“Take …. the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
The Roman sword was the weapon which was used both for defence and attack. The word used here represents the short sword indicating that a close personal encounter was envisaged.
Paul immediately goes on to describe it as ‘the sword of the Spirit’ which he identifies as ‘the word of God.’ Although this would include the words of defence and testimony that Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would give His followers when they were accused, it has a much wider meaning. Its primary reference is to the Scriptures as God’s Spirit-inspired and written word.
Jesus Himself quoted Scripture to counter the attacks of the devil in the desert after His baptism. It also then becomes to us a weapon to be used to reveal and resist temptation and spiritual attack. As such we must become proficient in its use – knowing it contents and believing that the word of God will achieve His purpose in and through our lives. His word believed becomes an invincible truth, an inextinguishable light and an insurmountable force.
Used purposefully it has in addition a power of conviction far beyond our human forcefulness, persuasion and abilities.
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
It cuts through other peoples defences, pricks their consciences and stabs them into spiritual wakefulness – even if they do not admit it to us at the time. It is indeed the Spirit at work in their lives,
“When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:” (John 16:8)
The soldier that Paul is describing would expect to be involved in military campaigns. There would be times of training, periods of waiting, route marches both short and long, sudden alarms requiring quick defensive measures, and other attacks seeking to rout the enemy. Both in the heat of battle and at other times the soldier might find himself separated from the others and needing to face off the enemy by himself. At all times he needs to be properly dressed with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the foundational boots of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. He does not know when the next attack might take place.
This soldier is not a little child playing games but a well-equipped, trained and professional warrior. It is our calling as well in Christ – the difference being that our enemies are most often spiritual and not flesh and blood. Our purpose however remains the same.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:12-13)
God has equipped you with all that you need. Identify it, make it all an everyday part of your life, and trust Him.
Lord Jesus, You stood up for me – please help me to stand up for You and for those whom You love. Amen.