Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Wrong Fighting Style

Are Christians Allowed to Fight Physically?

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7).

As usual we asked the Lord (through my daughter Charis) what we should write about for this week and He said: Your father must write an article about fighting”. To our fellow brethren and readers, it is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who provides the subject matter and has instructed us to use the things and experiences He has given us for your edification and correction.

We are called to fight the good fight of faith daily. In this article, I will point to physical fighting incidents involving us, as members of this ministry, and the Lord’s corrections and rebukes. The answer to the above question, “Are Christians allowed to fight physically?”, is bluntly NO! Whether in the ring or outside the ring no one who is in union with Christ should engage in any physical fights as a way of defence (Ephesians 3: 12-21; Romans 12:19). Having said that, if this is being practiced as a sport it makes no difference, the motive of fighting is to inflict injury onto the person of another. When we fight, we do so from strong feelings of anger, revenge and bitterness. We call revenge self-defence, which is true in most cases, but as children of light we are forbidden to engage in physical fights. Christ left us an example through His suffering (1 Peter 2:21-23). We know from the Scriptures, He did not fight back but entrusted everything into the hands of God (Isaiah 53).

In the Bible we are taught, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4).

“Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear (Luke 22:49-50). “Put your swords away!”(John 18:11). “No more of this!”(Luke 22:51).

Again, “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”, (Ephesians 6: 12).

Furthermore, there are unfortunately pastors who preach self-defence through physical violence, citing Old Testament passages. While the Old Testament is still forcibly in use and relevant for our walk with God, we as a body are called to follow Christ’s example and live a life of love (Ephesians 5:1-2). Also as parents, often we encourage our children to stand up for themselves and fight their attackers. We prepare them for war and to take matters into their own hands, but this is not what we are instructed to do (Ephesians 6:4; Proverbs 22:6). A loving heart forgives and leaves retribution into the hands of God (2 Timothy 4:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:6). Our guarantee of vengeance against an offender should be vested in God’s justice, He is our defender (Romans 12:19).

As people, we have a natural instinct for revenge and our pursuit of retribution is not always justified. God in His great righteousness instructed the leaders of Israel to build cities of refuge to prevent the avengers of blood to commit unjustified murders, (see Joshua 20; 2 Samuel 3:30). In the Old Testament God used people in physical fights and empowered them to execute His judgements against sins committed (2 Samuel 24:1; 1 Kings 11:26-40; Judges 2:10-15). This was God the Creator of all things and the Judge of all executing His Justified judgements. It was by His permission and His strength (Judges 6: 14-16). Therefore, the Old Testament fights were sanctioned by God to execute His Judgements according to above Scriptures, while the New Testament forbids physical fights in favour of living a life of love and peace in Christ Jesus (Matthew 5: 3-10).

The Beating of Believers and Their Submission to Abuse

Many believers including the apostles and disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ were exposed to brutal martyrdom and beatings (Acts: 7:54-60; Acts 16: 22-24). These humble servants of Christ Jesus offered themselves and their bodies for the sake of the gospel (Galatians 6:17). They endured every kind of abuse but the light of their testimony shined forth (Acts 21; 22).

This was their quest not just to suffer for truth, but to even die for this most precious faith and conviction (Acts 21:13). They turned the other cheek (Matthew 5:39). Are we determined to follow their self-less example and submissive attitude to their abusers like our Lord as well?

And with this in mind, do we seek our own Justice? If we do, we would have received our due (Matthew 6: 1- 4). God says: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil….”Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12: 17-19).

Overcoming the Spirit of Fighting Through Submission to Christ

We are now turning to testimonies and the Lord’s words and rebukes. Daily, we face tests and temptations of various kinds. The Bible encourages us to exercise faith, love and obedience (Romans 13: 8-10). The Love of Christ in us compels us to obey Him and submit in obedience to his Word in service to others (2 Corinthians 5:14). Any kind of fighting is forbidden, both in light of the above Scriptures as well as well actual words of rebukes from our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here follows our testimonies.

I know a brother in the Lord who had an argument with his wife. She badly insulted him and he could not contain or restrain his anger, so he opted to attack her. Before closing his fists to hit her, he was convicted and backed off without inflicting blows on her. Although he did not hit her, this was very displeasing to the Lord and He rebuked the brother for even attempting to fight with wife. We must remember that violence is driven by a spirit of anger and there is no love, forgiveness and peace in anger.

Furthermore, a sister in our ministry had a heated quarrel with another woman; she was overcome with anger and emotion, so she slapped the other woman in her face. This also was displeasing to the Lord so He brought her a serious message saying she must stop fighting and hitting others even if they wronged her. Recently some of our children got involved in a fight and we questioned them why they fought and retaliated. Each one declared his innocence and blamed the others, just like Adam and Eve did (see Genesis 3). The Lord commanded us to discipline them. We ordered them not to fight back if someone hits them, but to come to us so that we, as parents, may discipline where necessary. If we ignore children fighting, we leave them to seek their own justice, thus encouraging a fighting spirit in them.

Personal Testimony and Deliverance from Carnal Strength

Additionally, here is a short testimony about my earlier life of violence. I came from a gangster background. I lived for fights and because of my self-low esteem I tried to establish attention to myself through violence. When I was about 16 years old, I got involved in gangsterism. I lived by the sword and due to fear and insecurity I was always armed, never leaving home without my ‘weapon’. Some people in my community loved me through fear while others hated me and wanted me locked up or killed. During those years, I easily gave in to anger and inflicted serious injury to others. People, I mention this merely as a testimony to help others who had similar disturbing childhood up bringing like me. This is also to show you the Love and grace of Jesus Christ upon a wretched and hopeless sinner like me. He still saves today. I knew no love, but only violence and abuse.

Moreover, I decided to relocate and I transferred with me my ‘fighting’ skills. This was all I had to survive on. I joined a local gang for survival. I will spare you the details; little did I know the Lord had other plans. Without going into detail about my acceptance of Christ as my Saviour, I was totally ‘cooled’ down from a spirit of anger and violence to submission and fear for Him.

As it is, I was met with similar situations of violence after being born again. Certain men who knew my past were sent to test me to see if I would retaliate in the flesh and count on my own strength which yielded sin. Since I depended on myself, I had to make a choice to either submit to the Lord or look like a “bangbroek” (a Dutch or Afrikaans expression of being timid). I had a quarrel with someone and he threatened me so I retaliated. This led him to charge at me, and as he came for me I prayed silently, “Lord please help me, I don’t want to fight”. Almost instantly, he stopped right in front of me without doing as he intended. Soon after this, he issued further threats that he would beat me up on my way home from work. Although this man spoke up against me, there were others who sided with him. This led me to seek the Lord in prayer for protection every day, because I was determined to obey and not fight. The Lord provided protection for me and because these men knew my past and some even experienced my wrath, they gave great praise and testimony about the power of Christ and the change He brought in my life.

A further testimony, I was almost killed quite a few years ago in a drunken quarrel by a very close relative. I almost lost my fingers during this fight; I was totally intoxicated, not knowing where I was. According to some eye witnesses, if someone had not kicked the knife out of my attacker’s hand, he would have stabbed me to death. The Lord saved me that day! I only knew this a few months after this incident. Before I gave my life to the Lord, I planned revenge and my motive was to inflict serious injury or even death. Even after accepting the Lord, I was still in bondage to the spirit of revenge and violence. Beloved, I am not lying, but I am giving an honest testimony in obedience to our Lord and to save, through my troubled past life, others who are prisoners to grudges and hatred with the motive of seeking revenge.

Anyway, one day I came face to face with my attacker and blood within me was pumping ‘revenge’ and unforgiveness. At once the Lord appeared to me and said: “Anyone who claims to be in the light, but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him” (1 John 1:9-11). I was overcome with guilt and I repented and asked the Lord to take these evil feelings away from me. This was very hard test for me because I was forced to share one house with him. He was continuously in my way and sometimes his actions were provocative. Every time those dark feelings appear I would go on my knees and ask the Lord to take it away and help me love with His love.

Praise be to the Lord, I got victory through Christ Jesus and He turned a spirit of revenge and hatred into a spirit of love and compassion for this precious young brother!

While this article dealt with physical fighting, I should also mention that hurting others verbally or nonverbally (with words, gestures, etc.) is displeasing to the Lord - please read the section titled “Statements of Correction from Christ Jesus” in the “Life Through Experiences with the Lord Jesus Christ - Part II” article.

Are we prepared to honor Christ Jesus even when we face any hardship? Will we fight others, even after He has promised, “Because he loves Me, I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him” (Psalm 91: 14-15)?

Are YOU determined to have a godly, submissive attitude and emulate the selfless example set by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? If so, please pray this Prayer of Sincere Repentance.

For questions or comments on this article, please contact us.

Brother Glenn.