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Psalm 72.14 “For He will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help.  He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death.  He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in His sight.”  

Where does our strong sense of justice come from?  Like when Michael Vick has some dog fights in his back yard and the masses cry out, “we want justice!”  Or when a family is slain in their own home and the posses are formed to go hunt down the perpetrator.  Or when we look on the hundreds of Iraqis’ bodies laying in a shallow grave just beneath the surface of the desert sand; and before that image is out of our mind a second one comes rushing in.  You know, the image of a bearded man with a rope being tightened around his neck.  I dare say that if anyone stood witness to the atrocities of oppression and violence poured out on the weak and the needy, they would not be human if they did not feel the surge of adrenaline course through their veins as it readies the body for justice.  So where did our need, our desire, even our impulse that justice must be served come from? 

I lift up my eyes, where did it come from?  It came from the LORD. 

Our God is a just God.  “He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and His ways are just.  A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.”(Deut. 32.4)  This is the God in whose image we have been created (Gen. 1.27).  This being true, wouldn’t it also be true that along with His image came our sense of and desire for justice?  That bristling of the neck hair when wrong is done or evil is committed is not just a feeling or a chemical reaction, but actually what is left of our original image shining through.  People standing in awe when justice is administered because they recognize it originates in God is because of the image that they bear (1 Kings 3.28) .  We crave, admire and demand justice because it was carved into us from the very beginning.  It saturates us because it saturates our Maker. 

The Law testifies to the righteousness of God (Rom.3.21).  The Law reveals His justice and even demands that justice not be held back (Deut. 27.19).  Now as Christians I know full well that we are no longer under the Law, but under the grace given by God through the blood of Christ and now stand justified through our faith in Christ as our Savior (Rom. 3.22ff).  But this in no way nullifies or makes void what was being revealed as God’s righteousness when the Law stated, “Thou shall not murder.”  For this law was restated by Christ when He said, “…love your neighbor as yourself…” (Matt. 22.39)  A man will not murder if he truly loves his neighbor. 

So if our sense of justice comes from us being made in the image of God; and He is a just God; and His first testament revealed His justness through the Mosaic Law; and the commandment of do not commit murder is not void (not abolished Matt. 5.17) but now stated as His new covenant of love; then where is the line at which a Christian today must stop and justice still be met?  More to my intent can a born-again person of faith take part in killing of ANY kind and still be free from sin.  Can a person kill justly without sinning?  Can a person kill justly and still be found justified in God’s sight?  Can a person kill justly and still be adequate for fellowship in the One Body of Christ? 

First, let me make this point very clear.  God never intended for there to be killing of any kind of any human.  BUT, because of man’s fallen condition boundaries had to be set in place.  Because of man’s sin, lines had to be drawn in the sand for a just God to have any relationship with fallen man.  And boundaries are good things.  Boundaries mean safety and boundaries mean protection.  My dog is safe as long as she stays within the boundaries of our yard fence.  She remains protected from the dog catcher as long as she stays inside that same fence.  So in order to keep man safe and protected from himself, others, and the wrath of a just God, God set up boundaries.  The boundary discussed here is “Thou shall not murder.” 

Let’s unpack the word murder.  Now the Hebrew and Greek languages had several words that meant kill or to kill.  Yet, in Exodus 20.13 and in Matthew 5.21 words that specifically meant murder were used in these verses.  We know from laws in this country that murder is an act of killing that was premeditated, malicious, or happened during the commission of another crime.  So when Christ spoke in Matthew 5 he was not speaking (in my opinion) of all killing, but of specific killing that rose up out of hate or malice held in the heart.  This was Christ’s whole point of 5.17-48: he was contrasting superficial religious practices with living towards other men from a heart dedicated to God’s purity.  The teachers of the law were merely upholding the law for outward appearance and recognition, but God wanted from man something more.  He wanted their hearts.  Thus killing moved from an outward act to an inward condition of the heart under Christ’s law of love. 

So now we are faced with the question can a person kill with love in his heart? 

We know that God does not want anyone to die, whether in soul or body (1 Peter 3.19).  But at some point force becomes necessary, or else God contradicts himself.  By this I mean, how could the flood of Noah be justified unless killing was the only way to end the sinful condition of that day?  God’s patience was demonstrated in the fact that for the 400 years Israel was in slavery, He let the Amorites live in the Promised Land (Gen. 15.16).  He was patient until their sin reached its full measure, the point of no return, and then it was time for force (Joshua 6.2).  If all killing is wrong under the law of love, then how could God, who is love (1 John 4.8, 16) and who “is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13.8), command the killing of so many people as he did numerous times in His Old Testament?  How; because He is a just God that sees “there is a time to kill and a time to heal” (Eccl. 3.3) and a God that sees the point of no return.

In James chapter 4, James writes about boasting and then closes out the chapter with, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins” (emphasis added).  When faced with the condition to rescue the needy and the weak, there comes a point when force may be needed.  I submitted to the authority of a Romans 13 government for service in its army.  During my duty I saw what was right as standing between the weak and needy and those that wished to oppress them and kill them, and so I did and so did many other men and women through out history and even this very moment.  Force is needed because evil stands ready to destroy the weak and the needy. 

The blood of men cries out to God from the desert floor and it hurts His ears, for it was never meant to water the ground but to bring life.  But not all killing is murder.  By no means am I advocating a rebellion.  Christ did not come leading a rebellion and so the Church should not go out starting wars and killing those that stand opposed to it.  But I stand firmly in my beliefs that if a fellow Christian takes part in killing, as in war, he has not broken the law of love and does not stand condemned in the sight of God, nor out of reach from the fellowship of the Body of Christ. 

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15.13) 

Not all lying down is done without blood shed. 

Thank God for the salvation that comes from the purest blood that was ever shed; the blood of Christ given for us to show God’s mercy to sinful man.

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