Simple Guidance For You in the Sword of the Spirit
“Take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).
Every soldier knows he or she would be lost without a weapon. A shield protects defensively, but a weapon provides the means for active combat. “Take…the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). As we continue to look at a Christian’s necessary spiritual armor, this command deserves some serious attention.
What is the sword of the Spirit?
If we must have a sword, then who is our enemy? Unbelievers? People of other religions? Those who disagree with us politically? While many professing Christians use their faith to attack others, this is an unbiblical attitude. A few verses earlier in Ephesians 6 (v. 11-12), Paul clarifies who our real enemy is.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
So, we should be fighting the devil and his spiritual armies. It sounds sort of vague, doesn’t it? How do we fight an enemy that we can’t see?
While there are many ways to answer this question, a battle that you may overlook is the one inside you. According to 1 Peter, the devil hunts us like a lion to devour us and turn us away from God. To fight him, we must stay alert and resist him (5:8-9).
Now that we understand who we are fighting, let’s zoom in on the weapon we carry. What is our sword of the spirit? Back in the Ephesians 6 passage, we learn that it is a metaphor for God’s Word, the Bible (v. 17). Yes, your greatest weapon against sin and Satan is the Bible!
Why is it called a sword?
Obviously, soldiers back in this time period didn’t have guns—they fought with swords. But is there a deeper meaning behind God’s choice of a sword to symbolize His Word?
Ephesians 6 isn’t the only passage that talks about the Bible in this way. Hebrews 4:12 says,
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
First, the Bible pierces the heart. Have you ever read a verse, and it felt like the Bible was talking right to you? You might have even felt a tightness in your chest and thought, “Wow, that is so powerful! It was just what I needed!” Maybe it was even a verse you needed but didn’t necessarily want to hear.
After Jesus ascended into heaven, one of His disciples, Peter, was preaching the truth to a crowd of people. As they listened, “they were cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37) and asked what they could do. Peter went on to tell them how to become Christians.
These are a couple of examples as to how the Bible acts like a sword that comes to a sharp point. It thrusts itself deep down into you so that your old, sinful nature will die and a new life can spring up in its place.
Not only does the Bible pierce the heart, but it also divides and discerns. It’s “able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). That’s a little scary, right? It feels vulnerable. Indeed, God sees everything and everyone (v. 13), and He uses His Word to expose what’s inside of each person.
The Bible also describes itself as a mirror. When you look at it, you see yourself as you really are. God isn’t a shallow, flattering “friend” who only tells you what you want to hear. He loves you so much that He wants you to know the truth about yourself—that you were created in His image, but sin has damaged you; that you are precious to Him; and that He has made a way for you to become whole again in Jesus.
If a person sees all this truth but still goes away unphased, it’s as if he looked in the mirror, saw that he looked terrible, and left without changing anything (James 1:23-25). Let the Word of God expose what’s really in your heart. It’s painful, but it’s the only way to find healing.
How is it of the Spirit?
The first way the Bible is of the Spirit is that God actually created this “sword.” His Spirit breathed out the words of Scripture as He guided the authors in what to say (1 Peter 1:21). This point becomes particularly significant when people begin to question the authority and truth of the Bible. If men wrote it, surely it would contain errors of judgment, bias, and misunderstanding.
However, we can be sure of the veracity of God’s Word because it is just that—God’s Word. This sword will never fail you; it never needs sharpened; and it always hits its target.
Secondly, the Holy Spirit helps people understand the Bible. Jesus, before He left His followers to go to Heaven, told them that He would send someone even better—a comforter and advocate that would guide them to understand all truth. This guide was the Holy Spirit (John 16:12-13).
What’s even more exciting is that you, if you are a believer, also have this Spirit inside of you! Many passages in the Bible teach this beautiful truth, but one example is in Romans 8:11. It says, “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
Now that’s quite the promise.
You have the same strength in you that raised Jesus from the dead! It is a divine strength. It is God infusing your soul with the ability to overcome whatever you might face—temptation, trouble, sorrow, pain, or regret. He will not make you go through something without giving you the strength to do it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
1. In a world full of change, you have something that never will—the Bible.
Kids grow up, health declines, and summer ends. “Nothing lasts forever,” we say to each other. If we’re honest, all the ups and downs wear on us after awhile. We would love for some stability. Why can’t things be like they were? Why does everything have to change?
When you’re feeling discouraged about the uncertainty of life, you can hang onto the Bible (literally if it makes you feel better!). God promises that His Word will never fade from existence (Matthew 24:35).
Through all of life’s moments, you can go back to the same promises over and over. They will always be there. Yet, you’ll always find something new, too! Proverbs says that if you search for truth in God’s Word like you’re digging for treasure, you’ll find something infinitely more valuable than silver and gold—you’ll know God (2:1-5).
You won’t know God second-hand anymore (listening to a sermon, asking your Christian friend questions). You’ll know Him intimately for yourself, and what you’ll find is something extraordinary: a God of love, compassion, kindness, truth, and help.
2. With the Bible and the Holy Spirit, even failure can become a victory.
Usually when we’re struggling with fear it’s because we don’t want to mess up. Failure is embarrassing and deflating no matter how small the situation is.
Remember how we talked about God’s Word being a mirror—that He doesn’t lie to you about who you really are? It might sound nice at first if He were to say, “Don’t think so negatively about yourself. You’re not a failure!” In reality, though, it would be unloving for Him to patronize you with lies.
Instead, He comes to you with open arms and says, “I know you’ve failed. I see how you’ve messed up—I see it all. Guess what? I love you anyway. I sent my Son Jesus to live a perfect life in your place and to die for your failures. I brought Him to life again to prove that I accept this sacrifice on your behalf. So, in Him, you are now healed and whole.”
Isn’t that so much more beautiful than fake flattery? When you give in to temptation or make a huge mistake, it’s an opportunity for the grace of God to shine. “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Romans 5:20).
You don’t have to live in fear or shame anymore. God has taken care of all that for you, and He whispers kind words of assurance to you in His Word.
3. Sometimes you need a little spiritual surgery, and that’s a good thing.
The Bible cuts deep. You may wonder, “Why would God try to injure me in this way? His Word cuts me like a sword. I ache and sometimes cry when I read some of the things He says to me. Doesn’t He care?”
Does a surgeon care when he’s cutting you open? After surgery when you’re in pain, would you call up your surgeon and say, “How could you cut me like that? It hurts! I ache and sometimes even cry from the pain. Don’t you care?”
We go through pain physically because we know it will actually help us grow healthier. The same is true spiritually. Sometimes we must go through spiritual surgery so that we can become more mature believers.
Have you ever gone through an extremely difficult experience during which you kept asking God, “Why?” Years down the road, did you look back on that time a little differently? You might have said, “I still don’t understand it, but I can say that my faith in God is stronger and that I’m a more humble, compassionate person for going through it.” Ah, spiritual surgery.
4. The Holy Spirit will use the Bible to guide you through life.
“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). It’s clear from reading the rest of the passage that the author of this psalm went through deep suffering. He writes that the words of God helped him through the darkness.
“It was good for me to be afflicted,” he says (what?!), “so that I might learn your decrees” (v. 71). Hard times drive us to God and His Word for answers. Have you noticed that people have no regard for God when life is good, but as soon as tragedy strikes, they blame God? “How could He do this?”
Sometimes, we need a drastic experience to give us a wake-up call, reminding us that our lives are about more than ourselves. As you study the Word of God, you gain the wisdom you need to live a life that points to Jesus. Thank God for this trusty, sharp, unfailing sword!