Ephesians 6:17. and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
Here is our first offensive piece of the armor of God. The sword of the Spirit. The word of God. Let’s break it down.
The word for sword here is the word for the short stabbing sword that the Roman soldiers would use in close combat. The enemy moves in and raises his arms to swing his battle ax or broadsword and the soldier would then have opportunity to surgically thrust (not recklessly swing) his sword into the vital organs of the enemy. Yikes.
The word for word here is the Greek word (rhema) which means “a message,” or a “proclamation.” The word spoken. Not the written word. Although of course our message comes from the written word. But the power comes when we speak it. When we declare the gospel. Not just read the gospel, or hear the gospel, but when we speak the gospel it thrusts death into our enemy’s heart by thrusting life into our hearts.
There’s gotta be a spiritual metaphor in here somewhere.
We see the power of the spoken word of faith in Romans 10:
Romans 10:8-10. 8 But what does it say? “The word [rhema] is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word [rhema] of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
Do you see it? “With the mouth one confesses the message of God and is saved.”
And that truth doesn’t change. We were saved by speaking the truth of the gospel and we are still being saved by the confession of the gospel truth with our mouths.
What would you say about the gospel today? Right now? This is a very important question. Many of us who claim to be Christians cannot articulate the gospel. We cannot declare the message of God. We don’t know it. We don’t really understand it. And it shows because we don’t ever speak it. You love hearing it, but can you tell it to yourself? Especially as part of our combat against evil?
What about the truths of your union with Christ? Can you declare them? Can you speak them out loud to others who are under attack? Can you speak them to your own heart when the Enemy raises his ax to chop you in half? Can you thrust the sword of the Spirit, the message of God, the gospel into his belly (sorry, that’s an Ehud/Eglon reference – look it up)?
How can we expect to stand if we cannot speak the gospel? That’s Paul’s point. Our only weapon is the gospel. Not our own intellect. Our own arguments. Our own self-righteous defense. Our own rhetoric. The word of Christ is it. It’s all we’ve got to fight with, and it is all we need. Why? Because when God speaks his power prevails.
Here’s the thing. The word of God is more than just words on a page. It’s divine electricity. It’s alive. It’s able to create and change and transform. It has agency. God’s word always has. He speaks and things appear. Nations are destroyed. Lame people walk. Blind people see. Dead people live. All from the spoken word.
Hebrews 4:12. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
In Christ we have a life inside of us. The life of Christ, the Spirit of Christ. It’s a seed. But what causes that seed to grow? What causes that energy, that power, that fullness, that love to grab hold of our souls and transform us into something radically different? It’s the word. The word of Christ causes the life of Christ to produce the fruit of Christ in us.
1 Peter 1:22-25. 22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
The same life giving power in us is the power that destroys evil and death and sin and Satan as he attacks us with his lies and accusations. It’s the power of the word of God himself. The living Word and the spoken word. Alive in us. That’s “to live is Christ.”