Should we as Christians defend ourselves or should we turn the other cheek? Recent news events highlighted this question. One of the deadliest weapons (or strategies) in warfare is confusion.
Our biggest enemy – Satan – is an expert in using this strategy. We need to remember that the devil also knows the Word of God, and he has a couple of thousand year’s advantage over us if we want to rely on ourselves. That is why it is imperative to realize how dependent we are on God.
The devil has used the strategy of twisting God’s Word from the days of Adam and Eve. All he does is to plant the seed of doubt….. that little bit of uncertainty. “Is that really what God said?” Then he loves putting you on a guilt trip.
1 Peter 5:7-9 says “7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings”.
Those verses cover 3 very important principles which we need to have a closer look at.
Don’t Become Anxious and Do Not Fear.
Firstly we need to cast all our anxiety on God, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
We are often reminded by the Word of God not to fear. It’s never a suggestion or a request. It’s an instruction. 1 Peter 3:14 (NIV) says “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats[b]; do not be frightened.”[c]
2 Timothy 1:7 says “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline”. Fear has no business being in your life.
Be Ready, Be Prepared.
1 Peter 5:8 warns us that the enemy is walking around among us.
It is so easy to be caught by surprise. Any athlete, who is involved in competitive sports, will tell you that the element of surprise is one of the best ‘weapons’ you can have.
If you are on the receiving end, and you get caught by surprise, it becomes extremely difficult to defend or recover and you must often pay the ultimate price of defeat. This is especially the case in contact sports such as boxing, some forms of martial arts or even rugby and football.
In warfare it is no different. If you can catch the enemy by surprise, chances are good that you will have the upper-hand.
So how can we be prepared? It starts by following a daily diet of feeding your spirit with the Word of God.
We need to develop our faith. Firstly, if you are constantly aware of the enemy’s strategies, it becomes incredibly difficult for him to catch you by surprise. Secondly, if you can know the end result in advance, and you know for a fact that victory belongs to you in Jesus Christ, how can he scare you?
How do you develop your faith? Romans 10:17 (NIV) says “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ”.
Joshua 1:8 (NIV) says “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. “
This is how you apply Romans 10:17 by following the instruction of Joshua 1:8. Make it a daily habit to spend time in the Word of God by reading from it. Choose a scripture for that day that speaks to you. Read it out loud to yourself and start meditating on it. Spend some time thinking about it. What does it mean? What does it say to you?
Then you proceed to set-up camp in the safety and under the protection of Almighty God. To learn about the divine protection of God which is available to you, you can study and start meditating on Psalm 91. There are many testimonies of Christians who has miraculously escaped serious injury and even death, by taking refuge under the divine protection of God.
The secret to this is the fact that we have a responsibility in all of this. It is not going to happen by some magic. You have to fill your spirit with the Word and the promises of God to be able to stand on it. When you have to face a situation, what’s in your heart (in your spirit) will determine your reaction. Will you respond in fear, or will you respond in faith with the Word and the promises of God?
To Resist or Not To Resist
This is where we cannot afford to get confused. Recent news events were quickly followed by calls for retaliation. At the same time I saw posts and articles by Christians, warning that is not the way of Jesus.
Calls were made on scriptures such as Matthew 5:43-44 (NIV) 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”, and Matthew 5:38-40 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well”.
I totally respect when people want to stand on the Word of God and literally apply what it says. It is no secret I am all for taking scripture literally and applying it to life. But I do think we need to apply wisdom to keep scripture in context.
When you get mugged as individual, and the criminal demands your cell phone, yes, give your wallet, shirt and coat as well. When someone insults you, or even slap you in the face, yes, turn the other cheek as well.
Jesus came to fulfill the law, and we are no longer standing under the Law of Moses. But does that mean we must now become floor-mats? Should we just roll over and play dead?
That brings me to the third part in 1 Peter 5:9. It says “Resist him, and stand in faith….” There comes a time when we need to resist the attacks of the enemy.
The study notes to James 4:7 says; “Although God and Satan are at war, we don’t need to wait until the end to see who will win. God has already defeated Satan (Colossians 2:13-15; Revelation 12:10-12), and when Christ returns, Satan and all he stands for will be eliminated forever (Revelation 20:10-15). Satan is here now, however, and he is trying to win us over to his evil cause. With the Holy Spirit’s power, we can resist Satan and he will flee from us.
Ephesians 6:11-13 says “11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
I do believe this is spiritual warfare. It all originates in the spirit realm as indicated by Ephesians 6. Therefore we should start by standing our ground, retaliating in the spirit, under the leading of the Holy Spirit.
If any terrorist gets to know the truth, repents and show real remorse, coming into the Christian camp asking for forgiveness and guidance to give His life to the Lord, we should not show him away. That is the time to love your enemy.
But when there is no remorse or repentance, it starts in the spirit, but we need to resist. If some criminal (or terrorist) walks into my house (or a restaurant for that matter) and threaten my family, I cannot sit back and tell him how much I love him. I believe I can still stand on the promises of the Old Testament as well.
God might choose to intervene in a supernatural way, but He also might choose to use me as described in Psalm 144:1-3.
That doesn’t give us the right to take the law into our own hands though. We do need to consider the circumstances. That is why we have a police force and a defense force. But if bloodshed is absolutely unacceptable, then we also cannot expect any protection from our defense forces.
Let us not become fearful, but ask God for His divine protection and guidance of the Holy Spirit.