Weilding the Sword

© E. E. Perry 2001
"Take... the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17).

For Roman soldiers, marching into battle meant a face-to-face confrontation with their enemy. The skills they needed to use their swords could save their lives. The sword was the only piece of equipment that they could use for both offense and defense. The sword could deflect an enemy's blow or deal a deadly blow.

The Roman sword was not like the two-handed broadswords of the middle ages. Instead, the sword was about two feet in length, with a two inch wide blade. Being double-edged, the sword could cut in any direction the soldier swung. The sword's small size allowed the soldier to deploy it rapidly.

The Apostle Paul compares the word of God to such a sword. Hebrews 4:12 says: "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit... it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." As the Christian prepares for spiritual conflict, he must pick up his sword and be prepared to use it.

In order for a soldier to use a weapon effectively, he first needs to train with the weapon. As new recruits in the Army, we were not handed an M-16 and told to go out and shoot it. We received classes on the weapon: its capabilities, pieces and parts, and how to use it effectively. In the same manner, a Christian needs to know how to use the word of God. Without it, he will be weaponless and soon overtaken by the enemy.

Three Steps to Arming Yourself with the Sword of the Spirit

  1. Know It
  2. "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you" (Psalm 119:11). Without knowing God's word, we will sin. However, if we memorize it and ponder on it, we can keep some of our sins against God in check. The Psalmist calls the one who ponders on and puts value in God's word "blessed". (Psalm 1:1-2)

    Hiding God's word in our hearts does not mean keeping it secret. The Hebrew actually implies cherishing. God's word should become a part of us, and it can only become a part of us when we memorize and meditate on it: consider what God has to say to us through His word.

  3. Be Lead By It
  4. "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Psalm 119:105). Have you ever been lost in the dark. In the woods at night, thing look much different than they do during the day. In darkness, one becomes disoriented. The Bible often refers to people without Christ as being in darkness. The Psalmist declares that God's word is a light to shine on the path of life. The Living Bible paraphrases Psalm 119:105 this way: *"Your words are a flashlight to light the path ahead of me, and keeps me from stumbling." People who are not lead by the word of God are stumbling their way through life. They need something to light the path ahead of them. The Bible shines a light on life, which allows us to see where we are headed.

    A life that is lead by God's word shines on other people, and they see the difference in our lives. In 1 Peter 3:1-4, we see an example of this. Peter is talking to wives whose husbands are not believers. Their actions speak volumes, and Peter even suggest that the husband can be won over without words. When they see the actions and attitude of a Christian lead by God's word, they know something is different and can be won to the faith without even a word.

  5. Obey It
  6. "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word." (Psalm 119:9). There is no question that we need to clean up our acts. The Psalmist tells us God's word can purify us by living our lives according to its principles. When we obey God's word, we get the garbage out of our lives and replace it with the treasures of God.

    Jesus said, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who builds his house on the rock" (Matthew 7:24). The word of God is a rock solid foundation on which to build our lives. The ways of the world are sandy foundations, which give way when the storms of life blow against it. Jesus mentions hearing and doing. It is not enough to hear what God's word says, but we need to apply it to our lives.

    The Apostle James wrote: "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says" (James 1:22). Hearing the word and not doing what it says is like looking at your dirty, unshaven face in the mirror, then, walking away without doing anything about it. God's word is a mirror of our souls, and when we see the dirty reflection of sin in our lives, we need to clean it up.

Christian soldiers, I urge you to take up the sword of the Spirit, and learn to use it. Know it, let it guide you, and obey it. Take up the sword. It is your greatest weapon against an onslaught of evil.


Unless otherwise noted all scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.

*The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Publishers.

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