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The Sword Of The Spirit


(Ephesians 6:17 NKJV) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

(Hebrews 4:12-13 NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. {13} And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

(Revelation 1:16 NKJV) He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.

What Is The Sword Of The Spirit?

"Out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword". The Jesus we see in the gospels certainly was "sharp" and His replies to the Pharisees "cut them to the quick". When Jesus speaks it is with incisive words. His tongue can be a surgeon's scalpel to heal or a magistrate's sword to deliver judgment. His sharpness in speech flows from an accuracy in perception. It is because He knows intimately what is in our hearts that He can speak to them with such precision. The word of God in the mouth of Jesus is a weapon that can demolish strongholds.

The Holy Spirit wields His sword, the word of God, to cut deeply through to the thoughts and intentions of the heart because He knows us at the deepest possible level and everything is open to Him. The Holy Spirit knows the depths of God and the depths of man and when we let Him govern our communication we gain a sharp tactical wisdom that this world cannot contradict (Luke 21:14,15) and it is then we can be said to be wielding the sword of the Spirit.

(Luke 21:14-15 NKJV) "Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; {15} "for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.

In Isaiah this spiritual endowment gives the Messiah acute wisdom and tactical ability.
(Isaiah 49:2 NKJV) And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword; In the shadow of His hand He has hidden Me, And made Me a polished shaft; In His quiver He has hidden Me."
True Christian thinking confounds the wisdom of this world. It operates on a higher and much more strategic level under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The disciples after Pentecost were able to confound the wisdom of the Jewish and Roman authorities so that they become enraged when faced with wisdom they could not resist. This was promised by Jesus (Luke 2:14,15 above) and fulfilled in the lives of Stephen and the apostles (and numerous Christians down the years)

(Acts 6:10 NKJV) And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.

In Revelation the sword is used against two groups of people 1) heretics 2) the rebellious nations. Its first use is against the proponents of the Nicolaitan heresy at Pergamos. (Revelation 2:12-17 NKJV) "And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, 'These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword:...{15} "Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. {16} 'Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.

Secondly the sword is used against the nations. In Revelation 19 the returning Jesus is coming with His angels to a rebellious and apostate world that is under the domination of the Beast. "(Revelation 19:14-16 NKJV) And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. {15} Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. "

The sword of the Spirit, the word of God is a spiritual weapon of immense power that, in Revelation, is something to be truly feared. There is a sense of "or else.." to it. It is more than just quoting a bible verse at someone. It is speaking God's words with authority and precise accuracy into a situation just like Jesus and the apostles did. It may involve quoting Scripture and that is precisely how Jesus used the sword of the Spirit to defeat Satan in the wilderness.

However it is not quoting Scripture or arguing Scripture in just a theological sense. Using the sword of the Spirit means authoritatively declaring a Scripture into a particular situation where it fits. When Jesus said to Satan "It is also written "You shall not test the Lord your God.", it wasn't a debate. It was a closure, a declaration, a slamming of the door. The sword of the Spirit is precise, authoritative and final.

How then can we wield the Sword of the Spirit?

The sword of the Spirit is an accurate authoritative statement that reflects what God thinks about a certain life situation. Therefore two things are necessary to wield the sword of the Spirit. The first is a clear perception of the situation and the second is knowing God's will so clearly that you can speak authoritatively into that situation.

A useful question is "What are the thoughts and intentions of this person's heart." This, at first sight may seem impossible to know but that is not always the case.
(Proverbs 20:5 NKJV) Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, But a man of understanding will draw it out.

Some people have fairly easily discerned thoughts such "with my tongue I will prosper and none can resist me" or "there is no God" or "life is meaningless so lets party before its over". Once you have discerned this inner motto of the person's heart you can address it with an appropriate word from God. Lets see how the prophet Malachi does this.

(Malachi 2:17 NKJV) You have wearied the LORD with your words; Yet you say, "In what way have we wearied Him?" In that you say, "Everyone who does evil Is good in the sight of the LORD, And He delights in them," Or, "Where is the God of justice?"

By exposing what people are thinking in their hearts and comparing that to God's holy standards a very powerful statement is made.

Lets look at Jesus doing this with the Pharisees.

(Luke 18:10-14 NKJV) "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. {11} "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men; extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. {12} 'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' {13} "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' {14} "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

By comparing the attitudes and thoughts of the heart of both people with the standards of God the Pharisees self-righteousness was clearly exposed. Jesus also uses sarcasm in that He says the Pharisee "prayed thus with himself.." indicating that the prayers had an audience of one - the Pharisee. Here we see just how sharp the sword of the Spirit can be.

A deep knowledge of Scripture is absolutely necessary to wielding the sword of the Spirit. You have to know God's will in the situation before you can speak into it accurately and the best place to find God's will is in the Scriptures. Once we have a knowledge of the situation and know what the Scriptures say about it we need to ask God for the words and images with which to clothe that idea. The Jews delighted in fitting and accurate proverbs and skillfully woven images. The prophets, under God's inspiration produced some of the loftiest thinking and cutting imagery written anywhere at any time. Such powerful imagery is vivid and compelling but also very logical. It sums up a situation exposing its evil and/or its folly and makes change a logical necessity. Here Isaiah addresses the then prevalent practice of idol worship.

(Isaiah 44:12-20 NKJV) The blacksmith with the tongs works one in the coals, Fashions it with hammers, And works it with the strength of his arms. Even so, he is hungry, and his strength fails; He drinks no water and is faint. {13} The craftsman stretches out his rule, He marks one out with chalk; He fashions it with a plane, He marks it out with the compass, And makes it like the figure of a man, According to the beauty of a man, that it may remain in the house. {14} He cuts down cedars for himself, And takes the cypress and the oak; He secures it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it. {15} Then it shall be for a man to burn, For he will take some of it and warm himself; Yes, he kindles it and bakes bread; Indeed he makes a god and worships it; He makes it a carved image, and falls down to it. {16} He burns half of it in the fire; With this half he eats meat; He roasts a roast, and is satisfied. He even warms himself and says, "Ah! I am warm, I have seen the fire." {17} And the rest of it he makes into a god, His carved image. He falls down before it and worships it, Prays to it and says, "Deliver me, for you are my god!" {18} They do not know nor understand; For He has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, And their hearts, so that they cannot understand. {19} And no one considers in his heart, Nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say, "I have burned half of it in the fire, Yes, I have also baked bread on its coals; I have roasted meat and eaten it; And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?" {20} He feeds on ashes; A deceived heart has turned him aside; And he cannot deliver his soul, Nor say, "Is there not a lie in my right hand?"

This imagery makes Isaiah's argument so clear and convincing and compelling that we are amazed that people still continue to worship them!

This brings us to our final point. The sword of the Spirit is not always successful. It is not a magic weapon. People can continue in hard-hearted stubbornness. Jesus did not convert all of Israel - in fact they crucified Him. Paul did not convince all his opponents and the prophets were nearly all killed - it is said that Isaiah was sawn in two in a hollow log. Using the sword of the Spirit will get you opposed. It will stir people up and their "swords" - sometimes physical ones will be used against you. Here is the first reference to the word "sword" in the New Testament.

(Matthew 10:34-39 NKJV) "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. {35} "For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; {36} "and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' {37} "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. {38} "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. {39} "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we should tremble before You. Fear and reverence and awe and worship and glory and honor are due to You. May our mouths be like Your mouth speaking a wisdom this world cannot contradict, sharp, Spirit-filled Truth flowing from the eternal perspective of Heaven. Lord may we break down hard hearts and open people up to the gospel with precise words that penetrate the heart. Give us the sword of the Spirit Lord and teach us how to use it with skill so that the Kingdom grows. Amen.


This article may be freely reproduced for non-profit ministry purposes but may not be sold in any way. For permission to use articles in your ministry, e-mail the editor, John Edmiston at johned@aibi.ph.