Soldiers of Christ
Updated: Jan 24
Paul likened the life of the genuine Christian to the experience of being a soldier. Does this give a green light to Christians to participate in war? We know that warfare is not always evil, for God himself mobilized the armies of Israel at various times. However, God’s actions are motivated by holiness, love, and wisdom. Can a person in the military today say they are following orders from someone who is motivated by the same? We know the answer to that. To say that ancient Israeli warfare validates the warmongering of kings, presidents, or political representatives is ludicrous. To say this validates nation building, militarism, interventionism, and expansionism is absurd. What is there about Paul’s analogy that approves the invasion of another nation and then bombing and killing people? In short, how does this analogy make it okay for Christians to kill for the nation-state to which they belong, or to kill and say they were just following orders? It doesn’t. Paul said that the weapons of warfare for the Christian are not carnal (2 Corinthians 10:4), meaning our weapons are not to be worldly weapons of death and destruction. But we are citizens of two kingdoms, some will say. We are not to kill for the Kingdom of God, but we are fully authorized to kill for the earthly kingdom we live in – Romans 13! Romans 13! Does this interpretation come from Christ? Or from inferences that people project upon biblical passages to justify their actions? It is one thing for a man to protect his family from harm; it is another to be a hired killer for corrupt human governments. The idea that we can fix what is wrong with the world through war is the lie that has destroyed millions of lives – both those killed and those doing the killing. War only guarantees that war will occur again, and what business does a Christian have serving an earthly kingdom instead of God’s Kingdom? No man can serve two masters. I personally do not believe the Bible teaches that all killing is sin, for I believe the Bible allows for self-defense, which may or may not be lethal. Murder is sin. Much of what passes as military action is nothing short of state-sanctioned murder. Murder is murder even if it is carried out by those wearing a uniform and claim to be killing for their country.
But what of the analogy that is used by Paul? Paul told Timothy that he was a “soldier of Jesus Christ.” When we yield to the call to follow Christ, we must learn to “endure hardness.” Some professing Christians like the comfort of routines and traditions because that is much easier than spiritual warfare. They shrink from any perceived hardships and inconveniences, which has resulted in the modern-day idea that there are two classes of Christians – the obedient and the “carnal.” That is a lie. The fact that a Christian can behave in a carnal manner is beyond dispute, but to claim there are habitually carnal Christians is not biblically supported. It is an accommodation for those who want the benefit of salvation but do not want to crucify self and follow Christ. A carnal minded person has not been born again, or he has walked away from Christ and died to him, relationally speaking. The Christian soldier is in a spiritual battle that requires strength and endurance. It is not a path of ease – it is a life of war. It is a life of affliction and conflict. We are fighting against the powers of darkness, the world, and the flesh. Paul warned the Christians in Galatia: “"For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."
The faithful soldier will suffer in this world, but the Lord Jesus is an encouragement to the suffering saint. If we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him. We are to remember Christ, and magnify Christ, in all that we do. We magnify Christ through the ministry of the Word. Paul was bound in human chains, but God’s Word cannot be bound. There is no power on earth that can shackle God’s Word. Sometimes his servants are silenced through death, but God’s Word still rings out. Voltaire once declared that the Word of God would be extinguished, but years after he died, his former house was occupied by Henri Tronchin, president of the Evangelical Society of Geneva, who used some of the rooms for storing Bibles (see here)!
God’s Word cannot be bound, yet professing Christians ignore it in favor of traditions, programs, and worldly attractions. Churches are more concerned with business models and numerical growth than they are trumpeting the Word of God and allowing the pieces to fall where they may. The Lord’s preaching drove people away. It was too hard for them. But today’s preachers want to coddle people and build up the number of tithers so they can continue in their comfortable positions. When we stand before the Lord one day we’re not going to be asked: How much money did you make? How many people did you make happy? How many friends did you make? He will ask - what did you do with my Word? Did you live by it? Did you obey it? Enduring hardness will mean standing on the Word in the face of public opinion and government propaganda. Do you love Christ enough to be a fool in the eyes of the world? Do you love him enough to be ridiculed for your refusal to kill or be killed in a war for the state? Or your refusal to go along with the corrupt government narratives that turn people into ammo for the government and corporate elites?
We have nothing to fear, as long as we seek to please the Lord, rather than men. Carrying the cross will lead to the possession of a crown. But if we deny him here, he will deny us before the Father.
Are you a good soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ?