV)

Your eyes stop on the phrase “hands that shed innocent blood.” What exactly does this mean? Why does God hate this so much? You resolve to study this topic further.


Shedding innocent blood is clearly a grave sin in God’s eyes. But what constitutes “innocent blood”? And what does it mean to have hands that shed it?

In this comprehensive blog post, you will gain a thorough understanding of the meaning behind this sobering phrase. You will learn:

  • The biblical background on hands that shed innocent blood
  • Specific sins this phrase refers to
  • Why God detests the shedding of innocent blood
  • How to ensure your hands are clean from it

This is a difficult topic, but critically important for every Christian to understand. You must grasp the severity of sins that involve shedding innocent blood, so you can actively avoid them.

Let’s dive in and unpack the meaning behind this disturbing phrase.

Defining “Innocent Blood”

To understand this phrase, you first need to comprehend what God means by “innocent blood.” Based on Scripture, shedding innocent blood involves:

Taking human life unjustly

The most obvious meaning is unjustly taking another human’s life. This includes:

  • Murder: Deliberately killing someone in cold blood (Exodus 20:13).
  • Human sacrifice: Offering human lives in occult rituals or to false gods. God strongly condemns this practice (Leviticus 18:21, Deuteronomy 12:31).
  • Unjust warfare: Slaughtering human life in the context of an unjust war or invasion (Deuteronomy 20:10-14).
  • Abortion: Terminating the life of an unborn child for reasons other than clear medical necessity. This constitutes taking an innocent human life (Exodus 21:22-25).
  • Euthanasia: Ending someone’s life because they are disabled, terminally ill, or elderly. This qualifies as murder in God’s eyes.
  • Reckless endangerment: Putting someone’s life in grave danger without just cause (Deuteronomy 22:8). If they die as a result, you bear responsibility for their blood.

Anytime you deliberately and unjustly end someone’s life, you are guilty of shedding innocent blood in the eyes of God. But there are other examples beyond just murder…

Treating human life casually or carelessly

You can also shed innocent blood through sinful attitudes or careless actions:

  • Unrighteous anger: Flying into a rage and losing self-control over someone (Matthew 5:22). This may lead to violence or even death.
  • Callousness: Treating someone’s life as worthless or insignificant. The opposite of how God views every human life (Matthew 10:29-31).
  • Recklessness: Engaging in behavior you know puts others at risk without regard for their safety. For example: drunk driving.
  • Negligence: Failing to take appropriate safety measures, leading to accidental death. For example: not installing railings around a roof despite ordinances requiring it (Deuteronomy 22:8).

While these examples may not be outright murder, they still constitute a form of “shedding blood” by disregarding the value and sanctity of human life. They reveal a heart of unrighteousness.

Allowing injustice and oppression

You can also be guilty of shedding innocent blood through complacency and complicity:

  • Apathy: Standing by and allowing unjustified killing to happen when you could have intervened or spoken up (Proverbs 24:11-12).
  • Enabling injustice: Directly or indirectly empowering those who shed innocent blood. For example, supporting a corrupt politician who covers up murders.
  • Oppressing others: Crushing people economically or socially to the point that their lives are in danger. For example, not paying fair wages. God takes oppression very seriously (Malachi 3:5).

When you tolerate, empower, or perpetuate injustice that ruins lives, you are accountable before God for the blood that is shed. Seeking justice and defending the oppressed is close to God’s heart (Isaiah 1:17).

This sheds more light on the disturbing breadth of what it means to have “hands that shed innocent blood.” It goes far beyond just murder. But why does God hate it so passionately?

Why God Detests Those Who Shed Innocent Blood

You now have a clearer picture of what constitutes the shedding of innocent blood. But why does this specific issue provoke such strong wrath from a God who defines Himself by love (1 John 4:8)?

It profanes the image of God

Every human being is made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27). As image bearers, all people have inherent dignity and value. So whenever innocent blood is carelessly shed, it is an assault on God Himself. You are sacrilegiously defacing His likeness. This explains why God takes it so personally.

It spreads corruption

Shedding innocent blood brings significant spiritual consequences. Scripture warns that when innocent blood pollutes a land, it leads to far-reaching societal breakdown (Numbers 35:33-34). Widespread murder and injustice opens the door to demonic oppression and chaos.

It cries out for justice

When innocent blood is spilled, God hears its cry and promises to avenge it (Genesis 4:10, Deuteronomy 32:43). He cares deeply about injustice and will not let cold-blooded murder go unpunished. There are serious eternal consequences for those with blood on their hands (Revelation 22:15).

The shedding of innocent blood is utterly repulsive to God for these reasons. But how can you make sure your own hands stay clean?

Keeping Your Hands Free From Shedding Innocent Blood

After studying this topic in-depth, you desire above all to have hands free from innocent blood. By God’s grace, here are some practical steps you can take:

Value all human life

Start by cultivating the mindset that all people have dignity as God’s image bearers. Fight prejudice, bigotry, racism, and hatred. Treat everyone as a soul Jesus died for. Speak out when you see lives casually devalued.

Be slow to anger

Ask God to help you control your temper. Refuse to give the devil a foothold through unresolved anger, resentment, or rage (Ephesians 4:26-27). These dangerous emotions can ultimately lead to violence.

Promote justice

Where you see oppression, mistreatment, or disregard for human life, speak out boldly. Defend those who can’t defend themselves. Donate, volunteer, vote for leaders who will protect life. God calls you to be His instrument of justice and deliverance.

Take responsibility

If your actions have endangered innocent lives in any way, repent immediately and take steps to make it right. Apologize, make restitution, pursue justice. Don’t cover up your mistakes like Cain – God sees everything.

Walk in the light

Above all, pursue closeness with Jesus. Abide in Him, study His life, and follow His example. The closer you walk with God, the more you will value human life like He does. Stay far away from evil influences.

Making these choices each day is how you actively keep your hands clean from the sin of shedding innocent blood.

Key Takeaways

  • Shedding “innocent blood” encompasses murder, abortion, human sacrifice, oppression, and treating life casually.
  • God hates it deeply because it profanes His image, spreads corruption, and cries out for justice.
  • You can keep your hands clean by valuing life, controlling anger, promoting justice, taking responsibility, and walking closely with Jesus.
  • This sobering topic reminds you to treat life as sacred and leave vengeance to God.

The thought of having blood on your hands is horrific. But thanks to Jesus’ redemptive blood, none of your past sins can stain you beyond His cleansing. If you have been forgiven and set free, now devote your life to saving lives, not harming them.

You close your Bible, grateful for God’s mercy and more resolved than ever to value human life. By following Jesus closely and extending grace to others, your hands will remain clean and free from the awful guilt of shedding innocent blood.

Pastor Duke Taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.