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MILITARY SERVICE AND WAR 
Part2

Is there any DIFFERENCE between God's teaching for ancient Israel, and His teaching for members of His Church TODAY?

Now we need to UNDERSTAND the relation of God's teaching, so far covered, to individual members of God's Church today. Remember, with EMPHASIS, this basic TRUTH: Sin is SIN, whether committed between the time of Adam and the Flood, whether in ancient Israel, or today; whether by Jew or Gentile; whether by a nation, a group of people collectively, or by an individual -- regardless of time. And for emphasis we repeat: Popular acceptance, group approval or disapproval, or national decree does not determine what is SIN -- or what is righteousness! Governments may legislate what they regard as crime, but SIN IS the transgression of GOD'S Law. SIN involves man's relationship with his Maker. And we have shown, in the beginning, that GOD and the laws of God are SUPREME in authority, even over those of nations and their human legislative bodies. Although God's teaching directs us to be loyally subject to the government under whose jurisdiction we live, if, unhappily, there is conflict, God Almighty teaches us that we must OBEY GOD, rather than man -- even though still submissively subject to the national authority.

But Is There a Difference?

But are there certain differences, revealed and made plain by GOD in His Scriptures, between the position of the young man in God's Church today, and that of men in ancient Israel, in regard to military service? There are certain differences which should be UNDERSTOOD. But the difference is not between the nation then, and the individual today. Nor is it between the nation then, and the nation now; nor between individuals then and now. But there is a difference between the Old Testament CHURCH -- called The CONGREGATION of Israel, and the New Testament CHURCH of GOD. And, although sin is sin regardless, the same for the one as the other, there still is a certain difference between the individual who is a Spirit-begotten member of the Church of God, and one who is not. The Spirit-begotten Christian, who has received the Holy Spirit of God, and in whom God's Spirit actually dwells, has a spiritual mind. The unconverted has a natural, or carnal mind. This does not in any sense make military service a sin for one, and righteousness for the other. Sin, as stated above, is SIN -- the same for the one as the other. Yet the one does approach this question from a certain different position than the other.

A New SPIRITUAL CITIZENSHIP

Old Testament Israel was not called to, nor offered, spiritual salvation. But, Jesus of Nazareth came proclaiming, not the physical worldly Kingdom of ISRAEL, but the Spirit-born KINGDOM OF GOD. And He promised for His CHURCH the gift of God's Holy Spirit (John 16:7, 13; 15:26; Acts 1:8). This comes by God's GRACE, upon two conditions: repentance, and faith. WHO, according to the New Testament, is truly and actually a Christian? Those who have received, and in whom now "dwells," THE HOLY SPIRIT (Romans 8:9), and they only! The Holy Spirit imparts, provisionally and conditionally, the very divine and immortal LIFE of GOD. It imparts a new NATURE -- the Divine Nature (II Peter 1:4). It OPENS THE MIND to comprehension of Spiritual knowledge (I Corinthians 2:11). The natural-born MIND of man -- even the "great minds" of the world's great -- CANNOT comprehend God's spiritual TRUTH (I Corinthians 2:7-11, 14). Once a human has received God's Holy Spirit, he has been BEGOTTEN as a SON OF GOD. Not yet born of God, because he is still an Heir -- not an inheritor or possessor. He is a JOINT-HEIR with Christ (Romans 8:14-17). Even a converted person Gentile born, becomes an HEIR of GOD, according to the spiritual (Scepter) promise to Abraham (Galatians 3:28-29). But, at and after Christ's coming to RULE all nations, in the WORLD TOMORROW, these heirs shall then INHERIT God's Kingdom (Matthew 25:34; Daniel 7:22). The presence of God's Holy Spirit CHANGES one -- changes his whole attitude, from one of hostility to God (Romans 8:7) to submission, obedience, and faith -- changes his outlook on life -- changes his WAY OF LIFE, so that it becomes GOD-centered rather than SELF-centered. Israel of the Old Testament was one of the kingdoms of this world! But the truly converted Christian, receiving and being led in his life by God's Holy Spirit, is a begotten, though yet unborn son of GOD, as surely as once, in his mother's womb, he was a begotten, though yet unborn son of his human parents. The Gospel Jesus brought from God and proclaimed to men taught plainly that the KINGDOM OF GOD is the Divine Family into which we may be BORN (John 3:3-8). The KINGDOM OF GOD also is the supernatural divine GOVERNMENT of GOD, of which Jesus of Nazareth was born to become the KING (Luke 1:30-33). Jesus Christ Himself plainly said He was BORN to become the KING of the Kingdom of God, while on trial for His life before Pontius Pilate (John 18:37). But, He said, "MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD: if my Kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my Kingdom is not from hence." (That is, from this world.) Yes, ancient Israel was one of the kingdoms -- or nations -- of THIS WORLD -- and, although no nation should fight -- none needs to fight -- they DO go to war and fight, and Israel did fight. But Jesus made plain that HIS PEOPLE, now the begotten citizens of His KINGDOM, DO NOT FIGHT! If His Kingdom were one of this world's governments, then His servants -- His citizens would fight! As it is, His PEOPLE DO NOT FIGHT! So, UNDERSTAND THIS! The reception of God's Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ begets one into this SPIRITUAL KINGDOM. AS long as God's Spirit dwells within him, he has SPIRITUAL CITIZENSHIP in GOD'S KINGDOM. Now notice Philippians 3:20-21: "For OUR CITIZENSHIP [see margin] is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his GLORIOUS body ..." (See also I Corinthians 15:49-54; Revelation 1:13-16.) The Spirit-begotten true Christian receives a NEW, a different, a SPIRITUAL CITIZENSHIP! He becomes a CITIZEN of the KINGDOM OF GOD! But, since God's Kingdom has not yet come to earth, as it shall, to RULE ALL NATIONS under the glorified CHRIST as KING of kings, this spiritual citizenship IS RESERVED IN HEAVEN, as of now! Then, WHAT IS OUR STATUS? We are, naturally, born citizens, or subjects, of the government under which we have been born (or naturalized). As such, we are LOYAL citizens or subjects. We LOVE our country. We are SUBJECT to its laws, its authority. WE ACKNOWLEDGE NO OTHER ALLEGIANCE TO ANY EARTHLY POWER! BUT, we now also have a spiritual citizenship, IN HEAVEN. But we are not in heaven, but here on earth WHAT THEN? We are here on earth as "AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST" (II Corinthians 5:20). Even Abraham, whose were the PROMISES, was merely a sojourner in the promised land, "as in a strange country." He is the father of the faithful, and spiritually we are here in the same way, even though we have national citizenship, AS AMBASSADORS representing KING CHRIST who is IN HEAVEN. This spiritual CITIZENSHIP -- to be brought, later, literally to this earth -- does make a difference between the one who HAS IT, and owes spiritual ALLEGIANCE to it, and one whose only citizenship is to a war-making kingdom of THIS WORLD. Thus, the true Spirit-begotten Christian, in a sense, has a new DUAL citizenship. But, in his new CHRISTIAN LIFE -- his primary allegiance, above all, is to ALMIGHTY GOD THE CREATOR, and to his Lord and Savior JESUS CHRIST, coming KING of the Kingdom of God! He is completely loyal in his heart, his attitude, his sympathies, his obligations, concerning all governments of this world, to HIS COUNTRY in which he was born or has national citizenship. Most civil government laws are based, in principle, on God's Great Law, the Ten Commandments. Laws against murder, stealing, etc., are all based on God's principles. But, where there might be conflict, as between national obligations and COMMANDS OF GOD, as we have shown from the beginning -- for the true Spirit-begotten Christian, HE MUST OBEY GOD, even though still being subject to penalties, if need be, of his national government. His PHYSICAL citizenship -- his EARTHLY citizenship -- his NATIONAL citizenship is wholeheartedly confined to his national country. But he also has a SPIRITUAL citizenship, which in NO WAY is hostile toward, or an enemy of, his country of this world. And he will, in most cases, make a BETTER CITIZEN for his earthly nation than those who do not have this obedient subjection to the God who is the God of our nation, after all! As an AMBASSADOR for CHRIST, he abides loyally with all laws, rules and regulations of this earthly country, pays taxes, pays his way -- but, as the United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union does not fight in the Red Army, he takes no part in the military establishment. Jesus did not join the Roman army, which controlled Palestine when He was on earth. Christ, today, in us, will not enter the military service. The true Christian today is like the Apostle Paul, who said: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth IN ME; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God ..." (Galatians 2:20) God's Word teaches that CHRIST, in Spirit, MUST LIVE IN US -- "Christ IN YOU, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). Carnality in a man will fight, and think it right. His so thinking does not make it right -- because GOD, not man, defines what is SIN and what is righteousness. "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of DEATH" (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25) Sin is SIN, regardless. But we do not judge those who think military service and killing in war is right. God has not set us to be their judges. Neither do we condemn them. The judgment of God is NOW on the House of God. The true Christian, who has this UNDERSTANDING, is held accountable, NOW! Judgment on the WORLD will come with the coming of Christ to rule! We do not say that this makes it RIGHT for the unconverted to participate in war, because he thinks it right. But God knows how, equitably, to judge each one. Still we say, if ANY nation would OBEY GOD in His commands against killing, and war, and would RELY ON GOD, who commands, "Thou SHALT NOT KILL," God would fight its battles, and that nation would have PEACE!

Personal Application of the Command

Now notice NEW TESTAMENT teaching in regard to this command, "Thou shalt not kill." Jesus said, "Think NOT that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (Matthew 5:17-18). He set us an example, of obedience to the Law (John 15:10), that we should follow His example (I Peter 2:21). And so WE, too, must fulfill the Law (James 2:8), two of whose points are "Do not commit adultery," and "Do not kill" (verse 11). Far from abolishing God's Law, transgression of which is SIN, Jesus put a magnifying glass on it -- so that we might see how to obey it in PRINCIPLE, and in SPIRIT, not merely according to literal letter. Jesus Christ came into this world to "magnify" God's law and make it honourable (Isaiah 42:21). Jesus cast a spotlight as it were on the Ten Commandments, and showed their real spiritual intent and meaning in the full Christian life. Jesus said: "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire" (Matthew 5:21-22). Here, killing, murder, war, is traced to its source -- hate, anger, self-centeredness of carnality, greed, lust, spirit of competition, spirit of aggression. Christ declared that if personal anger filled the heart of one of His subjects, such a person is in danger of judgment. If that anger leads a man to have utter derision and contempt for his fellow human being, that man shall be "in danger of the council" -- of God's punishment. If in bitterness and scorn a man shall say of his fellow, "Thou fool," an expression which in the original Greek marked condemnation, such a man shall be "in danger of the hell of fire." This is Jesus Christ's application of the Sixth Commandment to you and me respecting individuals. If we harbor hate and anger in our hearts, we are harboring the "spirit" of MURDER! In a military organization, if men are not taught to hate, and to want to kill (the enemy, of course), he is not likely to be a very good soldier. Action follows thought. First we think, then we do! The Spirit of Christ guides us not only to control our actions, but to control our thoughts and our attitudes! In part, the New Covenant is the process of God writing His LAW in our hearts, and minds, and inward parts (Hebrews 8:10). God spoke through Paul: "Dearly beloved, avenge NOT yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord" (Romans 12:19). Man is incapable of taking vengeance with proper wisdom and justice to all concerned. God ALONE has the wisdom and the power and the "right" to take vengeance on human beings -- to the extent of executing them if need be. The true Christian must learn that God is REAL -- and that His protection and His vengeance are just as real!

The Character You Should Build

How, then, should you deal with your enemies? "Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:20-21). It takes real strength of character to help and serve your fellow human being when he has directly tried to harm you! It takes the spiritual wisdom to realize that he is a fellow human being, made in the image of God, and simply misguided for the time being in his thoughts and actions. Instead of the natural tendency to want to "get even" with one who has done us wrong, a real Christian must really LEARN the lesson that the Apostle Paul was allowed to bring to us directly from the lips of Christ: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). God is the GIVER of every good and every perfect gift (James 1:17). He has given us our lives, our strength, our minds, our abilities -- everything we have or hope to have comes from Him! In order to live happily forever as God's son, man also must learn to GIVE -- to serve -- to love. This is the great LESSON of life. The perfect definition of this highest of all attributes -- Christian LOVE -- is given in the 13th chapter of I Corinthians. Read it. Study it. The spirit of malice and murder is the exact OPPOSITE of this basic attribute which God requires of His sons. Notice the Apostle John's emphasis of this point: "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we LOVE the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him" (I John 3:14-15). A continued lack of love in carnal human beings leads to hate. And hate leads to MURDER. God says the spirit of hate is murder! And this "spirit" of murder is not an indefinable nothing. Doctors and psychologists have clinically proved that people in the attitude of strife and malice and hate literally become SICK physically -- and have a form of mental INSANITY if this mental attitude is not changed! And in all too many cases, these wrong emotions lead to the literal MURDER of a fellow human being. Concerning these wrong emotions of lust and hate and covetousness, God warns us: "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world" (I John 2:15-16).

The Breaking Down of Spiritual Principles

To a far greater extent than most of us realize, our modern society is literally based on a system of competition, greed and selfishness. In other words -- in plain language -- it is based on the spirit of MURDER! You have never thought of it that way before, have you? Well, it is fact, and it is time you came out of this modern "Babylon" (Revelation 18:4) before Almighty God intervenes to PUNISH! The spirit of God's Law as magnified by Jesus Christ is as totally opposed to every form of war as would seem possible! Nearly all the really great religious and political leaders of the world have acknowledged the utter FUTILITY of war. Before the outbreak of World War II, Pope Pius XII declared: "Everything is gained by peace; nothing is gained by war." One of the most respected statesmen and military leaders of our time, General Douglas MacArthur, has stated: "Men since the beginning of time have sought peace ... military alliances, balances of powers, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blots out this alternative. We have had our last chance. "If we will not devise some greater and equitable system, our Armageddon will be at the door. The problem basically is THEOLOGICAL and involves a spiritual recrudescence, and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature, and all material and cultural developments of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh. " Humanity's "last chance" is to REPENT of the sin of war before human annihilation removes every vestige of life from this planet! General MacArthur acknowledged that the problem we face is theological -- it is a Christian problem involving a true knowledge of the true GOD! He went on to say that it involves "an improvement of human character."

All-time Greatest Statesman

The greatest statesman of all time was Jesus Christ. He was the Spokesman for the Government or Kingdom of God. Christ said: "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matthew 5:43-44). There is a great deal of highly respectable, cultured, and most interesting paganism abroad in the world today under the name of "Christianity." But can even this sophisticated paganism face these clear words of Jesus Christ without confessing that His life, His teaching, and His Spirit CONDEMN the very essence of war? More lives have been snuffed out prematurely, more suffering has been endured, more homes have been wrecked and broken, more time and property has been utterly wasted because of the scourge of war than through any other means in the history of man! And war has NEVER solved the problems of men or brought permanent peace. Instead, it only breeds more war! "For all they that take the sword shall PERISH with the sword" (Matthew 26:52).

The Bible Teaching

Jesus Christ came into this world as a messenger of the Government or Kingdom of God. He took no part in this world's politics or wars. On trial for His very life before Pontius Pilate, He said: "My kingdom is NOT of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence" (John 18:36). As we have stated, only GOD who gave life has the right to take life. Therefore, only GOD has the right to wage war! And, as Jesus taught, God does not choose to have His children wage war. And wars fought by and for the governments or kingdoms of this world are in defiance of the higher government and RULE of Almighty God from whom all real authority proceeds. The Apostle Paul stated to the Christians at Corinth: "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not WAR after the flesh" (II Corinthians 10:3). Through the Apostle James, God shows that war results from a type of spirit exactly opposite that which He wants His servants to have. "From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your LUSTS that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not" (James 4:1-2).

A Lack of Real FAITH

Men do not BELIEVE that God could give them -- individually and nationally -- the material possessions that they want and need. Instead, they feel they must compete and fight and WAR to get these things. When an aggressor attacks, peoples and nations of this world REFUSE to trust God to deliver them as He did ancient Israel at the Red Sea (Exodus 14) and in other instances. Today, we are divided and confused in our religious, political and national loyalties. There is no modern Moses to command us: "The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace" (Exodus 14:14). In plain language, there is no nation on earth -- including America and Britain -- that really KNOWS and TRUSTS the true living GOD for His supernatural protection in time of war! Instead, we seem to find it easier to spend countless BILLIONS of dollars and man-hours to protect ourselves. Countless millions of lives are lost or crippled or ruined. And millions of young men are taught to become effective killers -- murderers! Indeed, one of the most devastating indictments against war is that it breeds in whole populations the spirit of violence and MURDER. No wonder there is so much violence, crime, adultery and broken homes in the wake of every war! More than any other one thing, war breeds the spirit of murder! And that evil spirit is growing and increasing throughout the world today!

God's Government Will End War

Jesus Christ came preaching the good news of the government or RULE of God. That rule is based on the Ten Commandments -- God's spiritual Law. Jesus magnified that Law and showed its spiritual intent and purpose. He taught that if we even hate our brother, we are spiritually guilty of murder! Jesus taught that men should OBEY the laws of God and prepare for His coming Kingdom by yielding themselves to let God's laws -- His character -- be placed within them. When God's Government does come very soon now to this earth, His LAW will go forth as the standard of conduct of all nations (Micah 4:1-2). At that time, God alone will wage war to punish rebellious nations in perfect wisdom and justice. As for the peoples of the world themselves? "... nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (verse 3). War involves learning to hate and kill! Young men will no longer be forced to LEARN an attitude which is diametrically opposed to the rule of God's law of love! But meanwhile, true Christians must work and pray for God's Kingdom of peace, and we must realize that the spirit of war is the spirit of MURDER -- and avoid it with all of our strength.

Jesus Christ and War

Speaking before the League of Nations, Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick put this thought in a very powerful way: "We cannot reconcile Jesus Christ and war -- that is the essence of the matter. That is the challenge which today should stir the conscience of Christendom. War is the most colossal and ruinous social sin that afflicts mankind; it is utterly and irremediably unchristian; in its total method and effect it means everything that Jesus did not mean and it means nothing that He did mean; it is a more blatant denial of every Christian doctrine about God and man than all the theoretical atheists on earth ever could devise. It would be worthwhile, would it not, to see the Christian Church claim as her own this greatest moral issue of our time, to see her lift once more as in our fathers' days, a clear standard against the paganism of this present world and, refusing to hold her conscience at the beck and call of belligerent states, put the kingdom of God above nationalism and call the world to peace? That would not be the denial of patriotism but its apotheosis." The essence of the matter is that Jesus Christ is against the spirit of war in every form. He is against war -- and someday He will put an end to it forever! He is against all malice and envy and hate. Jesus Christ taught the dignity of man and the sacredness of human life -- "created in the image of God." And the great Father of Jesus Christ, the Almighty GOD who governs the universe from His throne in heaven, that God thunders at an age of violence and rebellion: "Thou shalt not kill!"




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