Summary: This is an examination of what the Word of God teaches about the Christian’s participation in the military and carnal warfare.
I want to begin this lesson by acknowledging that when we address the subject of whether or not the Christian should take part in the military we are dealing with a controversial subject. The Church has debated this subject for 1400 years. Many theological scholars and Christian philosophers have reached differing conclusions.
To be frank, I have little interest in philosophical postulates and scholarly suppositions on this or any other subject. I want my convictions to be founded upon the plain and simple teachings of Christ Jesus and His commissioned Apostles. I hope and trust that you feel the same.
It is my conviction that the writings of the New Testament clearly teach that it is absolutely wrong for the Christian to be in the military and to engage in carnal warfare.
It is of great significance that, during its first three centuries, the Church held this same conviction. Religious and secular historians alike testify that the early Church taught and practiced pacifism. The early Church adopted this pacifist stand based on its understanding of the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles.
1.SCRIPTURAL REASONS FOR CHRISTIANS TO ABSTAIN FROM SECULAR MILITARY SERVICE.
A. CHRISTIANS ARE TO BE AT PEACE WITH ALL MEN.
Hebrews 12:14, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."
Romans 12:18, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men."
Matthew 5:9, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."
B. CHRISTIANS ARE NOT TO HATE NOR TAKE PHYSICAL RETALIATION AGAINST ANYONE.
Romans 12:17, 19, "Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men... Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ’Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’"
Matthew 5:38-39,"You have heard it 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."
Galatians 5:19-21, "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, ... hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife,.... murders,... and such like: of the which I tell you now, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
C. CHRISTIANS ARE TO LOVE EVERYONE, INCLUDING THEIR ENEMIES.
Luke 6:27-28, "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."
Matthew 5:43-45, "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; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."
Isaiah 2:4, "they [followers of the Messiah or Christ] will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war."
Matthew 26:50-52, "Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. And, behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut-off his ear. Then, Jesus said to him, ’Put your sword back into its place: for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.’"
D. THE CHRISTIAN IS A SUBJECT IN A SPIRITUAL KINGDOM. THEY ARE SPIRITUAL SOLDIERS INVOLVED IN SPIRITUAL WARFARE RATHER THAN CARNAL WARFARE.
John 15:19, "You are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world."
John 18:36, "Jesus answered, ’My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting.’"
Romans 12:2, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."
2 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."
Ephesians 6:11-13, "Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the Devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm."