A lot of violence and brutality in our world today has to do with differing religious beliefs. In contrast, Christianity today is, for the most part, considered a loving and peaceful religion. How do we address those who point out that the Bible contains references to brutality and violence and judgment?
We often hear of the “Crusades,” when European armies invaded the “Holy Land” to basically try to convert Moslems into Christians at sword-point. Sadly those misguided Crusaders missed the whole concept of what the Bible was teaching. The Bible teaches that God gave every human being a thing called free will and it is man’s choice alone whether they choose to love and serve God.
If God chose to physically destroy those who do not love Him, men would serve God out of fear and not because of love -- it would not be genuine. Man makes his own choices in life, but will answer to God at the Judgment.
Romans 14:12 says, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” In the Bible (Old Testament) the times where believers (God’s chosen people, the Israelites) were permitted to kill unbelievers was when the people of a given area were so evil and corrupt that God had literally given up on them and humanly speaking there was no hope to redeem them.
As it says in Proverbs 29:1, “Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed, without remedy.”
Jericho was such a city (Book of Joshua). Some, like Rahab and her family, repented and were spared; others didn’t, were hardened in their unbelief, and perished. They knew and saw what the God of Israel could do and had done. Yet these pagans defied God and refused to repent and died in their sins. More often, the Isrealites offered peace and friendship first, and if the people repented of their sins they would be spared.
We also need to realize that the God of the Bible despises sin and God’s Judgment was always poured out against sin and the Isrealites themselves (God’s Chosen People) as well, were judged just as harshly when their nation fell into sin.
We often hear that “God hates sin but loves the sinner” -- and that is quite true. 1 John chapter 3 tells us, “See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know Him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as He is pure. Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in Him. Anyone who continues to live in Him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know Him or understand who He is. Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.”
We also need to understand that the God of the Bible loves us and His desire is that all sinners repent. And 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) tells us, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”
When we see the violence in our world today and people try to tie in the God of the Bible with the gods of any other religion, just remember what the Bible tells us in Proverbs 6 about the one true God: “There are six things the Lord hates.... no, seven things He detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.”
And in the New Testament Jesus summed up what God was trying to get through to the human race as we read in Mark 12: “One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ Jesus replied, ‘The most important commandment is this: Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.’”
So is the God of the Bible the same God as other religions? That answer is a resounding....NO!