At great ceremonial occasions in the UK we see members of the Armed Forces, as well as some members of the Royal Family, wearing splendid uniforms, and the officers will often have an ornate, finely polished sword strapped to their sides. These swords, however, are not for use in battle – they are merely for show.
Ephesians Chapter 6 reminds us of the spiritual battle we are in and exhorts us to put on the full armour of God so that we can take our stand against the devil and his schemes. In that passage the only offensive weapon we are given is the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. We are exhorted to take it, and therefore to use it, but many Christians seem to treat the Bible as little more than a ‘ceremonial sword’, for show and not for use in battle. Some Bibles remain on a shelf without being opened; others are read but not used and applied in everyday life.
When Jesus was tempted by the devil it was His use of Scripture that caused the devil to retreat. For each of the three temptations (recorded in Matthew 4 and Luke 4), Jesus’ response was: ‘It is written …’ He was using the word as a sword and as He did so He was providing a model for us. When the devil attacks us, seeking to tempt us or to undermine us with his lies and deception, we can similarly respond with: ‘It is written …’ For example, when starting to feel condemned we can quote Romans 8:1: ‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’. When tempted to feel badly about ourselves, we can use Psalm 139:14: ‘I am fearfully and wonderfully made’. When tempted to fear, our rhema word or ‘sword’ could be 2 Timothy 1:7: ‘God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind’.
When Paul exhorts the Christians in Ephesus to ‘take’ the sword of the Spirit, the Greek word has the meaning of to ‘accept’ or ‘receive’. Are we going to accept our swords, or will they be left unclaimed like unwanted gifts? Having received them, will we take them out of their scabbards and use them, or will they remain like ornamental, ceremonial swords, just for show and of no use in battle situations? Let’s start to exercise our sword arms and use our swords today!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, please forgive me for neglecting the weapon You have provided for me and for being passive against the enemy. Please teach me how to use Your word as a sword to resist the attacks, temptations and lies of the enemy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.