… and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
(Ephesians 6:17b NIV)
In our study of the full armor of God, we come to the final piece today – the sword.
The word translated “sword” here refers to what we would call a large knife or a small sword, with a blade length of 6 to 18 inches. This sword was normally kept in a sheath or scabbard that was connected to the belt or separately around the waist. This sword was used primarily in hand-to-hand combat. The word “sword” here does not refer to the broadsword, which was usually had a 30 to 40 inch blade length.
All of the armor Paul has described so far is used for our defense and protection. The sword is for both our defense and protection as well as an offensive weapon.
Note that the sword is the weapon of the Holy Spirit, used to fight spiritual battles on our behalf. And what is that sword the Holy Spirit uses? The Word of God, the Bible.
Remember Paul’s words to us in verses 10 through 12 of chapter 6… our battle is not a physical one, but a spiritual one.
Jesus experienced this first-hand when he was in the desert and satan came to tempt Him. How did Jesus respond to each temptation? He used God’s Word as both an offensive and a defensive weapon.
The sword, the Word of God, used in the Holy Spirit’s hands, is not a crude hack-and-slash weapon, but a precision instrument used in our lives to battle evil. Listen to the writer of Hebrews:
12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
(Hebrews 4:12-13 NIV)
This reflects not only the instrument, the sword itself, but also the skill of the one who uses it, the Holy Spirit. The writer of Hebrews says that works not only on the forces outside of ourselves, but also the forces inside us as well. The Holy Spirit uses God’s Word to go deep into our lives, dividing soul and spirit like joints (bones) and marrow, even down into the very thoughts and attitudes of our hearts.
The writer of Hebrews goes on to say that nothing is hidden from God’s sight – God, through His Holy Spirit, knows us better than we know ourselves. He looks past the “what” in our lives and asks the harder “why?” questions, to find the reason behind the “what”. We may be doing a good thing, even a God-honoring thing, but if the reason why we are doing what we’re doing is selfish, then it’s not honoring to the Lord. The Holy Spirit helps us see the “why”, and uses God’s Word to gently instruct us and guide us and do the surgery when needed.
May we put ourselves in the hands of the Great Physician, who loves us and cares for us, and teaches us through His Holy Spirit, using His Word, the Bible. The wounds of sin are often deep, whether the sin is our own or the effects of another’s sin on us. The pain is very real, and there will likely be scars from the battles.
As followers of Christ, this life is the worst we will ever experience; the next life, with Christ, is sin-free and pain-free. For those who are not followers of Christ, this life is the best it will ever be.
Let us not lose our eternal perspective and take an “exit ramp” off the Narrow Road of following Christ.