The Sword of the Spirit
Over the last several weeks, I have presented to you the armor of God that Paul wrote about in Ephesians 6. Each piece of armor that we have looked at have all been defensive in nature and function. That is very necessary because we are told that we have a spiritual adversary who is very actively engaged in warfare against all Christians. Jesus said this adversary is always attacking, looking for opportunities to bring spiritual destruction and problems into our paths (John 10:10). Peter said that our adversary is like a lion on the prowl for easy prey (1 Peter 5:8), and John saw him as a great and terrible dragon who practices the art of deception (Revelation 12:9). So spiritual armor is needed and vital to our life in Christ.
This article is going to focus on our spiritual weapon – the sword of the spirit. While it is certainly a defensive tool, useful in protecting ourselves from the enemy’s attacks, it is also valuable to us because it allows us to take the initiative and fight back against our spiritual foe.
· Your ability to overcome Satan is directly proportionate to your knowledge of the Word of God.
Trying to fight off Satan without knowing the Word is like running into battle without a sword. If you want to overcome Satan, you must read the Bible, learn the Bible, meditate on the Bible, and memorize the Bible. You must be so saturated with the Word of God that when life cuts you, you bleed God’s Word!
The sword belongs to the Holy Spirit. That’s why Paul refers to it as the “sword of the spirit” in Ephesians 6. This sword can overcome any objections to Christianity posed by Satan. A single biblical text can reassure us when the devil assails us with heavy blows. The Spirit teaches us how to use it properly.
How do we use the Bible properly? What are the basic, foundational principles by which we may successfully wage war with this spiritual sword?
1. We Must Read the ‘Sword’ in Context
One of the worst ways to use your sword is to read it out of context or read into it your own cultural biases (this is known as eisegesis). For instance, say you read Philippians 4:13. You read, “I can do all things through Christ who Christ who strengthens me.” The original context of this verse is that the author, Paul, was suffering in prison, dealing with a personal issue (he calls it a ‘thorn in the flesh’) that God won’t remove. Despite his circumstances, Paul was saying that he would fulfill God’s calling in his life through the strength that God supplies. Taking Philippians 4:13 out of context might sound something like this: “Well, I can do all things, so I’ll jump off the top of my roof and not hurt myself.” That’s not what the verse says.
To properly use this weapon, we must learn all we can about the Word of God, including the context of its certain passages.
2. We Must Learn as Much as We Can about the Sword
How? By carefully and diligently studying the Sword daily. We read our Bibles and study commentaries and hear sermons preached on the word, so we can gain an understanding of Scripture. 1 Peter 3:15 calls us to be ready to give a reason for the hope that we have, but if we don’t have a solid knowledge of Scripture, we may not be able to give a proper explanation.
Atheists and those of other religions will often twist Scripture or point out more difficult passages or some of the more obscure or hard to interpret passages of the Bible in their attempts to discredit God and His Word. We must be ready to give an answer to these difficult questions through engaging personally with God's Word every day.
We also must be ready to spread the Gospel to others who do not understand. An Ethiopian eunuch, in the book of Acts, reads through a portion of Scripture but doesn’t understand it. Philip, a follower of Jesus, was there and he was ready to explain the Scripture to him. By explaining the passage correctly, Philip was able to lead the man to convert to Christianity. We must all learn the scriptures so we can help elucidate its meaning to seekers and those who wish to understand it (Acts 8:26-40).
3. We Must Ask God to reveal Himself through the Sword
When we’ve accepted Jesus as Savior, the Holy Spirit reveals his character and his plan for our lives through the Scripture (1 Corinthians 2:10-15). By spending time with God in his Word every day, we learn more about him and grow closer in relationship with him.
What Does Jesus Say about the Word of God?
Jesus says a lot about God’s Word.
· He uses God’s Word as a defense against the devil’s temptations (Matthew 4:1-11).
· He frequently quoted the Old Testament in his sermons and taught us that God’s words will never pass away (Matthew 24:35, Matthew 5:18). In other words, they are immutable, unchanging, and timeless.
· He says Scripture bears witness about him (John 5:39) and abides by Scripture.
God only gives us one offensive weapon in the spiritual armor: the sword of the Spirit, God’s Word. He could not have given us a better offensive and defensive weapon. The Word of the Lord is uniquely able to penetrate the stubborn human heart and to open people’s eyes to the truth of God, allowing them to accept the gift of salvation from Jesus.