Should A Christian Ever Use Physical Force?

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Hi S____,
Thanks for sending this along. I have never heard of this man, but he certainly sounds like a very sincere man who wants to do the right thing. The Lord has given him the ability to acknowledge that “He who lives by the sword will die by the sword,” but the Lord has not given him the ability to see that principle through to its scriptural end.
It is few men indeed who are able to apply that statement as Christ Himself applied it in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Christ offered Himself instead of His disciples, who were guilty of resisting arrest. It takes the sum of God’s Word to make this clear, so here are Luke’s and John’s accounts of what happened when Christ was arrested.

Luk 22:47 And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.
Luk 22:48 But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?
Luk 22:49 When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?
Luk 22:50 And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.
Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.
Joh 18:7 Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.
Joh 18:8 Jesus answered, I have told you that I am [ he]: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way:
Joh 18:9 That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.
Joh 18:10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.
Joh 18:11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

There has never been nor will there ever be a more just reason for helping another brother who is being unjustly dealt with by others. Imaging any scenario you want, and it will pale into insignificance by comparison to what was happening to Christ at the time of His arrest. What was His advice to this very letter you have sent me with all of its understandable rationalizing? Here are a couple of other versions which make Christ’s words to Peter much clearer than the King James does:

(EMTV) But Jesus answered and said, ” Stop right there.” And touching his ear, He healed him.
(GNB) But Jesus said, ” Enough of this!” He touched the man’s ear and healed him.

Then Christ goes on to tell Peter that Peter’s reasonings were not those of God, and in doing so Christ is also answering this brother’s reasonings.
I am not a fool. I am well aware that it is impossible to obey Christ in this flesh. But if Christ is in me I am not walking in this flesh, and I will become a fool that I may be considered wise in Christ’s eyes.

1Co 3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

God’s mind, and therefore His Word, are counterintuitive to the mind of the natural man. As sincere as brother ____ is, he has succumbed to the rational thinking of the natural man and has replaced the love of God with the love of the natural man. Here is what he perceives as the proper way to show one’s love for others:

This scripture below is true brotherly love, and as are most people, the author is unaware of what is true brotherly love:

1Jn 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
1Jn 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

True brotherly love is obedience to God’s commandments. Nothing else is “brotherly love.” Everything else is simply masquerading as brotherly love.
I too, appreciate the work that policemen do every day. But my appreciation for what they do to maintain order in society does not blind my spiritual eyes to the fact that those who are sent by God to reward evil doers are themselves evil doers, from a Biblical perspective. This does not mean that I in any way disparage those who are placed in that position by God Himself. It simply means that as far as I am concerned, “every man is a liar and God’s Word is the Truth.”

Psa 17:11 They have now compassed us in our steps: they have set their eyes bowing down to the earth;
Psa 17:12 Like as a lion that is greedy of his prey, and as it were a young lion lurking in secret places.
Psa 17:13 Arise, O LORD, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword:
From men which are thy hand, O LORD, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid [ treasure]: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their [ substance] to their babes.
Rom 3:3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
Rom 3:4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

God uses evil men to “compass us,” and then He uses other evil men to deliver us from those who “compass us.” Evil men are “God’s sword” to exact justice on other evil men. Those He uses in this way “have their portion in this life.” It is Paul who tells us that vengeance belongs to God and not to us:

Rom 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [ rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

But then he also explains to us that God uses those who exact vengeance as His “minister of God to you for good”, His instruments for directing His wrath against those who are involved in the affairs of this age:

Rom 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
Rom 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

As foolish as it may sound, it is not love to defend our brothers who are being unjustly treated or even killed, if in the process we must disobey the commandments of our Lord. Take a bullet for your wife, yes, by all means, or your brother. Christ would have commended Peter had Peter been willing to go to the cross with Him, but Peter was like you and me. We are willing to die for Christ, but unwilling to die with Him and allow evil to destroy our physical body in order to find our spiritual body. How foolish are these words to the natural man:

Luk 17:33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

I do not mean to sound mean- spirited, but when we rationalize the defense of our brothers into self- defense, we do nothing more or less than to deny the words of Christ, and simply conclude that the defense of our brothers “muddies the ethical issue of self defense,” will still amount to denying Christ’s words, and therefore denying Christ, Himself. We, our brothers and Christ, are not, as ____ states, another issue. Our brothers are us, and we are them.

Here are ____’s own words:

He goes on to make this statement:

Placing oneself between the assailants is not “mere watching (or ignoring) a crime in progress. Placing oneself in a position of absorbing the evil is what Christ demonstrated for us. When I refused to go to Viet Nam, was I “merely watching or ignoring a crime in progress?” No, my refusal was my action against evil to which God has called me. The soldiers in Viet Nam were called to be physical soldiers, while my calling was to be a spiritual soldier, an ambassador of the kingdom of heaven, as ____ correctly points out.

He also makes this statement:

God has obviously, at this point, blinded ____ to the story of our Lord Himself, where both He and His disciples were threatened, and Christ healed the ear of the servant of the high priest, taking away any evidence of His disciples’ wrong- doing and placing Himself in the hands of the authorities in their stead.
____’s whole premise is based upon His assumption that the law of Moses is the law of God. As I was for the majority of my own life, he is confused about the function of the law of Moses as a mere shadow of the “change also of the law,” which Christ came to give us in His position as a reformer.

Heb 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, [ and] not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
Heb 7:12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
Heb 9:10 [ Which stood] only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
Joh 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Christ was a reformer and made many “changes also of the law.”
If I had his e- mail address, I would forward all of this to Him, since he actually solicits input from others, but I will leave that to you, if you feel so lead. He would learn that the law of Moses “is not of faith… is changed with the priesthood… and is but a shadow of good things to come,” which are all fulfilled in Christ, if he would read the paper The Law of Moses Versus The Law of The Spirit.
I hope this is all of some help for you. My prayers are with you and your family. Do not hurry the Lord. He will provide you another job when He is ready to do so. Whatever is done is His doing, simply because it is He who is working all things after the counsel of His own will. Yes, even the evil.
Your brother in Christ,

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