Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand Firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God... – Ephesians 6:13-17
"Sergeant, I forgot my rifle in my room," one team leader radioed as we drove out of the front gate of our Iraqi-based compound in March 2004. Our mission: to carry out a covert assignment with a clandestine operations team from the National Security Agency. I was surprised when our team leader realized he had forgotten his rifle. We always ensured we had all the required equipment before starting any mission. However, I suggested that he find a solution, and we continued our journey without returning. This decision would be one of my life's worst decisions. Roughly three hours later, we would meet the enemy, and two people would die due to not bearing the most essential weapon in the arsenal.
The sword of the Spirit is part of the Armor of God mentioned in Ephesians 6:13-17. Paul urges us in verse 11 to wear the complete armor of God, which helps us resist the devil's tactics. It's not a mere piece of advice to take lightly. The Greek phrase emphasizes the importance of being prepared. Like a Roman warrior on the battleground, we must have every component of God's armor safeguarding us, without any vulnerable areas for the adversary to exploit.
In Ephesians 6:17, Paul draws a connection between the sword of the Spirit and the Word of God. He also references the helmet of salvation. Hebrews 4:12 emphasizes the power of the Word of God, stating that it is alive and active, capable of penetrating deeply into the soul and Spirit and discerning the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Interestingly, the sword Paul mentions in Ephesians 6:17 differs from what one would expect, with a blade of only twenty-two inches and a lightweight design. However, it was still a formidable weapon in the hands of a skilled warrior, sharpened on both sides and the tip.
The Word of God, represented by the sword of the Spirit, is not only an offensive weapon but also a defensive one. It reveals the schemes and tactics of the devil and helps us discern our thoughts and attitudes before God. By studying the Bible and praying, we can receive guidance from the Holy Spirit and avoid falling prey to the devil's attempts to destroy us. As demonstrated in Matthew 4:1-11, Scripture can also be a powerful tool for defense, as Jesus used it to overcome the temptations of the devil.
How do I stand Firm with the Sword of the Spirit?
In 1999, as I lay in bed nightly during my basic combat training, our Drill Sergeant would have us repeat the creed entitled "My Rifle." A portion of this creed said, "My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life." Another section states: “My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother."
My friends, the Sword of the Spirit is your best friend. "I no longer call you servants...; instead I call you friends." (John 15:15). Is the Word of God your life? Will we master the Sword of the Spirit over the identity of our career? Do you know the Word became flesh, the Word was God, is God, and in Him is life and the light of all mankind that light outshines the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. (John 1:1-5)
My questions to us today are:
- Will the Sword of the Spirit not be forgotten day and night?
- Will you master the Sword of the Spirit?
- Will it become your friend?
- Will you learn it as a brother?
- Will it be your most formidable weapon over the powers of darkness?
Father, we ask Your Holy Spirit to fill and empower us to conquer the darkness. We will stand boldly against the forces of evil, wielding the Sword of the Spirit with unwavering confidence. Your love and guidance are our source of strength. Amen!
Rev. Jeffrey Walsh
Ministry Director, Christian Union Lux at Yale University
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