Our Spiritual Sword—God's Word
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:17).
Salvation, as the Bible describes it, includes our deliverance from Satan's captivity. God has "delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son" (Col. 1:13). Knowing this is like having a helmet that guards our minds from believing Satan's lie that we are still under his dominion. Satan is no longer our master—Jesus is.
Additionally, we are to take "the sword of the Spirit" which, as Paul explains, is figurative for the Word of God. As I already mentioned, Jesus was the perfect example of a spiritual warrior who skillfully wielded His spiritual sword. During His temptation in the wilderness He responded to Satan each time by quoting directly from God's Word. So too, if we are to defeat the devil in spiritual combat, we must know and believe what God has said, lest we fall for his lies.
Also notice that Jesus used "the sword of the Spirit" defensively. Some like to point out, to those of us who maintain that the armor of which Paul wrote is primarily defensive, that a sword is definitely an offensive weapon. Thus, with a very weak argument, they try to justify their theory that this passage in Ephesians 6:10-12 is applicable to our supposed responsibility to offensively "pull down strongholds" of evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Obviously, from reading Paul's own reason why Christians should put on God's armor (that they may "stand firm against the schemes of the devil"), we know that he is speaking primarily of a defensive use of the armor. Additionally, although a sword can be thought of as an offensive weapon, it can also be thought of as defensive, as it blocks and protects from the thrusts of the opponent's sword.
Moreover, we must be careful that we don't strain the entire metaphor, as we attempt to wrench from the various pieces of armor significance that really doesn't exist. When we begin to argue about the defensive and offensive nature of a sword, we are very likely "pushing the parable too far" as we carve into pieces a simple metaphor that was never meant to be so dissected.
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Firm Footing in Gospel Shoes
This article is an excerpt from the book, The Disciple-Making Minister. The actual book itself may be ordered by visiting our online store. To view our copyright policy, click here. © 2013 by David Servant