And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
— Ephesians 6:17
How would you like God to give you a weapon that can rip to shreds the devil’s strategies against you? Well, that’s exactly what He has done! Ephesians 6:17 declares that God has given you “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”!
I want you to look at the word “sword” in this verse. It is the Greek word machaira — a word that exacted fear in the minds of those who heard it! You see, this wasn’t just a sword, but a weapon of murder that caused the victim horrid pain as he lay bleeding to death.
Just for your knowledge, there were various types of swords used by the Roman army during New Testament times. For instance, there was a huge double-handed sword — a sword so massive that it could only be utilized with the use of two hands. This sword could not be used in real combat because it was too huge. Instead, it was used during sword practice sessions because it helped develop stronger muscles as soldiers swung it against a post that represented an enemy.
There was also a long sword that was used for fighting in a battle, similar to the sword we are familiar with today. This sword was very effective in battle, but it more often wounded the enemy than it killed him. Because it was long, it was most often swung at an enemy from the side, thus scraping or cutting a gouge into the side or limbs of an adversary.
But the weapon referred to in Ephesians 6:17, coming from the Greek word machaira, was neither of these swords. This sword was an exceptionally brutal weapon. Although it could be up to nineteen inches in length, most often it was shorter and shaped like a dagger-type sword.
Just as a dagger is inserted into a victim at close range, this sword was used only in close combat. It was razor sharp on both sides of the blade. The tip of the sword often turned upward; sometimes it was even twisted, similar to a cork screw. Because this dagger-type sword was razor sharp, it could easily be thrust into the abdomen of an adversary. And if it had a cork-screw tip, the attacker could shred the insides of a victim by twisting the sword.
All these characteristics made the machaira a very deadly and frightful weapon. This two-edged, dagger-type sword inflicted a wound far worse than any other sword that was available to the Roman soldier at that time. Although the other swords were deadly, this one was a terror to the imagination!
By using the word machaira in Ephesians 6:17, the apostle Paul is saying that God has given the Church of Jesus Christ a weapon that is frightful to the devil and his forces. Why is this weapon so horrific to the kingdom of darkness? Because it has the razor-sharp power to slash our demonic foes to shreds!
Because the word machaira denoted a sword that was dagger-shaped, it tells us that the “sword of the Spirit” is a weapon that is normally employed in closer combat. Let’s take this one step further, so we can understand why this is so.
Notice that this verse calls it “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The term “word” is taken from the Greek word rhema, which describes something that is spoken clearly and vividly, in unmistakable terms and in undeniable language. In the New Testament, the word rhema carries the idea of a quickened word.
Here’s an example of a rhema or a quickened word: You are praying about a situation when suddenly a Bible verse rises from within your heart. In that moment, you know that God has supernaturally made you aware of a verse you can stand on and claim for your situation. When this happens, it’s as if the Holy Spirit has put a sword in your hand — a spiritual dagger — that you can insert into the heart of the enemy to bring about his defeat.
There are many examples of God giving someone this kind of quickened word in the Bible, but the best one is found in Luke 4, where Jesus is being tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Over and over again, the devil tempted and tested Jesus. But with each temptation, a scripture was quickened inside Jesus, and He would speak forth that scripture to the devil, brandishing it like a sword against His enemy. Each time Jesus used a verse that the Spirit had quickened to Him, the sword of the Word dealt a serious blow to the enemy — causing the devil to eventually flee in defeat.
Because of the words machaira and rhema, Ephesians 6:17 conveys this impression:
“The Spirit will place a razor-sharp sword at your disposal anytime the enemy gets too close. This sword’s power will be available the very moment the Spirit quickens a specific word for a specific situation you are facing.”
When you receive a rhema from the Lord, the Holy Spirit drops a word or scripture into your heart, causing it to come alive supernaturally and impart special power and authority to you. This quickened word is so powerful that it is like a sword has been placed in your hands! That’s why Paul calls it “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
The next time you find yourself in close combat with the enemy, take the time to get quiet in your heart and listen. The Holy Spirit will reach up from within your spirit and quicken to you a scripture that has the exact power you need for the situation you find yourself in at that moment. In other words, the Holy Spirit will give you a rhema — a specific word for a specific time and a specific purpose.
When that happens, you have just received real “sword power” in the realm of the Spirit. It’s time for you to insert, twist, and do damage to the devil. Then you can watch in jubilation as he hits the road and flees!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I know that Your Spirit has the very answer I need for any situation I may confront in life. When He speaks to my heart, it places a razor-sharp sword in my hands that I can use against my spiritual enemies. Help me keep a sensitive ear to the Holy Spirit so I can recognize those moments when He is trying to give me a “rhema” that will put the devil on the run!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I can hear the Holy Spirit’s voice when He drops a word into my heart at the exact moment I need it. Those quickened words impart special power and authority to me. They are so powerful that it is as if a sword has been placed in my hands! When I receive that kind of word from the Lord, I insert it, twist it, and do as much damage as possible to the devil until he’s sorry he ever messed with me!
Questions to Answer
1. Can you think of times in your life when you needed a rhema for the situation you were facing?
2. Did you turn to the Holy Spirit in those situations to listen for a quickened word?
3. What steps can you take to help make the Scriptures more readily available in your life? How would that change the situation you are in now?