By Martin Morrison
So, if we’re in a war, it’s fine to have proper defence, but what do we use for attack? Don’t we have heat-seeking missiles or nuclear arms or at least an AK-47? What must we use to win? Surely we want to conquer the enemy? Surely we want to win the battle? So far all you’ve given us are pieces of armour that defend? Or are we supposed to be wimps or doormats? Wave a Christian white flag in defeat!
“… and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”, Ephesians 6:17.
The sixth and last weapon to be specified is the sword. Of all the six pieces of armour or weaponry listed, the sword is the only one which can clearly be used for attack as well as defence. The weapon of attack is for close personal encounters as the Greek word used, is machaira, the short sword. This sword of the Spirit is immediately identified as the word of God. In Revelation the sharp two-edged sword comes out of the mouth of Jesus. “The son of man….and from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword…”, Revelation 1:16. This is not gentle Jesus meek and mild, but Jesus wielding an immensely powerful instrument of war.
The sword is the word of God, the Scriptures, the Old and New Testament. Remember how Jesus used the word of God to counter the devil in the Judean wilderness. On every occasion when the devil presented a massive temptation to Jesus, he responded by quoting a particular Scripture, “It is written….it is written…it is written. Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him”, Matthew 4:1 – 11.
Peter reminds us that our adversary the devil, “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”, 1 Peter 5:8. So the devil will try to break down or tempt the believer in a myriad of different ways. For instance, because of an abusive past, you may feel worthless, your self-confidence may be non-existent. So, when you want to serve God or speak for God in some way, the devil whispers in your ear, “Who do you think you are? Just keep quiet, everyone knows you’re a loser!” Surely, you are to attack the devil’s lies with God’s Word. “I have infinite value because I’m made in the image of God! Christ loves me so much that he died for me! I am so precious to Christ that he bought me with his blood!! Get out of my life! Go to hell!! By the way, the devil is the only person to whom you can say that!
Or perhaps you have become addicted to pornography. You hate it, but you can’t break it. You hate it, but the addiction has consumed you. God’s word is your weapon. “For when two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them”, Matthew 18:20. There is only one key to break the power of addiction and that is to meet with two or three others and talk about your addiction, pray together and hold each other accountable. There is no other way! And when someone asks you to meet with them remember, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted”. Galatians 6:1. Our weapon is the word of God. There is no other.
Or perhaps you occasionally worry that money and possessions have become too important in your life. You find your heart strangely drawn to want more, all the time. Your wife mentioned that you have become just like your materialistic colleague. In fact in the past, you distinctly remember disliking his unpleasant greed and covetousness. Remember Job who said, “naked I came, naked I shall return”, Job 1:21. Remember that you can’t take it with you. Hearses don’t have trailers or tow-bars! Remember Jesus who said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money”, Matthew 6:24.
Two last things, before we close. Firstly, the Bible is not called the sword of the Spirit for nothing. The Holy Spirit is the author of the word of God. The Spirit convicts us of sin. The Spirit applies the truth of God’s word to our consciences and hearts. The Spirit brings words of truth and comfort to us from the Bible. You can never separate the Bible and the Spirit. Just as much as you cannot separate a tomato from its’ skin, I think! The Bible and the Spirit are inseparable. They cannot be divorced.
Secondly, it’s counter intuitive in our world, that our only weapon of attack is not a gun or a knife or hatred or anger but, but simply a word. A word of truth. The word of God. Nothing more and nothing less.