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What Does the Bible Say About Self-Defense and Christians Serving in the Military? (Dalton Gilreath)

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What does the Bible say about self-defense and Christians serving in the military?

In July of 2012 in Aurora Colorado there was a movie playing in the theater The Dark Knight Rises a Batman movie many of you may have seen that movie but on that particular day a man decided to go into that theater as you recall the to throw out some tear gas and to commence to shooting his gun several died and some 70 people were injured by gunshot wounds by tear gas that was in that room it is has become the the most deadliest one-man shooting experience that you the United States has ever had take place in December of the very same year there was another shooting at a elementary school Sandy Hook was the name of it as you recall in Connecticut that particular day children some 20 children were killed and six adults were killed that has become the worst school or grade school shooting that has taken place in our country last year in 2014 the month of June I believe it was there was a shooting out in Texas Fort Hood in which several were killed and several more were injured and then this very year in the month of June just a month and a half ago on June 17th if I’m not mistaken there was a shooting in Charleston as you recall the church there there was a prayer meeting and nine were killed and another one was injured on top of that and our leaders of this country many of them have solutions for this they believe they believe that what we need to do is we need to take away the rights of the American citizen to be able to own or to to have a gun if we take a right take away the guns and the gun rights that’s gonna solve the problem we know that that’s foolishness we know that guns that any weapons they don’t kill that’s not what kills people people kill people and there’s a lot of truth to that biblically that is absolutely also true you come back to the very first murder in the Bible right off the bat in Genesis 4 you see Cain killing Abel question what weapon did God identify that Cain used to kill Abel if you think about that for a moment if you go back and try to find it you’ll notice the weapon is not even mentioned some suppose he used to stone some suppose he he maybe had a sturdy stick that maybe he used his hands we don’t know why wouldn’t God tell us the weapon that Cain used because it wasn’t the weapons fault what Cain used to kill Abel is absolutely irrelevant what matters is that a man in his heart decided that he was going to take another man’s life people individuals men and women that choose to do this to take other lives must take responsibility for their actions wasn’t the guns fault it was the individuals fault and so this leads us to questions questions like is it is is it acceptable for a Christian for a man or a woman to defend himself to take another life in order to protect oneself if a situation like that was to arise what if somebody walks in this building right now would it be acceptable if someone had a weapon to defend this congregation would it be acceptable to defend your family at home is it acceptable for soldiers to go overseas and to fight to protect the rights of this country those questions certainly come up and biblically there are very good answers but before we really jump into answering this question my iPad is upside down there we go before we get into answering this question there are two things two key words we need to address and I believe you probably know what they are you see there is a distinct difference between murder and killing all right and I think you probably know what that difference is but let’s look at it biblically first of all murder is defined as the unlawful taking of human life there’s only one word difference in the definition between murders and killing and it’s the word unlawful murder is not what we’re discussing in this sermon when we talk about self-defense murder is to unlawfully take someone’s life there is no instance no exception where God would ever accept murder because the very definition of it is to do so with wicked intention to do so in an ungodly manner like these shootings that we’re discussing that’s murder if you have your Bibles Exodus chapter 20 in verse 13 you know it well one of the Ten Commandments thou shalt not King James Version says heel thou shalt not kill and when you read that word kill you might just think he’s literally saying it is never acceptable to take another’s life we’re gonna see in a moment but that’s not what at all what he was saying in fact he’s going to tell others that they need to take life in certain instances but before we get there I want you to focus on Matthew five because when Jesus and by the way it’s repeated again later in Matthew it’s repeated in Romans chapter 13 about verse 9 there are several cases where you see him repeat this command in the New Testament right Matthew five is when he says you’ve heard of it said of old time thou shalt not kill the word here for a kill is not the word for kill it’s translated that way in the King James Version here but that’s not the word the word is the word for murder there’s another word for kill and it’s found in several locations in Jesus referencing generically about killing for example Matthew 10 and verse 28 fear not he which is able to kill to destroy the body in other words that word therefore kill is the Greek word for kill it literally just means generically to take one’s life but that’s not the word Jesus used in Matthew 5 he used the Greek word for murder that’s the word that’s what God commanded him not to do in the 10 commandments do not murder but he never told them that there was never a case where they could not kill in fact look at Exodus 21 let me give you an example of that in the Old Testament Exodus chapter 21 look at verse 12 with me Exodus 21 in verse 12 he that smite is the man so that he die don’t miss that phrase shall surely be put to death if you kill a man for the purpose of whatever reason you just want to take his life you unlawfully kill him for the purpose of taking his life there he shall surely be put to death there was even in that very verse there’s a punishment for that and it is that his life is to be taken so murder there is not acceptable but look at verse 13 as we look at the definition here of killing just simply taking a human life not necessarily unlawfully verse 13 if a man lie not in wait right it’s about intention if he’s not lying in wait for the purpose of killing someone God will deliver him into his hand then while I point be a place whether he shall fully remember the cities of refuge in this case if you accidentally took someone else’s life it wasn’t necessarily a good thing we’re not talking about self-defense yet but in this case he says if you do so right that’s not the equivalent of purposefully murdering someone you’ve killed them in that sense you’ve taken their life but it wasn’t on purpose it was in this case an accident accidents happen right sometimes and awful in rare cases someone can accidentally take another’s life it happens unfortunately and so if that happened they had the opportunity to flee to this city and to have a place of protection that God would have for them alright we’re talking about killing we’re talking about taking a person’s life in this case in our context today though for self-defense there’s every one room is going to take one or the other position everybody in the country does of course number one group one says it is right and proper to defend one’s family even if it requires lethal force I will boldly tell you this morning with all confidence that biblically I believe this is the correct stance I would even furthermore say that we would be doing wrong if we did not for imminent are not there whatever the case to defeat once L defend ones family your children the church whatever it is absolutely this is the biblical answer we’re going to see that this morning but the second category of people is this but intentions but we call them as they’re identified as passivist they would say that it is wrong for a Christian to ever who’s lethal force and there are lots of legitimate good arguments that they would come up with in fact to this study I’ve divided this into two parts to talk about the top part of this we’re going to see biblically how that we must not only ours is it acceptable about how we must defend and protect our lives and the lives of our families but tonight we’re going to look at the arguments against that and we’re going to address those because there are good questions that arise good questions that come up let’s start here though this morning pacifists take the side the argument and you just about what have to in order to believe that it is wrong for a Christian to take a life for a Christian to say execute the the death penalty for a Christian to serve in the military for a Christian to be a police officer all of those things they would say it’s wrong for a Christian but it’s okay for a non-christian I mean you have to argue that because we have to have a police system we have to have Romans 13 it talks about the fact that there is a minister there from God to execute that death penalty and other things that are working for the government and so the argument is well it’s okay for non-christians to do that but not Christians but see there’s a major problem and I know I’m talking a little about pacifism in an argument but this is going to lead and proving a point here what to remember is that the Christian and non-christian are both amenable to the same law what’s true for a Christian according to God’s law is true for a non-christian what’s true for a non-christian according to God’s law is always going to be true for a Christian that the law applies to both sides of the equation for example acts 17 and verse 30 the Bible doesn’t say that he commands Christians to repent only he – in fact how did the very idea of becoming a Christian needs a prerequisite of that is repent he commands all men everywhere to repent when you look at Romans 5:13 and couple that with that verse there is no sin where there is no law in other words if a non-christian is not amenable to the law that law does not apply to a non-christian then he or she has no sin and therefore there’s no need to repent there’s no need to become a Christian there’s no need to be saved because the non-christian the law doesn’t apply you see the trouble we get into when we start to try to to justify the pacifist view in fact this has bled over and I don’t know who start I don’t know if it started with marriage divorce and remarriage and bled into this or I don’t know whether this line of thinking began but it’s also consistent with this marriage divorce remarriage situation that that if two non-christians are married on scripturally that the law does doesn’t apply to them and so they can divorce and remarry and that’s absolutely acceptable and that the Bible doesn’t teach that non-christians are amenable to the same law that Christians are and I’ve told you before 1st Corinthians 6 chapter 6 and around verse 9 and following he talks about the fact that these corinthian brethren were fornicators idolaters and the third one adulterers if god’s law of marriage doesn’t apply to non-christians then why would a non-christian be called an adulterer right that’s what they were they were lost so you get the idea whatever law applies to a Christian it applies to a non-christian so that logic does not work biblically it breaks it look at Romans 13 though here’s the point here’s why I brought this up Romans chapter 13 very interesting passage only a couple places does the Bible get into really talking about the government the the early leaders usually when it’s talking about leaders obviously Paul and our Lord through Paul discussing our elders but in this case that’s not verse verse one of Romans 13 let’s read it let every soul be subject unto the higher powers every soul right is that just written oh that’s everybody Christians non-christians must be subject to the higher powers but there is no power but of God the powers that of God does it matter if those powers are Christians or non-christians they are God ordained they have the authority from God to minister in that governmental position verse 2 for good of course verse 2 whoever therefore resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God and they that shall they that resist rather shall receive to themselves damnation for rulers are not a terror to good works but to the evil notice this when the intention when the government is doing their job to protect that which is good to to administer punishment consequences for those who are wicked those who are evil they are doing God’s bidding there are deigned and authorized by God to do so will thou not be afraid of the power verse 3 do that which is good and thou shalt have praise are the same if there’s no government if there’s no consequences in this world can you imagine what the kind of place we would live in if there was no consequences for murder for theft for all of these different things that we could discuss obviously there there has to be consequences so people will fear them I’m not gonna steal from the store because I know I’m going to be fine I know I’m going to go to jail or whatever the case verse 4 for he is the minister of God to thee for good that’s very important for good but if they’ll do that which is evil be afraid for he that is the governmental authority he beareth not the sword in vain friends I want you to remember this we’re going to talk about swords more in a moment when the Bible when the New Testament disc discusses a sword you might as well equate it to a gun today because that’s that’s what they used that was their weapon of justice that was their weapon of defense they would use the sword to execute they would use the sword to protect they would use the sword in war it is the equivalent today of what we use as our guns okay he’s telling them they’re not using the sword they’re not taking a life in vain for he is the minister of God a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil very important him that when you’re working for the government non-christian or Christian and you are punishing the evil when you are doing what the government is saying that which is for good to protect this country soldiers to protect the people in as individuals or as groups you think about police officers to punish them by giving them the death penalty an executioner right whatever you want to think about all of those are justified why because they are not talking about going over and killing innocent people that’s not what soldiers do that’s not what executioner’s do they are working their ordained and authorized by God to minister good and sometimes that means they must take life by the sword and that’s not in vain that’s that’s Bible folks that’s what it says now let’s take this a step further I don’t expect if you’re here in your past I don’t expect that to convince you but I hope that by being into this you’ll at least be considering I want you to notice speaking of swords jesus told His disciples to carry swords now I want you to think about this for a moment and be turning to Luke 22 I’ll meet you there Luke chapter 22 if it is not acceptable for a Christian to ever take a life then why would Christ tell his disciples to carry swords well if they’re never gonna use them why happen well it’s right here we want him to have a scare tactic well that wouldn’t be if it’s wrong he wouldn’t want anybody to be deceived either to deceive others as if they were going to protect themselves but they’re not look at Luke 20 to 35 Luke 20 to 35 he said unto them when I sent you without purse and scrip and shoes like to anything and they said nothing but then he said unto them but now he that hath the purse let him take it and likewise a scrip and he that hath no sword let him sell His garment and buy one Jesus why would you tell the disciples to sell their garment and go get a sword why would you do that verse 37 for I say unto you that this it is written must yet be accomplished in me and he was reckoned among the transgressors for the things concerning me have an end now look at verse 38 they said Lord behold here are two don’t miss this two swords and he said unto it is enough this is very just really impressive to me how clear that the Lord made this for us he tells him to buy a sword he tells them that he has a purpose that it needs to be fulfilled and these apostles are going to be going on some journeys they’re going to be taking some trips and they’re going to deal with some serious persecution and they need the ability to defend themselves because if their lives are taken prematurely there can’t fulfill their mission and so Christ gives them now here’s what’s interesting to me there are what 12 of the Apostles if Christ wanted them to kill in order to promote the kingdom in order to spread Christianity if that was his purpose then he would have told every single one of them to have a sword they’d need 12 swords for a war for a battle but why is it that two swords was enough why not just one sword though why – and I believe here’s why because the purpose of them having the sword was to protect themselves you don’t need 12 swords to protect yourselves right you say well you just need one not really because if by chance the one apostle that had a sword was killed if that just happens to be the one that was attacked guess what you’re you’re up the creek as they say so you have two swords you have an extra opportunity to be sure that you’re going to be protected there was no need to have more swords than that they weren’t going to war they weren’t going to battle to promote a physical kingdom but they needed to protect themselves again you said preacher I just don’t know why else would Jesus have them by two swords don’t answer that now you can answer and come talk to me about afterwards but no don’t answer it right now again we’re going to talk more about this today an excuse me this morning in this evening but look at Matthew 26 somebody might bring this up will at least address an argument that might come up for this point Matthew chapter 26 in verse 52 obviously you think about a sword you think about the garden you remember Peter Peter pulls out the sword which by the way he had on his person he pulls out the sword and he cuts off the ear of the servant Malchus you remember look at verse 52 Matthew 26 verse number 52 Jesus says in to him after he cuts off his ear put up again thy sword into his place for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword notice again the context here Jesus doesn’t tell him Peter you should have never brought that sword you’re not allowed to have a sword right that’s not what happens but what he does say is Peter keep it in its proper place right I don’t want you to have swords to promote the kingdom that’s not why you have swords I don’t want you to fight in fact you see that further John 18:36 you remember the conversation with Pilate and Pilate is talking to him and says are you King of the Jews are you really claiming to be the king and he tells Pilate My Kingdom is not of this world if it was of this world My servants would fight I would have them use swords I would have to admit by the way Jesus didn’t say they would never fight notice that if they were promoting a physical Kingdom he says they would fight they would use their swords for that purpose but we’re not fighting a physical battle and so Peter doesn’t need to use his sword for that purpose Peter didn’t have to defend himself there he was defending his Lord in order to promote the kingdom but that was not the mission our Lord was to go to the cross of course and so you notice Ephesians 6:12 we know that we’re fighting a spiritual battle right not a physical one but Christ did not tell us apostles don’t have swords you don’t ever need them what he told them was you’re not going to promote the kingdom using swords through battles through wars but you do need to protect yourselves which brings me to the last point and where we’ll spend the remainder of our time the protection principle I would call it biblically we see this principle of protection now I have to prove this I mean if I’m going to tell you that that Jesus had been by swords and and that was for the purpose of protection we ought to see this consistently in the Bible we ought to see where Christ would reference or where the Apostles would reference the fact that they were defending themselves that they could protect themselves some would tell you passive US would tell you if someone’s going to take your life just let them do it right turn the other cheek they might say again we’re going to talk about that tonight but just just let it happen you can’t defend yourself in any way light you’ve got to let that take place maybe that’s extreme passivism but some take that view look at Luke chapter 4 Luke chapter forward our Lord Himself protected himself Jesus Christ protected himself now he had abilities obviously that we do not Jesus did not have to harm anyone physically he certainly did not but what I’m proving here what I want you to see is this principle of keeping one’s body protected the body that we’ve purchased 1st Corinthians 6 that Christ purchased rather that is not our own we need to take care of it Luke 4 verse 29 mmm-hmm after Jesus gives them this discussion about how a prophet is not accepted in his own country all that are in the synagogue verse 28 when they heard these things were filled with wrath noticed this and rose up and thrust him out of the city led him to the brow or the edge of the hill whereon the city was built they’ve got him in custody if you will they’ve taken him out to the edge of the cliff and at this point he’s done nothing but they were going to cast him down headlong hey they’re going to kill him so Jesus verse 30 let them know but he passing through the midst of them went his way I said that’s intriguing to me I don’t know how he did it I’m very confident I don’t know for a fact but I feel very confident but this was a miraculous effort Jesus was one man he didn’t pull out a sword and fight him that wasn’t what he did what he did was he passed through them he protected himself he didn’t just let them throw him off a cliff and not serve his mission serve his role here on earth we each have our own role right John 8 verse 59 another example and this one’s even more interesting to me because they Pat him out they pick up the stones they’re ready to start throwing stones to kill Jesus and he disappears the Bible said he hid himself and he walked away I don’t know if he literally just went invisible I don’t know I don’t know what he did it seems to be miraculous but there he was ready and as soon as they’re gonna throw those stones he doesn’t let it happen Jesus protected himself by the way Jesus didn’t damn all stones did he he didn’t tell him you cannot have stones because you use that as a weapon to murder no he just made sure that he protected himself and you know his own way and that was to be able to just be invisible to miraculously get out of there I want to give you this passage and I know that some will be skeptical of this but I want to challenge you with it to study this for yourself as I was preparing for this lesson I was intrigued to find that first Timothy 5 and verse 8 you remember the passage that talks about providing for his own and most of the time we correlate that with financially and that’s part of it but if you if you dive into the language here this is a verse about protection it’s about protecting your family their health it’s about providing for them right providing food providing the necessities of life sure but it’s also about protecting them it’s about keeping their life keeping them healthy and part of that included in this word first Timothy 5:8 is protection is self-defense a command almost in 1st Timothy 5 and verse 8 I challenge you to look that up to study that a little deeper another example I’m throwing the exact you but I want to give you as many reasons as I can why I feel so strongly about our need to defend ourselves to protect ourselves in our family and of course in that worst case scenario to have to take life in order to spare it acts 23 23 when Paul was taken you remember when he was going to Caesarea he was given two Centurions two hundred foot soldiers seventy if I remember correctly horsemen and more on top of that all of these men were there to protect Paul but I find it interesting that Luke nor Paul in any way told them not to do that I feel like obviously if this was sinful then Paul would have not been comfortable with it Paul would have not allowed it he would have done something he would have tried to avoid this the reason they brought all those soldiers to carry him off was to protect him they were going to use force obviously to defend his life that was in no way discouraged or condemned there’s no reason to believe that Paul was uncomfortable and again knowing what we know in reading verses like Romans three we can understand why because they are sanctioned by God to do that role Luke chapter 11 I’m having to go quickly Luke chapter 11 verse 21 another reason another idea of protection reference this in this case by our Lord Luke 11 21 when a strong man notice the next word when a strong man armed that is with a weapon with a item of defense when he’s on notice he keepeth his palace his goods are in peace we’re talking about his home we’re talking about the master of the house and when he’s armed to defend himself to defend his home then his home is left alone but look at verse 22 but when a stranger shall come upon him and overcome him he taketh from him all his armor where any is trusted and divideth his spoils he’s talking about a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand and he references the fact that a master has got to be armed if he’s going to defend his house from a thief Matthew 24 and verse 43 if the goodman if the master of the house had known at what point the thief was going to come at what point he was going to try to break in and to steal he would have not suffered him King James Version he would not have allowed him to do so question how would the master of the home not allow a thief to get in not allow harm to be done to his family for items of his house to be taken even we’re just talking about thievery really in the context he’s going to be armed and he’s going to physically in some way there’s going to be some altercation to defend his home again we’re just noticing these principles one last one that I’m going to give you and we’ll finish this tonight and hopefully Lord Willy I believe that we will but look at Exodus 22 and the lesson over the years I’ll leave you with these thoughts for this morning and an afternoon hopefully to ponder more Exodus 22 beginning in verse 1 I want you to see that it has never been in God’s nature not even in the Old Testament either was it in God’s nature to condemn someone who took life to defend himself there’s there’s just not Bible for it now again I know their arguments I know you have questions many of you probably do and I hope that will address all of those tonight but here’s one more passage for you Exodus 20 21 if a man shall steal an ox or a sheep and kill it or sell it he shall restore five oxen for an ox for a sheep for a sheep there’s what to do in the case of that thievery if verse two and thief be caught he’d be found breaking up and be smitten that he died there shall be no bloodshed for him if someone’s breaking into your home now notice earlier the Bible says thou shalt not kill this is a contradiction no it’s not you’re not to murder you’re not to take innocent life right but when you’ve got somebody breaking into your home God says and you defend yourself and your family and that person loses their life in the altercation there’s no bloodshed for that there is no accountability for that action that’s what our Lord told these men of Israel and so because of the fact that we are both amenable as Christians and non-christians to the same law and that the government has the authority by God to administer justice to take life we can already see that not all taking of life is ungodly is sinful and so we’re trying to find out is it okay for me to protect myself and my family and potentially even take a life in doing so we don’t want that to happen that’s not the desire you don’t just go get a shotgun and just wait for somebody to come in and that that’s not what I’m talking about but if something happens and they come in are we to protect ourselves Jesus had the Apostles carries two swords I believe that was about protection don’t you Jesus talked about this Goodman and protecting his home and his family and that all the verses I’m not going to relive them all but for all of these reasons and more tonight I believe that we not only are acceptable in defending ourselves and our family but that we must we must protect ourselves there are people in this world that have very very wicked hearts and for them to come in and to take the lives of twenty children in that elementary school and for us to just sit there and let that happen you know what that implies that implies that you do not want a Christian around when something like that takes place do we really believe that do we really want to teach that that that a Christian is the last person you want at your side when an altercation like that takes place again we’ll talk more about it I’ll hush the lesson it is yours you have the opportunity we didn’t talk about what to do to become a Christian this morning but you do have that opportunity and we will not neglect it at this time if you believe that Jesus is the Son of God John 8:24 if you believe that he came to this world that he died for your sins so that you could be in heaven with God forever you have the opportunity to accept that free gift of salvation if you’re willing to repent of sin everybody’s amenable to that everyone must repent Luke 13:3 everybody otherwise we’re going to perish if you’re willing to confess with your mouth at that verbal expression that you believe Jesus is the Son of God and to be baptized in water for the remission of your sins and at that point x2 in verse 38 all of your sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ men killed an innocent man they murdered our Lord so that you could be saved what are you going to do about that free gift maybe you’ve done that and you’ve let sin back into your life I doubt you’ve taken some ones like that you’ve murdered someone but maybe you’ve crucified the Son of God afresh you’ve murdered him in that spiritual sense because you’ve just let wilful sin come right back in and you put him back on the cross as it were the very reason he died to begin with because you were selfish enough to choose that sin over him you know what to do repent of that confess that sin let us pray with you and for you we want to encourage you any way that we can I hope that you’ll be back tonight as we study this further but most importantly I hope right now if your life is not right with God that you’ll make it right you have the opportunity to come forward right now as we stand and sing together

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