In this final "basic training" session, we finish up our study of the full armor of God. Back in 2Corinthians, Paul spoke of having,
2Cor. 6:7 ...the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left
When a warrior had a weapon in each hand, it was usually a shield and sword or spear. In other words, the weapons of righteousness, the full armor of God, are for the purposes of both defense and offense. We've spent five weeks learning to put on and use the defensive armor. This morning, we learn about the offensive weapon: The sword of the Spirit.
No interpretation necessary, for Paul tells us exactly what the sword is:
Eph. 6:17 ...and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
When God speaks, it is like a sword. In Revelation, John saw Jesus,
Rev. 1:16 ...and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword...
The sword has two edges, just as the writer of Hebrews described it:
Heb. 4:12 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.
This sword pierces or judges, kills or heals, delivers or destroys. You might think, "How can one sword have such two radically different effects? In Judges chapter three, we read of the Moabites defeating Israel. Israel was forced to serve Moab's King Eglon for 18 years. Finally, the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, and God raised up Ehud to deliver them.
Judg. 3:16 Ehud made himself a sword which had two edges, a cubit in length, and he bound it on his right thigh under his cloak.
Ehud was a left-handed man, and hid the sword on his right side. The guards who searched people coming in to see the king had gotten lazy, and only patted down the left side of most. So Ehud was able to pass through security without a problem. When he told the king he had brought a secret message, Eglon sent everyone out of the room.
Judg. 3:21 Ehud stretched out his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh and thrust it into his belly.
This two-edged sword killed the King of Moab. But that same action delivered the nation of Israel.
The Word of God is the same way. It will pierce the heart of those who choose to obey it. But it will judge those who refuse to obey it. Ultimately, when Jesus brings judgment to the world that has rejected the Word of God, the people will be...
Rev. 19:21 ...killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse...
I would rather be pierced by the Word now, rather than slain by it later.
How, then, do we use this offensive weapon in spiritual warfare? The same way Jesus did - through the spoken Word of God. He demonstrated to us the example of how to wage war, how to do battle.
Immediately after Jesus' baptism, the Spirit led Him into the wilderness for a time of testing. After 40 days without food, the devil came and said to Him, "Why don't you just turn these stones into bread?"
Matt. 4:4 But He answered and said, "It is written, MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'"
The devil led him to the pinnacle of the temple and said, "Throw Yourself down. The angels will catch You." But Jesus responded,
Matt. 4:7 ...it is written, YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'"
Then, the devil showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and said,
Matt. 4:9-11 ..."All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me." Then Jesus *said to him, "Go, Satan! For it is written, YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'" Then the devil *left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.
This is how Jesus used the Sword of the Spirit to wage spiritual warfare: "It is written." He didn't bind the devil. He didn't make a big production of praying against the spirits. He simply quoted the Word of God appropriately for the situation.
Saints, this is how we're going to win each battle: by holding onto and using the Word of God. In 2Samuel 23, we read about David's mighty men. One of them named Eleazar,
2Sam. 23:10 ...arose and struck the Philistines until his hand was weary and clung to the sword, and the LORD brought about a great victory that day...
If, no matter how weary we become, our hands cling to the sword, the Lord will give us victory.
I should clarify, however, that it is not just about swinging it around. We all know that swords are dangerous, and can do terrible damage unintentionally if used improperly. Paul told Timothy that he needed to be...
2Tim. 2:15 ...accurately handling the Word of truth.
In Greek, the phrase "accurately handling" means "to cut straight." When we use the Sword of the Spirit, we've got to cut straight. There are too many people out there swinging the sword around without skill. They misquote, misappropriate, and mis-use the Word, quoting verses out of context, with no idea what they're talking about. We've got to be accurate.
We've also got to speak these things at the right time. As we read back in chapter four,
Eph. 4:29 ...according to the need of the moment...
We've also got to check out motivation. Are we swinging the sword with intent to kill? Remember Simon Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane, sleeping when he should have been praying. He wasn't spiritually prepared for the difficulty he was about to encounter. When the cohort grabbed Jesus to arrest Him, Simon Peter drew his sword, and...
Luke 22:50-51 ...struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, "Stop! No more of this." And He touched his ear and healed him.
I have seen Christians swinging the Sword with the intent to devastate and mutilate. But we have been commanded,
1Cor. 16:14 Let all that you do be done in love.
If you're using the sword in this manner, with hateful intent to kill, you will find yourself in this same situation: Jesus will heal the wounded, and rebuke you publicly. Let's check our motivation.
The conclusion is that we need to use the Word of God, using it skillfully, appropriately, and lovingly. It all requires training - personal training, which is time with the sword. Do your daily devotions, have your Bible Studies. Read ahead before church, and review the verses afterwards. Get experienced, become swift and skillful. Know the right verses to quote and the right time to quote them. Always check your motivation. This is the sword technique which will ultimately lead to those offensive victories in your life.