The Armor of God Part 6: The Sword of the Spirit
Ephesians 6:17, Ephesians 6:18-20
“And take the…sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Ephesians 6:17 NASB1995
The final armament required for the believer is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. A sword was an essential weapon in combat until the invention of gunpowder and even today, soldiers will carry long knives and use bayonets on rifles for close combat. A Roman or medieval warrior had to practice using the sword before a battle so that the many movements of parry (deflecting another sword) and thrust would come naturally and at the right times. The typical broadsword could be quite heavy and could pierce body armor, so constant practice helped build up strength and motion.
David Guzik (referenced this time from the Precepts Austin collection of Biblical commentaries) has an excellent description of why using the Sword of the Spirit requires an in-depth understanding of scripture:
The idea is that the Spirit provides a sword for you, and that sword is the word of God. To effectively use the Sword of the Spirit, we can’t regard the Bible as book of magic charms or tie one around our neck the way that garlic is said to drive away vampires. To effectively use the sword, we must regard it as the word of God... If we are not confident in the inspiration of Scripture, that the sword really came from the Spirit, then we will not use it effectively at all. But we must also take the sword of the Spirit in the sense of depending that He helps us to use it. Not only did the Spirit give us the Scriptures, but also He makes them alive to us, and equips us with the right thrust of the sword at the right time.
Think of a soldier or a gladiator in training, practicing sword thrusts and moves and positions. Now, he must practice them ahead of time, and if he is a superior fighter, and has a great fighting instinct, at the time of battle he will instantly recall which thrust, which position suits the precise moment. He will never be able to use the thrust in the fight if he has not first practiced it, but he still needs to make the move at the moment. Therefore, effectively using the sword takes practice. The great example of this was Jesus combating the temptation of Satan in the wilderness (Mt 4:4,7,10,11). Luther was another example of this, when he came to any understanding of Psalm 31:1-note: deliver me in Your righteousness. This helped him understand the real meaning of the just will live by faith.
We must understand the Word of God and find the right movements at the right moment to deflect challenges to our faith from the enemy or from outsiders. Daily Bible reading and prayer about what you read helps build this strength and skill effectively.
How do we effectively use the Armor of God? Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:18-20 that prayer, petition and perseverance is required.
“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
Ephesians 6:18-20 NASB1995
To summarize the Armor of God, which comes to us in prayer and perseverance - This is my interpretation of this essential precept:
The Belt of Truth encircles us.
The Breastplate of Righteousness protects our heart and innermost being.
The Shoes that we are shod in prepare for the Gospel of Peace to give us endurance.
The Shield protects our Faith from the flaming arrows of the enemy.
The Helmet wards off blows to our reason and mind and proclaims our Salvation, now and forever.
The Sword of the Spirit, with practice, brings forth the Word of God at the right moment and movement.
My next devotional series will be on the seven “I Am” statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John.