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Martial Arts and the Bible P2 - Spiritual and Physical Contraints

Updated on December 5, 2012

Spiritual and Physical Contraints

Spiritual Constraints:

Jesus speaking: Matthew 5:39; But I say to you, That ye resist not evil: but whoever shall strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

This verse spoken by Jesus is readily used to express what the attitude of the Christian should be in a physical confrontation, according to some. There are many lessons here in the Sermon on the Mount. However, this part of the Sermon is seldom used in proper context. The following is but one perspective of Jesus words, but is in proper context.

Verses 1 and 2 of this chapter clarify the purpose and principles involved. Jesus is schooling the apostles in how they should act when they go out on their missionary journeys. Of course, the hill was crowded with other hearers, not just the disciples.

Check the Beatitudes and other sayings laid down in this chapter before and after this verse. This is a directive on how we should act when our FAITH and BELIEFS are verbally attacked and ridiculed by others. It has little to do with physical attacks. The final defense and action against these attacks are found in Matthew 10:14; Mark 6:11; Acts 13:51, "shake off the dust." In other words, walk away.

To those that make their argument about karate being un-Christian using Matthew 5:39, we would ask, "Do you live each day by ALL the standards of the Sermon?" If so, good.

However, if the answer is "Yes," one should review the content and context a little closer, then consider closing verse, Matthew 5:48.

It continues to amaze me that folks will pick one verse as an unchangeable standard and leave all the rest "blowing in the wind," James 2:10.

Physical Constraints:

John 18:11; Then said Jesus to Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

Jesus does not admonish Peter for having a sword or being ready to use it. He simply implies there is a time and place for action and this is not it. And Peter’s actions also highlight another aspect of training, regular practice. Regular practice is very important to any training program. Fortunately for Malchus, Peter did not practice and only got an ear instead of the whole head.

Shortly after this incident, Jesus addresses this same subject, again.

John 18:36; Jesus answered, 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 here.

In Jesus answer to Pilate, He refers to the "spiritual and physical" kingdoms. If He were here to establish a physical kingdom then there would be physical action by his "servants," war. That was was not His purpose... this time.

We do find another proper example of this in Genesis 14:14-15, as Abram pursues and defeats the attacking kings who kidnapped his nephew Lot. And, again, we see these folks were "trained." This is the only time that word is used in the Bible. And it means "practice."

We are to train to be ready as a strong man armed, (Matthew 12:29; Mark 3:27) but unoffensive (Matthew 10:16) not readily provoked (Romans 12:18) but willing to act when necessary even to, in some circumstances, the giving of your life, (1 John 3:17).

Romans 12:18, If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

"If"and "as much as," are words of caution but words of release. God says, in the next verse, vengeance is wrong.

Let’s keep in mind that, while God has never approved of vengeance for vengeance sake. But He has never disallowed self-defense in a proper setting, 2 Samuel 5:18-20; Luke 22:36.

At the same time, when action is called for, it must always be from a defensive and controlled counter-attack. The rule of thumb is two parted; 1) If there is a safe avenue of retreat, it should be strongly considered; 2) If contact becomes necessary, only the force necessary for preservation is allowed.

Last, we have no scripture that supports a "do nothing" attitude when being attacked. We have scripture than quoted above to support accepting abuse for our Christian believes. But we have scripture than to support self-defense. And we should have the common sense to know which is the case.

Ecclesiastes 3:8


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