Did Christ’s atonement cover the sin of murder?
The sin of murder is a most grievous sin before our God; however, it would be nice if this question was just a simple yes and no answer…it is not. The scriptures specify clearly, “Thou shalt not kill.” “Thou shalt not murder.” Modern day revelation declares, “And now, behold, I speak unto the church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come.” (D&C 42:18)
In reference to King David, we are informed, “And in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife; and, therefore he hath fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not inherit them out of the world…” (D&C 132:39) This murder of Uriah caused David to lose his exaltation, a sin the atonement would not cover at least for exaltation. This appears to draw an objective line, if crossed, the atonement will not cover.
The Book of Mormon introduces an extension of God’s mercy and grace even for murder. The Lamanites were a wicked civilization. They were murderers, and would murder Nephites. We are then informed of a great change that occurred with some of the Lamanites,
“And behold, I also thank my God, that by opening correspondence we have been convinced of our sins, and of the many murders which we have committed.
“And behold, I also thank my God, yea, my great God, that he hath granted unto us that we might repent of these, and also that he hath forgiven us of those our many sins and murders which we have committed.” (Alma 24:9-10)
The scriptures appear to give evidence to the fact that murder is a sin that the atonement may or may not cover depending on the knowledge and covenants of the people who are forgiven. King David knew of God’s will and teachings. He was one of the Lord’s covenanted people. The Lamanites on the other hand had not made any covenants with the only true God. They had believed in false principles and doctrines and acted according to their authority, their knowledge, and the traditions of their fathers by which the Lord declared he would be more merciful unto the Lamanites.