Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Personal Revenge

The issue before us in Romans 12:14 and 17-21 is the question of personal revenge

Liberals tell us that the God of the New Testament is not the God of the Old Testament.  They tell us that over the centuries man’s understanding of God has progressed from a vengeful, angry God of the Old Testment  to a God of love and kindness, as seen in the New Testament. They are wrong.

The God of the Old Testament and the New Testament is identical.  He is a God of righteousness, justice and wrath and also of love,  mercy and grace.   “Jesus Christ, the same, yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8,

God in His amazing wisdom and grace took on a human body, Jesus Christ.  Born of a virgin, Jesus was  fully God and fully man. He never inherited the sinful nature of Adam from a human father. Then God, in His love for sinners  permitted wicked men to carry out their evil plot and fulfill God’s eternal plan to have  Jesus crucified as He bore the death penalty for all the sins of the human race.  God raised Him from the dead, proving that He was satisfied with the shed blood of Christ  as the full atonement for  sin.

Those who refuse to recognize themselves as sinners and who refuse to receive Christ as their Saviour from sin will experience the eternal wrath of God in Hell.  By the grace of God alone, those repentant sinners who receive Christ as Saviour, have Christ’s perfect righteousness imputed to their account and are made fit to dwell with God in Heaven for eternity. 

THE OLD TESTAMENT ON VENGEANCE

The Old Testament in Genesis 9:6, Exodus 21-22 and Deuteronomy 19  teaches us that human government; not individuals, is charged with the responsibility of carrying out vengeance. It is not a sin when it is carried out by human government. These principles of vengeance by human government are just, merciful and good.

THE NEW TESTAMENT ON VENGEANCE

The New Testament teaching on vengeance is not contradictory to the Old Testament, but concentrates more on personal vengeance. In  Matthew 5:38-48 Jesus teaches us as Christians how to deal with our personal enemies by loving them and doing good to them.  His standard for us is perfection which we cannot attain on our own.  By justification, He imputes that perfection to us.

But beyond justification, He empowers us to live by those standards.  Not perfectly, of course;  but by His indwelling Holy Spirit, we can make constant progress in holy, righteous living.  Through the 55 years of my pastoral ministry by God’s grace, He has helped me to grow in Christ-likeness and accept the attacks and lies of others and to not try to get even with those who would harm me.  God has always  avenged me and given me His love for my enemies and a desire to see them blessed.

PRINCIPLES FOR DEALING WITH OUR ENEMIES

NEGATIVE PRINCIPLES

1. Don’t recompense or pay back evil for evil. Romans 12:17    Jesus did  not avenge, even in His speech. I Peter 2:21-23   You’ve, no doubt,  said  it and heard children say,  “He hit me first!”    If you’re a parent, you’ve probably even taught them to avenge themselves by hitting back.  You’ve probably taught your boys that it is not manly to not hit back.  But look at the verses again. 

2. Don’t avenge yourself. Romans 12:19   It’s not manly.

Dr. Oswald Smith, had a Biblically-based motto that I learned early in life and have tried to live by it all my life. ‘NO ATTACK!  NO DEFENSE!”   Let God be your defense and avenger.   He can do it much more effectively than you and I can. 

3. Don’t be overcome with anger by evil done to you.  Romans 12:21. This makes for miserable, sick Christians.  There’s nothing like holding a grudge for bringing on aches and pains and even ulcers.

4. There IS a time to be angry.  Ephesians 4:26.   It is right to be angry when God’s glory is at stake.  Listen to Jesus blister the Pharisees throughout  Matthew 23.   

Such holy anger must NEVER degenerate into selfish anger  for personal offenses.   Read and meditate on Psalm 139:19-24 to learn how to hate as God hates for His glory and not allow it to degenerate into hatred for personal offenses.  

 

POSITIVE PRINCIPLES

 

1. Rather than trying to hurt or punish our enemies, we should bless them.  Romans 12:14.   Bless them with kindness as the Good Samaritan helped the one who despised him as a Samaritan.  

We can bless our enemies by praying for their good.  Jesus prayed for His crucifiers, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

2. Speak honestly about our enemies.  Romans12:17  When angry and vengeful, we tend to lie about our enemies to put them in a bad light.

3. “Live peaceably with all men.”  Romans 12:18     That is, as far as you can control a situation, live peaceably with all men.

4. “Give place unto wrath.”  Romans 12:19  Let your enemy have his say.  Let him do his worst.  God will avenge you.

5. “Feed your enemy and give him something to drink.”  Romans 12:20

In his distress, give him a hand.  Love is the only revenge we are to give. Let God have His way.  He is well able to avenge you and bring blessing out of evil.

6. “Overcome evil with good.”  Romans 12:21    Cry for vengeance and you are conquered.   Show kindness to your enemy and conquer your own vengeful spirit and you are victorious.   That is a much greater feat.  Proverbs16:32 teaches us “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that rules his spirit is greater than he who takes a city.”

On the other hand, Proverbs 25:28 warns us “He who has no control over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and has no walls of protection.”

I challenge you to test God’s Word next time you are tempted to avenge yourself.  Experience the joy and exhilaration of enjoying victory over your own sinful flesh nature.  It beats giving your enemy a black eye.

 

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February 20, 2012 - Posted by | Romans

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