This post is for those who subscribe to the Judeo-Christian faith.
The other day on my timeline, I tweeted, “I’m yet to find a spiritual justification for killing enemies through prayer”. Spirits are not temporal; as such, they cannot die. If the object of the prayer is human beings, then it is wrong to pray for their deaths as we are instructed to “love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us” (Matthew 5:44).
In response to my tweet, someone adduced 2 Thessalonians 1:6: “since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you”. First, the full text says it is GOD who repays not man, so it is within HIS purview and we do not need to ask or pray for it. “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). Now if we look closer at the scripture quoted by the individual on my timeline, it is completely taken out of context. If you read verses 7 to 10 of 2 Thessalonians 1, it specifically mentions WHEN the judgment spoken of by Paul will be meted out by the Lord – in the DAY he returns (his second coming). The punishment specified is also clearly stated – everlasting destruction and separation from God. At no point does that scripture support a prayer that calls for enemies to “fall down and die”. While we should take authority over demonic spirits fueling physical enemies, we cannot wish enemies dead. After all, we wrestle not against flesh and blood – Ephesians 6:12. When you pray for physical enemies to die and they die, you have stepped into the realm of manipulation of spirits and aligned yourself with witchcraft. It was not God who answered the prayer. You set forces in motion in the spirit realm and Satanic forces heeded your words. As a Christian, your words have substance in the spirit realm and there are many spirits listening.
When we read the Old Testament, we see an instance of Elisha murdering children in cold blood through the exercise of power entrusted to his care (2 Kings 2:23). We see Samson murdering 30 people outside of a war (or officially sanctioned military raid) to settle a bet (Judges 14:19). If you read the scripture carefully, you see Samson takes advantage of the fact that the Spirit of the Lord empowers him when he’s angry. (Same way that for some prophets, music energises them). Samson used that privilege callously. We assume these types of behaviour by Prophets should be sanctioned because they are God’s anointed servants. However, these instances are put in the Bible so we learn how NOT to behave. Jesus clearly distances himself from such atrocious behaviour when he sharply cautions his disciples against emulating Elijah’s penchant for calling for fire from heaven to consume enemies (Luke 9:54-56). Jesus says: “The Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them”.
As I prayed today, I realised 4 reasons why Christians take scriptures out of context to perpetrate evil:
1. Misunderstanding of language: Unless you have a flair for literature and Shakespearean language, the King James Version of the Bible is not for you. If you would like to stay true to the original language then try the Amplified Version and Strong’s Concordance to understand the original Hebrew and Greek Lexicon. Hebrew and Greek are pictorial languages. One word may encapsulate an entire concept and unless you’re willing to study entire books of the Bible or chapters to gain full context, you might wander into error. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom. He does so freely. But remember, God hides things while noble men search them out (Proverbs 25:2). Pursuit and study are proof of your desire to understand the deep things of God.
2. Misplaced belief in the infallibility of men of God: You must be willing to consider that perhaps your Pastor is wrong about a matter. If you are not open to this, you will never crosscheck the things he says, like the “Bereans”. (I use “he” to represent both male and female Pastors here). Paul was willing to challenge the hypocrisy and bigotry of Peter (Galatians 2:11-14). Are you willing to do same?
3. Judgmental spirit: We take on a misplaced role, casting judgment on fellow believers and those who do not subscribe to our faith. This is completely antithetical to love. And anyway we have no jurisdiction. Not only are we forbidden from judging in Luke 6: 37 but that honour belongs to the Creator while we are still on earth. (At some point in heaven, we are told we will have a judging role but that time hasn’t come.) An imperfect redeemed man cannot set himself up to judge another man on earth. He did not make the man. Those who quote 1 Corinthians 6 and use that as justification for judging clearly did not read the scripture in context. Also, we should clearly distinguish when the Holy Spirit is in operation and judges a matter from when we ourselves judge. The context of Ananias’ and Sapphira’s deaths was clearly a sin against the Holy Spirit who judged them, not Peter. Peter simply communicated same as an Apostle under authority (Acts 5:1-11). And anyway, it is scriptural malpractice to build an entire doctrine out of an instance of scripture or based on a legally expired document – the Old Testament, like the admirers of Elijah do.
4. We believe we are right and everyone else is wrong: A closed mind is not open to the possibility of ever being wrong. As such, he will find any and every scripture to support his position, many times taking the scriptures out of context.
Now on the subject of jurisdiction, I have this to say. God is very clear about authority lines and structures. In Ephesians 4:11, Paul specified gifts God gave to the Church. One of such gifts is the Pastor – a Shepherd, Carer and Convener. A Pastor’s authority is confined to the assembly. Sometimes if he is a Prophet, he speaks on personal or national issues and makes proclamations. But EVERY child of God is now a Priest (1 Peter 2:9; Revelations 5:10). As priests we hear from God DIRECTLY and pray to God directly on matters of individual destiny without going through a Shepherd. This means everything the Pastor says is subject to the final confirmation we receive from God (Acts 17:11). As Priests, we can go directly to God to query the things we have heard. No longer are we in the Old Testament when God speaks to the Priest first and then the priest transmits the message to the assembly.
So according to scripture, the Pastor has no legal jurisdiction in a marriage. The husband holds the FINAL authority. As a child, your authority structure is your Parents not your Pastor. At work, your authority structure is your boss. In the nation, the authority structure is Government. That is why Government can prosecute a Pastor who rapes a woman (and breaks the law) and God will endorse the punishment.
Therefore the notion that the Pastor decides who you should marry, where you should go to school, what job to take or decisions to make is unscriptural and quite frankly veers into the realm of divination. He can advise as a father and shepherd but ultimately YOU take the decision. Every prophecy is subject to witnesses (1 Corinthians 14:29; 2 Corinthians 13:1). The final confirmation comes from the Holy Spirit. As a Priest you have direct access to God and can ask for confirmation. Do not move without that confirmation and do not be so quick to corrobate what you want to hear that you start hearing voices.
This ends my treatise.