Vengeance and Christians

May 24, 2013

In light of the recent murder of an abortionist and the inappropriate comments by a pastor about this murder, I feel compelled to speak to the issue of vengeance and violence.

I am retired from the military and some religious groups would tell me that I was wrong to serve because they feel Christians are to be pacifists and never participate in violence even if in self-defense. I disagree with them but accept their perspective and my wearing the uniform helped them to be able to hold to and practice that belief.

I believe that Christians can serve their country as soldiers and definitely have the right to self-defense. However, they do not have the right to vigilante justice or personal vengeance. In fact, as God says in Isaiah 55:8, we are called to His ways and thoughts which are not our natural thoughts are higher than we can achieve without Him.

Rom 12:17-21

17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. KJV

No matter how much we may abhor someone’s actions or practices we do not advance the cause of righteousness by doing evil. Are there things in the world that anger us? Yes, we are allowed righteous anger or indignation. We also know that we are still human and can be tempted to unrighteous wrath. Nonetheless, we are commanded in Ephesians to not let the sun to go down on our wrath and here in this passage to give place to it or to put it like a sword into its sheath or scabbard. The battle is the Lord’s and we need to stand fast and watch Him handle it.

We are to live in peace, as much as is possible when we have any say in it or as much as lieth in us. Sometimes you are not going to be allowed to live peaceably because your enemy refuses to live in peace. In those times, you do what verse 20 says and provide for their needs. If that ’umbleness and kindness is refused and abused it is on your enemy’s head and God shall take care of it.

You might say, “Ron, you just don’t know how angry ____ makes me!!” I probably do. I was a angry young man full of angst in the 60’s. If I would have had the power to turn “if looks could kill” into a reality they would have been doing a lot of funeral business. For years after I was saved, I still had some of the “sons of thunder” or “ Boanerges” in me. (Mark 3:17) If I am not careful, some of that can still flare up as I see the rising tide of injustices and things that go against the Bible, the Constitution and even the not so common Common Sense. Yet, I have to let it go and let God.

Unlike some religions, I do not have to avenge or defend my God. He is quite capable of taking care of Himself. He is merciful, long suffering and full of grace but He also says in this passage that He will repay. Like the little girl who would not take a handful of cherries when the grocer told her, but waited until he gave her a handful because his hand is bigger it is well if we allow God to avenge injustices because He has the bigger hand. He also has all the facts. He will handle the issue to perfection so why should we botch it up by running a muck with our volatile emotions and imperfect knowledge? If we really want things set right, let Him do it. After all, “Shall not the Judge of the earth do right?” (Gen 18:25) Besides what do our troubles mean to us?

2 Thess 1:4-10

4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:
6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;
7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. KJV

As we endure the various persecutions and tribulations we should be made keenly aware of some things. First, what the Bible says comes true and we have history and prophecy that shows how the World under the dictatorship of satan treats the righteous. Good and evil have been at war since the fall of satan and the battle came into this world via the fall of Adam in the garden. Cain and Abel were the first example of all that was to come. Abel was righteous and Cain killed him.

The righteous are usually in the minority hence we only have eight surviving the Flood. When Israel fell into sin there was always a righteous remnant or literally a few. Of all the people who heard Jesus preach, watched Him heal and raise the dead only a small part truly believed and even they had to battle doubt. He said that many would be called and few would be chosen. He questioned if there would even be any faith left on the earth when He returned meaning a believing remnant would certainly not be large since the love of many would wax cold as iniquity abounded. So when we start feeling like we are the only ones left, we should not be surprised that we are the minority. However, we must be careful as Elijah thought he was the only one left and yet the Lord had seven thousand faithful men in the land. We may be very few in number in any given area but Christ has a remnant in many lands and many places within various countries though there may only be you and seven others in your town or county.

The fact that you are being persecuted for your stand for righteousness proves not only the Bible true but also proves you are His for Paul also tells us that all who live godly SHALL suffer persecution and that it is given to us to not only have faith in Christ but also to suffer for His sake. That should make you shout and thank your tormentors for the opportunity to suffer for Jesus. In another place we are told that persecutions are evidence of our salvation and our enemy’s perdition and our salvation. Why then pray for their death or damnation as all men die and are already damned except they come to Christ. Your prayer is redundant at best and unloving at worst. Why not pray for their salvation?

If all you want is relief from your anger or persecution pray that they will be saved. Either your persecutions will end or you will have another Brother or Sister to share or fellowship with you in your persecutions while Jesus gains a soul and satan loses an right arm. That should make you shout glory!! You once faced the flaming fire of God’s judgment before you heard the Gospel and were saved. Why not use that as motivation to pray for your persecutor or the one whose sins you abhor and find abominable?

John 3:16-18

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. KJV

We quote verse 16 a lot and sometimes rather glibly but we forget the next two verses. Why did Jesus come? He do not come to condemn but to save. The World and mankind have been under condemnation since the Fall. If all He wanted was condemnation and to fry folks in Hell, He could have stayed in Heaven and done nothing.

Instead He came into the world so people could receive salvation by His sacrifice on Calvary showing His love and grace grounded in truth. The truth is God is holy and cannot accept any of man’s works for forgiveness of sins. The truth is we are sinners . The truth is we deserve Hell. The truth is that He loves us as proven by that sacrifice while we were yet sinners. The truth is that the only grace, love and mercy a person can receive is through repenting of our sins, by changing our mind about sin, God, salvation, etc and believing God rather than anything else. The truth is that we are saved when we believe and receive God’s gift. Anything else leave us in condemnation and ultimate damnation in Hell.

So, do not curse and damn your enemies or do them harm. They are in enough trouble already and usually ignorant of that fact. They do what they do because they are doing what their father, the devil, has taught them to do. They cannot do anything else. It is all they know and all you knew once. Oh, they may be religious and even clean living as we define clean living but but unless they are born again they are condemned as any vile sinner steeped in filth, blasphemy or extreme idolatry or immorality. Pray for them as somebody once prayed for you to see your need for salvation and receive it.

God has called us to be ambassadors of reconciliation, not judges, juries and certainly not executioners or torturers. That is such a twisted concept. That is the insane iniquity of groups like the Klan or other White Supremacists not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the devil working through his own, not the Holy Spirit. If you hear voices telling you that you are the “sword of the Lord” or “God’s avenger” you are not hearing God’s voice. You need to immediately seek biblical salvation from the true Jesus, not some other jesus, you have concocted in your hatred or deception.

1 Cor 5:11-13

11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. KJV

We have neglected the the place where we were called to be judges and that is the Church. We have been sloppy in whom we keep company. We have justified the sins of the Church or more often than not denied. We have given the right hand of fellowship to people who hold false doctrine and have lives that are contrary to Scripture. We have done this in the name of love or grace and it is neither. It is trying to have fellowship and communion with darkness and agreements with idols taking part in their sins and having concord with Belial. (2 Cr 6:14-19)

You say, they name the name of Christ and we agree in some things. Shouldn’t love and grace mean that we should be accepting and tolerant? You will not find that in Scripture. Jesus and the Apostles spent their ministries correcting false doctrines and teaching sound doctrine. No mixture was allowed. There was nothing called majoring on the majors and minoring on the minors or in essentials unity and non-essentials charity. We are not to add to or take away from, not turn to the right or the left and even to be concerned about jots and tittles. That does not facilitate the kind of sloppy grace we see today and acceptance of all sorts of errors. Indeed, in some things, especially sins, grace is less tolerant than law. Now, your thought as well as your actions are judged.

So why are we so concerned with what the World does when we are so slack about ourselves. That indeed is what much of the angst and anger of the World is about the Church. We are not all we are supposed to be and we want to fuss about them. Church attendance is down among believers and you want to fuss at the unchurched? We don’t give like we should. We don’t serve like we should. We preach unity and yet the non-denominational movement has splintered the Church more then ever all the while chanting unity. We say we want people to believe the Bible but we have turned out so many versions that contradict themselves that it would be laughable if it were not damning so many souls. We buy into worldly practices, pop psychology and unbiblical fictional stories yet tell the World that we have the undeniable truth. We have “Christian” nudists, strippers, evolutionists, pro-choicers, Marxists, racists, etc, etc. and we wonder why the World laughs at us.

This why Paul says, what does he have to do with them that are without? Again, people who are unbelievers cannot be made to act like believers when believers do not act like believers or clean up their own backyard. We need to break ungodly alignments or associations, we need to repent of our sins, we need to get rid of the worldliness in our churches be it in practices or philosophies. We need to quit building mansions and having churches with gimmicks. We need to quit keeping the doors of churches open that have 12 members and unite. If IFBs cannot unite here and serve here together then what is the prospect that people will believe that we will live together one day? Why did an IFB church fuss about a merger offer with a church where there were only a few people and they were dying when they were only two miles up the road from them and did not want them yet they chastised the church that did want them? How silly is that?

You SBC folks, why in the name of all that is holy do you keep splitting churches intentionally spending more money on things that will burn up in the last day rather than on the mission, message and masses? Why are there two SBC churches three miles apart that have 30 and 40 members? Why cannot they merge? I know of at least six others in the area that also need to merge. Pride! Building worship! Hello, unite or die!

The rest of the groups are just as bad. Why are there so many nondenominational churches? Same thing, pride, gimmicks, etc. If there are four of you and you have the same doctrine then three of you are redundant. Presbys, Methodists, Pentecostals, etc, etc. Pentecostals especially ought to be into one church as they claim to have all the gifts and yet they are as splintered as any other group. The Spirit does not split. He unites into one faith, one Lord, one baptism. We are to all speak the same thing and be in one accord so guess what, someone ain’t listening to the Spirit. That is why we are so divided. Everyone has some new prophesy, some new vision, etc, etc. Oh an by the way, once you put a name of your building or group you are a denomination since term means to name. So, instead of maybe a dozen denominations we now have hundreds of thousands and we wonder why the Lost is confused and unenthusiastic. What have we to do with them when we are so screwed up ourselves?

Col 4:5-6

5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.
6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. KJV

We are to walk with wisdom in dealing with the World, Instead we act hateful in the name of boldness. We are rude, crude but would cuss tattoos. Or on the other hand, we stand for nothing and our witness is so weak and watered down it is powerless and tasteless. None of that is wisdom.

Again, speaking the truth in love or biblical grace we must learn to use salt wisely. No salt at all leaves the Gospel very bland, tasteless and unappealing. A witness or evangelistic movement with no salt is worthless and will be trodden under. On the flip side, too much salt will also keep the person from partaking of the message. Some do like a lot of salt and will actually want salt put on something without even tasting it. For most people though too much salt will usually turn them away or raise their blood pressure often presenting itself in anger. The right amount of salt will bring healing to a wound and too much will scald it. Even a healing dose may burn or hurt but if the intent of the application is done with grace and in love the wounded one will usually endure it with patience. The wisdom needed is how much salt to use when giving our answers so that the right amount is used to either bring healing or create the proper thirst for the Water of Life. We are to make them want to taste of the Lord but we wan to give real food not substitutes or artificial flavorings or colorings. If it is not real milk or meat we waste their time and ours. Walk in wisdom.

1 Thess 4:7-12

7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
8 He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;
11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing. KJV

Taking vengeance that is not our right and to take it is a form of uncleanness and for certain unholy. To do so is to despise the mission of Christ and the Church and doing despite to the Spirit of God sent to give us what we need in our ministry of reconciliation and to draw the unbelievers to Christ.
Some would say that should we not pray for the destruction of God’s enemies like David? We are in the New Testament. God was building a nation on this world and that nation had physical enemies. True, we have physical enemies here but God has revealed to us that our enemies are not carnal and thus neither are our weapons. The real enemies are our own sins and principalities, powers and wickedness in high place, The real enemies are spiritual ones. Our physical enemies are driven by the spiritual ones and indeed as Christ said at the Cross they know not what they do.

Pray for their souls and salvation not their damnation. Yes, the pain and persecution will be physical but remember where the source of that pain is located and who is actually responsible. Then you can pray intelligently and win many souls as well as spiritual battles.

We need to look to our brethren in other lands who daily face threat of death, injury, rape and other egregious crimes and see how they handle it. They pray for and bless their tormentors. They do not wage carnal war and kill or destroy. They know where the real battle is and to whom vengeance belongs. They trust Him a faithful Creator and Saviour to adjudicate their case even when earthly judges do not. They are our examples. We should lift them up in praise and prepare as we draw closer to sharing their path.

He will avenge and He will repay. Let Him do His job and let us do ours!! Marantha!!!


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