If someone tries to confront us physically, what is an appropriate response for a Christian? Would it be okay to try to subdue him, or should we not give any resistance at all? What if someone physically assaulted a loved one?


As we point out in our booklet, “Should You Fight in War?,” it is wrong for a Christian to take the life of another human being in war or otherwise, including in “self-defense.” But does this mean that a Christian must do NOTHING when he or a loved one is being attacked? The Bible does not say that at all. In fact, we have a tremendous responsibility for action in those kinds of circumstances–but we must know what exactly is required of us. Most will disagree with the following comments, because human nature is unwilling and incapable of obeying God and His Law. True Christians have no alternative but to do exactly what God commands–however unpopular and difficult and even wrong in the eyes of man this approach might be.

For an answer to this important question, we are quoting at length from our free booklet, “Should You Fight in War?“:

“The question boils down to this:… Do we believe in God and rely on Him for our protection, having the faith that it is GOD who is our protecting shield…? Do we think that God is incapable of helping us in certain circumstances?…

“The most important of all the things you can do to avoid using violence is to pray to God, on a daily basis: ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’ (compare Matthew 6:13). We are to plead with God daily to NOT ALLOW a tempting situation that might be too difficult for us to bear, to overtake us.

“However, we read in the Bible that righteous persons have sometimes found themselves being attacked by others. What did they do, and what should YOU do, if God allows it?

“First, realize that God would NOT allow it if you were not able to bear it, as 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us. And when God does allow it, He will also provide a way of escape for you. This is sometimes literally the case. Sometimes you need to actually flee, to run away! Christ did so on occasion. We read in John 10:39: ‘Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.’… When we find ourselves, or others, in a dangerous, challenging, life-threatening situation, we must PRAY to God, with faith, to HELP us out of that situation. To fight our fight for us! To give us the wisdom and the power NOT to do the WRONG thing, however tempting it may be.

“We must realize that no matter what harm we may WANT to do physically in a given situation, we must not seriously injure or kill the attacker. But unless we understand beforehand, and have in our mind that we are not to do something with the intent to seriously injure or kill the attacker, we might very well do so when the occasion presents itself. If we carry a gun with us or have one handy, say, next to our bed, we will certainly try to use it, but then may be killed in the process.

“People who disagree with the foregoing may ask you what you would do if you came home and a robber was in the process of raping your wife or killing your husband… Realistically, how many times does this happen? But if it does happen, do you really think that you can take a gun and shoot the attacker, and that the attacker would let you do it without any resistance? Chances are, he will use his gun first. In any case, to use a gun and shoot the attacker would be against the clear Biblical teaching of prohibiting killing. But what about just trying to injure him? In the heat of the moment, you may not be able to do just that, even if you wanted to. And if the attacker would only be injured, he would still have the chance to kill you or others who are with you. Christ told Peter, when he pulled his sword in defense of Christ and just injured the servant, to put his sword away. Christ’s protection did not depend on human weapons. It depended on God the Father and His angels. So, too, with us. Our real protection comes from the same source…

“The whole issue really comes down to where we place our trust and confidence for our protection, in EVERY situation… When man places his trust and confidence in God, God will protect man. Ultimately though, no matter the consequences, we must be living a life pleasing to God. We must never fear the ones who can take our physical life from us, but we must fear, or deeply respect, the One who can refuse to give us ETERNAL LIFE… Remember what the angels told the shepherds when Christ was born: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests’ (Luke 2, 14, NIV), or, as the NRSV renders it, ‘ … with whom He is pleased.’… When God is pleased with us, when His favor rests on us, THEN He will be our shield and protection in times of impending battles. We must trust in God (compare Psalm 56:3-4, 8-11), AND we must be willing to obey His commandments, no matter what the situation, circumstance or consequence. God tells us: ‘You shall not kill!'”

As we mentioned earlier, many disagree with this teaching, thinking that they must do something physically, by resorting to violence themselves, to fight a violent attacker. But when we react this way, do we REALLY believe at that moment that God is there to help us in every situation? A true Christian must allow God to fight his battles for him. The Bible contains numerous examples when God did just that.

When the ancient Israelites left the slavery of Egypt and were pursued by the Egyptians, God fought their battle for them, by drowning the enemy in the Red Sea. Moses told the Israelites at that time: “The LORD shall fight for you, and you shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14:14).

On another occasion, when the king of Syria sent his army to capture the prophet Elisha, God intervened in this–humanly speaking–hopeless situation. The Bible reports in 2 Kings 6:14-18:

“Therefore he [the king of Syria] sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city. And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, ‘Alas, my master! What shall we do?’ So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. So when the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, and said, ‘Strike the people, I pray, with blindness.’ And He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.”

This account is very interesting in several respects. It shows first of all that God is protecting His people with angels. But in this case, the angels did not even have to do anything. God did it all. He intervened directly by striking the enemy with blindness and rendering him incapable of doing any harm to Elisha and his servant. Do we believe that God has lost His power to do likewise today for His people, if the situation warrants it, and if it is His Will? And if it is not His Will to intervene, do we really think that we then have to take matters in our own hands, by resorting to violence ourselves?

On another occasion, a great multitude of enemies attacked Judah. King Jehoshaphat in front of all the people prayed to God for His intervention. He was not too proud to humble himself publicly, and he was not too ashamed to confess that Judah’s only help would have to come from God. He said in 2 Chronicles 20:12: “O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

God inspired a prophet to assure them of His protection, reminding the people that “the battle is not yours, but God’s” (verse 15). They were also promised that they did not have to fight (verse 17). Because the King and the people believed in God and His power, as well as in His servants the prophets who taught the people God’s Word (compare verse 20), God set ambushes against the enemy and used other means to destroy him (verses 22-23). This episode lead to lasting peace for Judah during the reign of King Jehoshaphat (verse 30), as “the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel” (verse 29).

These are not some nice bed-time stories for little children. They are accurate accounts and give us timeless testimony of what God DID accomplish for His people–and what He is willing and capable of doing TODAY for you and me–if we trust in His protection. He protected Daniel in the lions’ den, and He protected Daniel’s three friends in the fiery furnace. All these things recorded in the Old Testament “were written for our admonition [or instruction], upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). Christ told us that we must not take the sword or resort to violence. God and His mighty angels are always there to help us (compare Psalm 34:7; 91:11). But we must believe and be persuaded that no matter what the circumstances, we have to remain peaceful, while praying to God to fight our battles for us!

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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