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Loving Not Our Lives Unto Death
21 July 2014
This article is the second of a series. If you have not yet done so, I would highly recommend that you read part one first: Violence and Victory Under the Old Covenant.
Last time we considered what victory looked like under the Old Covenant, and the opposing views of violence under the Old and New Covenants. Now we will explore God's New Covenant definition of victory over the enemy.
To paraphrase the former Vineyard Church leader John Wimber, your fellow human being is NEVER the enemy! The Romans were not the enemies of the early followers of Yeshua, nor were the Jewish religious leaders who also persecuted them. The Nazis were not the enemies of mid-20th-century Christians, nor were the Communists. And the Muslims are not the enemies of Yeshua's followers today.
No, as the New Testament teaches, the true enemy is Satan. Those who do his evil work are not our enemies, but tools and captives of The Enemy who need to be set free from bondage to Satan, so that they can live for God instead. Now, just to be crystal clear on this matter, when I say God, I'm referring to the God of the Bible, Yahweh, the God of Israel, the Father of Yeshua. In no way am I referring to any other so-called god, especially not that demonic-impostor-god of Islam, Allah!
In teaching on this topic, the apostle Paul wrote:
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. (Ephesians 6:12)Because Satan is the true enemy, and not flesh-and-blood human beings, true followers of Yeshua have therefore absolutely NO reason to fight against flesh-and-blood humans. Read the entire New Testament for yourself. NOWHERE is it written that fellow humans are the enemy, nor is it written ANYWHERE that we should be inflicting violence on them as part of our walk with Yeshua. Such ideas just don't exist in the New Testament!
As I have stated before, the very fact that so many "Christians" believe that violence against another human being is sometimes acceptable, and even necessary, shows very clearly how much their hearts and minds are under the diabolical influence of Satan! The DEVIL is the true enemy we must fight and gain the victory over!
So how does the New Testament teach us to fight this battle and overcome the enemy? Again, Paul wrote:
Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Messiah. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
And what are these weapons which are not of this world, and that have divine power to demolish strongholds? Paul explains in Ephesians 6:10-20 that these weapons are: truth, righteousness, the Good News of peace, faith, salvation, the word of God, and prayer. This is a far cry from 1,700 years of a pagan Christianity which has used swords and guns, torture and murder, to defend itself and to promote its interests! Paul's words could not be much clearer. True followers of Yeshua do NOT wage violent war as the world does. So why, for the past 1,700 years, have "Christians" flagrantly disobeyed the New Testament by using the weapons of this world to fight fellow human beings who are not even the real enemy?! Their state of deception is so staggering that it takes one's breath away! Unfortunately, it is a massive deception which continues to be pervasive up to this very moment.
I have no doubt that there are many "Christians" out there who would feel that I am going WAY too far, when they hear me say that followers of Yeshua have no right to use violence, even in self-defense. "What about if my or my family's safety or lives are threatened?" they would say. "Surely I can't let myself or them be maimed or killed by refraining from violent defense?! Self-defense is simply common sense!"
This issue is discussed in-depth in my article Overcome Evil With Good, so there is no need to repeat it all here. Self-defense may be HUMAN common sense. Self-defense may be DEMONIC common sense. But it is definitely not DIVINE common sense. Again, Paul wrote:
Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become 'fools' so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. (1 Corinthians 3:18-19a)What is this message of the cross? Although it is multifaceted, one major aspect of it Yeshua Himself made clear:
The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.... Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For the 'foolishness' of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the 'weakness' of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:18,20b,25)
People who aren't spiritual can't receive these truths from God's Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can't understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. (1 Corinthians 2:14)
Anyone who loves their father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 10:37-39)Matthew 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; Luke 17:33 and John 12:25). By dispatching unbelievers to Hell through violent and deadly self-defense, you risk your very soul!
The choice is yours. Through fear and unbelief are you going to follow Satan's demonic "wisdom," and your own human wisdom, by trying to save your earthly life? Or through faith and obedience are you going to follow God's wisdom by losing your earthly life so you can secure it for eternity? Are you going to put your family's "safety" or your country's "security" first by violently defending them, or are you going to love God more and put Him first by obeying His clear commands?
The last book of the Bible explains how we can have victory over our enemy, Satan:
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Revelation 12:11)We defeat our satanic enemy by following the Lamb of God, walking in His footsteps, and living and dying as He did. He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He did not open His mouth (see Acts 8:30-35). Paul carries on this thought:
Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: 'For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:35-37)The apostle Peter, one of Yeshua's original twelve disciples, wrote:
To this you were called, because Messiah suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. 'He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.' When they hurled their insults at Him, he did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:21-23)
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9)
Since Messiah suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. (1 Peter 4:1)
Rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Messiah, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Yeshua, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.... If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.... So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (1 Peter 4:13,14,16,19)
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 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. (1 Peter 5:8-9)
THIS is how we gain victory over Satan. Not with violence. Not with guns. Not with self-defense. But by imitating the Lamb of God. By not retaliating. By not making threats. By repaying evil with blessing. By dying for our human "enemies" even as Yeshua did, so that they may clearly see Yeshua through our lives and deaths. When we deal with our human "enemies" with violence, when we violently defend ourselves, the world does not see Yeshua, for He did not live like that. Instead, they see Satan, who was a murderer from the beginning, and comes only to kill, steal and destroy.
John, another of Yeshua's intimate disciples, wrote:
Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. This is how we know what love is: Yeshua the Messiah laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:12-16)It is not guns and violence, even in self-defense, which overcome the world, but our faith. And what is this faith? It is believing what God has said to the point that it causes us to live and act in ways which line up with those beliefs. You can't say that you believe in God and the Bible, and then use violence to defend your country, your family, or yourself. In that case, you are being a hypocrite, and are worse than an unbeliever!
Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Yeshua is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4-5)
Faith means not trusting in your own understanding, but trusting in God and submitting to Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). Faith means living in the reality that God's thoughts are not our thoughts, and that His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Faith means loving our human "enemies," and praying for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:43-48). Faith means losing our earthly lives so that we may keep them for eternity (John 12:25). THIS is the faith the gains the victory over the enemy!
In the previous article we considered what victory under the Old Covenant looks like: the dead bodies of your enemies. So what does victory under the New Covenant look like? It looks like Yeshua on the cross. It looks like a lamb that has been slain. It looks like not loving your life unto death.
It looks like you dying in obedience to God rather than you disobeying God by killing another human being, even in self-defense. New Covenant victory looks like YOUR dead body, so that your "enemies" might live and still have an opportunity to repent before it's too late and they end up in Hell for eternity. It looks like loving THEIR lives more than your OWN life!
Victory under the Old Covenant looks like your "enemies" dying instead of you. Victory under the New Covenant looks like YOU dying instead of your "enemies." How long will "Christians" continue to buy into the lies and deception of Satan? There is absolutely NO defense for Christian self-defense!
For those who turn from the violent, obsolete, Old Covenant way of victory, and have the faith and obedience to walk in Yeshua's way, He makes this promise:
To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with My Father on His throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 3:21-22)This series continues with Many Prayers For the Gaza Crisis.
This article is 13th a series of articles on this Web site related to Exploring New Testament Realities which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
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