Spiritual Weapons, Part II: The Sword

Prayer

What Is the Nature of Spiritual Warfare?

The Apostle Paul tells us that the battles we wage in this life are not physical, but spiritual: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).  

We see this battle defined specifically in the life of Jesus on many occasions.  Speaking to His accusers who claim he casts out demons using the power of demons, for example, Jesus says,

Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.  (John 8:44)

The Sword of the Spirit, therefore, is the true Word of God with which we may defeat the lies of Satan.  It is the same weapon Jesus used to defeat the deceptions of the enemy, who is like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may destroy (I Peter 5:8) .

 

Sword

The Word of God:  The Sword of the Spirit

Since we cannot fight such a spiritual battle using a tank or an AK-47, we need to use God’s armor and weapons in this battle, and He offers them to us.  

The first Spiritual Weapon I researched in the Scriptures, therefore, after hearing from the Lord in my dream to use spiritual weapons He has given us (see Part I) was the only one I knew about–the “Sword of the Spirit.”

I turned to Ephesians, where the Apostle Paul describes the “full armor of God” with which, Paul says, we may “stand firm against the “schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).  

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  (Ephesians 6:13-17)

This passage defines the nature of our warfare, the realm of truth and falsehood.  The only power Satan holds is the power of the lies he tells.  If he can succeed in persuading people that his lies are true, then he gains the victory and succeeds in bringing his lies to fulfillment because of our own complicity.

However, I soon realized that there had to be more than one spiritual weapon, for Paul also wrote about “weapons” in the following message to the Church in Corinth:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.  (II Corinthians 10:3-5)

Clearly, I needed to do more research!

What is revealing about this passage is that the spiritual weapons may be used not only in combating satanic, or demonic, forces but also in battles with human spirits.  In this case, Paul declares he is coming against the “lofty things” and “thoughts” of some people in the Corinthian church that are leading others astray.

This idea, using spiritual weapons in a human  arena, may seem unusual to many Christians, but how often have people  initiated division or strife in the Church because they have used such weapons such as gossip or defamation?  

Yet  this is where we encounter what is commonly labeled “witchcraft,” a word translated from the Hebrew word kashaph, which means “to practice witchcraft or sorcery.”

The Sword in Combat Against Sorcery

The word for sorcery in the Greek is “pharmakeia,” essentially the word from which words “pharmaceutical” or “pharmacy” derive.  This suggests that mind-bending drugs may also be associated with demonic influences, mainly because they diminish one’s ability to determine what is a lie or to  be decisive about combating the evil around us.  

The essence of witchcraft in the Scriptures relates to two conditions: the sin of rebellion and the desire for control over others, to possess control over  others’ lives.  The desire for power, whether in small relationships or large, is the sin of domination, which is comparable to sorcery, which is described in Galatians as one of the “deeds of the flesh” (Galatians 5:20).

Today, people are actually encouraged and taught to be assertive, as opposed to aggressive, but many tend to equate or confuse the two. They choose to devote themselves to obtaining power and control over others through will power, body language, verbal sparring, or mental control, thereby exercising the same kinds of power that they themselves find defeating or demeaning.  It’s the opposite of the kind of leadership the Lord Jesus taught His disciples to exercise, being a humble servant.

Divination, likewise, seeks control by learning the future.  Casting spells is a practice that attempts to put others under control by using spoken language in patterns designed to gain control over others.  This practice is a counterfeit of the Sword of the Spirit, for it entails the use of words in spoken formulas to gain one’s own desires, rather than speaking the Word of the Lord to come against evil, declaring God’s will in this world.

Jezebel even resorted to murder to obtain a vineyard for her husband Ahab, but she also persecuted the prophets of Yahweh, commanding that they be killed, all while entertaining the prophets of Baal and  Asherah at her royal table.  

In John’s Book of Revelation, the Church in Thyatira is chastized for allowing in its congregation a “Jezebel,” portrayed as a symbol of false prophecy:  

But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.  (Revelation 2:20)

Thus, false prophecy is directly opposed to the truth that is inherent in the Word, the Sword of the Spirit.

Manesseh is another biblical figure who is described in graphic terms in the Scriptures:  

For he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. He made his son pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and used divination, and dealt with mediums and spiritists.  He did much evil in the sight of the Lord provoking Him to anger.  (II Kings 21:5-6)

To conclude, we are instructed in the Word of God to keep the Word in our mouths and in our hearts.  We use the sword of the spirit, the Word of God, to help set the captives free and receive the salvation God has promised (Romans 10:9-10).  The power of death and life are in the tongue (Prov. 18:21), and we must use the power for God’s kingdom, not Satan’s.

deliverance

Using the Sword

One thing I realized before too long after engaging in spiritual warfare was that demons and even Satan himself cannot know what we are thinking.  He is not omniscient!  He only knows what we tell him, and all too often he hears from our own mouths how to attack us or those around us.  

This is why we are encouraged to guard our tongues and let no corrupt communication proceed out of our mouths (Ephesians 4:29-30).  The Apostle James is particularly strong on this message, for he tells us that we must bridle our tongues or our religion is worthless (James 1:26).  He also says that we must “tame” our tongues, for both fresh and salt water cannot flow from the same spring (James 3:1-12).

We cannot silently speak our resistance to the evil forces in this life that surround us, therefore.  We must speak aloud the words of rebuke to the evil ones, just as Jesus and the apostles did.

Sometimes, however, speaking the words the Holy Spirit gives us may also open doors of love and forgiveness to those who are seeking salvation.  One night in a home meeting, for example, the Lord began speaking through me and others to various individuals gathered together.  Many there were new, having never come to the meeting before.

One by one, the Lord spoke to individuals in “words of knowledge,” declaring the needs, problems, and promises to each one.  It was a literal fulfillment of Paul’s words to the Corinthians:  “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you” (I Corinthians 14:24-25).

At one point during the meeting, the Lord spoke to me concerning a young woman in the group, revealing that she had experienced difficulties sleeping.  Even sleeping pills could not help her to overcome her restlessness.  As the Lord continued to reveal her deepest needs, He also shared how He wanted to meet those needs.

When I opened my eyes, before me stood a young woman I had never seen before, trembling and weeping.  She said she could scarcely believe her ears, for all that the Lord had said exactly fitted her situation.  She prayed and asked God to forgive her sins, receiving that evening the salvation and fullness of the Holy Spirit contained in the promises of the Word of God.

The Word of God, or the Sword of the Spirit, therefore, is a powerful weapon indeed, and may be used both to engage the enemy victoriously and to lead people to God.  Of course all words carry a tremendous capacity for good or evil, love or strife, edification or destruction, but as we speak the Words of God an awesome power is released.  His Word is alive and powerful.  The worlds were framed through faith by the Word of God, and if the Holy Spirit chooses to speak through us the power and authority is no less great.  We must present ourselves to Him as clean channels from which His Word may flow.

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