Monday, October 19, 2009

Cheek to Cheek, or Tooth and Nail? (with audio)








USE THE PLAYER ABOVE TO LISTEN TO THIS POST

But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
(Matthew 5:39 – ESV)

When Christians are attacked are they supposed to defend themselves? Does our Lord’s word here mean that we are to be complete pacifists? This is a very misunderstood concept, and we need clarification. This word from Our Lord isn’t intended to teach us to invite more attack upon being attacked, but to rather take it and not strike back. In demonstration, when smitten on the face, Jesus did not strike back but He did answer (John 18:22-23).

What Christ is teaching is the principle that we are not to seek absolute retribution, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but rather to allow space for God to judge (Romans 12:19/ 1 Peter 2:21-23). This is about our means of defense. We can speak up for our position (Acts 22:1, 25:8, 26:2 / 1 Corinthians 9:3). We can defend ourselves from being killed (Luke 22:36-38) but not look to be on the offensive (Matthew 26:52).

This situation Jesus is speaking of is different than self-defense. Self-defense is preventative, not retaliatory, and retaliation is what the admonition to “turn the other cheek” addresses. When Jesus says we are to turn the other cheek, He is saying that as Christians we are to act differently, not looking to do as we once did as unbelievers (Matthew 5:40-47). We are not supposed to try and protect our honor, our reputation, and our dignity at all costs (1 Peter 3:14-17).

Otherwise, if we are never to defend ourselves, the full armor of God isn’t something we should use, is it? No, on the contrary, we are taught to resist the devil (James 4:7). We do not wrestle with flesh and blood in the sense that the forces behind the attacks on our mind are orchestrated by the devil (Ephesians 6:12). When the enemy attacks our minds we are to battle back with the truth of God’s Word.

Sometimes, however, attacks can come against our physical person, and the full counsel of God must be brought to bear. We are not supposed to return fire when fired upon for witnessing of Christ. We are not supposed to be aggressors, of that we can be certain. We defend the faith (Jude 3 / 2 Corinthians 10:3-5), but not fight tooth and nail for our own self-interests (Romans 12:16-21 / Philippians 2:3-4 / 1 Peter 3:9). In other words, we don’t fight to prove we’re right.

However, we may fight to prevent wrong. It depends on the situation, of course. When someone physically attacks us they are under the influence of the enemy. If it is while we are witnessing, then yes, we shouldn’t retaliate if they insult us or even if they hit us (1 Peter 4:13-14). However, if it is an “unprovoked” incident, say during a robbery or break-in of your home, then it is our duty to fight off the intruder with the necessary force. You may be able to talk the person out of it, but sometimes you don’t have time to talk.

When the enemy uses a person to attack we need to understand the truth of God’s Word concerning these matters. Defend the faith from false religion, definitely. Defend your honor with physical violence when someone falsely accuses you because you are a Christian? No, turn the other cheek. Defend your wife and children when someone breaks into your home at night and is trying to kill them, yes, and do it tooth and nail.


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

10 comments:

Even So... said...

This is taken from a previous post from 7-9-08, but now includes the audio, which has additional material in it...we will be doing this with many of our older posts, so that they can have the audio attached to them...hope these are edifying and enjoyable for you...God bless...

nail design said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Even So... said...

That's a new one...

Even So... said...

The spam, that is...the copying of the previous message...has anybody else seen something like this yet?

Even So... said...

I wonder if I should just "turn the other cheek", and let it stay?

donsands said...

I thinketh thou canst delete thy spam brother.

Excellent teaching on a deep and difficult teaching of our Lord.

Turning the other cheek is always an awkward truth for me. I need to nail this down one of these days.
Thanks JD.

Even So... said...

Yeah, Don, it was certainly spam, keying on the word "nail", but it was neat in a sense, never saw one copy a comment before...

The whole idea of revenge and retaliation seems simple enough, but the more subtle point is when people, like the Pharisees of old, try and find loopholes especially when they are using teachings to injure others or inflate their sense of self worth, as in the Good Samaritan parable..that man wasn't trying to find out who his neighbor was so as to include people, but so as to be able to exclude them, and in this teaching, Christ is coming against the notion that if someone injures us, we are allowed to take our own measure and strike back, because this is done disproportionately...the audio goes into this in more detail, we are adding new illustrations and expanding things on the audio portions of these posts, they are 15 minutes including the intro and out music, about 13 1/2 minutes of teaching per post...

Paul said...

I must have missed this one the first time around. And to be honest I thank God we are to defend our families in those cases. I don't think I could do otherwise.
Thank you for the clarification.

Even So... said...

You're welcome, Paul, God bless you, brother...

Even So... said...

5-11-09