Armor Series, Part Seven: The Sword of the Spirit
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:10-17, NIV)
Well, guys, we made it. This is the end, and I could think of no better way to wrap up this Armor of God series than to talk about the only weapon we’ve been given. It also turns out, it’s the only weapon we’ll ever need: the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
First of all, sword imagery is found all over the Bible. From Genesis, when God placed an angel with a sword of fire at the gates of Eden after the fall, to Revelation, where it says a sharp sword will come from Jesus’ mouth to strike down nations– swords are used as a vehicle to explain things in the heavens and on earth.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of
soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, ESV)
If you don’t think scripture is effective as our weapon, then you need to check again. Even just a simple verse has the precision and power to cut between soul and spirit, joint and marrow, thoughts and intentions. Now, that’s a sharp blade. It has the power to cut down enemies and heal the heartsick.
The Bible is not just black and white, ink on paper. It is living, breathing, and multi-faceted. It renders the enemy powerless. If it weren’t true, then Jesus would have taken some other approach while being tempted in the wilderness. Instead, He used scripture to shut the devil up and battle temptation. Eventually, Satan was so tired of fighting the word of God, that he let up altogether and gave up on trying to take Jesus down.
What immediately jumps out at me is that the sword is not named the Sword of the Word, not the Sword of God, but the Sword of the Spirit: an undeniable confirmation of the role the Holy Spirit should play as we enter spiritual battles.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him because he lives with you now and later will be in you.”(John 14:16-17, NIV)
“But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” (John 14:26, NLT)
The Holy Spirit is the blade-sharpener to our scripture swords, sent to us in Jesus’ absence to remind us to live out all that Jesus told us to do. To deny the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit means that every spiritual battle you charge into, you are without a weapon. It would be impossible to fight spiritual forces of darkness in heavenly realms without the living and present Holy Spirit that God sent to us to help us. Without Him to quicken our souls, we would miss that enticing call to spend time with Jesus and in the word of God. Without Him, how would we stir up our hearts and recall the exact words needed to help us in the heat of the moment?
With the Spirit, we can deliver quick, concise, and effective hits to our enemies by the instruction of the Lord and understand the full depth of the power that God wants to equip us with. Without the Spirit, we are untrained soldiers that blindly slash our sword around based on our own emotions and reaction.
The simple truth is this: any one of us can be self-righteous and manipulate the Bible to justify our actions or methodologies. Walking with the Holy Spirit means that sometimes, words and actions will come out of you that are unnatural from your snap-reactions. It means your tongue is trained to speak life when you want to roast someone. It means that you obey when the Lord speaks to you because, in the end, He knows the best course of action to take, even when it’s out of character for you to do so.
And finally, I believe the sword is chosen with the intention to build up spiritual endurance in all of us. Think about it: why a sword? Why not a bow and arrow? Why not a spear, or some other weapon with long-range abilities?
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4, NIV)
Swords require hand-to-hand combat. They require you to get up close and personal; they require you to look your enemy in the eye and do battle. Sometimes, it feels like our trials and tests are close enough for us to feel their breath on our faces. They press against us and parry every move we have.
But that struggling– that wrestling– gives us the ability to learn perseverance so that we can mature in our faith. A soldier that stays in boot camp will never know just how equipped he is for a real war. It’s something you have to go through to really apply and test your strength.
So c’mon, guys. Let’s put on the WHOLE armor of God, leaving nothing behind. We need every single piece for what’s ahead. There is an enemy that is hungry and relentless, but we are mighty warriors for a mind-boggling God. His army will always win, so make sure you are among its ranks. There’s no time to waste, friends. Heaven and earth are depending on you to wield and wear every piece to its fullest potential.
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