Bible Basics (5th edition): A study manual revealing the joy and peace of true Christianity

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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.

Bible Basics: Contents

Part 1: "The things concerning the Kingdom of God" Study 1: God 1.1  The Existence Of God || 1.2  The Personality Of God || Belief In Practice 1: Knowing God || 1.3  God's Name And Character || Belief In Practice 2: Grace (John Parkes) || Belief In Practice 3: The All Seeing God || Belief In Practice 4: God Is Omnipotent || Belief In Practice 5: Responding To The One God || 1.4     The Angels || Belief In Practice 6: God As Creator || Digression 1: God Manifestation || Digression 2:  Why The Trinity Was Accepted || Study 1: Questions Study 2: The Spirit Of God 2.1  Definition || 2.2  Inspiration || 2.3  Gifts Of The Holy Spirit || 2.4  The Withdrawal Of The Gifts || 2.5  The Bible The Only Authority || Digression 3: Is The Holy Spirit A Person? || Digression 4: The Principle Of Personification || Belief In Practice 7: The Implications Of Inspiration || Study 2: Questions Study 3: The Promises Of God 3.1  Introduction || 3.2  The Promise In Eden || 3.3  The Promise To Noah || 3.4  The Promise To Abraham || 3.5  The Promise To David || Belief In Practice 8: Covenant Relationship With God || Study 3: Questions Study 4: God And Death 4.1  The Nature Of Man || 4.2  The Soul || 4.3  The Spirit || 4.4  Death Is Unconsciousness || 4.5  The Resurrection || 4.6  The Judgment || Belief In Practice 9: Judgment Now || 4.7  The Place Of Reward: Heaven Or Earth?|| 4.8  Responsibility To God || 4.9  Hell || Digression 5: Purgatory || Digression 6: Ghosts And Reincarnation || Digression 7: The 'Rapture' || Belief In Practice 10: The Motivational Power Of Understanding Death || Study 4: Questions Study 5: The Kingdom Of God 5.1  Defining The Kingdom || 5.2  The Kingdom Is Not Now Established || 5.3  The Kingdom Of God In The Past || 5.4  The Kingdom Of God In The Future || 5.5  The Millennium || Digression 8: The Kingdom Of God Now (Graham Bacon) || Belief In Practice 11: What The Kingdom Of God Means Today || Study 5: QuestionsStudy 6: God And Evil 6.1  God And Evil || 6.2  The Devil And Satan || 6.3  Demons || Digression 9: The Implications And Origin Of The Belief In A Personal Satan || Digression 10: Witchcraft || Digression 11: What Happened In Eden? || Digression 12: Lucifer || Belief In Practice 12: Battle For The Mind || Study 6: Questions

Part 2: "The things concerning...the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 8:12) Study 7: The Origin Of Jesus. 7.1  Old Testament Prophecies Of Jesus || 7.2  The Virgin Birth || 7.3  Christ's Place In God's Plan || 7.4  "In the beginning was the word" || Digression 13: Jesus The Son Of God (Michael Gates) || Digression 14: Did Jesus Create The Earth? || Belief In Practice 13: Jesus Didn’t Pre-exist: And So What? || Study 7: Questions Study 8: The Nature Of Jesus 8.1  Introduction || 8.2  Differences Between God And Jesus || 8.3  The Nature Of Jesus || 8.4  The Humanity Of Jesus || 8.5  The Relationship Of God With Jesus || Belief In Practice 14: The Real Christ || Digression 15: How The Real Christ Was Lost || Digression 16: The Divine Side Of Jesus || Study 8: Questions Study 9: The Work Of Jesus 9.1  The Victory Of Jesus || 9.2  The Blood Of Jesus || 9.3  Jesus As Our Representative || 9.4  Jesus And The Law Of Moses || 9.5  The Sabbath || Digression 17 The Crucifix || Digression 18: Was Jesus Born On Dec. 25th? || Belief In Practice 15: The Meaning Of Christ’s Resurrection For Us || Belief In Practice 16: Christ Died For Me- So What Should I Do? || Belief In Practice 17: The Real Cross || Belief In Practice 18: The Inspiration Of The Cross || Study 9: Questions || Study 10: Baptism Into Jesus 10.1  The Vital Importance Of Baptism || 10.2  How Should We Be Baptized? || 10.3  The Meaning Of Baptism || 10.4  Baptism And Salvation || Digression 19: Re-baptism || Digression 20 The Thief On The Cross || Belief In Practice 19: The Certainty Of Salvation || Study 10: Questions 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 || Study 11: Questions ||