“And take the…Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17)
What is God’s meaning and application for us here? How does the sword work with the WHOLE Armor of God? And how does God teach His faithful to wield it? Let me start by adding another passage of Scripture–again, the word of God–to this study for critical context (hang on to this word):
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
The context of this passage is both critical (context is critical to a ALL Scripture) and tactical. In brief, verse 11 warns Christians to strive to obey God, lest we lose or diminish our heavenly rewards (not our salvation — but rewards — an excellent explanation written by Bro. J. Warner Wallace on his Cold Case Christianity site). Then in verse 12 we are reminded that the Word gives us all the power we need to learn the true will of God (Romans 12:2; Philippians 1:9). Finally, verse 13 points out that God’s judgment is impossible to escape: nobody is beyond His sight (2 Corinthians 5:10).
The correlation between these two passages is centered primarily on obedience. In fact, donning our spiritual body armor–including the sword of the Spirit–is a command (not a suggestion) from God (a loving, caring command but a command nevertheless). For example, in our police world, wearing our body armor and carrying our sidearm (the modern-day equivalent of the Greek word Paul used for “sword” here) is a matter of policy for our safety and that of others–meaning it is not “optional” but rather a mandatory command.
Moreover, take note that the Word/sword is described here as living and active and sharper than a double-edged sword. Roman swords were commonly made with two sharp edges (doubled-edged), making it easier to penetrate, as well as to cut deeply. The idea is that of piercing, or penetrating; the Word of God so as to reach the “heart,” laying open the motives of those it touches (see Roman short sword).
Moving on to Ephesians 6:17, the sword described here is both an offensive and defensive weapon used by warriors (including cops in the modern sense) in battle — including the battles we fight on the streets. The sword — like our firearm today — is also a weapon of self-defense. In this case, the sword is a weapon belonging to and issued to believers (and believers only) by the Holy Spirit. In either case, effectively wielding a sword required (requires) rigid and continuous training(see Psalm 144:1–think range time).
All Christian warriors–cops, soldiers (see 2 Timothy 2:4)–need the same rigid and continuous training to know how to effectively wield the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The sword/word referred to here is the Bible. We know from 2 Timothy 3:16–17 that the word of God is given (dictated, if you will) by the Holy Spirit to the men chosen to write it. Since every Christian is in a spiritual battle (war) with the satanic and evil forces of this world, we need to know how to wield (handle, use) the Word properly. Only then will it be an effective defense against evil while also being an offensive weapon we use to “demolish strongholds” (think breaching a door) of error and falsehood (2 Corinthians 10:4–5). All Christian warriors - including cops and soldiers - need the same rigid and continuous training to know how to effectively wield the 'sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.' Click To Tweet
The purpose of the sword of the Spirit — the Bible (Scripture) — is to make us strong and able to withstand the evil onslaughts of Satan and his minions (our enemy — Psalm 119:11, 33–40, 99–105). The Holy Spirit uses the power of the Word to save souls and then to give them spiritual strength to be mature warriors for the Lord in fighting this corrupt and evil world we live in. The more we know and understand the Word of God, the more useful we will be in doing the will of God and the more effective we will be in standing against the enemy of our souls. This also has particular application for police officers given the very unique issues we face in our God-ordained (Romans 13:1-4, for starters) profession (both on the streets and — tragically — from within the halls of our own agencies).
One of the primary resources I’ve used in this series (as I’ve repeatedly shared) is cop-turned-minister Tony Miano’s outstanding Take Up the Shield (I recommend ordering a copy and referring to it frequently–with an open Bible–of course). Writing on the sword of the Spirit, Tony rightly points out that we must “employ the Word of God in compliance with God’s policies — within the confines of His sovereign will. What does that mean? It means that we must never take God’s Word out of context.” AMEN to that!
Finally understand that Jesus “the Warrior” (Exodus 15:3) personally instructs us how to wield the sword of the Spirit–the Word of God–against the devil (and another reason that regular Bible study and even memorization of Scripture is so important):
- When hungry and tempted. He said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’” (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4).
- When tempted to forsake Father, He said, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God’” (Deut. 6:16; Matt. 4:7).
- When tempted to bow down to worship Satan He said, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Deut. 13:4; Matt. 4:10).
It is also important to point out that God desires to lead us into battle and even fights on our behalf (click on What does it mean that God fights our battles?) In closing their short Bible study, our friends at Got Questions Ministries shared this: “God is in control, but that does not mean Christians get to avoid the battles—in fact, the Bible states the opposite (2 Timothy 3:12). “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3–4). In order for a believer to live a life of endurance, character, and hope, we must put on our armor (Ephesians 6:10–17) and trust the Deliverer. We “put no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). Our confidence is in God, who will fight our battles and bring us safely home (Jude 1:24–25). “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7).
In closing, and as I’ve shared throughout this series, it is imperative that you understand that if you’re not saved (born again in Christ alone–a “Christian” as only God gets to define it), you are utterly defenseless (no armor, no weapons) against a very powerful and determined enemy. Accordingly, I beg you to make TODAY “the day of your salvation” (and know I’m here to help).
Time to go on duty: let’s armor up and wield the sword behind Christ our Captain!