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Kings 18:40, tells us that “Elijah said to the people of Israel, “Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape.” So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slaughtered them there.”
1 Samuel 15:1-3, tells us, “Then Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you as king over His people, over Israel; now therefore, listen to the words of the Lord. This is what the Lord of armies says: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, in that he obstructed him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and completely destroy everything that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”
However, Matthew 5:39-42, tells us of a very different approach, “But I, (Jesus), say to you, do not show opposition against an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other toward him also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
The difference between how God instructed His people to confront evil before the advent of Christ, is stark. We see the men and women of God, in the Old Testament, stand up to evil and when called upon to do so, they would physically destroy every last vestige of evil, including men, women, children, animals and properties.
Jesus, on the other hand, called on His followers to love their enemies and to do good to those who persecuted them.
Why this sudden shift when it comes to dealing with evil and with evil people? Here are three reasons for this shift in paradigm.
(#1). Jesus makes a distinction between sin and the sinner, or evil and the one perpetrating evil. God sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus, to save the world, not to condemn the world. But, Jesus came to show us the way to defeat the evil one, and He will destroy every last vestige of evil.
(#2). We have new weapons for this warfare. Spiritual weapons, which are much more powerful than man made weapons. Because we are carnal creatures, we love to take matters into our own hands. But, the physical world is the final manifestation of the Spiritual world. We must believe and know the battle is to be fought and won in the Spiritual realm, first. Then, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.
(#3). The shift is away from the temporal or the physical manifestation of evil, and onto the source and root cause of evil which is being fought in the heavens or the spiritual world, so it would not manifest in the physical world.
We are clearly taught, in Matthew 5:38
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ verse 39. But I say to you, do not show opposition against an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other toward him also. Verse 40, And if anyone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak also. Verse 41. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Verse 42. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
Verse 43. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ verse 44. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, verse 45, so that you may prove yourselves to be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Verse 46. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors, do they not do the same? Verse 47. And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Even the Gentiles, do they not do the same? Verse 48. Therefore, you shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
If you entangle yourself in a physical struggle with evil, you must know that Jesus warned, in Mark 9:29, that there are times when “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”
Don’t be confused. We are still called to resist the devil, (James 4:7), and to destroy all manner of evil, (2 Corinthians 10:3-6) ”For though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage battle according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying arguments and all arrogance raised against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.” (Also see, Ephesians 6:10-17).
Just like the first disciples and Apostles, we are to lift the name and person of Christ, in how we live and what we say. We are to present the Living Word and call all people to Christ.
At the same time, we are to confront evil wherever it is found and to pull down the strongholds of evil, silence the ignorance of the foolish, take captive every thought through the spoken Word of God.
Having done all this, we are to continue to stand strong, trusting in the Lord, and He will exact His righteous justice and vengeance toward the unrepentant and the wicked.
Although there may be times when God will call upon you as His instrument of judgment, be very cautious. Anything more that we may do on our part is an assumption that we can replace God by taking matters into our own hands.
WHAT THIS WOULD LOOK LIKE
Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin (Acts 7) resulted in his death.
The Apostle Paul’s speech to the Athenians about the resurrection of the dead, caused some began to scoff, but others said, “We should like to hear you on this some other time.” Some joined Paul, and became believers.”
A personal story: I was asked to testify as a character witness for my neighbors, who were going through a divorce. When the attorney arrived, he began by giving me instructions on what to say on behalf of the wife. After he finished with his instructions, he asked if I had any questions. I said I had one question. He nodded for me to continue.
I asked him, “If you were to die today, do you have any assurance of where your soul would go?”
The attorney rolled his eyes and said, derisively, “I’m not going to answer that!”
I responded with, “Then, I will not proceed.”
Feeling trapped, he said, “Okay. I have no idea. I think I am a good person, so I hope I would go to heaven. How’s that?”, he finished
I went on to explain how he could know for certain, by God’s grace and through faith in Christ Jesus. I asked him if he would like to pray. He declined. I encouraged him to consider what we had talked about, I thanked him for his consideration and proceeded to the deposition.
There was a judge, two attorneys, my friends, and a court reporter present. I was sworn in and asked to give a testimony about my friend and neighbor. I started with, “First, I want you to know that both my neighbors are good people. But, I am here on behalf of the wife, so I will testify to her good character.
“I also want you to know that the One who ordained the sanctity of marriage, that is God, and He hates divorce and what divorce does to people and the children of those people. So, I am certain that God would be unhappy with these proceedings.
“Furthermore, I want you to know that God loves both of my neighbors and would want nothing less than reconciliation and healing for them. And, in fact, God loves every one of you in this room today, and I would encourage you to come to know Him personally.” I then gave my friend an endorsement.
The judge sighed heavily and said, “Do you realize we have to read that entire account in open court?!”
I answered, “No, sir, I did not. But, I am pleased to hear it.” With that, the proceedings were complete.
I have always wondered if any wanted me metaphorically dead, sort like with Stephen, or if any might have gotten saved at some point, like with Paul? Only God knows.
The point is best made in 2 Timothy 4:2, when the Bible says, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and exhort, with great patience and instruction.”
Let’s take up our place and fulfill our calling, confronting evil wherever it is found and pulling down the strongholds of evil, silencing the ignorance of the foolish, take captive every thought through the spoken Word of God, knowing that the Word of God will accomplish the very thing He sent it out to do and will not return void!
Your Brother and Friend,