The Sword of the Spirit - The Word of God
Pr. P. T. Thomas
In his last epistle, addressed to Timothy, Apostle Paul wrote: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race’. Here we see the two main images found in the scriptures to describe our Christian life – running a race and fighting a battle. Both these images convey the idea of vigorous activity and keen vigilance. Of the two the battle image presents a more vivid picture of Christian life. An athlete running in a rare does not confront an enemy, but competes with rivals. But a soldier confronts, not a rival, but a cunning cruel enemy. A failed athlete may lose his reward, but a defeated soldier may lose his life or liberty. So getting clothed in the whole armor of God is not optional, but essential in Christian life.
As Paul wrote the epistle to Ephesians from the Roman prison, he could see soldiers standing guard in the imperial armor. Probably Paul himself was locked up in the cold dungeon with hardly anything to wrap himself up for warmth. He too was a soldier enlisted into the army of God. Then surely would he be provided with the whole armor required for his personal protection and for attacking the enemy. Not only he, but the whole church of God is on the battlefield. Every believer in every age needs the whole armor of God. Our battle is a spiritual combat and the weapon of our warfare are not of the flesh (2Cor. 14:4) Paul took note of every item of the armor of the Roman soldier and presented the corresponding item in our spiritual armor.
Defensive and Offensive
Of the whole armor of God, there is only one weapon provided for a child of God to attack and overcome. It is the sword of the Spirit, even the word of God. All other items in the whole armor are defensive in nature and protective in use. This fact highlights the comparative importance of the word of God over the other spiritual virtues that constitutes the defensive armor.
Today, the importance of the word of God is not realized in the Christian circles. Once a person is saved and justified by faith, everything seems to be over. Hardly does anyone think that he has entered the battle field. Not even the believer thinks he has to have the whole armor of God, including the two-edged sword of the word of God. A short preaching session of emotional excitement and a lot of singing is all that make up a church service today. The shorter the preaching, the happier the congregation. Solid word of God, tempered and sharpened by the Spirit of God should be provided to the whole church of God.
The sword of the Word is the only weapon to attack the enemy. A believer has to resist the devil. Then only he will flee from him (James 4:7). But how can he resist the devil?
The helmet of salvation will protect his head. The shield of faith will protect him from Satan’s fiery darts. But the attacking weapon of the sword is needed to resist him and drive him off. A believer on the battle field, fully protected with all defensive gear and without the only weapon for attack is a pitiable sight. He may not be wounded or killed, but can’t drive away the evil one. He lives in fear and cannot fight the battle. He just survives, but cannot live the vigorous life of a valiant soldier.
After Jesus’ forty days, fasting in the wilderness, the evil one approached him and dared to tempt the Lord. Jesus overcame him in all the temptations using the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Here Jesus has provided us with an example. The very fact that Jesus humbled himself and identified with us even to the level of allowing Himself to be tempted by the evil one is to give us an example. Jesus overcame the temptations using the Word of God to show how we too can overcome the evil one. The forty days of fasting and prayer did not deter the evil one from approaching Jesus. Only the sword of the Spirit made him to flee. Of course, prayer has an incomparable place in the whole armor of God. In prayer a saint communes with God and gets strengthened by power in the inner being. Neither prayer nor the word of God is substituted by anything else. But the current tendency is to promte prayer and ignore the word of God. But the example of Jesus using the word of God to overcome the devil should not be ignored.
The Holy Spirit or Human Spirit?
When we say ‘the Sword of the Spirit’ what spirit do we mean here? In the scriptures we see three spirits–the Holy Spirit, the human spirit and the evil spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one and the only Spirit of God, even the third personality in the Holy Trinity. Being the omnipresent God, He is ever present everywhere in the whole universe and beyond. Human spirits are as many as there are human beings. Evil spirits are myriads in number, as many as were fallen with Satan. Now, when the scriptures describe the word as the sword of the Spirit which of these spirits does it refer to? Of course, it is not the evil spirit. Then, is it the human spirit or the Holy Spirit? Note that it is not the spiritual sword, but the sword of the Spirit. That is, the Spirit is the owner of the sword. It is the Holy Spirit of God who is the author and owner of the Word of God. So it is the Holy Spirit who is referred to here. As the Holy Spirit indwells the believer, he is given the right to use the sword of the spirit. O! the great privilege of enjoying the right to use the sword of the spirit!
We don’t think it a great thing to be able to use the Word of God. But it really is a great privilege, graciously granted by the Lord. In Psalm 50:16 we read “But to the wicked, God says: ‘What right have you to recite my statutes or take any covenant on your lips?”. God forbade it with a stern warning given in verse 22: “ Mark this , … lest I tear you apart and there be none to deliver.!”. Unworthy though we are, it has pleased the Lord to redeem us by the blood of the Lamb of God. By faith in Christ Jesus we are God’s Children indwelt by the Spirit of God. This has made us worthy to use the sword of the Spirit in our spiritual warfare.
Word carries authority
The word one says carries his authority. The word of God is powerful because it carries the authority of God. When we speak forth the word of God, we speak on behalf of God. It is God’s promise that if we speak what is precious and not what is worthless, we shall be as the Lord’s own mouth.( Jer. 15:19 ).What a privilege it is to be the mouthpiece and spokes man of God!. God’s word won’t go in vain. It shall not return empty, but it shall accomplish that which He purposes. (Isaiah 55: 11). The word carries God’s authority and God’s authority is irresistible.
The sword is the symbol of authority. In Romans 13:4 we read that the man in authority carries the sword. When someone is appointed to a position of authority, the King used to present him a sword. When the word of God is described as the sword of the Spirit, the image emphasizes the idea of authority two fold. The word of God carries the full power and authority of God. Today the power and authority of God is executed by the Holy Spirit. A believer is commissioned by God to use His powerful word in the battle of Christian life.
Using a weapon requires commissioning. No one except the authorized one can use a weapon. If a common man uses a weapon on another, for whatever reason, he has to stand trial before the authorities. We are authorized and commissioned to use the sword of the Spirit as we are in the army of God. It is our only weapon against Satan. It carries the power and authority of God. When we use the word, we rather release the power and authority of God it carries. Let us give it the due importance and stand worthy enough to use this powerful weapon against the enemy.