Recently I have been studying Ephesians 6:10-18. In this text the Apostle Paul uses the metaphor of a Roman soldier’s armor to communicate to us how to prepare for the spiritual battles we will face. Studying this passage anew I took some time to focus on the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (v.17) I’ve heard it said many times that the Sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon found among the pieces of God’s armor. But as I considered this single piece of offensive armor I was reminded that the greatest responsibility we bear when carrying a weapon is to know when and how to use it.
A soldier’s sword is not only an offensive weapon, but it is also a sign of authority bestowed upon him by the king or ruler he serves. It is also an instrument of defense allowing him to block the enemy’s own weapons consisting of cutting words of accusation, manipulation, and lies which distort scripture, exploit wounds, and validate fears.
Anytime someone chooses to carry a weapon it is important that they first receive the proper training. Otherwise, they are a danger to themselves and others. Not only that, but they can damage the image of the King they serve. This is true in both the physical and spiritual realm.
Its tempting for some to use Word of God as a means by which to advance their own agenda, to support their own personal convictions or biases, or to control those they feel are missing the mark. These false motives, though easily hidden or justified, can have devastating consequences to those who face the business end of the sword.
So how does one use the sword of the spirit effectively? By following Jesus’ example of love. A love that is convicting not condemning, inviting not off-putting, full of compassionate not pride, a love that never fails.
We live in a world that is so easily distracted by the tangible nature of the fleeting that we lose sight of the eternal unseen soul that indwells each human being. This is a failing I have experienced many times. However, as I meditate upon these verses I am reminded that Paul did not just define for us our armor in verses thirteen through seventeen, but he also gave us a clear understanding of who we were fighting and how we were to fight in the verses which bookend the armor text.
Verse twelve: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” And verse eighteen “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
As I continue to study this text I am reminded of the importance of voraciously fighting the enemy as we seek to free those he holds as prisoners of war. Are YOU ready for battle this new year?