This post is for those who subscribe to the Judeo-Christian faith.

The other day on my timeline I tweeted, “I’m yet to find a spiritual justification for killing enemies with prayers”. Spirits are not temporal. Therefore, they cannot die. However, if the object of prayer is human beings, then it is wrong to pray for their deaths. We are instructed to “Love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us.” (Matthew 5:44)

In response to my tweet, someone adduced 2 Thessalonians 1:6 as justification: “Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you…” First, the full text says it is GOD who repays not man, so it is within HIS purview, not ours. Indeed, God states, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

Even if we look closer at the scripture quoted by the individual on my timeline, it is completely taken out of context. If you read verses 7 to 10 of 2 Thessalonians 1, it specifically mentions WHEN the judgment spoken of by Paul, will be meted out by the Lord – in the DAY he returns (his second coming). The punishment specified is also clearly stated – everlasting destruction and separation from God. At no point does the scripture support a prayer that calls for enemies to, “Fall down and die.” While we should take authority over demonic spirits fueling our physical enemies, we cannot wish those enemies dead. After all, we wrestle not against flesh and blood – Ephesians 6:12. When you pray for physical enemies to die and they do so, you have stepped into the realm of spiritual manipulation and have aligned with witchcraft. It was not God who answered your prayer. You set forces in motion in the spirit realm and Satanic forces heeded your words. As a Christian, your words have substance in the spirit and there are many spirits listening.

When we read the Old Testament, we see an instance of Elisha murdering children in cold blood through an exercise of power (2 Kings 2:23). We see Samson murdering 30 people to settle a bet (Judges 14:19). If you read the scriptures carefully, you will see that Samson takes advantage of his spiritual gifts to pursue nefarious ends. He used his privilege callously. We assume these types of behaviour should be excused because the protagonists are God’s servants. However, these instances are put in the Bible so we can learn how NOT to behave. Jesus clearly distances himself from such atrocious behaviour, when he cautions his disciples against emulating Elijah’s habit of using fire to consume his enemies (Luke 9:54-56). Jesus says, “The Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”

As I prayed today, I realised four reasons Christians take scriptures out of context to perpetrate evil:

1. Misunderstanding of language: Unless you have a flair for literature and Shakespearean language, the King James Version of the Bible is not for you. If you would like to stay true to the original language, try the Amplified Version. Hebrew and Greek are pictorial languages. One word may encapsulate an entire concept and unless you’re willing to study deeply to gain context, you might wander into error. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom. He does so freely. But remember, God hides things while noble men search them out (Proverbs 25:2). Pursuit and study are proof of your desire to understand the Word of God.

2. Misplaced belief in the infallibility of preachers: You must be willing to consider that your Pastor can be wrong. If you are not open to this, you will never crosscheck the things he/she says. Paul was willing to challenge the hypocrisy and bigotry of Peter (Galatians 2:11-14). Are you willing to do the same with spiritual leaders?

3. Judgmental spirit: We take on a misplaced role, when we pronounce judgement on fellow believers and those who do not subscribe to our faith. Not only are we forbidden from judging (Luke 6: 37) but, that honour belongs to the Creator while we are still on earth. (We are told we have a judging role in heaven, but that time hasn’t come.) An imperfect man cannot set himself up as a judge over another imperfect man. The context of Ananias’ and Sapphira’s deaths was clearly a sin against the Holy Spirit who judged them, not Peter. Peter simply communicated it as an Apostle under authority (Acts 5:1-11). And anyway, it is scriptural malpractice to build an entire doctrine out of an instance.

4. The belief that you are right and everyone else is wrong: A closed mind is rarely open to the possibility of being wrong. As such, he will find any and every scripture to support his position, even taking scriptures out of context.

In conclusion, I would like to speak on the subject of jurisdiction. God is very clear about authority lines and structure. In Ephesians 4:11, Paul specified gifts God gave to the Church. One of such gifts is the Pastor – a Shepherd, Carer and Convener. A Pastor’s authority is confined to his assembly. Sometimes if he is a Prophet or Apostle, he speaks on broader issues and makes proclamations. But, EVERY child of God is now a Priest (1 Peter 2:9; Revelations 5:10). As priests we hear from God DIRECTLY and pray to God directly on matters of individual destiny, without needing to go through a Shepherd. This means everything the Pastor says is subject to the final confirmation we personally receive from God (Acts 17:11). As Priests, we can go directly to God to query the things we have heard. No longer are we in the Old Testament where God speaks to the Priest first and then the priest transmits the message to the assembly.

So, based on this premise, a Pastor has no legal jurisdiction in a marriage. The husband holds the FINAL authority. In the same vein, as a child, the authority is a Parent, not a Pastor. At work, the authority is the boss. In the nation, the authority is Government. That is why Government can prosecute a Pastor who assaults someone (and therefore breaks the law). God will endorse such punishment.

Therefore, the notion that the Pastor can decide who you should marry, where you should go to school, what job you should take or the decisions you should make is unscriptural and quite frankly, veers into the realm of divination. A Pastor can advise as a father and shepherd, but ultimately YOU must take the decision. Every prophecy is subject to witnesses (1 Corinthians 14:29; 2 Corinthians 13:1). The final confirmation comes from the Holy Spirit. You have direct access to God and can ask for confirmation. Do not move without that confirmation and do not be so quick to corroborate what you want to hear, that you start hearing voices.

This brings my treatise to an end.

The notion that a Pastor can decide who you should marry, where you should work and so on, is unscriptural and veers into the realm of divination. Click To Tweet