Have you ever felt powerless to control the spiral of thoughts, worries, or fears that consume your mind on a regular basis? Alternately, have you ever wished so badly that you could do something, but it feels as though you have little control over your actions? It’s so frustrating wanting to make positive changes, only to feel completely powerless to do so.
Thankfully, as Christians, we aren’t as powerless as we sometimes feel. In Christ, we have both the ability and the authority to resist the Devil’s schemes and walk in courageous victory. If you’re currently struggling with unwanted thoughts or actions, it’s time to put on the full armor of God.
Ephesians 6 gives us a list of the pieces that make up the armor of God: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with shoes of readiness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. The passage additionally says we should pray at all times in addition to wearing this armor. While each of them has great importance, here, I’ll concentrate on the sword of the Spirit. Verse 17 tells us the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God as recorded in the Bible. It is God’s Holy Scriptures.
Have you ever thought of the Word of God as a sword before? This isn’t the only Bible passage where we see the Bible described this way.
Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (emphasis mine).
And while 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 doesn’t call the Word of God a sword specifically, the wartime analogy is clear. It reads, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
Together, these passages tell us the Bible was never meant to be a passive, outdated book sitting on a dusty shelf. Rather, our Bibles are active weapons of warfare that we can use regularly, powerfully, and courageously in the fight against Satan and his schemes. Both a defensive and offensive weapon, we can use the sword of the Spirit to guard our hearts against Satan’s attacks (defense) and to proactively set our hearts on Christ (offense).
Of course, most of us don’t wake up in the morning thinking, “I’d really like to go to war today!” We want peaceful, easy, and convenient lives. But the truth is, as Christians, we’re already in a war whether we like it or not. Any time you take steps toward growing your faith or better loving God and others, that makes you a prime target for spiritual attacks.
The only question is: Are you going to learn how to use the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, to fight back?
How to Use the Sword of the Spirit
Just like owning a physical sword won’t protect your home against intruders on its own, simply owning a Bible won’t protect your soul against Satan’s attacks if you don’t use it. You need to put it to good use!
1. Read Your Bible Regularly
While you can learn a great deal by listening to sermons, reading books, or watching inspirational videos, nothing compares to getting into God’s Word yourself.
If you aren’t in the habit of reading the Bible regularly already, there are tons of resources that can help you learn how to read the Bible and stay on track with a reading plan that makes sense to you. There are countless free Bible studies, Bible apps, and Bible reading plans all online. Many churches offer in-person Bible study groups. Or you can check out my book, Fall in Love with God’s Word: Biblical Guidelines for Everyday Life, where you will learn to create a personalized Bible reading plan that’s perfect for you in your current season.
2. Study the Word of God Faithfully
Once you’re in the habit of reading Scripture regularly, moving beyond a simple surface-level reading is the next step. You’ll need to learn how to study the Bible on a deeper level.
The Word of God is chock-full of so much wisdom, knowledge, and insight. But unfortunately, we can often miss its full meaning because we don’t understand the historical, literary, or cultural context the Bible’s words were originally written in. While we may never fully understand the Word of God and all its nuances, the more we learn about the Bible’s text, the deeper our understanding will be and the more effectively we can wield the sword of the Spirit in our lives.
3. Believe and Proclaim God’s Truth
One area where many believers fall into trouble is that we know what the Word of God saysabout who we are, but may not wholeheartedly believe that it’s true.
For example, God’s Word says:
- You are loved. Colossians 3:12
- You are forgiven. Ephesians 1:7
- You are a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17
- You are more than a conqueror. Romans 8:37
- You are victorious. 1 Corinthians 15:57
Whether or not you feel like these statements are true, they are true because God says they are. The same God who created the heavens, the earth, and everything else with nothing more than the power of His spoken Word can also create miracles in you through that same spoken Word. We can trust that God’s Word about us is true, and we can walk courageously in that truth, even when doing so feels difficult, scary, or uncertain.
4. Evaluate Your Life in Light of God’s Word
James 1:22 in the NIV translation warns us, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” You see, it isn’t enough to simply know what the Bible says. You have to apply the Word of God to your life if you want to see a meaningful change. One of the easiest ways to do this is by reading through the New Testament commands, prayerfully asking God to show you which ones you are not faithfully following. For example, consider this passage from Philippians 2:1-4: “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
In light of this Bible passage, you might ask yourself questions such as:
- Am I united with Christ or at least working toward that direction?
- Do I receive comfort from Christ’s love, or am I seeking comfort elsewhere?
- Am I tender and compassionate?
- Do I seek to be like-minded with others, or do I cause drama and disagreement?
- Am I selfish, self-centered, or conceited?
- Do I tend to think of myself as better than others?
- Do I always insist on what I want, rather than taking others’ needs and preferences into account?
Don’t feel bad if you have some serious room for improvement. We all do! But this is the power of the sword of the Spirit: when we read the Word of God, the Holy Spirit speaks to us directly, letting us know where we’re on track and where we’re going astray.
5. Put the Word of God into Action
Finally, once we know what the Word of God says, it’s up to us to put it into practice. This is the most effective way we can use the sword of the Spirit. For example, consider this passage from Philippians 4:4-6: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
This passage, though short, contains several instructions:
- Rejoice in the Lord.
- Let your reasonableness be evident to all.
- Do not be anxious.
- Present your requests to God.
Following God’s will is not always easy. In fact, it can be incredibly difficult to rejoice or avoid anxiety when it feels as though the world is crumbling all around us. And yet, this is the power of the sword of the Spirit. When we know, believe, and live out the Word of God, it changes us from the inside out. It enables God to work powerfully in us and through us, in spite of whatever circumstances we may face.
God doesn’t promise us that life will always be easy, comfortable, or convenient. But He has given us a powerful weapon to guard our hearts and our minds no matter what trials or troubles we may face: the sword of the Spirit.
It’s up to us to use it courageously.
Brittany Ann is an ECPA bestselling author, speaker, and founder of EquippingGodlyWomen.com, a popular Christian-living website dedicated to helping busy Christian moms find practical ways to go “all in” in faith and family. You can learn more about Brittany’s latest books, Fall in Love with God’s Word and Follow God’s Will, on her website.
Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™