The Sword of the Spirit

Read  Eph 6:10-17Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 

 

a.  We have carefully considered Paul’s description of the spiritual soldier of Christ in Eph. 6. Every piece of his equipment and armor was vital to his survival in the battle:

  • Belt of truth
  • Breastplate of righteousness
  • Shoes of preparation of the gospel
  • Shield of faith
  • Helmet of salvation, and lastly his sword. In the actual battle, there was no more important piece of equipment than a sword.

b.  Every piece of armor that  we have considered thus far rests its effectiveness in the power of God’s word in the life of the believer. (truth righteousness, gospel, faith , salvation) We have already studied many aspects of the protective power of the word of God in our lives (i.e. Jesus in Matt. 4).  What can we learn from Paul’s description of the word as a sword?

 

I.  The “Sword of the Spirit” – Paul says the sword of our spiritual warfare is the Word of God.  It is a “sword of the Spirit in at least two senses, that are interconnected:

A.  That phrase can be translated “spiritual” as opposed to of the flesh. The sword is spiritual in the sense that the weapons of our warfare are not manmade (2 Corinthians 10:44 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,) Fighting spiritual wickedness calls for spiritual weapons. All our weapons—the belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, and helmet—are spiritual. They are intended to impact the spirit or heart of men.

B.  The phrase can also refer to a sword that is given by the Spirit. All scripture is inspired by God. 2 Peter 1:20-21 – 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (NIV)

 

II.  Precision  – The word “sword” here refers to a specific kind of weapon. It was not the large broadsword that we often see in illustrations. Rather this sword was smaller and worn in a sheath on the left side of the soldier. Called a “gladius, it was a dual edged weapon from 6 to 18 inches long used in hand to hand combat. It was not flailed around, but inserted with determined accuracy.

A.  As such, the word of God is to be used by the Christian with accuracy and determination. An effective soldier had to learn to use his sword. Merely possessing one was not enough. What would you do if I put a real sword in your hand?  I would be a danger to myself & others. I don’t know how to use it.

1.  Can you use the Bible to answer your neighbor’s questions or concerns? Can you use the Bible to answer the assaults of Satan?

2.  The inspired writer of Hebrews rebuked those who had been Christians long enough to be able to teach others, yet were still being taught themselves. Heb 5:12-14 – For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.  By using the word we learn to discern between what is right and wrong. Jesus warned his disciples against the leaven of the Scribes and Pharisees. To protect them He confronted the Pharisees interpretations of the scriptures, showing them to be false teachers.

3. Romans 10:17 – 17  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  It is interesting to note that the Greek term for “word” (rhema – ray-ma) here is also used in Eph. 6:17. The term refers to a specific utterance or statement.

a.  Initial faith comes by hearing specific truths (words) about Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection.

b.  Continuing faith comes by hearing specific challenges that convict us of our own sin and need. When Satan tempts us you need to respond with verses that specifically address whatever he’s troubling you with. It won’t do any good just to wave a Bible in front of him. Use the sword as an instrument of precision.

c.  The reason so many Christians fall to temptation is they just don’t know how Scripture deals with their problems.  They aren’t equipped to use the sword properly. It’s tragic for someone to be a Christian a long time and not be able to use the sword properly. 2 Tim 2:15 – 5 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed , rightly dividing the word of truth.   Paul prayed that the Colossians would “increase in their knowledge of God and be strengthened with all might.” (Col. 1:10-11)

4.  The Roman gladius was both an offensive and defensive weapon. In fact, in the midst of battle the offensive and defensive blow were almost simultaneous. So, in the spiritual battle, the scriptures simultaneously protect the Christian through offensively confronting error. The power of God’s truth is its ability to make an objective distinction.

 

III.  Profitability–  Notice Paul’s description of the word in 2 Tim 3:16-17 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.  (The term, “inspired” is the Greek word theopneustos – which means God-breathed.) But this verse also loudly proclaims the profitability and sufficiency of scripture in meeting the needs of every person.

A.  Scripture Teaches Truth:  The word translated “doctrine” or teaching has reference to the content of scripture. The Bible is the operating manual with all the facts. We cannot please God without knowledge of the truth.

B.  Scripture Reproves Sin: (profitable for reproof) the Hebrew writer describes God’s word as a 2-edged sword that cuts deep and exposes our innermost thoughts and motives. Heb 4:12-13        For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (The term for “naked” was used of criminals who were led to execution – dagger to the throat would force him to look up.) The Bible exposes us for who we are. It not only defines our actions as right or wrong, but it discerns our thoughts and intentions.

C.  Scripture Corrects Behavior: The Greek word for “correction” literally means to “straighten up or lift up”. Scripture is profitable for restoring us to a proper spiritual posture. It does not leave us hopelessly groveling in the guilt of our sin (since it has reproved us). It sets on the right path again.

D.  Scripture Trains in Righteousness: It disciplines us in the things that are right, or according to God’s desire. Develops in us the positive fruits of the Spirit who delivered it – Gal 5:22-25 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

 

IV.  Power –  When God speaks, things happen. His Word transforms lives. Isaiah 55:1111 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.  God’s people should never doubt the ability of God’s word to change lives, especially their own.

A.  Jesus said that the word has the power to give life. John 6:63; 66-68“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life….(66) From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. “Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Peter recognized the ability of Jesus’ words to supply his true need- even apart from the miracles that caused others to follow Him- He was willing to follow w/o the promise of being fed a meal or entertained.

B. the word of God is the source of our sanctification:  In Jesus’ intense prayer in behalf of His apostles He prayed:  I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.  18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.  19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.  (John 17:14-19)

1.  God’s word protects me through its power to separate me from the world. It transforms my thinking and gives me the ability to make decisions that the worldly v  would never make (sacrifice for others, give, love my enemy, forgive, etc.)

 

Conclusion:  God’s word gives me confidence. It provides confidence in the face of temptation. It provides confidence that I am pleasing God in my daily walk. But my greatest confidence comes through the work and words of Jesus. He has given me His word that He will not forsake me, but will with every temptation give me a way of escape.

  • The cutting edge of the sword – Heb 4:11-13Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.  God has spoken His powerful word and He sees everyone’s response. His eyes are open. Do not turn away from His word.