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Are soldiers and police officers considered to be "murderers" in God's eyes (meaning that Christians should never hold those positions)?
In Matthew 8:5-13, Jesus deals with a centurion (a Roman soldier in charge over 100 soldiers). “And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.”
First, we notice that Jesus did not give one word of rebuke to this centurion (to this soldier in charge of 100 other soldiers), but immediately said that He would grant the centurion’s request. “And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.”
Second, we see great humility in the life of this centurion, and an acknowledgement of Jesus’ power and authority. “The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.” With a person acknowledging Jesus’ absolute authority, and right to tell people to do this or that—that would have been the perfect time to tell the centurion, “And, now, I am commanding you to forsake this job of being a soldier...”—but Jesus did not say that at all.
Third, Jesus, Himself, testifies that this centurion does have faith in Him, and will one day be in heaven—and at the same time, Jesus points out that many Jews will not be in heaven (because they do not have faith in Him). ”When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Fourth, Jesus commends the centurion’s faith, once again, and has absolutely no rebuke for the centurion and his occupation. “And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.” Contrast Jesus’ parting words to the centurion, with His parting words to the woman taken in adultery. In John 8:11, Jesus says, “...go, and sin no more.” If the centurion was sinning by being a soldier, then why did Jesus not tell him the same?
There is also nothing wrong with a Christian being a police officer. They are referred to as the “ministers of God.” Romans 13:1-4 says, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” The “sword” is used to “kill.” The “rod” is used for “physical punishment.” Proverbs 26:3 says, “A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back.”
God has given authority to the “revenger of wrath,” and later, to the government (Romans 13), to kill people for certain crimes. Genesis 9:6 says, “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” The one who kills a murder, does not become a murderer. He is simply obeying God’s orders to put the murderer to death. God told His people many times to kill certain sinners. 1 Samuel 15:2-3 says, “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” That did not make God’s people murderers. They were simply obeying God to fulfill His punishment upon people who disobeyed God.
Abraham had trained his own servants to be soldiers, if the need arose, and it did arise. Genesis 14:1-17 says, “And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim, And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness. And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezontamar. And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five. And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain. And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram. And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale.” Abraham and his servants were not murderers, they were righteous men protecting their families. Anyone who claims to be a Christian, and will not rise to rescue and defend his family, has a horrible testimony.
If God calls a Christian man to be a police officer or soldier, that does not make him a murderer.
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