By Steve Horn
Ephesians 6:10-18 gives us rich theology as well as practical application for the spiritual battles that we face. There are 3 main imperatives in this text: Be strengthened by the LORD, put on the full armor of God, and stand. Having given these three imperatives, Paul underscored 7 spiritual weapons that we should avail ourselves to as we carry out these imperatives. Near the end, Paul gives us the offensive weapon of the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God. Though every piece of the armor is important, I get the sense in this text that the sword of the spirit—that is the Word of God—is our “go to” resource.
We all have our “go to” things and/or places. For example, pitchers speak of their “out” pitch. They have different kinds of pitches—fastball, curveball, slider, knuckle-ball. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, just understand that this refers to different ways that the pitcher can make the ball move. The pitcher has all of these pitches, but he has his “out” pitch. When he needs most desperately to get a batter out, he goes to this pitch.
Golfers have their favorite club. When all else is going wrong, the golfer pulls out his “go to” club. Fishermen have their “honey” holes. They fish different places, but when they can’t catch fish anywhere else, they have their “go to” hole.
Though I am less of an expert in this, I suppose women have their “go to” store. The list goes on and on: “go to” restaurants, vacation places, customers.
Tony Evans described the usefulness of the sword of the spirit for the times “When the devil is up on you.” (Has the devil ever been up on you?) There is a sense in which we are always under the attack of the evil one, but there is another sense when at times, he is “up on you.” The temptation is serious and unrelenting. The temptation is personal. These are the days that we need the Word—the sword—for the hand-to- hand combat that we have to do just to survive.
Textually, this can be seen with the use of the word for sword. The word here is a word that specifically implies a short-handled dagger, used in hand-to-hand, one-on-one combat.
Here’s the point. You will not survive spiritual battles without the “full armor of God.” If you do not employ the full armor of God, you are going to be vulnerable somewhere. But, these are by and large defensive weapons. The one exception is when Paul talked about going on the offensive with the sharing of the Gospel, but in context this is even offense for defensive purposes. This changes with the sword of the spirit. This is our offensive weapon. In this context, even though all resources are of equal importance, the Word of God is our “Go To” Weapon.
So, why don’t you take the last quarter of 2018 to read the New Testament and let us help you with that? On our website, fbclaf.org, you can find a reading guide, a link to listen to the daily Bible passage, a daily devotional related to that day’s reading, and a weekly video summarizing the content of the week’s reading. Start Monday, October 1, and read the entire New Testament by the end of the year.
Steve Horn is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Lafayette. This editorial first appeared on his blog.