You Can’t Use a Sword That’s Not With You
One of my two sweet sisters-in-law gave me a bottle of pepper spray two weeks ago. She knows I have a crazy schedule that involves being out late a few nights each week. I was truly touched by her thoughtfulness and the love which inspired her to share her supply with me (Thanks, DeAnne!!). I felt safer just knowing I had it! A week later, at the end of a text, she mentioned that she hoped I was carrying my spray with me. Eek! There it sat, next to me, on the coffee table! I had learned the technique of unlocking and spraying it with the practice canister, had thought about using it, had even considered which key ring I should attach it to…but I forgot to actually do it. A canister of pepper spray in my cozy living room is not going to be much use to me in a parking lot across town in the middle of the night, is it?
This is true of tangible things like cans of pepper spray or guns, and it is equally true of the spiritual weapons we have been giving for the advance of God’s Kingdom and for our own defense.
Last week we talked about the shield of faith and how we must get in the habit of using it, every time we are assaulted so that we can achieve a level of proficiency. We must persevere through the awkward stage if we are to attain mastery. Having a shield and being proficient at using it is a wonderful, useful thing, but combining it with a powerful sword is exponentially better.
My children have had a year or two of fencing lessons, and I have seen them progress through the footwork, the sword drills, and the learning of terminology to being able to fend off an opponent and launch counterattacks. There is a very big difference in only having defensive skills and in also being proficient at offensive moves.
The same applies to our learning to wield the weapons we have at our disposal to fight off attacks of the enemy. I’m incredibly thankful for my shield, but I don’t want to spend my life hiding behind it. Who is going to be attacked for longer periods and more frequently – someone who never fights back but only cowers behind their shield, or someone who immediately and deftly launches an effective counterattack?
Good reason to learn to handle our swords too, isn’t it?
Yes, you have a sword! Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:17 that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Awesome! If you are reading this, you have access to the Word of God.
- Step 1: Know Your Weapon. Know what isn’t your weapon. The Word of God is your weapon. You may have plenty else going for you – financial status, important career, good standing in the community, powerful friends, etc., but not one of those is your weapon. When it is time to draw our swords, we cannot rely on ANYTHING except the Word of God.
- Step 2: Practice, practice, practice. Hint: we don’t use the Bible as a sword by clubbing the devil (or people) over the head with it. We have to know what’s inside it. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” This is sword practice. Make it part of every day. There is no shortcut.
- Step 3: Use your weapon to counterattack, and use it with confidence and boldness. It works, and we can be confident that if we use it, it will get the job done. Our faith is not in ourselves, but in the Lord Almighty and His powerful Word!
I had to do it this morning. Assailed by doubts and wondering I am doing anything right in life or making a difference for eternity, I chose to use my sword instead of curling up in the corner with a piece of carrot cake, calling a friend, or worse – agreeing with the enemy that he’s right, and I should just quit everything.
I used my sword by speaking Isaiah 48:17 over myself: “This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.(NIV)”
If God is teaching and directing me, I can have faith that He is leading me correctly.
I used my sword by reminding myself that “…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6, NIV), and that “it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose (Phil 2:13, NIV).
I’m not there yet, but He is at work in my life, causing me to do what He desires, and He will continue His work in me!
Instead of feeling depressed and victimized, I was encouraged to keep on doing what God has given me to do because my obedience is what matters – the results of my life (and yours!) are in His hands.
This is using the Sword of the Spirit to counterattack, and my friends, it works. God didn’t give us toy swords that flimsily bend when any pressure is applied, but a powerful, sharp weapon that cuts right through the lies of the enemy – if we use it. The weapon is not faulty. The question is, will we use it?
Too many Christians are hampered from living victoriously by a lack of basic knowledge of God’s Word and the skill to apply that knowledge. God’s Word is highly practical, but too often believers find a great disconnect between sitting in church on Sunday and then actually applying what they hear to the rest of their lives. This should not be the case.
2 Peter 1:3 tells us that God has already given us EVERYTHING we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him. Where do we get our knowledge of Him? Through His Word, as His heart and character are revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. So as our knowledge of God grows, we have more access to what we need for victorious living. It is not a magic formula, reserved only for a special few hand-picked by God, or for seminary students and pastors. Victorious living is available to every single child of God who has access to His living, powerful Word.
Are you ready for some sword practice? Me too! Let’s encourage each other to know God’s precious Word – such a gift – and to apply it regularly and effectively to our lives.
With faith, hope, and love,