PART 23 – THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT (1/2/19)
Updated: Feb 2
'Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.' (Ephesians 6:17-18)
During this week’s devotionals, we have been considering how David fell into sin with Bathsheba, and how we can protect ourselves. Each day we have been considering a different piece of the ‘Armour of God’ (Ephesians 6:10-20), which is God’s power and wisdom on how to overcome temptation and evil. Today, we finish by looking at 'the sword of the Spirit'.
David was disarmed by complacency. He mistakenly thought that he was safe because he was at home in his palace. In reality, he was in more danger than had he gone to battle that spring; at least the physical battle would have caused him to be alert and on-guard; however, here, as he lounges around, he has laid himself open for demonic ambush. Today we will learn about what it means to use the sword of the Spirit not only to defend ourselves, but also as a means of attack.
Word of God
Paul tells us that this 'sword of the spirit is the word of God'. This refers to the whole bible, and the message of the gospel in particular. Let's remember, it's the actual words of scripture and not just the general ideas/stories that are God's word. 'Plenary Inspiration' is the truth that all the words of scripture are God's words.
Paul tells us to ‘take the… sword of the Spirit’. This means that it must be actively used. It’s not a good luck charm! Having it as a tattoo, having it your phone, on a shelf… brings no benefit. Active, purposeful use of God’s word is what is required. We must pick it up, read it, meditate on it, memorise it, pray it, use it to attack lies, defend against falsehood, encourage our hearts and those of others. Too many of us do not take up the sword because, like a spoilt child, we will not value such a priceless thing because we have had our appetite ruined by rubbish.
As a sword, it is to be skilfully applied in relevant circumstances. A sword was to be wielded with skill. It wasn’t just swung around mindlessly. Paul encouraged Timothy,
‘Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth’ (2 Timothy 2:15).
The bible isn’t magic. It’s useful and powerful when it is used usefully and appropriately.
The sword of the Spirit
The term ’sword of the Spirit’ tells us that the author of God’s word is the Holy Spirit. Human authors were inspired by the Holy Spirit who is the true author of scripture. As the ’Sword of the Spirit’ we must have faith that the bible has power - divine energy that comes from the Spirit who works through it.
In Matthew 4:1-11, we have the account of Jesus being tempted by the devil in the desert. When the devil tempts him to disobey the Father he wields the the sword of the Spirit by declaring the truth of scripture. On three occasions Jesus repels Satan with the words, "It is written..."
Likewise, we must, like David, in advance of fighting Goliath (and to swap metaphors) 'picked up the stones' of God's word. We read,
'Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.' (1 Samuel 17:40)
Stones 'from the stream' remind me that God's word, 'the sword of the Spirit' is 'from the stream' - They are the Spirit's powerful words. Like Jesus, and like David at his best, we must use the sword of the Spirit rather than our own or worldly wisdom.
RESPONSE – TAKE UP THE HELMET OF SALVATION
Each response this week has been around putting on each part of the armour of God.
TAKE UP THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT BY MEMORISING THE TRUTH
Are you using the sword of the Spirit? Do you notice temptations - to bad thinking, attitudes, behaviour... and do you actually use relevant portions of scripture to counter these assaults? In preparation, do you have a habit of memorising scripture for this purpose?
Let’s take up the sword of the Spirit by continuing to memorise the armour of God this week. Wouldn't it be amazing if after this week's devotionals, you had a good grasp of what each piece of armour related to and started to use each piece to defend yourself!
‘Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.’ (Ephesians 6:14-17)
TIPS ON MEMORISING SCRIPTURE
We will only do this, and persevere in doing this, if we believe that it's truly important to hide God's word in our heart. So get faith!
Don't disqualify yourself if it's hard - it is hard!
Write the text somewhere that's easy to find and use
Include the reference throughout the process
Read it slowly and carefully x 10 (Don't rush or dismiss this accurate repetition)
Recall it, without looking as much as possible x10
Do this a few times through the day
Revise regularly (and revise previously memorised verses)
Make it a habit to learn new verses - skill comes over time
USE IT! Actively use it to pray, worship, counsel, prophecy, and counter temptation and lies by quoting truth - it’s the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17).
TIPS ON BIBLICAL MEDITATION
Biblical meditation is to prayerfully read, repeatedly, a section of the bible and pray, worship and respond as God leads. Here are a few tips and questions to help you when meditating:
PRAY - Ask for the Spirit to help you and to speak to you. Keep the goal in mind - having a relationship with God!
WRITING- Writing/journaling is often a great help as you answer the questions below. Remember, don't allow worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar, perfection... stop you from writing - it's between you and God.
GOSPEL- What does this text say about salvation through Jesus?
UP- What does this text say about God – His worth, character, attributes, will, promises…?
IN- What does this text say about you, the church and how we are to relate?
OUT- What does this text say about non-believers and our mission?
RESPONSE – Is there anything you want to pray, worship God about, do, ask forgiveness about, ask God to help you to change…?