And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
— Ephesians 6:17
Have you ever been confronted with a situation where you felt you needed a word from the Lord, but you didn’t know which word you needed? Did you run to your Bible and start flipping through the pages, searching for that perfect word you needed — but it seemed like you just couldn’t quite find the right word to fit your situation?
Well, today I want to talk to you about the sword of the Spirit. You will find that when the Holy Spirit drops a word into your heart for your exact situation, that rhema word will have incredible power to drive back the enemy from his attack!
Let me begin by telling you a little bit about how Roman soldiers went to sword practice, because it will help you understand the difference between a rhema, or a quickened, specific word from the Spirit, and the logos, which is the written Word of God.
Because the Roman army was so committed to warfare, its soldiers practiced the arts of warfare continually. One of the primary exercises was daily sword practice. The soldiers exercised themselves in this skill morning and afternoon. The ancients gave their recruits bucklers that were woven with willow branches and were two times heavier than the ones used in actual battle.
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In addition to these heavy bucklers, the swords that Roman soldiers used in practice were made of heavy wood and were twice the weight of the real swords used in battle. Every soldier practiced combat with a wooden post about six feet high, which was firmly fixed in the ground. This six-foot post became his “enemy” during practice. Just as with a real enemy, he would advance upon his target, strike hard with his sword, and then retreat.
The soldier’s job in practice was to learn how to take advantage of his enemy; how to hit him at his weakest point; and how to strike him so he could not respond. The aim of the man wielding the sword was nearly always pointed toward the head or face, toward the thighs or legs, or occasionally toward the sides of the target.
Flavius Vegetius Renatus, who lived around 380 AD and who documented the affairs of the Roman military, wrote: “They [the military recruits] were likewise taught not to cut, but to thrust their swords. For the Romans not only made jest of those who fought with the edge of that weapon, but always found them an easy conquest. A stroke with the edges, though made with ever so much force, seldom kills, as the vital parts of the body are defended by both the bones and armor. On the contrary, a stab, although it penetrates but two inches, is generally fatal.”1
It was from this background that Paul said, “And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Notice particularly that Paul says, “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The word translated “word” is not the Greek word logos, which would refer to the written Word. Instead, Paul employs the use of the Greek word rhema. This is so powerful — and I want to tell you why!
Had Paul used the word logos in this verse, he would have implied a “sweeping stroke” against the enemy, and this would never do. You see, the logos — although broad, heavy, wonderful, and full of general direction for our lives — is not sufficient to deal the enemy a fatal blow. We need to stab the enemy! This will require a rhema — a specific, quickened word from the Scriptures, placed into our hearts and hands by the Holy Spirit. With a rhema from God placed in our hearts and hands, we have real sword power to use against the enemy!
A genuine rhema doesn’t have to be six pages long to be effective against the work of the devil. As Vegetius recorded in his history of the Roman army, all that was needed to kill an enemy was a mere two-inch penetration. Likewise, one very small rhema from the Lord has the power to do the adversary in!
The best example of this sword power of the Spirit is found in Luke 4:3-13. In this passage, Satan is the aggressor who is found attacking Jesus on repeated occasions. But Jesus doesn’t simply say, “Satan, get out of here.” Instead, Jesus stabs the devil repeatedly with direct blows! Jesus had a specific, quickened rhema from the Holy Spirit!
After the devil tempted Jesus with food, Jesus drew the sword that the Holy Spirit put in His hand (a rhema) and said, “…It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (v. 4). To this stabbing sword of the Spirit, the enemy had no response.
After offering Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in exchange for worship, Satan was wounded deeply by one rhema from the Master’s mouth. Jesus told him, “…It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (v. 8). To this sword of the Spirit, Satan had no answer.
Then Satan tried to tempt Jesus to prove His deity. But Jesus answered His adversary with a sword, saying, “…It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (v. 12). With one final stab, Jesus penetrated Satan’s armor and delivered an almost fatal wound — and at that point, Satan fled from the scene!
Like the Lord Jesus, you are equipped with all the armor of God, and this includes the sword of the Spirit. As long as you have this spiritual equipment, no battle is a real threat to you! Today if you will open your heart and listen, the Holy Spirit will place in your heart and hands the exact rhema you need to put the devil on the run!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, thank You for giving me the sword of the Spirit as part of my spiritual weaponry. When the devil attempts to attack me, please help me be sensitive to hear the exact rhema that the Holy Spirit desires to drop into my heart with which I can then deal the enemy a fatal blow. Starting right now, I open my heart and soul to listen so I can hear any scripture or word the Holy Spirit wishes to give me to use against the works of the devil in my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I have the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and that this spiritual weapon is working in my life! I have the exact word I need for every situation — a specific, quickened word from the Scriptures, placed in my heart by the Holy Spirit. Because this rhema from God is in my heart, I have real sword power to use against the enemy!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Can you think of a time when you were facing a difficult situation — and suddenly it was as if God dropped a verse into your heart that had the very answer you needed? Did it equip you to deal with the challenge you were facing and cause the situation to turn around?
2. Why don’t you think of three times in your life when you emphatically knew that God gave you a rhema for the particular situation you were facing? What were those times, and how did that rhema make a difference?
3. Are there any areas in your life right now where you could use a rhema from the Holy Spirit to help you know how to overcome a problem or a challenge?