“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:10-17)
“The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” You don’t have to get into the New Testament very far at all before you see this sword of the Spirit in action. The scene is the wilderness. The players are Jesus and the devil. Here’s what happens:
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’
“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’
“Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘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.”’
“Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’
“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you, he said, if you will bow down and worship me.’
“Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”’
“Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” (Matthew 4:1-11, emphases added)
That is how you use the sword of the Spirit! Of course, in order to use it, you need to be familiar with it, so it behooves you to spend much time in God’s Word reading it, meditating on it, speaking about it with others, so that when that temptation comes, your sword will be sharp, and you will be able to take it out of the scabbard and wield it at any moment.
Notice that the devil also quoted Scripture in his attempt to trap Jesus. That’s a warning to us that we need to be familiar enough with what the Bible actually says that we will be able to identify when someone is misquoting it, or quoting it out of context, as many false teachers often do in an attempt to lead someone away from the Truth.
Psalm 119:9-11 says, “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Make that your mission in life, and you will be well prepared for temptations that come your way.
But there’s another side to the sword of the Spirit. If you watch any real crime TV at all, you should be very familiar with one problem that comes along with using a knife to attack someone. As you continue the attack and your hand gets soaked with the victim’s blood, oftentimes your hand will slip, and you will end up cutting yourself.
We can argue that same thing is true of God’s Word. Hebrews 4:12 says, “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.”
If you are truly reading God’s Word, and asking the Holy Spirit to reveal its truth to you, inevitably you will see areas in your own life that needs to change, that needs to be cut out, that needs to be dealt with. As Iain Duguid puts it,
“But the Word of God is not just for taking on our opponents; it is for cleansing our own hearts. God’s Word penetrates to the deepest recesses of who we are. As we read the Bible and expose ourselves to it, it cuts us. It convicts us of sin. It points us to duties we’d rather not know about. It challenges us in areas where we are far too comfortable. It digs down into the hidden areas of our soul and lays them bare to God’s scrutiny. As it does, it cleanses and purifies us. In the presence of the Word of God, everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of the one to whom we must give account (Heb. 4:13).”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 declares, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Are you practicing daily with your sword so you will be prepared when you need to use it?
- Iain M. Duguid, The Whole Armor of God (Wheaton, IL; Crossway, 2019), p. 96. ↑