Firm Foundations Five (55 of 55) What About War?

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What About War?

War is an armed conflict between two opposing sides, usually between states, nations, or groups within them. The general idea of war would be to enforce justice, using force to not allow evil to reign. Many have misused the idea of “using force” for other reasons, often leading to more injustice. Today, believers are put in a tough situation, but when its time for war, we must choose the pathway of justice.
Ecclesiastes 3:8

God And War

Exodus 15:3

  • God created everything good. Before mankind sinned, war was unnecessary because there was no sin in the world. If there was no sin, then there was no rebellion and no reason to use force to carry out justice. Thus, when sin entered into the world, war and the use of force to carry out justice became a necessity.
    Romans 3:10–18
  • God is good and just, thus He often used Israel to war against other evil nations as an act to carry out His judgments against them. These often “severe judgements” would stop the spread of evil and stand as a reminder that justice will be served.
    1 Samuel 15:3, Deuteronomy 13:15, 20:16–18, Numbers 31:17, Joshua 4:13
  • God condemns murder as sin. Murder is the unlawful, intentional, and premeditated killing of another human being. On the contrast, God allows a person to be killed by another human as a punishment of certain crimes and in war or the use of force to carry out justice.
    Exodus 20:13; 21:12, 15; 22:19; Joshua 4:13
  • God has given the use of war and force to carry out justice to the “higher powers” or the governments. The role of the government is to fight evil and reward good. God has given the government the authority to use force to carry out this role. Sadly, today many governments misuse this authority not to carry out their roles as God intended but to carry out their own ideologies or evil agendas.
    Romans 13:1–5
  • God will bring justice through war. Jesus will return with the armies of heaven and wage war against all the evil kingdoms of the earth to put an end to sin once for all. Justice will finally prevail. Jesus will reign as king. War will be over, forever.
    Psalm 7:11; Isaiah 2:4; Revelation 19:11–21

Christianity And War

  • Today, God works through the church, not Israel. Israel was a Theocracy, but the church is not. God commanding Israel to wage war against evil in the Old Testament was for a specific people, time, place, and purpose. No nation or church has or will be commanded to do this today.
    John 18:36
  • In the history of Christianity, there have been those who have waged war in the name of Jesus, but this has been wrong. Jesus never gives the church authority to wage war against anyone to expand or defend itself. Instead, our example is loving our enemies and willing to give our lives to expand the good news of the gospel.
    Matthew 5:9–16; 26:52–54; John 15:18–21
  • The church is involved in a spiritual war, not earthly wars with others. We are fellow soldiers in the faith, who wear the armor of God: truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, the word of God, and prayer.
    Philippians 2:25; Ephesians 6:10–19; 2 Corinthians 10:3–4
  • Today, God gives the government the authority to act as His servants through bearing the sword. Thus, when believers are part of a nation that wages war against another nation for just reasons, they are not sinning through their participation, but being obedient citizens. 1 Peter 2:17
  • In every situation that includes “using force” we need to make sure we have wisdom and are going forward in prayer.
    Philippians 4:6–7

Answers To Tough Questions

  • When is war justified? For war to be justified, meaning something that Christians can take part in as citizens of a nation, there must be a just reason and intention. The offensive should be to stop injustice and the defensive would be to protect from the attack of others. The goal of all war ultimately should be peace.
  • Is it right to kill in war? War means to “use force,” thus killing is a natural result and not considered as murder. Those involved in a war need to be careful they do not cross the line of “active battle” to “needless killings” which would be murder. Also, being in war can have negative consequences, like it did for David.
    1 Chronicles 28:3
  • Can believers go to war? Yes, if you are the citizen of a country who is going to war for a just reason, then you are permitted to obey the governments order in going to war. Also, the Bible never condemns those who are in active military service, meaning from the perspective of the Bible there is no reason believers couldn’t be in the military.
    Matthew 8:5; 27:54; Mark 15:39–45; Luke 7:2; 23:47; Acts 10:1; 21:32; 28:16
  • Can believers refuse to go to war? Yes, depending on the reasons. If the war is unjust and you feel you would conscientiously be sinning against the teaching of the Bible by participating, then you should obey God first. If you just don’t want to go, the Bible would tell you to do the duties that are required of you as a citizen of that country.
  • Can believers use self-defense? Yes, believers can defend themselves against those who try to cause them or their families harm. But we shouldn’t take the law into our hands.
    Exodus 22:2–3

Review Questions

  • What is the purpose of war?
  • Why did God use war?
  • Today, who has the authority to wage war?
  • Does the church use war to spread God’s kingdom?
  • The church is involved in what type of war?

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