Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. It’s not like the other defensive weapons which protect one particular part of you. It doesn’t defend your head or heart. Rather, as the only offensive weapon, it comes against the enemy himself.
The power of the Word
We’ve already said that we’re girded with truth, poured into a mould that gives us a new way of thinking and keeps us secure. There’s also a sword-truth that we take into battle. The Word promises that if we resist the devil he will flee from us. When Satan came against Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus didn’t overcome him by using his divine abilities, but conquered him as a man. He took out the sword from Deuteronomy – the book on which he may have been meditating – and quoted one verse after another from it. The Word came against Satan with such power and authority that he was forced to yield ground.
The Scriptures aren’t just human ideas, they’re God-breathed, spirit-inspired truth. They’re powerful and no one can stand against them. Created beings all have to submit to the greater authority of God’s Word and we must learn to use it effectively. On the Day of Pentecost Peter was suddenly thrust into the public scene without any sermon notes. He had to preach, and was inspired by scriptures from Joel and the Psalms. He spoke so boldly, and with such penetrating and relevant words that his listeners were pierced to the heart.
Similarly, when Stephen was dragged before the high priest and forced to defend himself, he stood and declared scripture after scripture after scripture. So powerful were his words that his hearers ‘stopped their ears’ before they stoned him. Again, when Philip was invited to speak to the Ethiopian eunuch, he began with Isaiah 53 and preached Jesus with such authority that the eunuch responded to the gospel and was baptised.
These men weren’t careless about the truth; they’d soaked themselves in the Word and declared it diligently. They discovered that ‘the weapons of [their] warfare [were] not carnal, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses’ (2 Cor. 10:4). We must get into the truth and let it get into us. We’re not talking about proof texts but about a living Holy Spirit-inspired utterance. It’s about God giving you his Word, its mastering you and becoming a sword in your hand to destroy mighty strongholds.
This post was adapted from the 2nd of three sermons on the Armour of God preached at Together on a Mission 2010