Lex Talionis – The Law of Retaliation | By Pastor Andy Simpson

Pastor Andy Simpson

The law of equal and direct retribution is a sobering idea upon which we all should ponder. Some have described it with the old saying, “What goes around comes around!” With a similar concept, Buddhism stresses karma, the moral law of causation. But, God instituted this concept and identified it as recompense or requital. There is an unseen law, as real and obvious as the law of gravity, which assures us that whatever we do, say or give to others will return to us sometime, somewhere and somehow.

It is clearly defined in the Hebrew Scriptures: “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” This principle served two purposes. It limited punishment so that it would not be excessive. Secondly, it guaranteed punishment would indeed be administered.

The New Testament also emphasizes this truth. Galatians 6:7-8Galatians 6:7-8
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.  

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states, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

One great example in Scripture is the horrific story of Adoni-bezek. This Canaanite king was ruthless in his treatment of those whom he conquered. Cutting off the thumbs and great toes of his captives, he rendered them useless for future military service. This atrocity was committed against seventy rulers.  Judges 1 records the capture and fate of Adoni-bezek. After his defeat at the hands of Judah and Simeon, his own thumbs and great toes were removed. Upon experiencing the same treatment he had administered to others, his conscience was pricked and he humbly recognized, “As I have done, so God hath requited me!”  He was then taken to Jerusalem where he died. His life and death stand as a glaring illustration of lex talionis.

It is not always the case, but many well-intending believers, who are experiencing trouble, often request prayers and sympathy for immorality, failures and corruption that have risen in their homes and lives. The sad fact is that many of these terrible circumstances may indeed be corrupt fruit produced by seeds they have maliciously sown in the treatment of their brothers and sisters in Christ. The things they have falsely accused and criticized against others, ironically, surface in their own lives leaving them heart broken and destitute. Blinded to the condemnation caused by their own practices, they forget previous offenses towards others who were innocent.

No Christian is exempt from the enticement of this trap! The flesh is often tempted to run with rumors of failure. The carnal motivations for speaking evil of others are numerous. A deceitful heart can lead one to quickly condemn and find fault. Be careful! Do not sow fleshly seeds. They will grow to produce a returning whirlwind of destruction.

In contrast, the spiritual man seeks restoration and approaches the failures of others, whether alleged or confirmed, with careful humility. He is considerate of his own weakness and vulnerability to temptation.

To avoid the negative effects of lex talionis, believers must commit to the following Scriptural directives:

1.  Love your neighborMatt 22:39Matt 22:39
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  

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“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

2.  Love your enemiesMatt 5:44Matt 5:44
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44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;  

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“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”

3.  Control your behaviorPs 35:11-14Ps 35:11-14
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11 False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not. False...: Heb. Witnesses of wrong they...: Heb. they asked me 12 They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul. spoiling: Heb. depriving 13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom. humbled: or, afflicted 14 I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother. behaved myself: Heb. walked as though...: Heb. as a friend, as a brother to me  

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“False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.  12 They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul.  13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.  14 I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.”

4.  Treat all men well and fellow believers with special careGal 6:10Gal 6:10
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10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.  

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“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

5.  Exercise wisdom from aboveJames 3:17James 3:17
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17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. partiality: or, wrangling  

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“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”

6.  Only edify others Rom 15:2-3Rom 15:2-3
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2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. 3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.  

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“Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. 3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.”  Eph 4:29Eph 4:29
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29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. to...: or, to edify profitably  

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“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”

7.  Develop a heart of forgivenessMatt 6:14Matt 6:14
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14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:  

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“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:”  Mark 11:25Mark 11:25
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25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.  

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“And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”  Matt 18:21-22Matt 18:21-22
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21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.  

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“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”

8.  Treat people better than they deserveProv 25:21-22Prov 25:21-22
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21 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: 22 For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.  

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“If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: 22 For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.”

9.  Live by the rules of Christian brotherhoodRom 12:14-21Rom 12:14-21
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14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. condescend...: or, be contented with mean things 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.  

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“Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.  15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.  16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.  17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.  20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.  21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

10. Follow Christ’s example of patient suffering1 Peter 2:19-231 Peter 2:19-23
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. thankworthy: or, thank 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. acceptable: or, thank 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: for us: some read, for you 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: himself: or, his cause  

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“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:”

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Would You Consider Purchasing…

639405: Humility & Absolute Surrender Humility & Absolute Surrender

By Andrew Murray / Hendrickson Publishers

Greatly concerned for the spiritual guidance of new converts, and for spiritual growth in long-time Christians, Murray penned some of the most enduring devotional classics of Christian literature. The two beloved works in this volume reflect Murray’s longing for a deeper life in Christ and his prayer that others would long for and experience that life as well.

Originally posted 2011-06-15 09:36:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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