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Spiritual Warfare: Taking the Sword of the Spirit

Ephesians 6:17

We are not alone in Spiritual Warfare. It’s not me against Satan but Jesus against Satan. As I stand in the Armor of God, I am actually standing in Jesus. Each piece of armor that we have studied so far is actually, ultimately Jesus. The Belt of Truth is Jesus because Jesus is the Truth. The Breastplate of Righteousness is Jesus because Jesus is our righteousness. Shoes of the Gospel of Peace are Jesus, because Jesus is our peace. The Shield of Faith is Jesus because faith is only as good as its object, and our faith is in Jesus Christ. The Helmet of Salvation is Jesus because Jesus is the one who saves us. Today we turn to the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. This, in addition to the scripture, is also ultimately Jesus because Jesus is the living Word of God.

When Paul wrote of the Sword of the Spirit, he pictured the short sword carried by a Roman soldier. It was the sword you would thrust out from behind your shield as you fought in battle. You would block the enemy blows with your shield and attack the enemy with your sword.

When it comes to Spiritual Warfare, the sword that the Spirit blesses is the Word of God or the Gospel. In scriptural prophecy, the Word of God is pictured as a sharp sword coming from the mouth of Christ by which he defeats His enemies and conquers the nations (Isaiah 11:4, Revelations 1:16). We are also told that the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

Pastor Mark can’t dance, but every once in a while, when no one is around but Matthew, he likes to try; likewise, many Christians aren’t very good at living the Christian life, but every once in a while, they want to try. An occasional burst of good intentions to wield the Sword of the Spirit is not adequate to become proficient in its use. You must know the Word of God to wield the Sword of the Spirit in Spiritual Warfare.

The Sword of the Spirit is a weapon that can be used defensively or offensively. Jesus exemplified the defensive use of the sword when He was being tempted by the devil in the wilderness. He quoted the Word of God audibly from the book of Deuteronomy (Matthew 4:1-11). He understood it correctly in context and applied it to the temptation at hand. We, too, should speak the Word of God to our temptations. Could you use the book of Deuteronomy to fend off a temptation?

Imagine that you are a licensed gun owner with a concealed carry permit and a crime is taking place. You pull out your gun to stop the crime, only to discover that it’s not loaded. Don’t be caught in a situation like this spiritually. You must fight falsehood with truth. You need to know, believe and embrace the Word of God so that you see the world through God’s self-revelation and His truth becomes your world view. If you load your heart and mind and conscience with the Word of God, then when you are tempted you can fire “gospel bullets” from your gun to defeat it.

The Sword of the Spirit is also a weapon to be used offensively, to go forth and conquer the world. As Christians, we are called not only to stand against our own temptations but also to take the Word of God into the darkness of this world, against the forces of evil. We are to storm the gates of Hell, which the Lord has told us will not be able to stand against the church. We must speak the gospel to the world, applying it to the issues of the day.

The current state of our culture is one in which faith and convictions are OK as long as they are just “harmless personal religion.” You can believe whatever you want as long as you keep it inside the church and in the quiet space of your own mind. Keep your beliefs personal and private, not public. Don’t take your religious convictions into the voting booth or public debate or allow it to define your morality or limit who you might date. This mindset tries to keep our faith irrelevant, where it can’t hurt anyone—but it also can’t help anything.

The greatest threat to the church right now is not ISIS; it is our own unbelief. Are we ashamed of the gospel? Have we separated what we believe from how we live? We need Bible-believing evangelicals in every sphere of life to be salt and light there. We need to integrate our faith into our vocations.

If you put a sword in my hands, I will look silly. I don’t know how to use a sword; but if you teach me how to use it, then it will become a useful weapon in my hands. Spiritually speaking, we have the same sword that the Apostles and great heroes of the faith had; it is God’s truth. Just because you put a Bible in someone’s hands, however, doesn’t mean he knows how to use it. This must be taught and learned. We must learn to handle the Word of God correctly, how to interpret and apply it, to present and defend a Christian worldview and to challenge what is unbiblical.

In a particular Native American tribe, thirteen-year-old boys had to pass through initiation to enter into manhood. The boy would be blindfolded and taken out into the middle of the woods. There he had to stay blindfolded for the whole night, alone with wild animals, darkness and frightening sounds to test his courage. Only in the morning when his blindfold was removed did he learn that he had not been alone during that long night of his testing: An armed warrior had been standing guard over him the whole night, and that warrior was his father.

You are not alone when your courage as a spiritual warrior is tested. Your Father is standing over you as a mighty warrior protecting you. So “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). Take up the Sword of the Spirit and learn to use it.

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