Upon reading the question in the title you probably immediately thought – ‘That’s easy. Of course not!’ And you would be correct in that assumption. Be that as it may, there are some who contend that the Bible contradicts itself on this subject. They argue that the same God who orders people not to steal encouraged the Israelites to steal in the Old Testament. Let’s look at the verses they use and see what’s going on.
Does the Bible contradict itself as it relates to the punishment of adultery? Is it a contradiction that under the Mosaic Law the penalty for such a sin was death (Lev 20:10), while in the New Testament Jesus let a woman who was caught in the act of adultery go away free and uncondemned (Jn. 8:3-11)? Manuscript issue aside, the answer is – no, this would not be an example of a Bible contradiction. But now let’s see why not.
Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” (2 Sam. 24:1)
1 Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel. 2 So David said to Joab and to the leaders of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba to Dan, and bring the number of them to me that I may know it.” (1 Chron. 21:1-2)
The opening verse of the closing chapter of 2nd Samuel brings with it some interesting textual and theological questions. First we might ask, “Why ‘again?’” You’ll notice the beginning of the verse states, “Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel…” What was the prior event of God’s anger that preceded this occasion of His righteous indignation? Perhaps the best answer is found in Israel’s previous nation-wide sin of supporting Absalom and/or the more recent Sheba-inspired rebellion. Next, why exactly was God’s anger aroused against Israel at the time of this text? We are not given the precise reason but we can rest assured, based upon Israel’s prior disobedience and God’s unfailing righteousness, that they were deserving of His wrath. Third, there’s the theological question, “In what way did the sinless Sovereign move or, better translated – ‘incite,’ David to number Israel?”
4 Then Saul said to his armorbearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised men come and thrust me through and abuse me.” But his armorbearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword and fell on it.
(1 Samuel 31:4)
10 So I stood over him and killed him, because I was sure that he could not live after he had fallen. And I took the crown that was on his head and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them here to my lord.”
(2 Samuel 1:10)
Have you ever told a story to make yourself look better than you are? Have you ever changed certain details while recounting a personal story in the hopes that you’d win favor, or approval, or applause with your hearer(s)? That appears to be exactly what the young man in 2nd Samuel was doing – a strategy which didn’t work out well for him. But nonetheless, his fabrication provides an explanation for the different accounts of Saul’s demise.
49 Now John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.” (Lk. 9:49,50)
“He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” (Lk. 11:23)
Shortly after the familiar apostolic debate – ‘which one of us is the greatest?’ (Lk. 9:46) – and shortly after Jesus perceived the thoughts of His disciples and gave them an illustration, along with some instruction, about true greatness (vs.47-48), John, for whatever reason, called Jesus’ attention to something he and the others had seen at some earlier time; namely, a man who wasn’t among them but was casting out demons in Jesus’ name (vs.49). A quick glance at the verse reminds us that this guy was being used in this way. This was not a case like in the book of Acts where the seven sons of Sceva tried to cast out a demon in the name of “Jesus whom Paul preaches” and it didn’t work (Acts 19:13b). Here, the guy was actually casting out demons in Jesus’ name. So all we know about this man, which is very little, suggests that he believed in Jesus and was being used by God to advance the kingdom of God.