The Sword of the Spirit

“Take … the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” —Ephesians 6:17

THE CHURCH CLASS God is selecting as a people for his name, has three foes: Satan, the world, and their own flesh. There is daily combat with these foes, and therefore the Apostle Paul uses a soldier’s armor as an illustration of our preparation to resist these enemies.

The various parts of the Christian’s armor, as outlined by the apostle in Ephesians 6:10-17, represent the truth and its application from one standpoint or another. Most items of this armor are for defensive warfare, to protect us against the attacks of our enemies, but the sword of the Spirit is for offensive warfare. It is this type of sword that we use in our attack against error. In the case of Gideon, the sword was wielded by trumpeting and by letting the light shine from the torches. Gideon’s company of three hundred men did not have real swords to fight the Midianites, although they used the symbolic sword most effectively as the “sword of the Lord, and of Gideon,” which words they shouted as they broke the earthen vessels—pitchers hiding their lights. (Judg. 7:20) The defensive armor becomes complete with the sword being added, because it has been well said, ‘the best defense is a good offense’. The sword of the Spirit provides us with the most effective offense against our enemies, and the best defense as well.


The possession of the sword of the Spirit and its use does not obviate putting on the “whole armour of God.” (Eph 6:13) This is because we may not be as skillful as we should be in using the sword. The Apostle Paul enjoins us not to neglect other parts of the armor when he says, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. For we wrestle not [merely] against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Eph. 6:11-13) This could be frightening if we did not know that God and Jesus are for us!

As we approach the end of this present evil world, this preparation becomes more important, as the Apostle Paul says: “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” (Rom. 13:12) This ‘armour of light’ is the same as described in Ephesians 6 and I Thessalonians 5. In the message to the Thessalonians Paul reminds the brethren there (and us too) that they are “children of light, and children of the day.” (vs. 5) He mentions two parts of the armor, saying, “Let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” (vs. 8) This armor had to include the sword of the Spirit, because later he said, “Edify one another” (vs. 11), “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (vs. 21) These are the tasks accomplished with the sword of the Spirit.


Paul speaks of the Word of God, the truth, as being “quick” and “powerful,” and sharper than any “twoedged” sword, “piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12) We are given a similar thought in II Corinthians 10:4,5, where we read, “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

Thus we are reminded that one of our enemies is the fallen flesh, and that we are expected to turn the sword of the Spirit inward in order to subdue and to bring into captivity those earthly propensities which war against us as New Creatures in Christ Jesus. And for this purpose the sword is very suitable when properly used. Self seeks to be recognized and to have its way in almost every experience of life. Its reasonings are most subtle, and only by applying strictly the principles of the truth to every situation will we be able to keep self where it belongs. It is with self that the Christian’s warfare begins. “He that ruleth his spirit,” said the prophet, is better “than he that taketh a city.”—Prov. 16:32


The Christian warfare does not end with self. The flesh may try to make us believe that it does, for thereby the self-sacrifice that is essential in order to let our light shine would be avoided. This false theory, however, is one of the ‘high things that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God’, one of the “reasonings” (Marginal Translation), having the purpose of circumventing the will of God, and convincing us that we should not lay down our lives in the service of the Lord, the truth, and the brethren.

Our flesh is not the only enemy we have. Another is the world, whose standards and reasonings are influenced by our archenemy, Satan, the god of this world. (II Cor. 4:4) The Apostle James writes, “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (James 4:4) One of the world’s chief weapons is pride, and James says, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6) The sword of the Spirit must be used to trim away the reasonings of the world, and to cut away its influence.

James also mentions the Devil as our foe, and admonishes us to “resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) Likewise, the Apostle Peter warns that “Your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”—I Pet. 5:8,9


Our Lord Jesus used the sword of the Spirit very effectively when he was tempted by the Devil in the wilderness, where he had gone after being immersed by John the Baptist. He answered all of Satan’s propositions with, “It is written.” (Matt. 4:4,7,10) So must we also use this sword that God has given us.

Paul refers to this battle with our enemies as a “good fight of faith.” (I Tim. 6:12; II Tim. 4:7) We cannot now see these formidable enemies falling down before us, and seemingly evil continues to triumph. By faith in the Divine plan we know that when we enlisted in the army of God and of righteousness we took our stand with the winning side, and that ultimately truth and righteousness will triumph everywhere! As individuals we will not know the tremendous power that is being exerted against the bulwarks of Satan by our faithfulness until we gain our own victory and have been given an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.—II Pet. 1:11

Psalm 149:5-9 speaks of the saints in glory making effective use of the sword of the Spirit, here spoken of as a “twoedged” sword (Ps. 149:6), and interpreted to be the “high praises of God.” No matter from what standpoint we view the truth of the Divine plan, it certainly reflects the praises of our God. Peter speaks of this as showing forth “the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”—I Pet. 2:9

This 149th Psalm tells of Israel rejoicing in Jehovah, and the saints rejoicing in their king. The joy that is expressed in music, singing, and dancing, is a picture of the millennial kingdom. This is the time that the saints in glory have a two-edged sword to do a work of destruction, to judge, punish, and bind the enemies of Christ. As they used the sword of the Spirit well during their earthly trial and journey, so now they are given the means to accomplish in reality the binding and destruction of the forces of darkness.

A grand finale is given to us in Revelation 19:11-21, which depicts our glorified Lord Jesus going forth to destroy his enemies, and it says that “out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron.” (Rev. 19:15) Prior to these verses, the Revelator tells us that “the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” (vs. 7) These now join our Lord as he goes forth to conquer his enemies, sharing his use of the destructive sword. As Psalm 149:9 says, “This honour have all his saints.”

How blessed is the peace of mind and heart which is ours to enjoy in the knowledge of the Lord’s certain victory! The battle is his, not ours. He has outlined every strategic move we are to make. He has provided us with an armor of protection against our foes, and has put his two-edged sword of truth into our hands. If we use this faithfully, following the example of the Captain of our Salvation, our share in the victory of the Lord will be certain. But in order to participate in this victory, we must press on in the battle until we have been faithful even “unto death.”—Rev. 2:10

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |