The right of self-defense
Dec 29, 2014
The law was designed to uphold rights. It upholds the rights of the victims of crime and, the rights of the lawbreaker. If the lawbreaker must be sold to pay for his sin, the law also upholds the rights of his redeemer.
The law also upholds the right to self-defense.
But in each of these cases, a man is not forced to claim his rights. The law gives all men the right to forego his rights, if he so chooses. Hence, the victims of crime have a right to forgive the debt that is owed to them. After the lawbreaker’s debt has been paid, he has the right to continue working for his master, instead of returning to his original home.
In each case, the law upholds rights. Self-defense is a right, but the law never forces people to defend themselves. They may put their faith in God’s defense. In Jesus’ case, He knew it was the will of His Father that He should suffer violence as a lamb going to the sacrificial altar. For this reason, when Peter tried to defend Him, He told Peter to stop immediately.
The law also tells kings to rely upon God for their defense and not to depend upon “horses” (Deuteronomy 17:16). The prophets agree (Isaiah 31:1-3). Under the Old Covenant, Israel had a right to self-defense, as long as they were led by the Spirit, and as long as they subordinated those weapons to the principle of faith in God.
Each person must decide for himself which sword to use in one’s defense. The physical sword is for self-defense under the Old Covenant. The spiritual sword is a greater weapon that is offered to us under the New Covenant. Most believers are caught in the middle and use both, depending on the situation. In my view, the more we learn to use the Sword of the Spirit, the less dependent we will be upon the physical sword. Ideally, we will come to the level of faith where we will not need physical weaponry at all.
No one, however, can really abide in that position without knowing by experience that God guards them and protects them. Such a level of faith is not attained immediately, but is forged by experience over time.
This is the 2nd part of a mini-series titled "Two Swords." To view all parts, click the link below.
This is the 127th part of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Luke." To view all parts, click the link below.