25 – The sword of the spirit

God’s Armour (Eph 6:10-20)

Ephesians 6:17 …and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…

The sword Paul refers to is the “machaira”, which was a short sword varying in length from 15cm to 46cm. It was used by the soldiers arresting Jesus in the Garden (Mt 26:47), by Peter when he cut off the slave’s ear (Mt 26: 51), and by Herod’s executioners of James (Acts 12:2).

Remember, the emphasis in this context is on how the believer is to use the Sword of the Spirit “to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Eph 6:11). This is the only piece of the believer’s armour that is used for both defence as well as an offensive weapon. The Sword has a dual role, a dual purpose, which achieves its purpose best when used equally for defence and offense.

The Scottish pastor Thomas Guthrie, (The Free Church of Scotland – 1803 to 1873) said, “The Bible is an armoury of heavenly weapons, a laboratory of infallible medicines, a mine of exhaustless wealth. It is a guidebook for every road, a chart for every sea, a medicine for every malady, and a balm for every wound. Rob us of our Bible and our sky has lost its sun.”

Some qualities of God’s Sword:
The Sword is Scripture. That is, God’s holy and sacred writings. The Scriptures are the Bible, and it is authored by the Omniscient Holy Spirit who is the all-knowing origin of the Sword (2Ti 3:16; 2Pe 1:21).

The Sword is infallible – faultless, without error, and effective.
Psalm 19:7   The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple… 
Psalm 19:8   The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart…
Proverbs 30:5   Every word of God proves true…

The believer can take the Word of God (The Sword) into any situation with confidence that God has revealed absolute, dependable truth. For those who believe God’s Word, it educates the inner person, it explains gospel truth which leads to salvation, and it sanctifies the whole Christian life when it is obeyed.

The Sword is complete and cannot be added to.
Proverbs 30:6   Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar (cf. Dt 4:2; 12:32; Rev 22:18-19). In an age when many false prophets are claiming to speak for the Lord, God’s people can rest assured, certain of the Bible’s completeness. In fact, the Bible has such an enormous wealth of truth that there is no need to seek after fresh revelation. The Sword of the Spirit is fully sufficient because God has revealed everything that needs to be revealed in His written Word.

The Sword is authoritative – speaking to readers the very words of Jehovah the Almighty. God the Holy Spirit wrote Scripture with the full agreement and authority of the triune Godhead.
Isaiah 1:2   Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken…
John 17:17   Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
2 Timothy 3:16-17   All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…
Hebrews 4:12   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.

God’s Word carries the weight of heavenly authorisation. Because it is written by God, it is designed to enter people’s eyes and ears as the doors to their mind and heart. Scripture has surgical precision at explaining truth, exposing sin, and offering righteous solutions through Christ.

God’s written Word, the Sword of the Spirit, can cut into and divide the various layers within a person’s spirit with accuracy. Because of this, it is used by the Holy Spirit to bring conviction, to direct motives and thoughts, and to inspire rejoicing when Christlikeness is achieved.

The divine authority intrinsic to the Spirit’s Sword is always for the purpose of producing glory to God and obedience within the believer. In Luke 11:28, Jesus said “blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” God’s Word is not a set of theories and ideas to be considered as one of many options in life. Rather, His Word is living and active, therefore, it should also become living and active in believer’s lives through thoughtful and loving obedience.

The Sword is sufficient and effective – there is no area of life that Scripture does not speak to, either directly or indirectly.
2 Timothy 3:15   …the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 3:17 All Scripture is given so …that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Isaiah 55:11   so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
No part of life is exempt from the power of the Spirit’s Sword. It offers comfort for the downcast, it livens joy and peace, and it stirs up hope of eternal life.

The Sword is resourceful – supplying needs and pointing to the Lord as our ultimate supplier of needs.
Luke 11:28    Blessed (Happy) rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
2 Peter 3:18  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:25  …the Lord remains forever. And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
1 Peter 2:2    Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.
Psa 119:105  Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Rom 15:4      For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

No other resource in life can offer the immeasurable spiritual strengths and blessings as the Spirit’s Sword.

The Sword speaks on God’s behalf
Luke 4:3-4     The devil said to him… Jesus answered him, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone.’”
Luke 4:5-8     The devil… said to him…  Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’”
Luke 4:9-12  The devil said to him… Jesus answered him, “It is said, You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Particularly when caught in the struggles of life and seeking to overcome dark thoughts within, the Spirit’s Sword is to be quoted for both defence and for fighting off the enemy.

The attitude and use of the Sword
Dependency – the believer accepts and depends on the very words of God in writing for all things in life.
Matthew 4:4   But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Use the Sword to mould your life – Do not neglect God’s Word. Owning a Bible is not enough. When the Bible is studied, the believer knows where to go in Scripture to find what they need (The Sword provides sufficient tools)
2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (c.f. 2Ti 3:16-17).

There are no shortcuts. The believer needs to spend much time in God’s Word. Reading, meditating, memorising, and reasoning through to come to a mature understand of God’s Word. The outworking of this will be discipleship of others. This is where all the learned truth is passed on to the next generation of Christians.
Psa 119:11    I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Psa 119:34    Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.
Psa 119:81    My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word.
Psa 119:101  I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word.
Psa 119:104  Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.
Psa 119:112  I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.
Psa 119:114  You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.

When the Spirit’s Sword is; learned, and put into practice, the Holy Spirit takes those truths and invisibly strengthens faith, educates the conscience to warn of impending sin, and guards the mind against error by increasing the mind’s ability to decern between right and wrong, good and best.

The Sword is aggressive against error
When a repentant sinner turns to the Lord from witchcraft or demon possession, they are to present your (their) bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your (their) spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1-2). The truth of God’s Word, the Sword of the Spirit, does this sanctifying (John 17:17) work of mind transformation into Christlikeness.

As with all believers, but especially true for those escaping the claws of Satan, the Sword of the Spirt is used aggressively to cut down error and lies that misrepresent the truth of God. This aggressive use of the Sword is both internal for the believer and external when in discussions with others. In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul writes with strong imagery about the battle against error. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…

John 8:44 …the devil …was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

The first line of defence and attack against the devil is by using the truth of the Spirit’s Sword. Truth exposes lies and error for the evil that they are. Satan has no answer to God’s truth, as he only knows how to lie and produce death. This is why, in the direct gospel battle against demons, biblical truth is the first piece of God’s Armour to be get put on – “the belt of truth.”

The Word of God, the Bible, which is the Sword of the Spirit contains the most powerful truths that have ever been written. God’s Word makes us strong and prepared, so that when the day of evil attack comes, we know how to use the Sword most effectively to ensure we remain standing in the spiritual battle.

When obediently trained by Scripture, the believer is spiritually determined not to move in the faith. They know what parts of Scripture to remind themselves of and to quote in whatever situations they find themselves in. Their confidence is in the Lord because they know God’s truth. Consequently, they are not lured into misrepresentations of God through false doctrine spoken by false prophets, false teachers, or deceiving spirits (1Jn 4:1).

Psalm 138:2 declares that God has exalted above all things your name and your word. Jehovah considers His Word to be as exalted as His very own name. Therefore, His people are to treat His Word with the same reverence and awe as they treat God.

The Sword of the Spirit is NOT a mystical chant or magic formulae to be quoted only when we want something, or to get relief from some form of suffering. Nor does it hold mystical power that can only be released when repeatedly written down on paper by the reader. Rather, it is to be the daily spiritual food of God’s people. Just as it is taken it, so it is to be obeyed, transforming both thoughts, beliefs, and behaviours.

Therefore, the Sword of the Spirit is used with nonbelievers to make them aware that they have broken the law of God and need a Saviour (Rom 3:20). And that Saviour is the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 3:22-26).

A good knowledge of God’s Word enables the believer to use the Bible as the Sword to identify and correct theological error. The believer’s attitude is to be one of humble confidence in the Sword which deals powerfully in the spiritual realm.

When confronting the enemy head on, Christ’s example should be followed. God’s Words are the only authoritative words that carry divine truth which can penetrate both spiritual and human creatures. However, the effectiveness of the Spirit’s Sword is experienced through belief which is lived out through obedience.

The Sword of the Spirit is the only weapon needed to identify sin and expose error. The Sword is the spiritual surgical tool in the hands of the Holy Spirit to produce conviction.
Isaiah 55:11   …so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; It shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

John MacArthur says this:   To be infallible, inerrant, complete, authoritative, sufficient, powerful, and divinely authored belongs only to Scripture. This is what the Bible claims for itself; as such, it is obviously a formidable weapon.

What things prevent us from understanding and applying the Sword (God’s Word)?

Can God’s Word be used when there is no specific passage that speaks directly to your situation?

How can you assist another believer to use the Sword?

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