And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
Rev 12:11 ESV
Christians everywhere have debated whether violence is ever justified. Some make the case that it’s never okay to use violence, while others say violence is necessary as a last resort to stop evil. For the most part, both sides agree that the general rhythm of Christianity should be one of nonviolence. We love our neighbors and enemies alike, and we give our left cheeks to the one who strikes us on our right cheek. That’s the general posture of the Christian faith, and most Bible believing Christians agree with this.
Even though some Christians will argue that violence allowed in certain circumstances, a plain reading of the Bible shows that true evil can never be conquered by human acts of violence. Take terrorism, for example. We could nuke ISIS off the face of the earth, but this doesn’t mean that we have destroyed the devil—the true face of evil. Satan could use the façade of world peace to cover the eyes of those seeking God and he laughs in the face of nuclear weapons. You can’t fight against—let alone, destroy—a non-flesh-and-blood enemy by using flesh-and-blood weapons. It’s like spraying a forest fire with a squirt gun filled with gasoline. It may seem like you’re trying to stop the destruction. But in reality, you’re only perpetuating it.
There may be a place to use violence as a last resort. Or they may not be. Christians will continue to debate the role of violence in the Christian faith. But the one thing is clear: the ultimate root of all evil was defeated through the cross of Jesus Christ, the one who suffered at the hands of violence, rather than destroying his enemy with the sword.
There is power in suffering. When early Christians were being persecuted by Rome, the apostle John told them to hold strong. Keep the faith. Maintain your allegiance to Jesus. Don’t give into Rome. After all, their suffering was an unforeseen means of defeating evil, even if it seemed that they had lost. The apostle John says that “they” (the first-century Christian martyrs) “have conquered him” (the devil, the true source and empowerment of all evil) “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
They have conquered the devil by dying. In God’s kingdom, suffering contains unforeseen power to defeat evil, even if it looks like evil is defeating you.
Father, help us to see that defeat does not come through force, but instead through humility and suffering. May we be people who live lives that are countercultural to the world. May we follow in your footsteps and show the world what it looks like to defeat the enemy.