“… and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:17 (NASB)
Spiritual warfare is not gimmicks or methods but it is the practical outworking of the ministry of Christ in me. Every part of the armour that we will look at over the next issues is an aspect of the ministry of Christ. This is not literal armour that you put on each morning – in any case, when did you take it off? It is the spiritual reality of the finished and completed work of Christ.
SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
This is the final part of the armour mentioned and is the only one that could also be seen as being for ‘attack’ as well as defence. However, how we use the sword is very important because what is obvious form the outset is that it is not ours to do what we like with but it is under the direction of God’s Holy Spirit. We need to use it in His reality, not doing what we want with it but as we are directed by Him.
We should also underline at the start that this is the Word of God and we need the reality of it in our lives first of all, before we start simple thrashing at others. This part of the armour is in many ways the final part that is vital if we are to stand against the enemy. It is not our words that Satan has to run from; it is not our ideas and concepts that will thwart his plans, but it is the relaying of the Word of God that has already been received into our hearts. To really hold and use this sword properly in warfare we must have read and digested the Maker’s instructions!
Hebrews 4:1, 2 shows what needs to happen to the Word of God:
“Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.”
Notice that the word was of no profit to them because it was not “united by faith”. The Greek word for ‘united’ only appears twice in Scripture; the other time is in 1 Corinthians 12:24 where it is used of the way the body is composed together. This word means to be ‘combined with’ or ‘assimilated’, in other words it is thoroughly mixed together. A good illustration is in baking; you start with a number of different ingredients but by the time the cake comes out of the oven they are all mixed together and something new has resulted.
Receive & Assimilate
In order to be able to use the Sword of the Spirit properly, I must first receive the word and ensure that it is assimilated into my life. This is not just used as a blunt instrument that I can use to hit people over the head.
“Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” – 2 Corinthians 3:5, 6.
The letter of the law applied by me in my own strength kills, but the word of the Spirit spoken by His anointing, gives life. The power for the fulfilment of the Word spoken is in the seed of the Word. Just as the parable of the sower (Mark 4) teaches us, we need to give it good ground and it will bear fruit – fruit that can be used in the spiritual warfare to defeat the enemy and move forward to take the ground God is giving. Isaiah 55:11 shows that we cannot just, ‘name it and claim it’:
“So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
It’s His word that will not return empty, not mine; it’s His Word that will succeed, not whatever I fancy. Do we want to be strong in warfare and see the enemy defeated? Then we need to allow the Holy Spirit to take charge and only speak out what is reality to us and relevant to the Word of God. Using phrases that you heard somewhere before will not bring about the desired response if they are not real to you. You can bind and loose all you want, but what does it mean – is there the reality of that word within your life? You always need to ask two things before you try some ‘experimental’ word; first, is it Scriptural and second, do I know the reality of this word or is it just second-hand information?
How we need to know the reality of 1 Corinthians 2:10 at the foundation of our walking with the Lord:
“For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.”
Only by the revelation of the Holy Spirit will His Sword be wielded in a way that does not bring catastrophe but brings life and health. The various pitfalls that we can so easily slip into will be avoided. For instance, majoring on minor issues (which happens to be our favourite subject) and missing the main thrust that we should be making; or presenting one aspect of the matter to the exclusion of another, for instance, majoring on the law to the exclusion of grace or vice-versa.
Hebrews 4:11-13 brings a very interesting aspect to this matter of the Sword and very interestingly it is in the context of ‘rest’. In human terms it is difficult to think of warfare from a place of rest, but in spiritual terms it is vital. Resting in all that Christ has done so that I can fight the good fight and see it applied in my life and others.
“Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”
This is Vital
This work is vital for all our Christian life and it is the work of the Spirit’s Sword – the Word of God. His work divides between the soul (man’s way), an example of which we see in Matthew 26:51ff and especially verse 54, and the spirit (God’s way), an example of which we find in 2 Sam 23:9, 10.
We have been given the Sword of the Spirit but should only use it under His direction. Words alone will not do, we need His revelation. Nowhere is this clearer than on the Emmaus road as described in Luke 24. They had a personal Bible Study on the Old Testament from the Lord Himself but they still did not have a change of heart until the revelation of the Lord came. It is then very significant that He visited them again and opened their mind to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45).
May we know the reality of this and indeed every piece of armour, so that in our walk with the Lord we know
His protection and have the ability to stand against the evil one and having done everything, still stand.