Monday, November 7, 2011

Slaying the Enemy

In Deut. 13:6-11 we read, "If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods,' which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. Deu 13:9  But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people.  You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you."  

This is an astounding passage in that it reveals how God expected them to treat even their closest family members and closest friends who would try to entice them to serve anything else other than the true God.  They weren't to ignore them but turn them in to the elders of the city and be the first one to cast a stone at them in judgement!  This is a far cry from what we sometimes hear today, "He who is without sin let him cast the first stone".  

Under the Old Covenant such things are dealt with rather harshly and with the Lord's blessings.  In 2 Kings 11 we read of all of the Baal priests and anyone who followed them were to be cut down with the sword under Joash's reign, 2Ki 11:18  "Then all the people of the land went to the house of Baal and tore it down; his altars and his images they broke in pieces, and they killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest posted watchmen over the house of the LORD."  Just a few years before this Jehu was told to slay Ahab's descendants because of his sins.  

Can we find any application to this today?  Many have tried throughout church history to apply it and with disastrous results.  When we confuse the covenants we run into all sorts of problems and using the sword against the enemies of the gospel is clearly not how we are to deal with our enemies today.  But I would like to point out that in a very real sense Jesus has brought this concept over into the New Covenant.  I think Luke 12:26-27 says pretty much the same thing with a rather large exception.  "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple."

The difference, of course, is found in that we don't kill our enemies but the similarity is that we just as aggressively battle the influence of sin both in ourselves and in those around us.  We know that Jesus isn't telling us to hate our families but that anything or anyone who would come between us and the Lord is not to be allowed any room to work.  A similar passage is found in Matthew 5 where we are to be willing to cut off body parts for the sake of Christ.  Paul later on uses language that speaks of death when he commands us to put to death the deeds of the body in Romans 8:13 and put to death what is earthly in us in Colossians 3:5.

As I was thinking about all this the thought hit me that there are still people dying in the New Testament times but instead of saints killing their enemies, we do the dying; we kill ourselves in a spiritual sense.  Instead of us removing other people, we remove ourselves from their influence.  We discipline ourselves to say no to their temptations and speak the truth to them in love.  Many times when we will not allow them to sway us to sin and instead speak of Christ to them, they will separate themselves from us.  The love of Christ constrains us bring all things into obedience unto the Lord.

This is better sanctification than those under the Old Covenant enjoyed for a number of reasons and maybe the best one is that it allows us to love and minister to the lost rather than killing them!  Let us learn to die daily that we might bring life to those who are dead.

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