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Bible Basics (5th. ed.)


Study 1: God || Study 2: The Spirit Of God || Study 3: The Promises Of God || Study 4: God And Death || Study 5: The Kingdom Of God || Study 6: God And Evil || Study 7: The Origin Of Jesus || Study 8: The Nature Of Jesus || Study 9: The Work Of Jesus || Study 10: Baptism Into Jesus || Study 11: Life In Christ   11.1 Introduction || 11.2 Holiness || 11.2.1 The Use Of Force || 11.2.2 Politics || 11.2.3 Worldly Pleasures || 11.3 Practical Christian Life || 11.3.1 Bible Study ||11.3.2 Prayer || 11.3.3 Preaching || 11.3.4 Ecclesial Life || 11.3.5 The Breaking Of Bread || 11.4 Marriage || 11.5 Fellowship


11.2.1 THE christian and the USE OF FORCE

We are living in a world dominated by sin, in which the strong oppress the weak. We saw in Section 6.1 that human governments can be called ‘the devil’ because they are organised around sinful human desires, the Biblical ‘devil’.

The repeated message of the Bible is that, in the short term, sin and the seed of the serpent will appear to triumph whilst, after temporary suffering in various ways, the seed of the woman will ultimately be justified. For this reason the believer is continually commanded “not to resist an evil person” (Mt. 5:39; Rom. 12:17; 1 Thes. 5:15; 1 Pet. 3:9).

We have seen that evil is allowed, and sometimes brought about, by God (Is. 45:7; Am. 3:6 cf. Study 6.1). Actively to resist evil by force therefore may mean that we oppose God. For this reason Jesus commanded us not to physically resist the forces of evil: “But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also” (Mt. 5:39,40). Christ is the example in this: “I gave My back to those who struck Me ...” (Is. 50:6).

Christ’s words associate suing at law with the activities of a world which is opposed to the believer. Doing this is a prime example of resisting evil, and will not be done by anyone who has a firm faith in God’s promise that “’Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). “Do not say, ‘I will recompense evil’; wait for the Lord, and He will save you” (Prov. 20:22 cf. Dt. 32:35). For this reason Paul roundly rebuked the Corinthians for taking others to law (1 Cor. 6:1-7).

In view of the greatness of our hope, we should not be so concerned with the injustices of the present life: “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law ... Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” (1 Cor. 6:1,2). Taking others to law for personal advantage should therefore be unthinkable for the true believer. There is only one judge -- the Lord. We are not therefore to set ourselves up as judges in the sense that He alone is the judge of all the earth.

In order to suppress the forces of evil, as well as (in some cases) to keep evil men in power, military and police forces are used by human governments. These are institutionalised forms of resisting evil, and therefore the true believer should have no part in them. “All who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Mt. 26:52). This is repeating a very early Divine principle: “Whoever sheds man’s blood (purposefully), by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man” (Gen. 9:6). Any wilful violence against our fellow man is therefore violence against God, unless He has sanctioned it.

Under the New Covenant, we have been told: “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Mt. 5:44; Lk. 6:27). The armed forces and police forces operate in direct contradiction to these principles and therefore the true believer will not seek to be involved with them. Even if not directly involved in committing violence, working within these organisations or involvement in employment connected with them, is evidently inadvisable; indeed, any employment which involves taking an oath of allegiance to such an authority, robs us of our freedom of conscience to obey God’s commands. Believers in Christ have therefore always been conscientious objectors to military service, although always willing to take up alternative employment in times of national crisis which will materially benefit their fellow citizens.

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