‘…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.’ (Ephesians 6:17 NIV)
In the Apostle Paul’s day Roman soldiers had at least two different kinds of swords.
One was called a rhomphaia. It was six to eight feet long and was used to hack off the limbs and heads of enemy soldiers. Because of its size and weight, it had to be used with two hands, which didn’t allow the soldier to hold a shield, and left him exposed to arrows and spears.
The other type of sword was called a machaira. This was a short sword. It was light, enabling the soldier to manoeuvre it skilfully and quickly. It also only took one hand to use it, which allowed the soldier to also carry a shield.
It is this second kind of sword, the machaira, which Paul mentions here in Ephesians.
The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, is the only piece of spiritual armour in Paul’s description that’s offensive. Everything else Paul describes is defensive. They can turn aside or defend us against the blow of the enemy, but this is the only piece of the armour that can actually inflict pain and do damage to our enemy, who is ultimately Satan.
The question is how can we become skillful with this sword in our lives?
Here are some key principles about the Word of God that we can actively apply:
- Hear the Word preached – come to church regularly to hear the Word expounded;
- Read the Word – take time to read through the Bible to get a grasp of the overall message;
- Study the Word – go deeper than just reading Scripture but start to look at what it meant to its original recipients and how it can apply today;
- Meditate on the Word – think about what you are reading, chew it over, and reflect on the Word. In other words let the Word of God saturate your mind and your heart;
- Memorise the Word – the more of the Word we hide in our hearts, the less likely we are to be led astray. When confronted with situations where we are tempted to give into our flesh and the world around us, be prepared; have the Word internalized and ready to come to mind;
- Quote the Word – be ready and able to give an answer when and where necessary.
All this activity around the Word of God is not just knowledge for knowledges’ sake; rather it’s gaining wisdom to understand how the Bible practically applies so we can skillfully use this weapon appropriately.
This sword is of the Spirit so we need to be led by and keep in step with him in the wielding of this weapon, and for that we need to be seeking his guidance continually and asking him for the wisdom we may lack.
So let us not neglect the Word of God. If we do our sword will be blunt against our enemy.
But if we correctly handle our weapon, the sword the Lord has given us, we can have victory in the spiritual battle.
Father you have given us your Word as a tremendous resource. May we saturate our lives in it and take it up in our hand allowing the Spirit to wield it effectively and wisely in the spiritual battles that confront us.
Have a good week wielding your sword.