“And take … the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
The Roman sword, or gladius, was crafted of iron. Blacksmiths hardened the iron by coating the red-hot sword blade with coal dust, thus forming a hard carbon coating on the blade. Sword handles were made of iron, ivory, bone, or wood.
The Romans used their swords both offensively and defensively. Used in a defensive manner, the sword, along with the other armor pieces, enabled the soldier to deflect the enemy’s blows. As an offensive weapon, the sword was used to attack and counter-attack an enemy until the weapon seriously wounded or killed the assailant. In battle, rows of Roman soldiers pressed back their enemies one step at a time by alternating a forward thrust of the shield with a forward plunge of the sword.
The sword of the Spirit, like the Roman gladius, can also help us to conquer all our enemies, including that most difficult one, our entrenched human weaknesses.
“2 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Our sword won’t stay sharp on its own. We must continually sharpen it with regular and focused Bible Study.
Paul defines the sword of the Spirit as the “word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
The Word of God is even sharper than the gladius! It is capable of piercing to the deepest levels of one’s heart and attitude, and it is also a tool of discernment in the hands of the skilled user.
Jesus Christ Himself demonstrated how valuable it is to be grounded in the words of the Bible when He was attacked by Satan during a time of extreme physical weakness due to His fasting.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.3 The tempter came to Him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Satan knew full well that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, but he prefaces each of his attacks by saying, “If You are the Son of God”. He wanted to pull Christ away from His dependence upon the Father and the realization that He was there to do the Father’s will. Each time Jesus used the Scriptures to defend against and refute Satan’s ploys.
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)
Satan continued the attack.
“Then the devil took Him to the holy city and had Him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ (Psalm 91:11)
This is an incomplete quote from Psalm 91:11-12. Satan leaves out a very important thought. Here’s verse 11 with the missing part.
“For He will command His Angels concerning you to keep you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91:11).
The idea being conveyed is that God will send angels for protection when it’s needed, not that you should throw yourself from great heights just to see if God will save you.
Jesus saw through this tactic.
Matthew 4: 7
“Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Deuteronomy 6:16)
Satan made one final attempt:
“8 Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Satan places all the cards on the table. The point of all these attacks was to have Jesus worship Satan instead of God. Again, the final answer in the next verse comes from Scripture:
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” (Deuteronomy 6:13)
This was the end (on this occasion) of Satan’s efforts to unseat Christ as the ruler of the world to come. In each case, Jesus skilfully used a thorough knowledge of the Scripture to parry and deflect the attacks.
What a masterful example of how to use the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God!
We are to use the Word of God to discern those thoughts and attitudes that are contrary to God’s way and use that sword to bring those attitudes and thoughts into captivity. That is the Christian battle, and that is how we use the offensive weapon in our armor.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
As Christians, we also must train and be skillful in the use of the sword. The author of Hebrews tells us that we must become gradually more knowledgeable and skilled in the Word of God, until we are able to use it to discern good from evil.
“2 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
This level of skill, this proficiency with the Word of God, comes by “reason of use.” We have to be familiar with the Bible, and we must have our spiritual senses sharpened by it in order to make full use of this piece of armament God has given us!
The desire to become knowledgeable in God’s Word, is to become skilled in the use of the sword. But that has to come from within you.
John 1:1, 14
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.4 In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through Him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. 11 He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. 12 Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The Word is made alive by The Holy Spirit of God, causing it to be filled with divine energy and ability.
The training and skill levels are up to you!
By Stella Ashworth
The Bay Friendship Club
Christian Networking Group