Summary: As the word of God changes us, we can in turn use it to change the world around us.
The Power of HISword
Ephesians 6:13-17 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Intro: Several Bible scholars and teachers have pointed out that all of the armor listed up to this point in Ephesians 6 has been defensive in nature. However, when you get to the sword of the Spirit, you find a weapon that is both defensive and offensive. A sword is used not only to defend but to attack.
-Roman soldiers sometimes used a long sword (4-ft. long) called a gladius, but it was so awkward and heavy that it was not effective in close combat. So they also had a short sword called a makaira that was 20-24 inches long. This is the one Paul refers to in v.17. It was much easier to handle and when one was trained properly with it, it was deadly to an enemy in close combat.
-So, what did that mean to the Christ followers to whom Paul was writing? Take the short, deadly, double-edged sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Were they supposed to go on the warpath and storm the gates of hell? Was Paul telling them to go looking for some demons to fight? Were they supposed to engage in a physical fight, as Constantine and the later crusaders did?
-We will attempt to bring some clarity to all this as we look at some thoughts about the sword of the Spirit.
-In a few words, here is the main truth of the message today:
Prop: As the word of God changes us, we can in turn use it to change the world around us.
TS: Let’s break down a few thoughts about swords and words.
I. What is the Sword of the Spirit?
-English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton said that the pen is mightier than the sword. Well, the Apostle Paul’s writings attest to that, but he actually combined the image of a sword with the power of words to show how great God’s words are. Paul wrote in v.17 that the sword of the Spirit is the word of God. Immediately, most of us think of our Bibles. In fact, we refer to our Bibles as swords. Have you ever had a sword drill? It’s an old Sunday School favorite game where you see who can turn to a particular verse in the Bible the fastest.
-Well, I must tell you that the sword of the Spirit isn’t your Bible. Your Bible can’t do anything for you. Your Bible is only the scabbard. The sword is what is inside. Phillip Brooks wrote: “The Bible is like a telescope. If a man looks through his telescope he sees worlds beyond; but if he looks at his telescope, he does not see anything but that. The Bible is a thing to be looked through to see that which is beyond; but most people only look at it and so they see only the dead letter.”
-But the sword of the Spirit gets even more specific than that. Paul uses the Greek term rhema translated as word. Rhema is the spoken word, a specific revelation of God. Paul is not writing here about the Bible in general, but about specific statements and principles that are contained in the Scriptures. When we consider that the sword was used in close hand-to-hand combat, and that it refers to a specific spoken revelation of God, we get a better sense of where Paul is going with this. The sword of the Spirit involves applying specific Biblical principles to specific circumstances in my life. Using the right word from God at the right time as the Holy Spirit inspires us to do so is what it means to take up the sword of the Spirit.
-We don’t use the Bible like a broadsword, swinging at anything and everything. Instead, we are to use it with surgical-like precision, finding specific portions of Scripture that apply to the skirmish we are in.
-This is what Jesus did when He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Let’s look at it in Matthew 4 as we dig deeper into how we use our sword.
II. How do we use the Sword of the Spirit?