The Sword of the Spirit
Swords are weapons of warfare; the apostle Paul had this in mind when writing about the need for the Christian to be armed against the forces of Satan. In this evil day believers should be able to stand fast, having on the whole armor of God; we wrestle against spiritual forces which are intent on our downfall. So we need the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of the Lord. This must be used under the supervision of the Holy Spirit Himself. From verse 18 we learn it is by prayer in the Spirit we are spiritually strengthened and guided into action stations and enabled in our contests with our enemy the devil.
In Hebrews 4:12 there is a very clear picture of the formidable power available through our armory; the potential of the qualities of the sword are awe-inspiring; it is two-edged, sharp and capable of dividing asunder soul and spirit and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Indeed, it has the infinite power of the Spirit of the Living God, from Whose all-seeing eyes nothing is hid. The Christian is well advised to become adept in the use of this sword, both in defense and attack. Paul declared he was set for the
of the gospel (Phil. 1:7,17). Let us consider the fine example of the Sword being used for defense that we have recorded in Luke 4:1-13. In the temptations of the Lord Jesus Christ mentioned in this passage, the sword of the Spirit is used by Him to good effect. Although He was hungry, Jesus warded off with the correct and effective use of Gods Word the false use of Scripture on the part of Satan. So, Christ won the day with a convincing victory. He shewed the power of the Word of God, honored His Father and returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, being ready for His ministry to Israel. James instructs believers to resist the devil (4:7), following their Lords example. At the same time, Gods children have cause to use the Sword of the Spirit as an
Offensive weapon, even as the Son of God did. The proclamation of His gospel is a direct attack on Satans kingdom. In this world the devil holds on to the masses of the unsaved; but the truth of the Word loosens and cuts the fetters of souls bound in the chains of sin and vice in order to set them free and as His children to serve Him.
An instance demonstrating the positive use of the Sword of the Spirit, both in defense and attack, is recorded in Acts 5:29-33. Peter states concerning the Redeemer, Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. Gospel preaching brings forth either repentance or a violent antagonism to Jehovahs claims; and in this case men chose to take counsel to slay the apostles. There are many instances of the offensive use of the Sword in the Bibles and one outstanding New Testament passage is the account of the martyrdom of Stephen. In this most tragic story of Scripture we read of him being arraigned before the high priest and the elders of Israel, falsely charged with blasphemy. Stephen, through
Use of Old Testament Scriptures
establishes the God-given identity of Abrahams Calling (Acts 7:2,3) and his separation to the glory of God (v.4). The history of Israel is recounted, her unbelief, idolatry and apostasy is referred to, which led to captivity and judgment in Babylon. Stephen. having been accused of blasphemy against Moses, tells of the Old Testament writings which deal with the Divine Calling of the son of Pharaohs daughter, Israels privilege of having the lively oracles of God, and of how that sacred trust was squandered and Gods people turned their backs upon the glorious promises set forth in Deuteronomy chapter 7. The Lord Jesus Christ had had occasion to rebuke the scribes and Pharisees. those who had said, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets (see Matthew 23:27-30). Now, Stephen, having reason to manifest the same attitude as his Master before him becoming truly offensive in the tenor of his discourse, cries ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye . . . they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One: of whom ye have now been the betrayers and murderers (Acts 7:51,52).
The council is moved into active rebellion which eventually spelled disaster for the Jews, as it led to their dispersion among the nations after Jerusalem was sacked in A.D. 70. The elders and scribes could not stand the testimony of Stephen as he cried. looking up steadfastly into heaven, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice . . stopped their ears and with one accord ran upon Stephen, stoning him as he called upon God, saying, Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit, pleading like his Leader had done, that the sin of his enemies be not laid to their charge (vv. 54-60). Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their garments at the very feet of one who before long was, in Jehovahs will and purpose, to become the prince of the apostles. Did Paul, in the ensuing years of his ministry, vividly recall that incident?
And now, in conclusion, may we consider another great occasion foretold toward
The Close of the New Testament Scriptures
concerning the Faithful and True One coming with power and great glory (see Revelation 19:11). John had seen Him before and tells us in Revelation 1:16, out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword. In His sovereignty and supreme power He will come again and wield that sword with the purpose of judging His enemies, and He will rule with a rod of iron. Gods form of government is not weak democracy but complete theocracy. Christ will govern righteously as KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. When the Antichrist disputes the right of the Lord Jesus to enthronement God will laugh and have him in derision, settling the resistance once and for all, and set His King upon His holy hill of Zion (see Psalm 2:2-6). Prophecy must be fulfilled, nothing can thwart the Lords eternal purposes and every one that is left of all which come against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts (Zechariah 14:16), and at last there will be peace in Jerusalem. For this, the Christian is Divinely commanded to pray (Psalm 122:6). Praise God for evermore. Amen and Amen.