REFLECTIONS #138: WHAT ARE YOU WEARING? Pt. 7, THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
“Take… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” Ephesians 6:17.
The sword of the Spirit completes the list of God’s armor in Ephesians 6. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.
THE ROMAN MILITARY SWORD
The Roman military sword for the foot soldier used in the Apostle Paul’s time was called a short sword because it was only about 25 inches long, more of a long dagger, designed for up-close combat. The sword had two edges for cutting and slashing and a tapered, triangular point for stabbing and thrusting. It was a very effective weapon, both defensively and offensively. The Roman soldiers first learned how to use their swords to defend themselves before learning how to use them to attack the enemy. The old adage, “the best offense is a good defense” comes to mind.
THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
In the same way, Christians must first familiarize themselves with their sword—the Word of God—and then learn how to defend themselves from the attacks of the enemy by using the Word of God. As we become confident in using the Word to defend themselves, we then start to learn how to use the sword, the Word of God, as an offensive weapon. Jesus gave us the prime example of that when He used the Word of God to counter the attacks of satan in the wilderness.
In the first onslaught, satan attacks with, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” and Jesus parries with, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God'” Matthew 4:3-4 NIV.
Still on the offensive, satan attacks again: “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone’” Matthew 4:6 NIV.
Once again, Jesus blocks satan’s attack by quoting the Word of God: “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test” Matthew 4:7 NIV.
Satan tries again: “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me’” Matthew 4:8-9 NIV.
Once again, Jesus quickly responds, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only’” Matthew 4:10 NIV.
Note that the Word Jesus quotes in every instance is both a defensive counter to the lie of the enemy and also an offensive attack: Jesus is putting satan on his heels with the Truth. Satan has no answer to the truth to someone who knows the truth! And to demonstrate Jesus’ total mastery over satan, after the third temptation He authoritatively dismisses satan from His presence.
We can learn so much from this exchange during the wilderness temptations. It is obvious that satan knows the written Word of God. He can quote it, and does, twisting and misusing it for his own purposes. And though he knows what is written, he doesn’t always understand its meaning. If he had understood the Messianic prophecies, for example, he would never have crucified Jesus.
The way Jesus responded to satan’s attacks using the Word is also very instructive to us. He didn’t engage in debating the devil about whether or not He was the Son of God; Jesus knew He was the Son of God, and He knew satan was just baiting Him. He didn’t give satan even the slightest satisfaction of a debate about who He was. Neither did He try to explain or debate the scriptures satan used against Him. He simply responded with the sword of the Spirit—the Word of God. It’s fascinating to see the Word of God Himself using the written Word of God to cut the enemy to ribbons!
LOGOS AND RHEMA
Jesus gave us a masterful demonstration of how to use the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, to deal victoriously with the attacks of the enemy.
The Greek word used in Ephesians 6:17 for “word” is the Greek word “rhema” (Strong’s #4487). It means “1. That which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word; 2. Subject matter of speech, thing, spoken of”
There is another Greek word for “word,” and that is “logos” (Strong’s #3056). It means, among other things, “of speech, what someone has said, what is declared, doctrine, teaching, the sayings of God, Old Testament Prophecy given by the prophets, what is declared.”
In John 1, John referred to Jesus Himself as the Word (Logos).
There seems to be great similarity between the two words, rhema and logos. I had always been taught logos referred to the written Word of God and rhema referred to a “quickened part of the written Word of God.” As I have delved into it, I think that’s accurate. In his book, PROPHETS AND PERSONAL PROPHECY: GOD’S PERSPECTIVE, Bill Hamon says this about logos: “The Logos reveals God and portrays His eternal principles and decrees. Neither angel, nor human, nor devil, nor any other power in the whole universe can keep the Logos from eternally being and becoming all that it proclaims.”
Hamon cites W.E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words which says, “The significance of rhema (as distinct from Logos) is exemplified in the injunction to ‘take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word (rhema) of God’ Ephesians 6:17. Here the reference is not to the whole Bible as such, but to the individual scripture which the Spirit brings to our remembrance for use in time of need, a prerequisite being the regular storing of the mind with scripture [Logos].’”
Hamon then says that, “A rhema, then, is that timely, Holy Spirit-inspired word from the Logos that brings life, power, and faith to perform and fulfill it: ‘Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word [rhema] of God’ (Romans 10:17).
It becomes even clearer logos is a spoken or written word given generally, while rhema is a spoken or written word given specifically when we look at some examples of how they are used in scripture:
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings (logos) of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock” Matthew 7:24.
“The sower sows the word” (logos) Mark 4:14.
“So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word (logos) of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret” Luke 5:1.
“Then the word (logos) of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith” Acts 6:7.
“A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word (rhema) that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.’ And when he thought about it, he wept” Mark 14:72.
“while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word (rhema) of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness” Luke 3:2.
“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words (rhema) that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works” John 14:10.
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words (rhema) that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” John 6:63.
When we look back to Jesus’ responses to the devil in the wilderness temptations, we see that Jesus didn’t just toss out any old scripture; He destroyed satan’s attempts to tempt Him with a rhema scripture that answered the temptation directly. Out of the entire Old Testament scriptures, the Holy Spirit brought to Jesus’ mind a rhema scripture that exactly fit His need in the moment.
WHAT’S IN YOUR SWORD SCABBARD?
Something important to note here is that when Jesus reached into His “sword scabbard” He was able to pull out the sword of the Word of God. He had prepared Himself; He knew what had been written. He had on the belt of truth. He knew the scriptures—ALL of them. And when He pulled His sword, He used the scriptures that the Holy Spirit directed Him to use; they were rhema, personal, specific.
Too many of us modern-day Christians have an empty scabbard and an incomplete belt. The devil attacks, either in our minds or through another person, and we don’t have an answer for him; and, thus, fall prey to trying to debate the devil with our human reasoning. Too often, we are deceived by his lies and give in to the temptation. We generally know that God is good and He saved us; we generally know that Jesus healed those who came to Him for all kinds of diseases. But we haven’t bothered to attach specific verses to our belt of truth.
We are told to “gird our loins with the belt of truth” (Ephesians 6:14). The only place we can find truth is in the Bible, the Logos of God. In our study of the belt of truth (Reflections #133), we saw that while the Bereans received Paul’s message with great gladness, they “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” Acts 17:11 NIV.
Part of the reason the Church is so weak and confused today is because we have neglected the study of the Word of God, both individually and collectively. We have huge gaps in our belt of truth, and thus nothing solid to attach our sword to. And even if we can attach the scabbard, it is often empty of the sword, the rhema Word of God.
The American Bible Society’s 10th annual “State of the Bible” report released September 3, 2020, revealed that “only 9% of Americans read their Bible on a daily basis.” And a LifeWay Research study from 2012 of Protestant churchgoers found that, “while 90 percent ‘desire to please and honor Jesus in all I do,’ only 19 percent [of Protestant Christian churchgoers] personally read the Bible every day." Sisters and brothers, what does this say about the strength of our desire to please and honor Jesus?
Is it any wonder so many Americans and so many American Christians are confused about the social issues of the day? Is it any wonder that Christians are so easily deceived by the lies and manipulations of the enemy? How can we expect unbelievers to know the truth if 81% percent of believers don’t even bother to search out the truth? I must tell you, I am feeling a cascade of emotions right now as I type this: dismay, horror, even revulsion. Brothers and Sisters, how can this be? No wonder we are living in the squalor of pigs and perfectly content to do so! No wonder we have allowed evil to be called good and good to be called evil! No wonder the blood of over 60 million American aborted babies is crying out to the Father! We have no plumb line for truth because we do not know the Word of God, the foundation of our faith. We do not know it because we do not read it and because it is not being preached and taught from the pulpit (see Reflections #133, The Belt of Truth).
But I say this by the Spirit of the Lord: God is NOT content to let things continue this way! Because He loves us, He is going to shake our comfortable existence and He is going to shake the Church. Hard.
According to a Lifeway Research study “the top two reasons people claimed for their lack of Bible reading were ‘I don’t prioritize it’ and ‘I don’t have time.’” Note that we have control over both of those issues. What we lack is the self-discipline. (Don’t think I am criticizing you—I am stepping all over my own toes here!)
God would much rather us come seeking His Word out of love and devotion, but if we won’t, He will allow circumstances to drive us to our knees and to the Word. Those circumstances have already begun to swirl all around us, and those who have eyes to see and ears to hear know it. We have entered into a pre-tribulation time of testing, cleansing, shaking, and purging.
If you are part of the 81% of American Christians who do not read the Bible daily, repent; don’t beat yourself up or wallow in condemnation as the devil would have you do, brothers and sisters; just repent, receive forgiveness, and pick up your Bible. Make reading the Bible a priority in your life. If we have time to watch TV or any other hobby or pleasure, or even to eat, we have time to read the Bible. Ask the Lord to HELP you to prioritize reading the Word every day. We must ask for His help, because the devil fights us tooth and nail every day to keep us out of the Word! Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to understand it, remember it, and make it rhema for you. Put the Logos Word on your belt of truth, so that the Holy Spirit can make it a personal and powerful rhema sword Word just when you need it most.
By the way, ideally, it would be wonderful to not only be able to quote the scripture, but also where it is found. But note that Jesus didn't give the scripture reference when He was confronting Satan, and often neither did the writers of the New Testament when they were quoting the Old Testament. What is vital is knowing that "it is written in the Scriptures" even if in the moment you can't remember exactly where ! Don't let satan deceive you into thinking not knowing the book, chapter, or verse dilutes the power of the Word--the sword of the Spirit is still sharp! What is important is that, "It is written," and you know that it is written!
“For the word of God is alive 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 NIV.
May the Lord give us hearts hungry for the Word of God, both Logos and rhema!
Beloved brothers and sisters, put on your armor. All of it. You need every piece, every day.
This concludes the armor described in Ephesians 6, but I sense the Lord is not quite finished with this series, so I will be praying into that to see what else He might want to share with us.
Stay suited up, dearly beloved!
Love, Hugs, and Blessings,
All scripture references are from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.
If you are not yet a born-again, saved Christian, Jesus is reaching out to you. He loves you, He came for you, and He died for your sins so that you could not only escape eternal punishment in Hell and eternal separation from God, but that you could live with Him eternally in peace, love and joy. If you would like to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, if you would like to receive forgiveness for your sins, simply pray this prayer out loud:
"Lord, I want to be a part of your family. Your Word says that Jesus died for my sins and if I accept what He has done for me, acknowledge that You raised Him from the dead, and accept Him as my Lord and Savior, I would be saved. Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask You to forgive me. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead, and I turn from my sins and ask You to come into my heart. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior for the rest of my life, and I give my life to You now. In Your Name, I pray. Amen."
Now declare what He has done for you:
“Thank You, Father, for forgiving me and saving me. Thank You for making me one of Your children and giving me eternal life with You. I am saved, and Jesus is my Lord and Savior! Hallelujah!” If you have just prayed this prayer, please let us know by email and let us rejoice with you and welcome you into the family of God as a dear sister or brother! God bless you!