“And the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” (Eph. 6:17).
The items of the Christian’s armor which we have considered thus far are such as are used for protection against the enemy, or which give us power to meet the enemy. But a Christian must be able to do more than to resist attacks; he must himself attack. It is a good thing to be able to stop the enemy, but it is still better to put him to rout. If a Christian is to progress he must be mustered out for offensive warfare.
It is a war of conquest which enriches the Christian; it is also under such warfare that he most of all experiences God’s help. If we are going to attack we must have weapons; these have been provided for us in God’s Word. With these we forge ahead and cut our way through.
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A Christian with a mite of spiritual understanding knows how often one is tempted to use his Christianity, his sanctification, his piety, and his many years in the school of God as a sword. We are of the opinion that all we have experienced of God’s help shall strike the enemy down; time after time, however, we have to learn anew, that this metal is much too soft for Satan’s flinty neck.
The only sword which is of any account is the Word of God; but it must be in the hands of the Spirit. It is not the mouth, nor the memory, which is to wield the sword, but the Spirit. Many a Christian strikes with Scripture passages to the right and the left because he has a good memory; in a debate he may win the argument. However, no one must think for a moment that Satan is frightened by this.
The devil has no respect for the Word of God which reaches only to the brain. He himself knows the Bible on his fingertips, but it avails him nothing. But when he meets a spiritual Christian who has been empowered by the Word, he retreats. There is a wonderful mettle in God’s Word; this is true also when it is placed in the hands of a saved sinner.
It is therefore of utmost importance for us to have the contents of God’s Word — the power of the gospel and the secret of salvation — woven into the very fiber of our inner being. Then these become living realities in our soul.
The wise and proper way to use the Word of God is with a prayerful and humble mind. Then we go straight through the letter and into God’s eternal power.
To study the Scriptures according to the latest methods and the best rules may be useful. But there will be no sword in the hand of the Spirit unless there is a mind that is submissive and prayerful.
“The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.”
It does not depend upon how much we read; it is more important that our spirit comes to rest in the Word. Then we learn to meditate upon God’s law; then the mind is filled with the will of God; then we understand salvation and God’s purpose for our lives. Then will come to pass this wonderful thing that the Spirit touches our spirit.
Then a Christian learns to use the sword in battle.
He who has nothing else for spiritual nourishment than newspapers and novels will become like a newspaper and a novel. He who uses the Scriptures in the right manner will receive more and more of the spirit and power of the Bible in his life.
He is like a tree planted by rivers of water.
In our day we have so many occasions to hear the Word expounded by others, and have so many Christian books and papers in our homes. Consequently, we are so easily tempted to lay the Bible itself aside.
If our souls subsist more on religious periodicals, books, and sermons than on the Word of God itself, it will soon be seen that we are in no condition to go into battle. In the most difficult encounters our Christianity will show itself to be impersonal. We have yielded too much to human opinions, and our Christian person is made up of material that has come from others.
As far as it goes it is good to receive instruction from others; but it is not far enough. Another person’s knowledge of the Word of God is not sufficient for me, because I am in many ways unlike him. If I do not find my own way to the Bible, something in me will suffer. If we have accustomed ourselves to nourish our souls by the hand of another we shall often find ourselves standing by a dried up creek-bed while the mighty river flows right past our door; we die of thirst because we have not learned to drink from this inexhaustible source.
Under such circumstances it is easy to lose the sword!
Many people excuse themselves by saying that the Bible is so hard to understand when they read it; but when it is explained by others they understand it.
True, this excuse would be worth a great deal if it depended upon how far we can get into God’s Word with our understanding. But it is not so. Many a person with a clear understanding of God’s Word has a dull sword, and loses in the battle. On the other hand, there are many who do not have a great understanding of the Word, and who have difficulty in expressing their opinion; but they have the power of the Word in such a way that they go from victory to victory, because the Spirit has sanctified the Word for them. They have learned to sing and pray with the hymnwriter:
Thy Word is like an armory, Where soldiers may repair, And find for life’s long battle-day, All needful weapons there.
O may I find my armor there, Thy Word my trusty sword; I’ll learn to fight with every foe The battle of the Lord.
It is for this reason that a humble mother who lives in the backwoods and who has had little contact with learning can wield the sword of the Spirit more effectively than the most learned theologian and the ablest preacher.
No one else but God could provide such a salvation. Jesus must have had this in mind when he said: “I thank thee, 0 Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.”
Soldiers of Christ! Do not lose your sword!
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Our generation has a critical and know-it-all attitude; this contagion has also affected the people of God. We want to understand everything, and we are loathe to believe anything beyond our understanding. From many a pulpit and lectern faith is more and more discredited.
We who are Christians may find ourselves without swords some day. If we would avert such a tragedy we must make diligent use of the Bible; we must learn to find our way to God through the Word. Then no one shall be able to take the Word from us, for we have found and received that which the Word promised.
Then shall the host of God Triumphant be in battle.
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