Friday, June 6, 2014

Are Spiritual Weapons Antithetical to Old Testament Civil Law? (2 Corinthians 2:10)

2 Corinthians 10

King James Version (KJV)

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;)

Some, in misreading this text and/or other texts, argue that Christians cannot advocate the enforcement of Old Testament civil law via the sword of the state because Christians are to only advocate spiritual weapons, not physical weapons.
First, such a view contradicts Romans 13:1-7, which requires rulers to enforce God’s law with the physical sword.   

Second, indeed, if one’s concern is for spiritual weapons, then one should insist on the enforcement of O.T. civil law, since the Bible says “For we know that the law is spiritual …” (Romans 7:14a).  Since the law is spiritual, even the Bible’s capital sanctions—which require the use of physical weapons—are ultimately spiritual weapons. 
Thus when rulers enforce God’s law, they are not ultimately only employing physical weapons, but are carrying out God’s wrath (Rom. 13:4Deut. 1:17).  But when God’s law is rejected, rulers employ nothing but physical weapons (in a sinful manner, we might add). Ironically then, those who reject O. T. civil law find themselves advocating the sinful use of non-spiritual weapons via civil government.

Third, if one thinks physical weapons are always antithetical to Christianity, then one has a hard time explaining Hebrews 11:32-34:   

And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:  Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.  Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens .
On this John Weaver comments:  
How does one subdue kingdoms?  The Word of God tells us it is “through faith.”  Yet, faith does not negate the use of weapons.  Evidently our fathers used their weapons in faith.  How do we know?  Because God said they were “valiant in fight,” they “escaped the edge of the sword,” and they “turned to flight the armies of the enemies.”[1]

Fourth, let’s not forget David, who slew Goliath using a sling.  Prior to killing Goliath, David proclaimed an antithesis between physical weapons and God, the source of spiritual weapons: “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (1 Sam. 17:45b).

Did David mean that God’s people are not to employ physical weapons?  Obviously not.  It’s just that David didn’t put his faith in his weapon.  God was the determining reason for David’s victory.  However, David’s weapon was still a means for slaying Goliath. 

Similarly, Psalm 44:3, speaking of the Israelite conquest of the promised land, reads, “for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them.”  Here again, there is no denial that the Israelites did in fact employ the sword; it’s just that God, not the sword, was the determining force of their victory.

Fifth, if weapons cannot be employed in any context, then not only would civil government be inherently sinful (since it relies on the power of the sword), but so would just warfare and defending others. It would be sinful, for instance, to protect a child from being tortured. Such a view is absurd, wicked, and must be rejected. 


[1] John Weaver, The Christian and Civil Government (Fitzgerald, GA: Ovid Need, 2006), 146, 147.