The Sword of the Spirit

February 28, 2017
Carl Knott

Some people like knives; others like guns; others like bows and arrows. I have a favorite weapon that is extremely effective at close and long range, day or night, in all weather. It can get through any metal detector or x-ray machine. I know! I have taken it with me on all kinds of public transportation. And what will you think of me when I tell you that I keep this weapon in plain sight and within reach of all my children and grandchildren, and even let them handle it?

Let me tell you about it. My all-time favorite weapon is the Bible, the Word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). It is listed as a vital part of the Christian’s armor, and we should note that it is the only offensive weapon he is given. Like it or not, we are in a spiritual war with powerful, astute, and veteran enemies arrayed against us in relentless conflict. Scripture exhorts us to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12). To go forth without armor or weapon is not faith but insanity.

A Unique Weapon

And what a unique, impressive, and effective weapon it is! In 1 Samuel 21:9, when David sought a weapon as he fled from Saul, the priest told him the only weapon available was “the sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom thou slewest in the valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod.” David replied, “There is none like that; give it me.” Now Goliath’s sword was unique, but it doesn’t even begin to compare to the Bible! Hebrews 4:12 gives the specifications of this weapon: “For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” It’s alive, and powerful; it’s the sharpest weapon in existence. A surgeon’s scalpel is dull in comparison. This sword doesn’t draw blood, but it does get into the soul and spirit of a person. It does inside work! Sometimes I hear people say, “You can’t know what’s in another person’s heart.” My reply is, “I have something that penetrates and discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart.” God knows all about what is in the human heart, and has written a book about it!

A Powerful Weapon

That’s why the devil hates the Scriptures and tries to distract and discourage Christians from using them. He knows the damage that the sword of the Spirit can do. He knows that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:4). The devil knows what we hold in our hands, but do we? The Bible can expose sin and bring about conviction. It can reprove and rebuke. It can pronounce judgment. It can illuminate the darkness, break the chains of spiritual bondage, and bring a person into the light of salvation. It is a key instrument in the new birth (1 Pet. 1:23). The story is told of a Buddhist monk who sat on the ground to rest and picked up a scrap of paper near him. It had been torn from a New Testament. There were only a few words on that little scrap of paper: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” The sword went to work and pierced his conscience. He said, “If that is true, then I will never see God, for my heart is not pure.” And that led to a search for the book from which that scrap had come, which led to the gospel and salvation. Such is the power of the sword of the Spirit. God blesses and uses His Word, not our clever arguments or tear-jerker stories. Preach the Word! That’s why when Spurgeon was asked to participate in a debate on the validity of the Bible, he said he would come but not present any defense of the Bible. He would preach the gospel. He said, “The Bible is a lion. You don’t defend a lion, you turn it loose!” It’s the same with the sword. A sword doesn’t need to be defended, but used. If the other person says he doesn’t believe in your sword of the Spirit, don’t put it down. That’s what the devil wants you to do. Quote the Scriptures; read them; cite them; obey them. Let your adversary feel the point of the sword. He won’t like it, but he will certainly know it’s real!

Sword Training

Now here’s the catch. We need to train if we desire to wield the sword properly. In order for us to effectively use the sword of the Spirit, we need to be guided by the Spirit and be spiritually-minded, not worldly-minded. We need to be familiar with our weapon and with its intended use. How can we as Christians be effective in using the Scriptures if we spend more time surfing the internet, sending text messages, watching TV and movies, and listening to the Top 40 than we spend in the Bible? If our home, study, and business responsibilities consume our lives, and we spend mere minutes in the Bible on a weekly basis, then how can we hope to skillfully use the great sword of the Spirit? When temptation or trouble arises, or an opportunity to witness presents itself, if we haven’t been practicing with the sword, we aren’t going to know what to do with it. It never ceases to amaze me that people can be in churches for years—even decades—and never read through the Bible even once. The remedy for that dangerous deficiency is to start reading right now and to do so every day until you finish the whole book. That’s basic orientation, step one. Continue your “weapon training” with Bible study (2 Tim. 2:15), Bible meditation (Ps. 1:2), and Bible memorization (Ps. 119:9, 11). When in meetings and Bible studies, pay attention and take notes. Taking notes is a proven aid to study and memory. Get to know the sword of the Spirit, and become adept at using it. There is none like it. Spurgeon wrote, “You know the old proverb ‘Beware of the man of one book.’ He is a terrible antagonist. A man who has the Bible at his fingers’ ends and in his heart’s core, is a champion in our Israel; you cannot compete with him: you may have an armory of weapons, but his Scriptural knowledge will overcome you, for it is a sword like that of Goliath, of which David said, ‘There is none like it.’”1


1 Charles Spurgeon, Lectures To My Students (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1979), p. 180

Originally appeared in Uplook 2009