12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand… 17 Take…the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God”

Paul to the Ephesians in chapter 6 verses 12-13 and verse 17


  1. The physical sword – the Roman sword

The sword that Paul would have been thinking of as he wrote to the Ephesians was the weapon that the Romans had used to conquer the western world – the “gladius”, the short, stabbing sword of only 18 to 24 inches in length. It was double-edged and sharpened to perfection – though the edges were mainly used to protect against and shatter the longer slashing swords of their enemies. The power of the gladius was in its point. The Roman soldier, trained to perfection, and after months and years of constant practice, would thrust their gladius forward – aiming often for the nose of their enemy. A deft flick of the sword and their enemy would be “taken out” of the battle immediately as they could no longer breathe. It was a sword for defence and offence – but mainly for offence.

  • The spiritual sword – the “Word of God”

Paul knew all too well that God’s people are daily in battle against their enemy, the devil, and that in this spiritual battle the Christian “soldier” needs their spiritual sword. And he makes it completely clear what this spiritual sword is – it is the “Word of God” – it is Scripture. It is every Word spoken by God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and written down in the Bible.

Like the physical armour that was worn by the Roman soldier, so we have seen that, thus-far, every item of that spiritual armour has been defensive – to protect us against the lies, deceptions, doubts, distractions and attacks of our enemy, the devil, on us.

But, with the sword of the Spirit we now see a weapon – a weapon that is both defensive and offensive.

  • Defensively, the Word of God is what will protect us when our enemy, the devil, either through people or through spiritual attack in our mind attacks us. When he says “give up” we use the Word to say “No! For I can do ALL things through Him who strengthens me”. Defensively, it protects us from the lies, taunts and attacks of our enemy.
  • But, now, offensively, we can take the battle TO our enemy, the devil. Offensively, it is used to pierce the heart of humans with the Truth and to fight back against the spiritual forces of our enemy. We proclaim the Truth – we do not need to defend the Truth.  As Stedman says (“Spiritual Warfare” p. 196) “it cuts through the hardened armour of human arrogance, intellectual rationalisation, agnosticism and atheism, sin and pride”. When man says “there are many ways by which a person can enter heaven and eternal life” we can declare “not so! Jesus says ‘I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved’ (John 10: 9) – there is no other way!”

So, like the Roman soldier, the Christian soldier MUST take “sword practice” VERY seriously. This is why…

…the Christian soldier must know the Word of God well! He must read it (or listen to it), study it (or discuss it), meditate on it, and apply it to his life. For our enemy is not a weak enemy – but one we need to go into battle against well-prepared.

  • The sword of the Spirit is a pointed sword

There are 2 words used in the New Testament for “word”. The first is “Logos” – which refers to the whole revelation of God to man – hence, Jesus is the “Word” of John 1: 1. However, the second word is the one that is used here –and that is “rhema” –which means a specific saying of God – a passage or verse that has a special application to an immediate situation. It implies that when our enemy, the devil, attacks us then there is a SPECIFIC word, or passage, that is just right to parry and counter and defeat that attack.  It is often that passage that “leaps off the page” to speak into our lives at a particular time. Sometimes it strikes us as we read the Bible, at other times it comes into our minds at just the right time. All of Scripture is true – but at that moment it is that Word that really speaks to us. And who is it that brings this timely Scripture to us? It is the Holy Spirit of course – which is why this rhema-word is the “sword of the Spirit”.

The whole Bible is powerful. Paul writes to his protégé, Timothy:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.(2 Timothy 3: 16-17)

But, the rhema-word is that which immediately is brought to our mind by the Spirit when our enemy, the devil, attacks us.

This is why it is of paramount importance that we know Scripture well – Paul in Colossians 3: 16 commands this:

Let the [spoken] word of Christ have its home within you [dwelling in your heart and mind—permeating every aspect of your being] as you teach [spiritual things] and admonish and train one another with all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Amplified Version)

Who better proves and exemplifies the sword of the Spirit than Jesus Himself?


Let us read of how Jesus wielded the sword of the Spirit when He came under direct spiritual attack from the devil – in an incident that is known as “the temptation of Jesus” from Matthew chapter 4 and verses 1 to 11 [I include the footnotes here in order to direct you to the actual Bible passages that Jesus quoted in His battle against the devil]

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 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.”[b]

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him 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.”[c]

Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”[d]

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’

10 Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”[e]

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.


Matthew 4:1 The Greek for tempted can also mean tested.

Matthew 4:4 Deut. 8:3

Matthew 4:6 Psalm 91:11,12

Matthew 4:7 Deut. 6:16

Matthew 4:10 Deut. 6:13

You might want to watch this from  “The Visual Gospel of Matthew” – from 9:26:

  1. Notice the context of the spiritual battle

Jesus had just been baptised – He had committed Himself to serving Father God here on earth –and the devil knew this and was scared; He had spent 40 days in the presence of God –and the devil knew this and was scared. But, he saw that Jesus had not eaten for 40 days and was physically weak – he knew that this was the time. The devil attacked Him NOW – till then the enemy had nothing to fear –he only attacks when he sees us moving forward in God; he only attacks when he sees us as weak –physically, emotionally; he only attacks at our weakest points.

  • Notice the form of the spiritual battle

Our enemy, the devil, is a deceiver. He takes what is good and right and tries to pervert it – ultimately to make it bad and wrong. Jesus had one desire on earth – to save all mankind. The devil did not try to divert Him from this, but tempted Him to seek to achieve it in the wrong way. Such is the form of so many spiritual battles in which we fight. Our enemy is subtle – but you can never bring about what is good and right by what is bad and wrong. The phrase “the end justifies the means” is wrong; a “little white lie” is still a lie!

But, how on earth are we expected to know the right from the wrong and the good from the had? Through a working knowledge of the Word. This is why…

…the Christian soldier must know the Word of God well! He must read it (or listen to it), study it (or discuss it), meditate on it, and apply it to his life. For our enemy is not a weak enemy – but one we need to go into battle against well-prepared.

  • Notice the sword of the spiritual battle:

And what was the weapon that Jesus fought the devil with? The sword of the Spirit – the Word of God. He knew the Word of God and He used the Word of God against His enemy, the devil. And, He had the victory with it – the implication being that we will ALWAYS have the victory when we wield the sword of the Spirit against our enemy, the devil.

  • Notice that He knew the Scriptures well:

The Bible is totally what we need to know how to live and how to win the battle against our enemy, the devil. But, we must know it well, we must know it in context. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing if the devil uses it against you. Satan tried to use the Word to confuse Jesus and lead Him into falling into sin – when he said to Jesus “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.” (Matthew 4: 6 citing Ps 91: 11-12). So, KNOW the Word well! There is a story that tells of a man who was very depressed and thought he could find direction from the Word by just randomly putting his finger on the text. He did this and found “Judas went and hanged himself” – and thinking that this could not possibly be for him turned to another page where he read “go and do likewise”! Take care!

So, we are encouraged to know Scripture well, to compare Scripture with Scripture so that we really understand what God is saying to us. Anyone can use a Scripture taken on its own and out of context to be a pretext. The devil did this to Jesus. Men did this in the past to exert their control over women. Racists still do this to “prove” that they are better than others – racism and nationalism have been justified by Scripture. But, when you know the Word of God well, then you understand the context that things are in and also the overall picture of what God is saying to us. Jesus knew this – and so was able to counter the devil’s incorrect use of Scripture with His correct use of Scripture. But, you must know it well! The best sword is a balanced sword – when the blade is too heavy or too thin or too thick or the pommel is too light or too heavy, then the sword is ineffective. But, when the sword is well-balanced then it is an awesome weapon!

  • Notice the effect the use of the sword of the Spirit had on the devil:

Notice that the “devil left Him”. When we use the sword of the Spirit well the devil will ALWAYS leave us – he cannot beat us! James 4: 7 tells us “resist the devil and he will flee from you”. This is why…

…the Christian soldier must know the Word of God well! He must read it (or listen to it), study it (or discuss it), meditate on it, and apply it to his life. For our enemy is not a weak enemy – but one we need to go into battle against well-prepared.


If the Bible is such a powerful weapon then why should we be surprised at the attacks against its truth and its accuracy that are getting ever more virulent? We are told that the Bible is a collection of fairy tales, that it is contradictory, that it is boring. Many countries – communist, Hindu and Moslem, seek to physically eradicate all Bibles – punishing those who dare to own one. Others seek to ridicule it. Intellectuals seek to undermine it. Academics question its historicity. Theologians argue over it. Schools now ignore it. Even liberal churches alter it to suit their weak beliefs.

All of these are lies of our enemy! The intent of the devil is to get us to stop reading the Bible and to stop us believing in the Bible.

But we know, and we declare, that the Bible is the Word of God and tells us everything that we need to know – not just about God, not just about how to receive eternal life, but how to have victory in EVERY battle in the spiritual realm! What about you? Do YOU read it, study it, meditate on it, seek to apply it to every area of your life? Are you too busy to spend time on it? Do you fall asleep over it? Do you struggle to understand it and so ignore it? It is time to rise up and accept the challenge! To effectively wield the sword of the Spirit we must be practiced in its use. It is time to re-commit ourselves to a daily ritual of “sword practice”. Will you? Will you right now?


Thus far we have focused on Scripture being the “Sword of the Spirit” – and quite rightly!

But, are also some (or all) of the “Spiritual Gifts” aspects of the “Rhema” – the right word for ourselves or others at just the right time?

Have a close study of 1 Corinthians 12: 7-11 and ask yourselves whether we see the “sword of the Spirit” in any of these? And then look at Acts 2 – all of it. Do we see the “rhema word” in the “tongues? What about through the sermon of Peter – and what about sermons today? Are they, too, the “sword of the Spirit”?