"...and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." – Ephesians 6:17b (NIV)
Isn't it odd that every time you set out to do the work of God, you seem to be pushed back, resisted, or bombarded with attacks to your mind, relationships, and perhaps even your physical body itself? It can be really daunting, disheartening, and make you feel like you are in a battle for your life! Well, I hate to tell you this, but you are, in fact, in a battle for your life! Because of Satan and the evils of this world, we as believers are in a battle for our lives and for the whole of Christianity. We are fighting for God and the fight is hard! There is however, hope since God understands our battle and our needs to fight.
Paul tells us in Ephesians that we must put on the armor of God to stand against the schemes of the devil. But, what is the armor of God anyway? Today, we are on our seventh part of our series all about the armor God gives us to stand against the evil one and what it means to put it on as a soldier of Christ. Last time, we discussed what it means to put on the Helmet of Salvation and today we continue as we learn all about the Sword of the Spirit.
I would be misleading you if I said that I thought a sword was a piece of armor. I am well aware that it is not; rather, it is actually a weapon to use against our enemies. The last two parts of our series will focus not on the armor that protects us, but instead on the final parts of this passage as Paul now discusses the weapons God gives us to fight the good fight of faith. This isn't to say, that these two things are not as important as the armor itself; in fact I would say putting on the Armor of God is useless if we don't pair it with the weapons God gives us. So let's dive in!
I think the image of the word of God being a sword quite powerful. What are the characteristics of a sword? Well, a sword is sharp, lethal, oftentimes shiny and stand out, and a sword is a weapon that can do great damage to an opposer. The word of God is the strongest weapon we have! We can't even start to fight, if we have no idea what God's word is and what he says about anything. Beyond this, we know that the word is alive, it reaches Us in times where we need it most, and as Paul says in Hebrews the word is quick and Powerful and sharper than any double-edged sword. I like to think about the sword though is not one that we would see in a medieval film or television series that is long and mighty and brings fear just when you see it; rather, in keeping with Paul's imagery here of the Roman soldier, the sword is quite short and is used in close combat.
I like this image better not just because our battle is with a very personal enemy and, that would be very personal and up close; also, with the image of a Sharp double-edged sword, I like to think of something like a scalpel it's used during surgery. The word is sharp, it's poignant, it is wielded with Precision when wielded right, and can cut just in the right place to bring the enemy down. You can't do that with a big bulky medieval style sword. I'm a huge fan of Game of Thrones and I love Jon Snow's sword called Longclaw, but that wouldn't do it. Though impressive, it doesn't administer that precision and cut that the enemy requires to be defeated.
Last time I believe we spoke about the fact that the enemy could actually use the word to make you stumble. The crazy thing about it is he uses it in the wrong way often times, to try to trip us up. When we use the sword of the spirit is our weapon, what Paul is saying is that we identify those little details that the devil omits or changes in the word of God to make us stumble and we cut them away with truth. So when I talk about a small knife or a scalpel, I'm talking about the ability to really get in and decipher what is real and what is not from God.
So, how do we do this? Especially if the details that the evil one changes are so small that they can catches up? This is where are studying of the word, our persistence in knowing god and what he says is so important. We can't be expected to wield a sword that we've never practiced with. We can't be expected to wield a sword that we've never held. Just like a Surgeon cannot cut away cancer if he's never been trained to do so, our knowledge and understanding of God's word is the only way that we win with the sword of the spirit. We must be putting in the work day in and day out to know God, to spend time with Him, to open our Bibles and read His word. This is the most basic and most important step of fighting the enemy. Not to say that this isn't difficult, we will be pulled in every direction to not do so, that's the great fight in and of itself; but that's when we have to be a good soldier of God and make it an intentional practice.
Next time, we will finish this discussion of the Armor of God as we look at the very last piece of the armor, which again as I said earlier is actually a weapon, and that is prayer. I hope you join me.
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