Ephesians 6:17 & Matthew 4:3-10
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. EPHESIANS 6:17
On Day 2 of our fast, we learned how the Holy Spirit can use the Scriptures as a scalpel in our lives. Today, I want to describe the power of God’s Word to pierce like a sword through the deceit and temptation of our demonic foes. In Ephesians 6:10–18, Paul gives us the Scriptures’ most comprehensive treatment of spiritual warfare.
During his first visit to Rome, as Paul awaited his trial before Nero, he was imprisoned between two Praetorian guards for two years. He must have been guarded by hundreds of these elite Roman soldiers during his long imprisonment. While writing a letter to the church at Ephesus, he began to look at his armored jailers in a whole different light. In a flash of Holy Spirit inspiration, Paul realized that the tactics, weapons, and armor of his captors provided a powerful metaphor for spiritual warfare.
While gazing at the gladius one of his guards was carrying, Paul wrote the following: Take the . . . sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17b). The Roman short sword, or gladius, was twenty-five to thirty-one inches in length. It was created as a thrusting or stabbing weapon. “Word” in this passage is rhema, not logos. The word rhema emphasizes the Word of God being spoken or proclaimed. In other words, God wants to give you Spirit-anointed Scriptures that can cut through the multi-layered maneuvers and deception of the enemy. Jesus used the sword of the Spirit repeatedly in His wilderness duel with Satan.
The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Before doing a practical exercise on using the sword of the Spirit, you must learn some of the distinguishing marks of spiritual warfare. How do you know when the resistance you are facing is not just natural, but demonic? Demonic attack is marked by its intensity, density, and/or its immensity.
Intensity—When something you are facing is far stronger or much longer than usual, it could be a sign of spiritual warfare. Sometimes, spiritual warfare can come in the form of a powerful wave. For example, you might suddenly be pulled into despair by a wave of depression, and it is out of proportion to anything you are currently facing in your life.
Density—An unusual density can also mark spiritual warfare; perhaps a thick fog that clings to your soul, a wall between you and God, or a wall between you and others that cannot be penetrated.
Immensity—Spiritual warfare also tends to maximize our pain and problems and minimize God’s promises and power.
Whenever you are faced with indicators of this nature, ask the Holy Spirit for discernment. If you sense that what you are facing is spiritual in nature, it’s time to pull out the sword of the Spirit. This can be done in a number of ways.
First, you can ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind the Scripture He wants you to use. Second, you can look up a Scripture that corresponds to the problem you are facing. Both YouVersion and Bible Gateway have great concordances and are available on the Internet. Bible Gateway also has a great topical search engine in multiple versions of the Bible. Once you have a Scripture (or Scriptures), begin to thrust them into what you are facing by boldly proclaiming them. Remember, the more you proclaim the Scripture, the more your own faith will grow as well.
What form of spiritual warfare have you been facing?
Which Scripture or Scriptures are you going to use?
Begin to worship and pray in tongues for two minutes.
As your faith grows, begin to pray the Scripture the Holy Spirit helped you select. Pray it for two minutes also.
Begin to thrust that Scripture into the resistance you are facing by proclaiming it for two additional minutes.
If the warfare persists, you can use this strategic cycle (or a variation of it) multiple times, for as long as needed.
Once you have completed the cycle, begin to focus your prayers on your pastor, your local church, and the needs of our world.
Pray for your pastor and his or her family.
Pray for your church.
Pray for one of Every Nation’s six regions: Asia & Oceania, Africa, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, North America.