Show No Mercy, Give No Quarter?

by Mary E. Stephens

Some years ago a pastor my dad met told him that he thought a lot of pastors had the philosophy, "Do Satan no harm." We agreed in many cases and remembered that quote. However, in doing Satan no harm, or perhaps we should say in pretending to do Satan harm, too many pastors and Christians in general resort to harming the believers or the sinners they deal with.

Our natural response, if not too weak, is inclined to be too hard. We forget that ...we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12 We are often inclined to count the person as the enemy, and in giving Satan no mercy nor quarter, our human tendency is to react upon the person in giving them no mercy nor quarter either. It is this forgetfulness and merciless attitude that eventually leads some to extremes like the Thompson brothers who beat a Mexican boy nearly to death in Austin, Texas; and the infamous and the Westboro "church", that encourages wild rage against many sinners for whom Christ died.

It is true that we are told, And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Jude 1:23 But, notice we are to hate the garment spotted by the flesh, not the sinner!

James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

As I recall, my brother once saw this verse quoted in an obituary or death announcement. That's a pretty scary thing to have someone publish about you after you're dead! Yet too many Christians are still inclined to show no mercy with fellow believers, family and the lost - just as if they weren't sinners themselves and didn't need a Savior!

Showing mercy is not justifying sin. This is what confuses some. Rather it is a withholding of what is deserved. You and I deserve to go to hell, but God in mercy provided us with a Saviour through whom we can have salvation and eternal life. This is the greatest mercy ever shown.

Also, in reading the Gospels we find the Lord Jesus was the best example of a man living on earth among men, who was merciful and compassionate as only God can be. Think of the woman found in adultery (John 8). She deserved to be stoned according to God's Law, which was still in effect at that point. Yet, after all the other guilty parties had departed, Christ showed her amazing mercy and compassion.

John 8:10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

He said this to an ungodly, sinful, adulterous woman who was lawfully worthy of death! We are told she was caught in the very act! (Where was the man, by the way? You see that's how the unmerciful always work - ready and eager to condemn the party they deem "wicked", but excusing others, sometimes from the very same sins.) But also notice that Jesus Christ never told her that she had not sinned, nor did He excuse the sin. He chose not to condemn her - a significant thing since He is God and condemnation from Him would have serious consequences - and He told her to go and sin no more.

Did you know that sodomites, lesbians, transgenders, and sadomasichists can be and have been born again and made new creatures through Christ Jesus?

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

So too can witches and those who practice occult and "New Age" "arts" be saved.

Acts 19:18-19 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

And remember this, rebellion is just as bad as witchcraft and stubbornness is just as bad as idolatry.

1 Samuel 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

Hm......that's pretty unnerving. I don't know many, if any, people who can't be stubborn once in a while. So...who needs mercy? We all do. Who ought to show mercy? We all should. Nay, we must if we would have mercy ourselves, James 2:13.

This does not mean that God will not judge sin. He can. He does. He will.

Psalm 89:14 Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.

Hebrews 10:30-31 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Daniel 7:9-10 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.

But, He is still merciful!

Lamentations 3:22-23 It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

This is also not to say that God's people are never to judge anyone. Jesus Christ Himself told us to Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. John 7:24 But, too often the judgment is not tempered with mercy. How very often I have seen Christians judging each other for things when they did not know the reasons or have all the facts. I have been on both sides of this, in all honesty, and neither one is enjoyable. Being a self-righteous, unmerciful judge ends up filling one's mouth with gravel, and being judged by people who don't understand or don't care is very disheartening.

Zechariah 7:9-10 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother: And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.

In conclusion - let us remember that mercy is shown to those who show mercy. If you want to make an in depth study of this read the life of David and notice how many times he showed mercy to those who did not deserve it and how often God showed David mercy when he did not deserve it. The "sure mercies of David" (Is. 55:3) were a two way street it would seem. David could be counted on over and over to show mercy, though he also was a faithful judge; and God showed David mercy over and over as well.

Psalm 18:25-27 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright; With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward. For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks.



background & graphics by Mary Stephens
Vintage graphic - source unknown.
updated 2017