Matthew 5:38-39 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
Resist NOT evil.
When we read such things, we often wonder not so much as to the understanding but the application. I look at my country, the United States of America. The freedom we now enjoy and will celebrate this Sunday was directly related to a fight against evil.
The group that sailed across the sea was looking for religious freedom from the monarchy in England. Two hundred and forty-four years later, America has been both aggressor and defender in many battles and wars.
No one country is perfect in its employment of peace or defense. Looking to the principles of God’s Word, we can find who and what we are to resist and who and what we are to fight.
James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
1 Peter 5:8-9 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”
Plain and simple, we are to resist the devil.
Hebrews 12:4 “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”
In context, this points us in the direction of personal sin, not the sins of others. The fight must be brought to resist what sin we have in our own life, not the lives of others.
But when we are persecuted and attacked for our faith, aren’t we to stand and fight for what we believe?
In the early church and later throughout history, we do not see those saved children of God amassing an army armed to defend the church. We see that the battle is the Lord’s.
Deuteronomy 3:22 “Ye shall not fear them: for the LORD your God he shall fight for you.”
2 Chronicles 20:15 “And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
Throughout Old Testament and now in the New, we see that God doesn’t want us to stand against our enemies, weapons drawn.
So, are we to remain passive toward any aggression or persecution?
I will say we need to fight, but not like you would think.
If the battle is the Lord’s, we need to fight on our knees in prayer, not with our fists or weapons but asking God how we should respond. We must take the Word of God seriously when situations arise involving the souls of men.
2 Corinthians 10:3-4 “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)”
Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Our strongman, the Holy Spirit, has been given to lead us through every battle we face. It must be our decision to trust that God will do what He has promised.
So, we are not passive, though to turn the other cheek seems to show weakness. To resist as we ought, we deliver more strength of character to NOT fight. The enemy knows this and tries to provoke our flesh to respond instead of our spirit.
Therein lies our battle.