How about Matthew 5:39: “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”. Taken literally the passage appears to negate not only vengeance, but all defense against evildoers. What does our Lord require?
Perhaps THE most difficult thing in the world to do is to forgive someone who may have wrecked your life, or caused you infinite agony, or intentionally and deliberately betrayed you into a virtual living hell. This may sound extreme, but this is exactly what happens to many and many. The resulting hurt and emotional hurricane, something which may completely obliterate your emotional horizon in agony and despair, is nearly uncontrollable.
You think it an unlikely scenario? It’s happening, it’s happening to millions, and right here and now, in (what used to be) the “land of the free and the home of the brave”.
This is how deep America has plunged and, probably, continues plunging.
There may be (at least) three separate aspects to forgiveness. One is the real requirement to let go of hatred, vengeance and unceasing resentment and bitterness. The second is the question of reopening a lost relationship. The third is the question of attitude. Or, perhaps, a change of attitude. Can you love your enemy?
(a) Negate vengeance.
I suppose, the first requirement, the most important, would be to negate vengeance. This is important socially as well. Good deeds and evil, goodness and malice, travel in circles, in chain reactions, inside every nation and people.
The ratio between positive and negative chain reactions, within a society, is actually an indicator of, either, the greatness and happiness of any people; or of the exact opposite. Forgiveness stops the chain reaction of malice.
Resentments are more difficult to deal with. Are we allowed righteous anger? On the other hand, can we love an enemy, when we harbor resentments?
(b) Reopen Relationship?
There remains the question of reopening a lost relationship or attempting to do it. The letter may or may not be a good idea. In fact, often it may be prohibited by the Scripture itself. Read below. How can you have a relationship with devils, with venomous snakes? Should one approach a demonized enemy with love, when he turns on you and rends you? Check 3 Timothy 2: 1-5, God says “from such turn away”.
(c) Can you love your enemy?
THERE IS THE (very difficult) THIRD ASPECT TO FORGIVENESS, that of loving your enemy, doing good to those who hate you and spitefully use you and persecute you. How about, “do not resist evil” or “turn the other cheek”? Even much harder, what?
Facing a committed enemy, can we ask, how about justice, in this matter? Not hatred, not vengeance, just self-protection and defense of your family? Can we defend against stealing, hurting, murder? God gave a tremendous codex of Laws just for your defense and protection, practically throughout the Bible.
Let’s examine what God says. The conclusions proposed here are not meant to be taken categorically. They are intended as a starting point in your own study.
Also there are two or three different scenarios involved Laws regarding Christian brothers and sisters, Laws in dealing with pagans and, I think, Laws regarding justice and protection for a Christian. For you.
1) MUST WE FORGIVE ALL WHO HURT US UNJUSTLY? What must be our attitude to those who injure us? What does God say?
The “all” must include other Christians, neutral neighbors and our bitter, dedicated enemies.
25. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against ANY: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
26. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
Matthew 6:12, 14-16, 18:21
12. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
14. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
1 Peter 3:9
9. Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
WE MUST FACE IT. WE MUST FORGIVE. SEEK GOD NOW AND DO IT!
15. Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
2) HOW DO WE FORGIVE CHRISTIAN BOTHERS?
Matt 18:21. Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22. Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
(Seven is said to be the number of completion, seventy the number of universality. With a brother the reestablishment of a loving relationship is important and should be attempted)
1 John 3:17-18
17. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18. My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
3) HOW DO WE DEAL WITH ENEMIES?
35. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil
Romans 12:14, 17, 18, 21
14. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not 17. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18. IF IT BE POSSIBLE, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men 21. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
(REMAIN PEACEFUL IF IT IS POSSIBLE. BLESS -PRAY FOR- AN ENEMY, Deal honestly, no vengeance no more than that, what?)
1 Corinthians 4:12
12. And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
4. If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again.
Proverbs 19:11, 24:17 , 25:21-22
11. The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression. 17. Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth 21. If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: 22. For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee.
(THIS IS THE OLD TESTAMENT! IS THERE NOT ONE AND THE SAME AUTHOR FOR THE ENTIRE BIBLE?)
44. 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;
(NOTE THAT IN THE CASE OF “SPITEFULLY USE YOU AND PERSECUTE YOU” THE REQUIREMENT IS TO PREY FOR THEM; NO FURTHER CONCESSIONS. AT LEAST THAT’S HOW I READ IT.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 5:39 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.
TAKEN LITERALLY THE PASSAGE APPEARS TO NEGATE NOT ONLY VENGEANCE, BUT ALL DEFENSE AGAINST EVILDOERS.
TO NEGATE VENGEANCE IS SUPPORTED BY ALL NEW TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES. BUT ENFORCEMENT OF JUSTICE IS ALSO URGED IN THE NEXT PASSAGE, BELOW.
It may be that avoidance of defense speaks of the future “one thousand years reign” of Christ. At that time justice of the Lord will be automatically provided. Justice shall be immediate and spectacular.
Or, if this is for our day, (not just the 1000 year reign of Christ) this passage might be addressing only “small matters”. It may imply that we should avoid fighting, stop bickering, and STOP ARGUMENTS IN SMALL MATTERS. The example given is a response to relatively small matter. A slap on the cheek is a small matter. By itself, it does not threaten your life or property or family. By itself it cannot wreck your life. But your response might.
We are to live peaceably and honestly with others, and with our enemies; helping others, as much as we can. I SUPPOSE THERE MAY BE TIME WHEN WE CAN NOT CONTINUE PEACEABLY, WHEN DANGER AND DISASTER IS BEING URGED AND FORCED AGAINST US.
4) Can we seek justice?
6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 6:2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and IF THE WORLD SHALL BE JUDGED BY YOU, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?6:4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, SET THEM TO JUDGE who are least esteemed in the church.
6:5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to JUDGE BETWEEN HIS BRETHREN? 6:6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.
2:15 But HE THAT IS SPIRITUAL JUDGETH ALL THINGS, yet he himself is judged of no man. 1 Cor 2:15 Clean up your life.
AS YOU SEE, A CHRISTIAN CAN AND SHOULD seek justice, but also JUDGE AN EVILDOER, BUT JUDGE WITH RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT. As you see, the early brothers have invoked established authority as well, when they lacked the power to enforce justice.
2 Tim. 3:1-5
3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 3:4 Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: FROM SUCH TURN AWAY.
The types of enemies we encounter in our day are well identified above. THE PRIMARY DEFENSE AGAINST THEM IS TO TURN AWAY FROM SUCH. SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM THEM AND AVOID CONTACT. An open relationship with them is not permitted. Forget about re-establishing any relationship.
1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh NOT in the counsel of the ungodly, NOR standeth in the way of sinners, NOR sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
THE ADVICE IS CLEARLY URGES SEPARATION FROM THE UNGODLY. NO CLOSE RELATIONSHIP AT ALL. NO BAD FRIENDS.
1 Cor 5:3-5
PAUL JUDGED AN EVILDOER AND DEMOLISHED HIM!
5:3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, HAVE JUDGED ALREADY, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5:5 To DELIVER SUCH AN ONE UNTO SATAN FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF THE FLESH, THAT THE SPIRIT MAY BE SAVED in the day of the Lord Jesus.
This was an evildoer inside the “fold”. But to my judgment an evildoer is an evildoer. Perhaps you can see more clearly than that.
CONFRONTED WITH GREAT EVIL, LET THE AFFLICTED FAMILY OR THE WHOLE CONGREGATION PRAY GOD TO DELIVER SUCH ONE FOR DESTRUCTION, THE DESTRUCTION OF HIS EARTHLY BEING, SO HIS SPIRIT, PERHAPS, MAY BE SAVED IN THE ORDEAL. That’s how I understand it. What do you think?
5) CONCLUSIONS AND SUMMERY.
IT IS VERY OBVIOUS THAT A CHRISTIAN MUST (MUST!) FORGIVE EVERYBODY WHETHER THEY ASK PARDON OR NOT. LET GO HATREDS AND BITTERNESS. GIVE UP THOUGHTS AND DESIRES FOR REVENGE, IT IS NOT PERMITTED. GOD SHALL REPAY.
Try the following:
(1) Don’t run around hurt, full of bitterness and resentment stop to seek your God immediately; soon, not next year. Prey to the Lord. Tell him what the enemy has done and tell God that you forgive and that you give up personal vengeance. Now turn this entire matter into the hands and justice of God.
(2) If you were hurt by a Christian brother or, I suppose, any honest and reasonable person, then go to him in love and try to make peace. If it does not work with this brother, take others of the congregation with you to confront him. If he persists in evil, treat him as a pagan; separate.
(2) When you forgive a real enemy, prey for the conversion of this enemy that he/she might become a Christian too. I think this is necessary to remove bitterness and hatred from inside you.
(3) If the enemy is dangerous and intends to harm you, prey also for Gods protection, for YOU, protection against this enemy. Then SEPARATE yourself and yours from him and have no contact.
(4) Additionally, consider turning, in absence of a Christian authority, to any existing authority for justice and protection, as necessary.
(5) Failing all, if confronting a most extreme threat, as an ultimate, desperate resort, what did Paul do with an evildoer? Read it again. “DELIVER SUCH AN ONE UNTO SATAN FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF THE FLESH, THAT THE SPIRIT MAY BE SAVED”.
Why, do you suppose, does Paul teach us that? There may materialize, sometimes, to some of us, very “extreme” situations! We cannot resort to witch-doctors, or violence, or poisons or stealth. But our enemies do.
We might be left with a choice, in the most serious matters, to turn to God for ACTION and PROTECTION, or to perish.
Do not seek vengeance. Pray for protection for yourself and yours. Pray for the conversion of this enemy during his COMING ORDEAL. Then separate from obvious evil and have nothing to do with demonized people.
There should also be some protection by law, civil and criminal law.
Regarding the last part, most Christians will hesitate to invoke such destruction. But Paul did it. Your judgment must be absolutely JUST and NECESSARY, or you might condemn yourself as well. Better ask for the will of the Lord over your own will first, as you pray for help. Be careful to stay in the will of our Lord.
At least, that’s how I understand it. What does your own conscience say?