When you and I are fully dressed in the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, fitted in the shoes of peace, and we take up the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, my sister, we have all we need to experience true and lasting victory in spiritual warfare. Because we are fighting not FOR victory, but FROM the victory that is ours through the Lord Jesus Christ! Can you just say AMEN to that?
Today we are going to understand the final piece of armor Paul tells us to “take up” in Ephesians 6:17. This is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. This is unique because it is the only offensive weapon in our arsenal. Everything else is designed to enable us to firmly stand our ground and having done all, fully dressed, still be standing when the day of evil comes.
Roman soldiers had two very different types of swords given to them for battle. One was a long sword, about three feet in length and could create a wound. The other sword was much shorter, sharp on both sides with a needle-cutting point. This sword or dagger proved to be more fatal especially in face to face fighting. When Paul tells us to take up the sword, the Greek term he uses is macaira, which refers to the shorter sword.
Perhaps you can recall a specific time when you felt you were in a face to face combat with the enemy? When the battle is that close, we need to be able to reach for the sword and use it effectively. But we must remember this is not OUR sword. It is the sword of the Spirit. It is the Spirit who uses this sword in the heavenly places to deliver a deathblow to our enemy, protecting us in the physical realm. We cannot deliver the deathblow ourselves.
Remember in John 11 when Jesus was about to be arrested and Peter drew his sword and cut off the servant Malchus’ right ear? Jesus commanded him to put his sword away. Jesus reprimanded Peter because he was using the sword incorrectly. Peter was attempting his human approach in this battle. Often we lose our battles because we turn to earthly resources and earthly reasoning to do battle against our enemy who is in our face. When you and I choose to utilize a human method, as strong as it may seem, to go up against a spiritually derived battle, we nullify God’s power in the fight.
David’s words in I Samuel 17:45 compel me to shout out his same battle cry. “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. All those here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves, for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give all of you into our hands.”
Yet, like Peter, I sometimes find myself attempting to draw swords of my own – human words, actions, plans, and schemes. These remind me of the plastic sword my grandson loves to play with. They are ineffective in spiritual warfare.
Romans 12:19 speaks another alternative to human handling that we should adopt: “Do not take revenge, my friends but leave room for God’s wrath for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay.” Leaving room means letting go of our approach to spiritual battles and letting go of our need to respond in our human methods.
God’s approach is to take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. I was amazed when I learned there are three different Greek terms for the Word of God that are used. It is important that we understand the difference.
In II Timothy we read “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The word is defined in this passage as the graphe – the writings of God. The 66 books of the written Word of God need to be actively used to fulfill their purpose.
Another Greek term for the Word of God found in Scripture is the word Logos. It refers to the message of the words, the meaning of the word. In Hebrews 4:12 God reveals to us the nature and function of the Logos. “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.” See the difference in graphe and Logos? Logos is more than a message. It is alive and active, a working force to accomplish a specific goal in our life. Reaching deep into us separating the soul (our mind, will, and emotions) from the spiritual part that God has placed of Himself within us. God uses the Logos to cut through our personal thoughts, attitudes, and feelings so that we can discern the real truth in our spirit. God uses the Logos to judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The third term in the Bible for the word of God is the rhema. When Paul tells us to take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, he is not telling us to take up the graphe or the logos. He is using the Greek term rhema, which means the utterance, spoken word, or what has been declared. Sometimes we listen to a sermon, attend a Bible study, and even take great notes but still walk away without understanding of how to use what we heard in spiritual warfare. It just doesn’t seem to penetrate deeply enough to divide the soul and spirit. Rhema is hearing the specific utterance of God for your situation. Think on that for a moment my friend. Have you ever read a familiar passage in the graphe, then God clearly gave you the message and meaning of the Word, and then one word, line, principle, or truth jumped off the page and spoke directly to the situation you were facing? That is what is called a rhema! That is why it is so important to dig into the scriptures for yourself. Learn what the words mean in the Greek or Hebrew, memorize the words, apply them to your life, live out of the Word – the logos – providing the Spirit the opportunity to speak the rhema to you!
As a teacher and retreat speaker, when ladies tell me they enjoyed the message, my response to them is always: but did you get a word from the logos I taught? Of course, I don’t always say logos. What I am asking is: did you get a rhema from God through the Holy Spirit that penetrated and divided the soul and spirit to declare that truth in face to face battle.
Satan loves to twist or distort the rhema of God so beware of this. Isn’t that exactly what he did in the garden with Adam and Eve when he questioned Eve by asking “Did God really say…?” There is no power to defeat the enemy in our words, thoughts, feelings, or the suggestions from our family or friends. The enemy does not fear any of these sources. But when we declare “God says...” the enemy will flee.
The greatest example we have is found in Matthew 4. Please turn to this passage and read verses 1 – 11. Note the three times Jesus declared “It is written.” Speak these words aloud as you read this passage. Verse 11 tells us that when Jesus picked up the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and used it against the devil, it worked! If Jesus needed to use the rhema to deal with the enemy at his weakest point, how much more must we rely on the rhema of God!
MY WAR ZONE:
I love the Word of God. I agree with the psalmist in 119:92 who said “If your law, your word, had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. By them, you have preserved my life.” I wish I had space to share the times when my soul would be in despair and God would speak a word through the Logos, a rhema, that would deliver me. For instance, I am not fearful because He declared to me that “He is the defender of the widow.” It was a rhema!
When I asked God why he took my mate home after he was declared well, God spoke Isaiah 57:1 to me – “The righteous pass away; the godly often die before their time, And no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come.” NLT
Six months after he died, I found myself battling a lawsuit from a trusted friend of his who had stolen from his estate. God spoke these words to me: “God executes justice for the orphan and the widow.” Deuteronomy 10:18 A few days later, God spoke to me a word and in the same evening spoke the same word to my granddaughter in her devotional time. The rhema He spoke came out of Lamentations 3:58 – “I called on your name, Lord from deep within the pit. You heard me when I called and you told me ‘Do not fear’ – out of verse 58 – “I am your lawyer!”
These words and many others were written in the graphe, but I read them in the Logos, and when the Holy Spirit of God declared them to me as rhema, I took up the sword and I stabbed the enemy!
- How does it help to understand the progression from graphe to logos to rhema?
- What happens to your ability to take up the sword if the graphe remains on a shelf, in your car, or your nightstand?
- Can you recall times when you were in a face to face battle with the enemy?
- What earthly resources do you have a tendency to turn to instead of God’s Word?
- Would you share a rhema that God spoke to you through the utterance of His word?
Please share your response in the comments section below or join the conversation with our Facebook Community Group.