STANDING FIRM — GROWING STRONG, PART, VII

Only a suicidal or mentally deranged person would charge into the thick of battle dressed in his underwear! The same thing applies to spiritual warfare: Without the right equipment, we will go down. God has made provision for Christians! The Apostle Paul calls it the armor of God.

In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul uses the analogy of a Roman soldier’s armor to describe our offensive and defensive “weapons of warfare” against the devil and his minions.

In our analysis of the Ephesians 6 passage, we have said the…
• Belt of Truth is a piece of growing knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures and how they apply to life.
• Breastplate of Righteousness is knowing who we are in Christ and resisting Satan with that truth when he attacks our identity in Christ.
• Gospel of Peace is overcoming worry with the promises of God.
• Shield of Faith is believing that God is faithful in every circumstance.
• Helmet of Salvation is the mind under God’s control and protection.

Spiritual warfare is a descriptive term for our life-long struggle against invisible, powerful, spiritual beings that stand in opposition to God’s rule over the universe — particularly over the hearts and minds of man. The commander and chief over the forces of darkness is of course Satan.

Examples of reasons we need to don God’s armor include that…
• we are fighting invisible forces
• we are struggling against powerful forces
• the enemy doesn’t always fight with his visor open (i.e. it’s not always obvious that we’re dealing with the devil)!
• many of his attacks have a religious camouflage (a primary example is the non-Christian cults that use our terminology but mean something entirely different)

Even though Satan’s carte blanche rule over man was broken at Calvary (Colossians 2:15), it’s obvious from what Paul has written that God nevertheless grants Satan and his subordinates a measure of freedom to tempt, stress, press, even afflict believers at times. God’s intention of course is that we learn to depend on Jesus, donning the full armor of God so we can recognize and resist every scheme, every attack, every temptation of the evil one, coming to maturity in Christ.

Are you aware that God’s Word is also a weapon to be used against the enemy when tempted? That’s right: In Ephesians 6:17 Paul calls it the “sword of the Spirit.” This is the only offensive weapon Paul mentions in our armor. The “sword of the Spirit,” Paul tells us, “is the Word of God.”

“But Chuck, I thought you said the ‘belt of truth’ is the Word of God!”

I did indeed! The belt of truth refers to the Word of God in general — growing knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures and how they apply to life. The Sword of the Spirit, on the other hand, refers to individual verses from God’s Word which the Holy Spirit brings to our remembrance for use in time of need.

I make this distinction because the Greek word Paul uses for the “Word” of God here in Ephesians 6:17 is “Rhema” — which refers to specific statements found in the Bible (e.g. Matthew 26:75).

Another Greek word, “logos”, is used to refer to the Word of God in general (e.g. Mark 7:13; Revelation 1:9).

So, as we’ll see shortly, the Sword of the Spirit is using individual verses from the Bible against Satan that specifically suit his temptations. The sword Paul mentions is actually both a defensive and offensive weapon. It’s the only offensive weapon Paul mentions in our armor.

The Roman sword had a blade about two feet in length, and was an innovation in its time since it was sharpened on both edges — and pointed on the end! This gave the Roman soldier a distinct advantage: He could thrust and cut from virtually any position. His opponent, usually with a larger sword, could only swing effectively from certain positions. Paul likens the Word of God to a sword for good reason. A great example is found in Hebrews 4:12: “The Word [logos] of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword.”

You see, it’s the Word, animated by the Spirit, which brings us to Christ, encourages us to live for Christ, and has the power to slash, cut, and defeat the enemy!

God’s Word is the sword of the Spirit because the Holy Spirit wrote it: “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.” (II Timothy 3:16)

Therefore, as part of God’s armor, I believe the Sword of the Spirit is using verses of Scripture against Satan that specifically suit his temptations. How are we to use the Bible against the enemy? Do what Jesus did! When He was tempted by Satan (see Matthew 4; Luke 4), Jesus quoted verses of Scripture to him that expressed God’s viewpoint regarding each temptation. You see, Satan’s MO is to cast doubt on what God has said; to get us to question God’s Word, God’s love, etc. So, whenever we sense we’re under satanic attack, we should imitate Christ: quote out loud verses of Scripture addressed to him that suit each specific temptation.

Oscar Wilde humorously said, “I can resist anything except temptation!” Thankfully, we don’t have to succumb to anything the devil brings our way! Following are typical temptations we face from time to time — along with verses to counter them:
• Worry: Matthew 6:34
• Fear: Isaiah 41:10
• Unforgiveness: Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13
• Regret/forgiveness of self: Isaiah 43:18 -19; Philippians 3:13
• Immorality: I Corinthians 6:18
• Fearing spiritual defeat: Isaiah 54:17; I Peter 5:8-11
• Assurance of salvation: I John 5:11-13
• Fear of the future: Psalm 27:13-14; Isaiah 46:4
• Giving up: II Corinthians 15:7; Colossians 4:7

You and I both know we’ve all failed, at some point, in every one of these areas! But as someone has wisely put it: Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising each time we fall! Let’s recommit to the task, and with God’s help, we’ll do better with this!

In closing, let me propose an easy way to remember our strategy in resisting the devil. Think in terms of the three “Rs”: Recognize, Renounce, Replace.
1. RECOGNIZE the temptation, attack, etc. as coming from the enemy.
2, RENOUNCE the devil — “Satan, in the Name of Jesus Christ, be gone!”
3. REPLACE his lie with the truth: “It is written…”

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