We’ve come to the last piece of the armor of God, excluding prayer. We’ll be talking about prayer a lot in future blogs, so I’m going to “close out” our series on the armor of God with today’s topic of the sword of the Spirit.
Every part of the armor is intrinsically tied to the Word of God.
We cannot gird our loins with truth, without knowing the truth of the Word.
We cannot put on the breastplate of righteousness without discernment from the Word on what is good.
We cannot be prepared with the shoes of the gospelwithout knowing what the Word teaches us about the gospel.
We cannot take up the shield of faith without strengthening our faith through the study and application of the Word.
We cannot be protected by the hope of our salvationwithout the promises from the Word.
So it only natural that this last piece of the armor isthe Word of God.
Ephesians 6:17b – …and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The word for sword here is the Greek word machaira (Strongs 3162), and describes a small sword, used for thrusting; a dagger, which would be used in close combat, probably hand to hand. So the use of the sword spiritually is when we are directly engaged in a spiritual battle. Each of the previous pieces of armor would be “on” the soldier, before he actually met the enemy. He was prepared for battle, but perhaps not yet engaged.
But now, when he picks up his sword, he is directly engaged with the enemy.
We are told that the sword of the Spirit is the word of God. There are two distinct Greek words translated as “word” in the New Testament: rhema and logos.
Jesus is called the logos (Strongs 3056):
John 1:1,14 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Logos is also used in Hebrews 4:12 – For the wordof God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joins and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
From what I can see in my study, logos refers to the total inspired word of God, and to Jesus, the Living Word.
In Ephesians 6:17, the word rhema is used. It has a slightly different connotation.
According to Vines, rhema(Strongs 4487) is that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, a thing spoken, word; speech. The significance of rhema (as distinct from logos) is exemplified in the injunction to take “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;” here the reference is not to the whole Bible as such, but to the individual scripture which the Spirit brings to our remembrance for use in time of need, a prerequisite being the regular storing of the mind with Scripture.
The word rhema is also used in Matthew 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 context of Matthew 4 is perfect for illustrating how we use the Word of God in battle. Jesus was face to face with the devil, and His weapon of choice, for which the devil had no defense, was to quote specifically from the Old Testament scriptures. Essentially, He reminded Satan of what God had already said! He used God’s specific words to defeat the temptations which Satan was offering.
This is what I believe it means that the sword of the Spirit is the word of God. We are to use specific scriptures to fight against our enemy, whatever the situation, temptation, crisis, or need.
But how do we know which scriptures to use?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve not yet memorized the whole Bible! I have memorized portions of it, and I know those verses are hidden in my heart. But how on earth in the moment of crisis are we able to “pull out the sword”?
Let’s think…what is this weapon called?
It’s the sword of the Spirit!
This is not MY sword.
This is the Spirit’s sword!
John 14:25-27 – These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
It is the Spirit’s role in our life to bring to our mind and heart what Jesus said…what God said. He is the one who controls the sword. He knows the sword. After all, He is God, and is intimately acquainted with the full revelation of the Word of God: Jesus! He knows the logos, and He will bring to our remembrance the rhema. He will speak the Word to us.
The key is, He will bring to our remembrance all that Jesus has said to us. How does Jesus speak? Through His Word.
If we are faithful to read and study God’s Word, the Spirit of God is faithful to employ and empower that Word in our life.
Paul gives us more insight in how the Spirit enlightens us in 1 Corinthians 2:10-14:
For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
What do we learn from this passage?
· the Spirit of God knows the thoughts of God
· we have received the Spirit of God
· through the Spirit, we can know the things freely given to us by God
· the Spirit teaches us, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words
· an unbeliever does not understand or accept the things of the Spirit of God
This is why when you are trying to explain why you would choose to live a pure and holy life to a friend who is an unbeliever, and they just can’t understand why you would not accept the freedom culture would offer you. It is “foreign” to them; they can’t see it. The spiritual life is a mystery to those who do not know Christ. But because the Spirit has opened your eyes to see truth, you “get it”!
There’s one other verse I want to leave you with, that I think is one of the most amazing and encouraging verses in the Bible.
John 16:13 – But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
The Spirit of God speaks whatever He hears.
Whenever we open God’s Word and He speaks to us, and we understand scripture; or whenever God’s Spirit whispers to our heart, He is speaking what God our Father has already spoken. I imagine this this way:
Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father. He leans over, and speaks to His Father, about me. Perhaps I am lonely. Perhaps I am hurting. Perhaps I am discouraged. Or perhaps I’m getting a little too full of myself and need a reprimand! Or maybe I’m facing a temptation, tired of the battle and ready to give in.
Whatever it is, the Spirit hears it, and He speaks it…through God’s Word, maybe as I’m reading a passage, or perhaps driving down the road, He puts that thought in my mind and heart, bringing scripture to mind, or enlightening a passage that I’ve been pondering. And it’s because He heard it in the throne room of heaven.
Psalm 40:5 – Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us; there is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count.
Psalm 139:17-18 – How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.
Romans 8:26-27 – In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Romans 8:34 – …Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
God has given us the sword of the Spirit, His Word, for every battle we face.
The Spirit speaks to us, reminding us of what God has said to be true, and He speaks on our behalf to Jesus, who in turn speaks to His Father, interceding for us.
This is the sword of the Spirit. God’s Word…enlightened to us by the Spirit of God.
What is our role? How do we “take up” the sword of the Spirit?
We hide it in our hearts.
We read it.
We study it.
We obey it.
We speak it boldly.
God has given us everything we need to do battle with our spiritual enemy.