Many Christians are very confused over a believer’s responsibility in areas of self-defense, a righteous war, justifiable homicide, legal execution etc. When the church does not understand a Christian’s rights and responsibilities in these areas they can become needless victims. Many Christians become pacifists and fail to become the protector of their home and nation. In these cases the believers are not persecuted for righteousness sake but instead for ignorance.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT RETALIATION OR VENGEANCE?
Matthew 5:38-42 (NIV)
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.
39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.
40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.
41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.
42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
NOTE: The Rev. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor, author, theologian and anti-Nazi dissident, knew his responsibilities as an ambassador of Jesus Christ. He was a spy against the Nazi’s in WW II which was a just war, and involved in the assassination attempt against Adolph Hitler. Yet when he was captured he became the perfect Christ like example of what Jesus was saying when under the control of dictators like the Roman couriers mentioned above and with Bonhoeffer in a German prison. He fought the enemies of the Church when he was free as that was his obligation instructed to all of us in the scriptures yet when captured he then again as an commandment by God loved his enemies instead of continuing to fight them. Just before Bonhoeffer was executed his German guards were so impressed by his love that they offered to help him escape but he refused fearing the guards and their families would be retaliated against by the Nazis so he freely gave up his life which is the ultimate example of God’s love and died without fear.
When people read Matthew 5:38-42, they think the Lord is telling them not to defend themselves. Jesus is not saying that at all. Instead He is saying not to retaliate as far as vengeance. (Romans 12:14) It is also saying to do more than what is required and be kind and generous. (Matthew 18:15-22) Matthew 5:38-44, is actually in reference to a king’s courier authority to force others into service for the kings business. To refuse would have been an unpardonable offense to the king. (Matthew 27:32)
Romans 12:17 (NIV)
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
1 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.
Proverbs 24:29 (NIV)
29 And don’t say, “Now I can pay them back for what they’ve done to me! I’ll get even with them!”
The meaning is so very clear. If someone is a bad, rude, evil, foul mouth person it doesn’t mean we have to be the same. We should always exhibit the demeanor of Christ as far as the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Again, this certainly does not mean we cannot defend ourselves or our families or arrest this person for a crime.
WHAT DO THE SCRIPTURES SAY ABOUT SELF DEFENSE?
Exodus 22:2-3 (NIV)
2 “If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed;
3 but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed.
These verses certainly advocate self-defense. When a burglary is taking place in your home at night and you shoot the intruder killing him, then that is considered self-defense because you could not see to discern whether the person was going to try to harm, rape or kill you. But when it is daylight then you can discern much better if the person was just a thief wanting to steal some of your possessions or he was an attacker. These verses also explain the difference between justifiable homicide in which the defendant can righteously use lethal force to defend himself; his family and the prevention of a crime. It also explains that it is not legitimate to kill someone just trying to steal your property. In the United States our civil laws came from the Bible where it is clear not all crimes is worthy of death.
Luke 11:21 (NIV)
21 “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe.
Isaiah 49:24 (NIV)
24 Who can snatch the plunder of war from the hands of a warrior? Who can demand that a tyrant[a] let his captives go?
Nehemiah 4:13-14 (NIV)
13 So I placed armed guards behind the lowest parts of the wall in the exposed areas. I stationed the people to stand guard by families, armed with swords, spears, and bows.
14 Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!”
SELF DEFENSE IS WARRANTED FOR AN UNLAWFUL ARREST
Matthew 26:51-54 (NLT)
51 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.
52 “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword.
53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly?
54 But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”
Matthew 26:55-56 (NKJV)
55 In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me.
56 But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.
Luke 22:49-53 (J.B. Phillips New Testament)
49 And the disciples, seeing what was going to happen, cried, “Lord, shall we use our swords?”
50 And one of them did slash at the High Priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear.
51 But Jesus retorted, “That will do!” And he touched his ear and healed him.
52 Then he spoke to the chief priests, Temple officers and elders who were there to arrest him, “So you have come out with your swords and staves as if I were a bandit.
53 Day after day I was with you in the Temple and you never laid a finger on me—but this is your hour and the power of darkness is yours!”
John 18:10-12 (NIV)
10 Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave.
11 But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”
12 So the soldiers, their commanding officer, and the Temple guards arrested Jesus and tied him up.
NOTE: Obviously even Jesus disciples had weapons for self-defense only here Jesus came to die for the sins of the world. Here they had the right to employ their swords in defense of an unlawful arrest but Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins so we might be justified before God and may have eternal life. Jesus did not want anyone protecting Him. Jesus also knew his disciples were completely outnumbered and if they resisted they would have died needlessly.
Esther 8:11-12 (NIV)
11 The king’s decree gave the Jews in every city authority to unite to defend their lives. They were allowed to kill, slaughter, and annihilate anyone of any nationality or province who might attack them or their children and wives, and to take the property of their enemies.
12 The day chosen for this event throughout all the provinces of King Xerxes was March 7 of the next year.
Nehemiah 4:16-18 (NIV)
16 But from then on, only half my men worked while the other half stood guard with spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. The leaders stationed themselves behind the people of Judah
17 who were building the wall. The laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon.
18 All the builders had a sword belted to their side. The trumpeter stayed with me to sound the alarm.
WHAT DID JESUS SAY ABOUT BUYING WEAPONS?
Luke 22:35-37 (NIV)
35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you out to preach the Good News and you did not have money, a traveler’s bag, or an extra pair of sandals, did you need anything?” “No,” they replied.
36 “But now,” he said, “take your money and a traveler’s bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one!
37 For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels. Yes, everything written about me by the prophets will come true.”
Luke 22:38-39 (NIV)
38 “Look, Lord,” they replied, “we have two swords among us. That’s enough,” he said.
39 Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives.
WHAT IS GOD’S VIEW ON PROTECTING YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY?
Psalms 82:4 (NIV)
4 Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people.
Proverbs 24:11 (NIV)
11 Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die; save them as they stagger to their death.
1 Timothy 5:8 (NIV)
8 But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.
LEGAL EXECUTION—JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDE
Exodus 21:16 (NIV)
16 “Kidnappers must be put to death, whether they are caught in possession of their victims or have already sold them as slaves.
Deuteronomy 24:7 (NIV)
7 “If anyone kidnaps a fellow Israelite and treats him as a slave or sells him, the kidnapper must die. In this way, you will purge the evil from among you.
Deuteronomy 5:17 (NIV)
17 “You shall not murder.
NOTE: Read the scriptures above and below where the legal execution of a criminal convicted of a capital crime was authorized.
Deuteronomy 17:1-7 (NIV)
1 Do not sacrifice to the LORD your God an ox or a sheep that has any defect or flaw in it, for that would be detestable to him.
2 If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the LORD gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God in violation of his covenant,
3 and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars in the sky,
4 and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel,
5 take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death.
6 On the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.
7 The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting that person to death, and then the hands of all the people. You must purge the evil from among you.
Leviticus 24:16-17 (NIV)
16 anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.
17 “‘Anyone who takes the life of a human being is to be put to death.
Esther 9:1-5 (NKJ)
1 Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day, the time came for the king’s command and his decree to be executed. On the day that the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, the opposite occurred, in that the Jews themselves overpowered those who hated them.
2 The Jews gathered together in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could withstand them, because fear of them fell upon all people.
3 And all the officials of the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and all those doing the king’s work, helped the Jews, because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them.
4 For Mordecai was great in the king’s palace, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces; for this man Mordecai became increasingly prominent.
5 Thus the Jews defeated all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, with slaughter and destruction, and did what they pleased with those who hated them.
NOTE: This was justifiable homicide in widespread self-defense with legal force in a non-wartime, non-law enforcement situation. This might actually happen in The United States or other nations to save Christians if they have educated Godly Issachar leadership behind the pulpit who understands their responsibilities given to them by God explained in the Bible to protect the church.
I hope this has helped clarify some of the questions surrounding self-defense. In my next article, IS SELF DEFENSE JUSTIFIED FOR A CHRISTIAN PART II, I will explain God’s views on OWNING WEAPONS FOR SELF-DEFENSE & A RIGHTEOUS WAR. I will also explain on MERCY AND GRACE FOR ACCIDENTAL HOMICIDE.
We are living in unprecedented times. It is of the utmost importance that Christians understand their roles and responsibilities for themselves, their families and their nation. May God richly bless you. My web site is www.worldministries.org. Study the various ways you can help me get the gospel out to save the nations.
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