Peninsula Community Church
Ephesians – The Sword of the Spirit
June 21, 2015
Ephesians 6:17 … and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…
Today is Father’s Day! What a great day to celebrate fathers and all they do. As a father, myself, I recognize the responsibility that comes with this special calling. It brings me joy, it humbles me, and it scares me all at the same time. It is for this reason that I believe our topic for today is so important. For that reason I do not believe it is an accident that we are at this juncture of our study of the Book of Ephesians. We have here a passage that if is properly applied will enhance our effectiveness in the battles we face.
In the last part of Ephesians 6:17, Paul focuses on the sword of the spirit which is the word of God. Before we get into the meat of the message let us do what we have done with the other parts of the armor. Let us look at how this piece of armor was used in Paul’s day. First of all, the sword was a key component to the soldier’s armor. It was a two-edged or two-sided sword which was sharpened on both edges for maximum results. This was critical because when the soldier was in the midst of a battle, he did not have to worry about hitting the target as he could move the sword in almost any direction.
While he could swing the sword in any direction and hit the target it was also important for him to understand that to be effective the soldier had to be trained on how to use the sword. While damage could be done while swinging the sword aimlessly, the soldier could also potentially wound his own comrades in the process. In modern warfare we call this friendly fire. For that reason, the army and especially the individual soldier would spend hours in developing their technique and training on how to use the sword effectively. They did not wait until they needed the sword to learn how to use it. The training was critical because the sword was the first offensive piece of armor defined by Paul. The other parts of the armor as great as they were served only to protect against an onslaught of the enemy .
In this passage, we find that our sword is the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Whether we believe it or not, the greatest offensive weapon we have in our daily battles against the evil one is the word of God. To understand this, we need to understand two words used in the Greek New Testament for the word “word.” The first word is “logos” which represents the entire inspired, God breathed words given to us by the Holy Spirit. That is what we would call the Bible. It is what is referred to in John 2 where John proclaimed that Jesus was the living word of God.
The second word is the word “rhema” which is the word that is used here in this text. The word “rhema” represents the spoken word. It is a word in season (2 Timothy 4:2). Let me explain it this way. Have you ever been walking through a difficult time in your life and someone gave you a Scripture that in that specific moment positively impacted you, encouraged you, and set you free. That is “RHEMA” is a spoken word that comes to us in the moment we need it most. It is one of those words that fulfills what Paul said to Timothy. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16). The Logos, the entire word of God, has been given to us to disciple us and help us grow. But there are times where we will use a specific passage to speak a word of life and to challenge another person in their personal growth. You see the logos word, the entire gospel, can become the “rhema” word that is spoken in season and at the right time.
With that in mind let me make this most important statement. We must know the Logos of God so that we can speak the Rhema of God. That is, we must know the Bible, the word of God and only then can we speak the word of God effectively. To be able to do this, we must learn the word and know the word of God. This is critical because the Bible is active and powerful as confirmed in Hebrews 4:11-13). For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. The word used correctly can and will bring healing.
The warning here is that we must know more than a few verses that we pull out and use over and over again. This means that we must learn more than one or two passages that we use for every circumstance. I have had the chance to talk to several in recent days who are not believers and they have all stated similar things. They all stated that they have been turned off by those who use the Bible to seemingly force them to be something they are not. Even for some who were nominal believers, most of them stated that they did not know the word and it was confusing for them to be confronted with passages that they did not understand or know. When this occurs it is not the RHEMA word.
Another issue we have is that too often we use the sword of the spirit against our comrades in arms and not the enemy we are fighting. Too often, we use the sword of the spirit against others in order to manipulate and control the behaviors of those we associate with rather than to build them up. For example, as we heard a couple of nights ago in the marriage class, husbands too often use the “wive submit to your husband” passage as a means to control their spouses actions and so when they do something they don’t like they throw the dart of submission at them. The same is true of wives who throw the “love your wive as Christ so loved the church” Scripture to control and manipulate their husbands.
That was never the intent of Scripture. Scripture is and has always been in place to point to Christ the redeemer and savior of the world. This does not mean that scripture is not to be used as a means to bring reproof and correction, but there is a difference between reproof and correction, and manipulation and control. That is not grace and it certainly is not the mercy which Christ and the gospel is all about.
While we can misuse the Scriptures, too many times we underutilize Scripture, or at least we are not versed in how to us the Scripture efficiently and effectively. The result of such action is that our effectiveness is diminished, we lose victories that could be won otherwise, and we can do more damage than good. Therefore, to use the sword effectively, we must practice using the word correctly. And like the warrior’s sword we must use develop our skill of using scripture appropriately.
But how do we learn how to use the sword? To do so we must consider three things. First we must consider memorization. Read and memorize the scripture. Repetition is the best way to learn things and by memorizing Scripture you can begin to learn it. You may find that hard to do but it is always interesting that we can memorize other things. I am amazed at those who play golf regularly and who can remember the course they have played 5 or 10 years before. They can remember the holes they played, the position of the pin, the distance to the pin, and what club they used. And so on and so on. For others, they can tell you the stats of every player on their favorite team. You see by memorizing Scripture we get God’s word into our minds. If you can’s remember then write the word down on a piece of paper and read it as often as you can. The desire is to get it into your mind.
Secondly, we must meditate on scripture. This is what David meant when he stated that he has stored up His word in his heart (Psalm 119:16). We must consider what the word is saying to us. Is there a promise? Is there a sin to avoid? Is there a command I need to obey? This is another good reason for writing the passage down so we hear and begin to process it.
Thirdly, we must make application of the word we memorize and mediate on. James 1:22 reminds us that we are to be doers of the word. His warning is that we would not just hear the word but we must apply the word and thereby activate the power of the word in our lives. Then, with God’s Word in our heads through memorization, in our hearts through meditation, and in our hands through application, we have the power to affect change by speaking it, sharing it, and living it. We will therefore always be ready with His words on our tongue.
We mentioned this briefly last week. Christ clearly shows us how to do this. Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:1-4). Jesus knew the word and when confronted he used the RHEMA word to counteract the enemies stance in that moment of time.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
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