OceanSide church of Christ

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The Christian and Self-Defense
by: Dalton Gilreath

I.              Introduction

A.   Time and time again we hear of tragic shootings

                                          i.    In July 2012 it was the theatre in Aurora, CO

                                        ii.    In December 2012 it was Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut

                                       iii.    In April 2014 it was Fort Hood in Texas

                                       iv.    This year it was the Charleston church shooting in June

B.   These shootings lead people to ask questions

                                          i.    Is it Biblically acceptable to defend myself and my family?

                                        ii.    Can a Christian serve as a police officer or soldier?

C.   First consider the difference between murder and killing

                                          i.    Murder is the unlawful taking of human life

1.    This is never acceptable with God (Ex 20:13, Matt 5:21 ESV)

2.    Taking human life is not acceptable in most cases (Ex 21:12)

                                        ii.    Killing is simply taking human life

1.    The difference is the word “unlawful”

2.    Notice that those who kill, maybe by accident for example, are not guilty in the same way as an unlawful killing (Ex 21:13)

D.   There are two categories of people when it comes to beliefs on this issue

                                          i.    Some believe it is wrong for a Christian to ever use lethal force (pacifism)

                                        ii.    Some believe it is right and proper to defend one’s self/family even if it requires lethal force

1.    This is the Biblical view

2.    Consider the evidence with me

II.            Both Christians and Non-Christians are amenable to the law

A.   Pacifists argue that soldiers, police officers, judges, executioners, and the such like are for the world

                                          i.    This is the only way to have the death penalty for example

                                        ii.    They suggest God was not applying Romans 13:1-4 to Christians

B.   Remember that where there is no law there is no sin (Rom 5:13)

                                          i.    If non-Christians are not amenable to the law then they are sinless

                                        ii.    Christ tells all men to repent of their sin in order to become a Christian (Acts 17:30)

                                       iii.    Therefore, the law does apply to non-Christians

1.    Whatever is true for a Christian is true for a non-Christian and vice versa

2.    If it is wrong for a Christian to be a police officer then it is wrong for an un believer to be one as well

III.           Jesus told His disciples to carry swords (Luke 22:35-38)

A.   Jesus told His apostles to sell their garment and get a sword

                                          i.    They told Jesus they had two swords which He agreed was enough

                                        ii.    Why would Jesus tell His apostles to buy swords?

1.    The sword was an instrument of protection/death like guns today

2.    Notice He didn’t tell them to all buy one as if to go to war

3.    He simply wanted them to be able to defend themselves as they journeyed down perilous roads

B.   Jesus did not condemn Peter for having a sword (Matt 26:52)

                                          i.    He told Peter to keep the sword in its proper “place”

                                        ii.    The sword was not to expand the kingdom but to protect

1.    Jesus told Pilate His kingdom was not physical else His servants would fight (John 18:36)

2.     However our war is spiritual in nature (Eph 6:12)

IV.          The New Testament consistently teaches the principle of protection

A.   Jesus Himself shows us the importance of avoiding death (Luke 4:29-30)

                                          i.    On this occasion He miraculously escaped being thrown off a cliff

                                        ii.    On another occasion He miraculously hid Himself before they threw stones at Him (John 8:59)

B.   Paul taught the principle of protection (1 Tim 5:8)

                                          i.    That meant providing food and raiment

                                        ii.    It also meant keeping them safe

C.   Paul did not show displeasure or rebuke the band of soldiers that traveled with Paul to protect him using lethal force if necessary (Acts 23:23)

D.   Jesus discussed the master of a home protecting his goods/family (Luke 11:21-22)

                                          i.    Notice He is “armed”

                                        ii.    The master does not “suffer” or allow the thief to get in (Matt 24:43)

E.   Lastly, God did not hold Israel accountable for practicing self defense

                                          i.    If a thief/murderer broke into your home and you killed him you were innocent of guilt (Ex 22:2)

                                        ii.    There is a difference between killing to protect and murdering someone