Spiritual Warfare Pt8 “Sword of the Spirit”

Ephesians 6:10-17(ESV)10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

To be a Christian is to be a warrior. The good soldier of Jesus Christ must not expect to find ease in this world: it is a battle-field. Neither must he count upon the friendship of the world; for that would be enmity against God.
James 4:4(ESV)4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

His occupation is war. As he puts on piece by piece of the armor provided for him, he may wisely say to himself, “This warns me of danger; this prepares me for warfare; this prophesies opposition.”

It is clear from our text that our defense and our conquest must be obtained by sheer fighting. Many try compromise; but if you are a true Christian, you can never do this business well. The language of deceit does not fit a holy tongue. The adversary is the father of lies, and those that are with him understand the art of deceit;

The sword used by Roman soldiers was known as a gladius; and in the hands of a skilled man, it was a fearsome weapon. In fact, it became known as “the sword that conquered the world.” It was sharpened on both sides, making it lethal against an unarmored foe. The point was also sharpened, enabling it to pierce armor. An infantryman in the Roman legions would also go into battle with a dagger, a few spears and possibly a few darts. But the gladius was the only offensive weapon listed by Paul, and it was the main weapon in the soldier’s arsenal. Paul defines the sword of the Spirit as the “word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). This isn’t the only place where God’s Word (the Bible) is described as a sword. The author of Hebrews also makes reference to it: Hebrews 4:12-13(ESV)12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

The Word of God is even sharper than the gladius! Here the Word is described as living and active and sharper than a double-edged sword. The Roman sword was commonly made in this manner. The fact that it had two edges made it easier to penetrate, as well as to cut in every way. The idea is that of piercing, or penetrating; the Word of God reaches the “heart,” the very center of action, and lays open the motives and feelings of those it touches. 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.

The all-powerful sword of the living God is able to cut through every defense our enemy can raise—down to the very division of bone and marrow. When wielded by a servant of God, nothing can withstand its ability to cut straight to the core of a matter and uncover the truth. As soldiers in God’s army, it is our responsibility and duty to use His Word to discern the truth and then follow it. When God’s Word shows us something wrong in ourselves, we can use this spiritual weapon to “surgically” remove the offending thoughts and actions.

Unlike all other pieces of the armor of God, which are solely defensive, the sword is uniquely suited for both defensive and offensive roles. A solid defense is invaluable, but the sword is the only way we can complete the work we have been given to do.

The sword is both an offensive and defensive weapon used by soldiers. In this case it is a weapon belonging to the Holy Spirit. Swords were used to protect oneself from harm or to attack the enemy to overcome or kill him. In both cases it was necessary for a soldier to get rigid training on the proper use of the sword to get maximum protection. All Christian soldiers need the same rigid training to know how to properly handle the Sword of the Spirit, “which is the word of God.” The sword that Paul refers to here is the Holy Scriptures.
2 Timothy 3:16–17(ESV)16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[a] may be complete, equipped for every good work. We know from that the word of God is from the Holy Spirit and written by men. Since every Christian is on the spiritual battle with the satanic and evil forces of this world, we need to know how to handle the Word properly. Only then will it be an effective defense against evil, but it will also be an offensive weapon we use to “demolish strongholds” of error and falsehood
2 Corinthians 10:4–5(ESV)4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

Notice that Jesus Christ used the Bible to counter Satan’s attacks in His temptation in the wilderness. Matthew 4:4-10(ESV) But he answered, “It is written,“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’and“‘On their hands they will bear you up,lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,“‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”We must also learn to live “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”
Satan tried to uses scripture against Jesus,but Jesus countered with scripture in CONTEXT! Context of scripture means everything, 2 Timothy 2:15-18(ESV) 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.

Do Not Be deceived–the Bible can easily be twisted to support false doctrines.

If you need proof of this claim, just look at Christendom today! Among those who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior there are as many conflicting doctrines as there are denominations and sects. Everybody claims they have the “market cornered” on doctrinal truth, but obviously all cannot possibly be correct. So where does that leave us? The sad fact is that millions are in the grip of demonic deception and blissfully ignorant of their perilous state. Hordes of apostate preachers are building fan clubs around their personal charisma and ability to pursuade–with many genuine saints falling for their sales pitch. Remember Character over Charisma, many a preacher can get excited but they aint saying nothing. Find a church, a preacher that can rightly handle the Word of God in context.

The purpose of the sword of the Spirit—the Bible—is to make us strong and able to withstand the evil onslaughts of Satan, our enemy.

Psalm 119:9-11(ESV)How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. The Holy Spirit uses the power of the Word to save souls and then to give them spiritual strength to be mature soldiers for the Lord in fighting this corrupt and evil world we live in. The more we know and understand the Word of God, the more useful we will be in doing the will of God and the more effective we will be in standing against the enemy of our souls.

Psalm 119:103-105(ESV)How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through your precepts I get understanding;therefore I hate every false way.105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Only the Word of God can discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. There is much confusion today concerning the existence of the “subconscious”-those areas of memory which seem to be out of reach to our own conscious effort. The Scripture clearly indicates that the heart is beyond our knowing.
Jeremiah 17:9-10(ESV):The heart is deceitful above all things,and desperately sick; who can understand it? 10 “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
The word heart can mean different things depending upon the context. Most often, the heart refers to the soul of a human being that controls the mind, will and emotions. The heart is the “inner man” 2 Corinthians 4:16(ESV)16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.. The prophet Ezekiel makes several references a “new heart” Ezekiel 18:31(ESV)31 Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel?;

Ezekiel 36:26(ESV)26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. An oft-quoted verse is Ezekiel 11:19(ESV)19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,

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.

Matthew 13:3-9(ESV)3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.”

MAtthew 13:18-23(ESV)18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

The parable speaks of the soil as the conditions of the hearts of the people who are hearing the Word of God. This is proving that not everyone who hears the Word will respond correctly. Titus 3:3-7(ESV)3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Regeneration is the spiritual transformation in a person, brought about by the Holy Spirit, that brings the individual from being spiritually dead to become a spiritually alive human being. Regeneration is another way of speaking about the new birth or the second birth or being born again.

When we are born again, God performs a heart transplant, as it were. He gives us a new heart. The power of the Holy Spirit changes our hearts from sin-focused to God-focused. We do not become perfect 1 John 1:8(ESV)8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. We still have our sinful flesh and the freedom to choose whether or not to obey it.

Roman soldiers could not be sent into battle without having extensive training in the use of the gladius. 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.

Hebrews 5:12-14(ESV)12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

The desire to become knowledgeable in God’s Word—skilled in the use of the sword—has to come from within. Do you see how valuable it is, and do you desire to have a high level of skill? This is the attitude and approach to God’s Word that can make a skilled spiritual warrior. The training and skill levels are up to you! Swords are used for close combat, not long-range warfare therefore the fight will be close, close to your heart, close to the things that can get you tripped up and deceived.

Acts 14:21-22(ESV)21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 

James 1:2-4(ESV)2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

At first glance, that might not seem like such a bad thing. But when we stop to consider that without trials, there is no growth, and without growth, we will not be able to enter God’s Kingdom, we see that trials, however uncomfortable, are essential in our journeys as Christians.

Paul only lists one weapon because we only need one weapon: There is no enemy the Word of God, coupled with His Spirit, cannot defeat. And so, armed only with our sword, we step out to fight our enemies head-on. The struggle is real. It is immediate, and it is in front of us. Our future in God’s Kingdom is on the line, and we take up the battle so that we may hold fast to the future He has promised us.

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