Joseph Herrin (01-06-2013)
Some readers of this blog who advocate gun ownership by Christians for self-defense may find fault with the image above. It is intended to provoke them to consider whether the mindset they have adopted is harmonious with the life and teachings of Yahshua the Messiah. The Scriptures reveal that Christ not only preached non-resistance to evil, but that He practiced it as well.
Then they came and laid hands on Yahshua and seized Him. And behold, one of those who were with Yahshua reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear. Then Yahshua said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”
I entreat the sincere disciple of Christ to ponder carefully what Yahshua was intending when He stated “all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” Were not Christ and His disciples being threatened by an unruly mob? Were not evil men in positions of government authority conspiring wickedly against them? Yet, Christ did not justify armed resistance. He reproved Peter when he sought to defend Christ with carnal weapons.
The truth is, Christ had far greater weapons of defense at His disposal than His disciples imagined. On the night of the first Passover we are told that one angel slew all the firstborn of Egypt. Yahshua had more than twelve legions of angels at His beck and call. He could have unmade the world with a command. This same Messiah who could raise the dead with the spoken word could have just as easily sent every wicked adversary to the grave.
Why did Christ NOT defend Himself, or lash out against His wicked adversaries? Yahshua came to do His Father’s will, and it was His Father’s will that He suffer many things at the hands of evil men.
But Yahweh was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief...
The contradiction is seen clearly between Christian belief today and the life of the Messiah when an image is displayed showing Christ with a gun in His hand.
The apostle Paul declared to the church of Corinth that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. They are spiritual.
II Corinthians 10:3-4
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh...
Carnal vs. Spiritual
The Messiah stated clearly what attitude should be adopted by those who desired to be found pleasing to the Father.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. And whoever shall force 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 in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”
One truth that many Christians resist is that we are not called to triumph over evil in the common sense. God has not promised His people that they will prevail over the wicked intents and schemes of fallen angels and wicked men.
And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven. And it was given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them...
Christians are not called to armed conflict with those in this world. The victory of the saints does not appear as victory in this world. The greatest triumph of Christ came as He freely yielded His life on the cross. Outwardly, this appeared to be a great defeat. It seemed that wicked angels and evil men were triumphing over the righteous. In the eyes of Yahweh, however, a great victory was won. The saints in Christ are called to experience many similar things.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
Don’t rush over these words. Consider carefully what is being declared. It is appointed to those who follow in the steps of Christ to experience tribulation in this world. They will be subjected to distressing circumstances. They will be persecuted. They will have their food, clothing, and possessions taken from them. They will face many perilous circumstances. They will be attacked with the sword, or in more modern parlance, with guns and bullets. The saints will even be slaughtered.
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”
How do we conquer? How do we prevail and come forth victorious? It is by manifesting the Spirit of Christ in the midst of our persecutions. When we love those who persecute us, when we pray for those who despitefully abuse us, when we bless those who curse and revile us, then we are overcoming the Adamic, vengeful, prideful, fear driven motives of the sinful nature. When we face our persecutors with the love, patience, meekness, forgiveness, and longsuffering of Christ we triumph.
Taking up a gun in self-defense is antithetical to the manifestation of the fruits of the Spirit. Our victory in the eyes of God is not achieved by killing or injuring others before they can kill or injure us. There is no spiritual triumph in shooting those who seek to break in and steal your goods.
Christians who have not embraced the disciples’ cross, who shrink back from experiencing suffering and loss, often present hypothetical situations in defense of their position. One might ask, “You mean if a robber breaks into my house I am just to let him take my possessions, and my family’s goods, and not resist him?” The answer Christ would give is “Yes! If you want to do what is pleasing to the Father.”
Give to every man that asks of you; and of him that takes away your goods ask them not again.
For you showed sympathy to the prisoners, and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one.
In a material society in which Christians are inundated with a prosperity gospel that makes a virtue of covetousness, there are few believers who would accept joyfully the seizure of their property. There are few who would “count it all joy” when they suffer loss because of their commitment to walk as Christ walked, and to do the will of the Father.
Some have written to me in the past and said, “If evil men broke into your home and threatened to rape your wife or daughter, or murder your children, would you not defend them?” Such hypothetical questions are predicated upon great unbelief. As a son of God I have chosen to entrust my life, and that of my family, to the care and protection of Yahweh. Is He not present every moment? Can Satan touch a child of God without first getting permission from the Father? Yahshua declared to Peter that Satan had sought permission to sift him. If Satan had not been granted permission, he could not touch one who belonged to Christ.
Similarly, we see Satan seeking permission to attack Job. God had constructed a hedge of protection around Job that Satan could not penetrate. Yahweh had to lower the hedge in order for Job to be tried. At the same time, Yahweh set definite limits upon what Satan could and could not do to Job. Do you not recognize that nothing can touch a child of God until Yahweh has determined that it is their appointed time to suffer? And when that time comes, we are promised that nothing we experience can separate us from the love of God.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Yahshua our Lord.
A brother recently wrote to me and stated:
The “What would Jesus do?” scenario is not valid in my opinion because He was only caught when it was His time. He easily escaped His detractors whenever He wanted. We don't possess such capability.
Such words and thinking dishonor the Father. We are told, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6), and “this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith” (I John 5:4). I will testify that God’s care for me as a son is no less than His care for Yahshua. He will certainly guide me, put a hedge about me, and protect me from evil. When it is my time to share in the sufferings of Christ I will receive great grace to endure all things.
Yahshua is our Pattern Man. Even as He was guided by the Spirit, so too are we to live a life yielded to the Spirit’s leading. There were times when the Spirit revealed to Christ that He should avoid certain areas where the Jews sought to harm Him, for it was not yet His time to suffer.
And after these things Yahshua was walking in Galilee; for He was unwilling to walk in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill Him.
This was no carnal decision that Christ arrived at in His own soul. Yahshua only did what the Father revealed to Him to do. Those who walk by the Spirit as Christ did will receive the same guidance. Even as an angel appeared to Joseph, the husband of Mary, in a dream warning him to flee from the wrath of Herod, and years later told him when it was safe to return, and where to locate, so too will the Spirit guide all those who belong to Him. Not one sparrow falls to the ground apart from the Father’s notice. Are you not worth more than many sparrows?
It is important for the saints to separate themselves from sin, and to live a surrendered life to the Spirit that they might hear clearly the voice of the Father. Yet, there have been many times when God in His mercy has spoken to disobedient and immature sons and daughters to deliver them from harm. I have heard many true testimonies from men and women who were saved from death, or some terrible consequence, even before they had been born again of the Spirit. Yahweh causes His sun to shine on the just and the unjust. If you want to be assured of hearing God’s voice, however, you need to be living a life of surrender and obedience before Him.
Christ never instructed His disciples to take up arms in defense of themselves. What He did tell them was to flee when they were persecuted.
“But whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next...”
There are numerous examples of the saints fleeing from persecution in the book of Acts. It is not necessary for a Christian to remain in harm’s way out of some misplaced belief that they must never act to avoid suffering. The will of Yahweh is that we be guided by His Spirit in all things. When He says to flee, we should flee. When He advises us to avoid some area, or people, then we should do as He directs. When He tells us to accept the suffering we see before us, then we need to accept what is coming. The apostle Paul manifested this attitude in his life, and he is a pattern for the saints as well.
"And now, behold, bound in spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Yahshua...”
Brothers and sisters, it should be our focus to finish the course appointed to us, and to run a good race. We too must not count our lives as dear to us. They belong to the Lord who has purchased us with His blood. Those who attack the people of God are attacking Christ, for we are His. This is why Yahshua appeared to Paul as he was on his way to Damascus to persecute the saints and said, “Paul, why do you persecute ME?” Understanding that an attack against those born of the seed of Christ is an attack against Christ’s person, can we not anticipate that He will act as our defender and protector? Can we not trust Yahshua to either deliver us from the wicked schemes of men, or to give us the grace, strength and peace to endure?
When a man or woman takes up arms for self-defense they remove themselves from a place of faith. Their trust is no longer in Yahweh’s care and protection, but on the arm of the flesh. What a weak and pitiful substitute the flesh is! Any man who puts his trust in guns and bullets to protect himself, his family, or possessions, truly lacks understanding. There is no inner peace when a man takes up his own defense. The only peace comes from entrusting one’s life to the care of God.
Psalm 91 is a familiar passage, and it has great relevance for the days before us. Many Christians have failed to understand what is being spoken in this Psalm. Pay close attention to the following words:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to Yahweh, "My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!" For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper, and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
Are you dwelling in the shelter of the Most High, or is your trust in the guns in your closet? What is the source of your confidence? Is God truly your refuge and fortress? Are you trusting in Him to protect you from all those things named in this Psalm? Or have you placed your confidence in lesser things?
The promises of Psalm 91 are for those who make God their refuge; whose hearts trust in Him. Do you see His faithfulness as a shield about you, or is your heart filled with unbelief?
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
These words of David express the confidence that Yahweh desires His children to have in Him. Those who make the Lord their refuge will not be disappointed. The saints are truly sheep among wolves. We are admonished to be as wise as serpents, yet as harmless as doves.
At this hour a great amount of attention is being given to gun ownership rights of Americans. This will increase in the coming days. The government will not rest until they have prevailed in this matter and stripped away the ability of America’s citizens to defend themselves. This may seem a terrible thing, but those who have placed the defense of their lives into the Father’s hands will be just as secure as they ever were.
There are ministers who are advocating armed resistance, and who are asserting the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Brothers and sisters, those who take up the sword will die by the sword. We wrestle not against flesh and blood. Your greatest battle will be to overcome the fear, pride and other Adamic motives within your own soul that would drive you to take up arms.
Without question, there will be much that the people of God are called to suffer in the days ahead. These experiences are for the perfecting of the saints. To pass through these trials victoriously will require faith and patience. I am confident that Yahweh will extend great grace to all who put their trust in Him.
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