Taking the Offensive
The Sword of the Spirit
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Ephesians 6:17 (NIV)
17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
When I asked last week how many had swords many of you rose your hands. The only sword that I have is one I cut out for a Pirate birthday for Josh when he was 4 / 5 years old – at least I saw it the last time we moved. At that time I did some research on swords so I could cut out something close to a pirate sword. Here is what I learned:
A Pirates sword was curved in nature (bottom left) – but Pirates today use guns.
Some middle-east swords like those found in movies about the crusades or like the movie “The Wind and the Lion” were longer and mostly a double edged blade. They were shaped like a cross. (top right)
The Three Musketeers had long slender fencing swords that were pointed on the end (bottom right)
The Civil War Generals carried a sword that would be similar to the English sword that Robin Hood would have carried (top left)
The Roman Sword was shorter double edged sword; probably about 2 feet long (middle). They were for battling their enemy up close.
The sword was the Roman soldiers’ enforcer. The sword was always with him. It was designed to be used in close hand to hand combat for both defensive and offensive purposes.
It had be easily accessible and ready to be used. The soldier was proficient in using the sword.
The sword was the only weapon that was designed to be used in close quarters and they practiced for hours daily. They used either hand working on their dexterity so they could switch hands.
Their lives depended on their diligence in keeping their skills honed and ready for battle at any moment.
The similarity between the sword and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God is amazing.
We need to be proficient / knowledgeable in the Word of God and in the use of the Word.
We need to be quick and ready to use the Word
The strength of the Word depends on the amount of time we spend in the Word.
I think we are in trouble with this weapon because the western church especially does not take the Word of God seriously. We tend to argue with the Word because we don’t necessarily like what it says.
Theologians and philosopher debate the validity of the Scripture and question the social application of the Word. Examples:
Sin is a sin – it’s not primarily sociological or psychological phenomena.
Sexual immorality is a sin. But then we want to have a debate about what is meant by sexual immorality. It is simple, sexual immorality is anything that goes beyond or replaces God’s creation of marriage of one man and one woman. Anything outside the confines of marriage between a man and a woman is sexual immorality:
Don’t be so quick to point your finger because Jesus covers the rest of us when he talks about looking at a person of the opposite sex with lust is committing adultery.
Sin is a sin – is lying a sin – yes every type of lying is a sin.
Borrowing without any intention of returning is stealing. They will never miss it.
Let’s quit compromising on God’s Word.
The Word of God tells us to do things we don’t want to; it commands us to love people who are unlovely and it calls sin a sin.
For most Christian the sword remains in the sheath in its case because then it won’t cause any problems that way. And therefore many Christians only open the book when absolutely necessary. Listen to what David had to say about the Word:
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. 10They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. 11By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
Let us understand a few things from the psalm I just read:
- The Word is what revives or restores Life.
- It is right, perfect and pure!
- It clears up the confusion in life. A sin is called a sin not a psychological disorder.
- It will warn us of trouble and will provide us protection.
- If we keep it will provide us with a reward. If we don’t keep it won’t be rewarded.
- The sword is a unique piece of armor in that it can be used defensively and offensively. I would like us to look at the Word of God from a defensive side and an offensive side.
- First from the defensive side the soldier could block swings from his enemy’s sword with his own sword. It was used to defend one’s self.
The Word of God does the same thing. The best example comes from Christ when Satan tempted him after His 40 day fast.
- Satan tries to tempt Jesus physically (found in Matt 4:1-11). The first temptation was to meet a physical need that Jesus had – food. Satan was telling Jesus to take the initiative and take what he needed, why wait on God.
- Defensive Block One: Jesus quotes from Deut. 8:3 …man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
- Jesus knew that He was hungry and He had the power to turn the stone into bread but he also knew that the heavenly Father would provide the physical needs He needed; the Word was more important.
- Defensive Block Two: Satan’s second temptation was to make Jesus test the God the Father by having Him jump off the temple roof. But Jesus quoted from Deut. 6:16Do not test the Lord your God…
- Defensive Block Three: Satan tempted Christ to worship Him but again Jesus quoted from Deut. Fear the Lord your God, serve him only…(Deut 6:13)
- Here is what that is saying to me:
- The sword means more than just owning a Bible; it is about knowing the Bible. We need to know what the Bible has to say, especially what it says about maintaining a relationship with the Lord. It is a matter of knowing specific verses to counter Satan’s attack on us.
- It is not going to do any good to wave the Bible around in the face of Satan’s temptation. We need to know its contents. What does it say? If we don’t pull it out of sheath we will never know what it says. We have to know how to use the sword. It got to be a part of us. Not just reading it but applying it in our lives.
- How well do you know the Word? What does it say about certain issues or how do we understand what we should be doing in a certain situation.
- It is like the person that wants make foul shots in a basketball game or to hit a baseball or a softball well in a game or be an accomplished pianist – it means that we must spend time practicing.
- But we have to have the right technique though – just to practice is not enough – we have to do it the right way. You need to study the scripture in the right way. If you start studying with an argumentative spirit you aren’t going to reap the benefits of studying.
- Simple example – to play the violin you have to begin with the way you hold it – you just don’t grab it and play it. Least that didn’t work for me.
- You won’t hit well if don’t spend time in the batting cage or at the piano. So it is true of the Bible – we have to spend time in the Word.
- The sword also may be used offensively. I am glad that in the battle things aren’t all defensive because I truly want to do some whacking at Satan and his demons. But as I took a closer look at the scripture whacking at Satan is not primarily what it talking about here.
Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
- Hebrews 4:12 speaks to the offensive side of the sword. Part of the offensive side of the Word is directed at us and that is what Heb. 4:12 is talking about.
- It is living and active – the Word of God is alive and dynamic – moving through every part of our lives.
- It judges us – takes a look at our lives and call things as they are. The Word tells us of our sins and tells us when we are doing things the right way.
- It specifically deals with our thoughts and attitudes. I don’t know about you I do know about me – my thoughts and attitudes which need a lot of work.
- Then the offensive move of the sword comes from a defensive move of protecting ourselves from the evil one.
- It cuts both ways is what it means when we talk about double edged sword. It can cut us to the quick reminding us of the need to be forgiven and the need to love. It can affect us as well as it can affect the world and others around us.
- The Word is speaking the truth to others as well as to us.
- It is calling a sin a sin.
- It is calling us to love and forgive.
- It is also calling ourselves and others to accountability
- Being offensive means that we need to be telling the truth through the Word and that we share the Good News.
- We are to present the truth of gospel – we are tell others about God’s grace and redeeming love. When Paul is speaking here in Ephesians he is speaking to the church. Our primary purpose is to make disciples but we will encounter the enemy when we do take seriously that command.
- You want give a blow to Satan – do you want to whack him with your sword? Share your faith – lead someone to Christ – Evangelism.
- Call for righteous living in this world. Call immorality what it is a sin. Tell the truth in love.
The major objection is that many people say I don’t understand what I read and many us are uncomfortable with its demands.
Mark Twain noted, "Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand."
I would encourage you to study the Word for yourself and to engage in a Bible Study. The more that you read and study the Word of God the better we are in the spiritual battle that we each face.
Ross Snyder a well-known Christian educator, once described in-depth Bible Study as peeling the layers of an onion. The closer you get to the center, the more you are personally involved. In fact, you end up in tears.
Before we close – I would like to leave you with a challenge: How important is the Word of God to you? I know individuals in this town who would like to have their own Bibles – do you know someone that would like to have their own Bible as a church let us provide those folks with the Word of God and the opportunity to study the Word. We could 20 Bibles for $65 - $130.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.