According to our message today, is there ever a time in life where conflict is righteous and necessary?
Paul’s exhortations in verses 17-21 are very helpful in the development of our biblical worldview when it comes to conflict. Christianity is often distorted to be a pacifistic, peace-at-all-costs type of religion. However, it doesn’t take long to recognize that the only times the peace reigns upon this earth is when sin is absent.
Remember the four words that sum up the biblical worldview: Creation >> Fall >> Redemption >> Restoration. Right now, we are living in a fallen world, corrupted and distorted by sin. Jesus has come and purchased our salvation, but the fullness of His redemption will come as He returns again in the future.
Because of the sinful world we live in, conflict WILL come. Jesus said Himself, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). And while Christ-followers are meant to live and do all for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31), this does not mean that we just offer ourselves and the truth up to be trampled and killed by the world. We live with a strategic focus on accomplishing a specific purpose that the Spirit of God reveals to us as we walk with Him. When false gospels, false doctrines, distortions of truth, and the deceptions of men seek to attack us, take us captive, and inflict suffering upon us, we endure through the suffering with loud voices that proclaim the truth unashamedly (2 Corinthians 10:5). We take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Bible, and seek the salvation of those for whom Christ died. Many times, this is God’s desired outcome for our tribulations, persecutions, and sufferings.
According to Paul, what is the responsibility of each believer when it comes to conflict (see Romans 12:18)? What is the accompanying promise of Jesus in Matthew 5:9?
Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” What Paul is calling us to here is a life where the conflicts we face do not have their root in a quarrelsome spirit found in us. We don’t pursue conflict, we pursue peace. We pursue understanding, clarity and truth. We live lives and speak words that exalt Christ in the eyes of others. If that brings conflict or persecution, then that is okay. If it comes from the way we proclaim truth, as long as we are following the biblical commendation of grace, truth, and love (John 1:14; 1 Corinthians 13:1-2), then that is conflict worth having.
In all of these things though, our ultimate desire and motivation should be for people to find peace through the Cross of Christ. In this way Jesus’ promise to us in Matthew 5:9 is exemplified in us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
According to today’s message, what is the difference between vengeance and justice?
The word “vengeance” is defined as “punishment inflicted or retribution exacted for an injury or wrong,” while the word “justice” is defined as “just behavior or treatment.” Vengeance conveys a sense of personal, subjective judgment, while “justice” conveys a corporate, objective sense. In vengeance, we seek to repay an “eye for an eye.” However, because of our sinful hearts, we cannot perfectly avenge a wrong. In justice though, a governing body bears the sword (Romans 13:1-2) against evil and wickedness. And while they may not perfectly execute justice, it strips away the personal nature of it and keeps it out of the hands of a vigilante.
The reason Paul tells us never to “avenge” ourselves (Romans 12:19) is because we are not called to repay evil for evil, but to overcome evil with good and to bless those who persecute us (Romans 12:17; Romans 12:21; Romans 12:14). Like Jesus, we are to let God our Sovereign Father avenge us (Romans 12:19; Deuteronomy 32:35) because no one will ever be able to mete out justice as perfectly as He can and will. Deuteronomy 32:4 says God is “The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He.”