(The following is an edited extract of the message that was preached on March 28, 2021.)
As you all know, we are in a battle right now. When you decided to follow Christ and you became part of God’s people, you joined an army. And like all armies, we have an enemy, and our enemy hates God. He doesn’t really care about you, but he hates God. And because you belong to God, he’s going to attack you and try and bring you down any chance he gets. We are in a spiritual war.
However, the good news is, we have access to the mighty power of God. Here is what we’ve read before in Ephesians:
“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” (Eph. 6:10).
There is no reason for you to be weak. The mighty power of God is there for you. So, how do you access the power of God? It tells us clearly in the next verse.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
We’ve talked about the belt, the breastplate, the shoes, the shield and the helmet. Today, we come to talk about my favourite piece of the armour. The sword.
And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph. 6:17)
What kind of sword did Paul have in mind? Well, the word he used is “machaira”. A machaira is short, and not that big. The Romans had another kind of sword, called a romphaia, which was much bigger and longer. But this sword here, the machaira, is almost like a dagger. It’s short, and it’s designed to be used with precision.
If you have a great big, double-handed, Conan the Barbarian sword, you just run and swing with all your might, and you need strength more than skill. But with a little sword like this, you can pick out the weak spots in your enemy’s armour. A sword like this is designed to be used precisely, at exactly the right time, in exactly the right spot.
What do we know about this sword? Well, looking at this verse, we know two things.
Firstly, it is the Word of God. Secondly, it is of the Spirit.
The sword is the word of God, the Bible. If you’re going to wield it properly, you need to know the exact words in these pages, where they are, what they say, and what they mean. Whatever part of this Bible you don’t know, that is where you are weak and defenceless. There are great, wonderful, truths that are printed in here, and whatever of these truths you do not know, that is where the enemy can hurt you.
You don’t need to memorize every single chapter in here. But make it your mission to know all of the great truths that are written in these pages. Know what the key verses say, and know where they are written.
Secondly, the sword is of the Spirit. The Spirit is the one who gives us the sword.
You can see this very clearly in the story of Jesus being tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Let’s look at Luke chapter 4. Jesus has just been baptized by John, right at the beginning of his ministry. Then, in 4:1, we read:
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.” (4:1,2)
Notice that he was full of the Holy Spirit. Then what happened? Well, you know the story. The devil tempted him three times, and three times Jesus defeated him with scripture. Jesus defeated him with the words of God, because he was filled with Spirit of God.
Also, the sword is “of the Spirit” because it is spiritual. We need a spiritual weapon because we’re fighting a spiritual battle. This Bible is not just a collection of writings that were written by men. Sure, human beings wrote the Bible, but they were inspired and filled with the Holy Spirit, so these words are the very words of God. These are spirit-filled words.
I mean, you can get online and find a website, written by a charismatic man or woman, that has very nice words. In the same way, you can find nice words written in self-help books, or spoken by people on YouTube. And these words might encourage you and teach you something interesting. And that’s OK.
But when you are battling the devil in some area of your life, you need the sword of the Spirit. Any other words are going to be useless.
I cannot think of anything more important for the believer than to read and to know the Word of God. Read this whole book from cover to cover. Know the whole story, but also memorize those key verses that impact you, because it’s those key verses that you will be able to pull out quickly at just the right time and in just the right moment that you need them.