Our Fabulous Fifteen recently finished another semester of Kids Club, this term focusing on the spiritual armor which God gives to His children, through Jesus Christ, so that we will win against sin: the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the shoes of the readiness of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith … “and the sword of the Spirit.” All six of those armor pieces are to be put on, daily, through prayer.
The sword of the Spirit is the one armor piece which includes God’s name (the Holy Spirit, of course, is God). It is also the only armor piece which is specifically for offense, attack, and battle advance. The sword of the Spirit happens to be the one piece which Paul (in Ephesians 6) ensures we will not confuse, as he gives us this precise interpretation. 6:17 = “Take … the sword of Spirit which is the word of God.” Now we may wrangle for ages about precisely what is “the word of God.” Is it Jesus Christ (see John 1)? It is the spoken words of the ancient prophets? Is it equivalent to faithful preaching today? Perhaps all of those in a way. But no doubt, “the word of God” includes words in this book ~ the Bible.
Our Children’s Ministry Leaders then did a great job opening up the word about the word, what the Bible teaches about itself: “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). Especially we looked at Hebrews 4:12, since it also (like the Ephesians 6 passage concerning all the spiritual armor; 6:11-18) compares the word with a sword: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
So here are many descriptions of God’s word: double-edged, sharp, piercing, separating, dividing, judging; able to show us what to keep and what to throw away; what pleases God and what displeases Him; in the midst of a life-and-death surgery ~ what is killing us so it must be cut out, & what is part of the new us so must be healed. Strangely, Hebrews 4:12 says that this sword of the word is “living.” Now an actual, physical sword is not alive; and neither are words. So the adjective “living” strongly connects the word or words with the User of the words, with the Wielder of the sword. It is the sword of the Spirit! The Spirit of God is the User or Wielder. God is alive, of course, and God uses His sword or word to actively work in our lives to give us life, and then to renew our lives by that word, daily.
It is upon God’s people, thus enlivened, to take up this sword daily, and then use it in battle against sin. Again, this is our one offensive weapon, to win against the enemy and to destroy him. But as a baby cannot make good use of a sword on a battlefield, we must practice with this weapon or tool, so that we can be experts in its use: So have and own your own Bible; treat it as a treasure; take care of it; and bring it with you, even to church! Read your Bible daily, praying to God as you do. Then obey what it says; do the word and thus be blessed. Meditate on God’s word; memorize it; sing it in praise to its Author. Be taught according to that word (at church, at home, in school, in private devotions).
Then we closed with the dramatic account of Jesus’ victory over Satan during His temptations in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), where three times in a row, the Master Swordsman countered the wicked suggestions of His enemy with “thus saith the Lord,” followed by quotes from Deuteronomy, showing us that even obscure books & passages of the word are most powerful and useful. Now we are certain that Jesus did not have armloads of scrolls with Him in that wilderness, so His ability to bring up these most fitting verses in response to particular temptations proves that Jesus had these words in His heart and mind, memorized, ready for trials. And even if Satan would not have been out there with Jesus that day, these truths (that we live not by bread alone but God’s word; that we are not to test God through sin and folly, yet still expect His favor anyway; that we are to worship & serve only the true God) would have comforted & helped Jesus anyway.
Three brief admonitions about your own use of the word of God, in light of Jesus’ middle temptation (Matthew 4:5-7): There is a right way to use the word of God; Jesus does so as He reminds Himself, Satan, and all who have read the Gospel of Matthew that we are not to test God through foolish, sinful living. There is also a wrong way to use the word of God, as did Satan! Within this temptation, Satan also quoted Scripture (an apparent promise from Psalm 91:11-12 that if God’s beloved should fall, then He will send His angels to catch them, such that their feet will not even be scratched on the rocks below)! This good and true promise was being abused by Satan (and I think he knew it), for it would have been wrong for Jesus to jump off the temple peak in order to force God to prove His protecting love. In fact, there are times when it is the good will of God for His beloved people to suffer the pains of gravity, foot scratches, bone breaks, and worse. Always, however, God sustains His children in the midst of their trials and tribulations.
And always, master swordsmen, keep on reading! Consider Psalm 91:13, the verse which comes immediately after the passage which Satan misquoted (or misapplied in His vain quoting): “You will tread upon the lion and cobra, the young lion and the serpent you will trample down.” You will crush, tread on, & trample down lions, snakes, and dragons! Jesus knew this too: Enemies like roaring lions who seek what they might devour, deceptive serpents who slink around and lie about what God really said and meant, dragons who seek to destroy a woman and her baby son, and Satan the Accuser who is compared in Scripture to all of these beasts … will be crushed, ultimately, under the foot of Jesus Christ (Eve’s Seed ~ Genesis 3:15), who seemed so weak after forty hungry days. What joy Jesus must have had, as Satan fled, as heavenly angels comforted, and as courage was restored through the word-promise that soon all bloody swords can be put down forever since the great enemy will be finally destroyed, by the completion of His work.