While all the pieces of spiritual armor require action and discipline on our part, the sword of the Spirit is the only truly, offensive weapon. The sword is the word of God, an extremely powerful weapon, that is a “must-have” for our arsenal. The method of acquisition and fruitfulness of use, is linked to the measure in which I have hidden God’s word in my heart. Ps. 119:11 Another translation reads, “Your word I have treasured and stored in my heart.” (emphasis mine)
“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.” Heb. 4:12 The word of God is not only for use against the enemy, but it is also designed for self-application, its presence being a deterrent to sin. I would venture to say that my success in receiving the penetration of this sword into my own heart, correlates with my level of success in using it against the enemy.
Storage / Retrieval
I discovered a principle years ago, which I call “Storage/Retrieval” or “Storage/Activation.” What I’ve stored up in my heart is ready for use when needed. It is having the sword in my sheath, close at hand. A clear example is found in Matthew, chapter four – the temptation of Christ in the wilderness.
The first temptation was for Jesus to meet a felt need by using his power. “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (v.3) The second temptation was for Jesus to put God to a test. “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” (v.6) And thirdly, the devil offered Jesus a fast track to kingship. “The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you, if you will bow down and worship me.’” (vv. 8-9)
Jesus wielded the sword of the Spirit and rebuked the devil. Three times Jesus said, “It is written”, followed by a specific truth from God’s word, applicable to the particular temptation. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Deut. 8:3) “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” Deut. 6:16 “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” Deut. 6:13 Jesus had the word stored in his heart, ready for retrieval when needed.
Logos / Rhema
There are two Greek words that are translated “word” in our English bibles. In Hebrews 4:12, it is the logos of God. In Ephesians 6:17 it is the rhema of God. All scripture is “logos”, the inspired word of God, while “rhema” is a specific scripture, a specific word of God, illuminated by Holy Spirit for a specific situation. The “sword of the Spirit” is the “rhema” word of God. This is the intent of Christ: “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words (rhema) I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” Jn. 6:63 In this context, Jesus had recently fed the five thousand and was now teaching on their need to receive him as the bread of life.
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever… On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’ From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him…’You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words (rhema) of eternal life.’” Jn. 6:56 – 68
This was a pretty radical teaching to those hearing it for the first time; so much so, that some decided to no longer follow Christ. New revelation takes time to ingest. The key is to continually hide the word of God in my heart, whether or not I have full understanding at the outset. God’s truth becoming real to my heart is the greatest asset I possess in my marriage. Husbands and wives who commit to this process will emerge victorious together in the day of battle.
Reflection / Prayer
What has been your experience in wielding the sword of the Spirit in times of spiritual battle? Can you relate to the storage/retrieval concept; the need to hide God’s word in your heart, so that it’s ready and on hand for use? What about in your marriage? Have you and your spouse discussed battle strategies together?
There has been much written on spiritual battle. In my opinion, one of the most balanced and comprehensive books is Victory Over the Darkness by Neil Anderson.