Tag Archives: armor of God

The Sword of the Spirit

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.

The Shield of Faith (= God?!)

Worship Meditation on the Spiritual Armor

You, O Lord, are a Shield about me, my Glory, and the Lifter of my head. … The Lord is my Strength and my Shield.  In Him my heart trusts, and I am helped.  My heart exults and with my song I give thanks to Him. … Behold our Shield, O God.  Look on the face of Your Anointed! … Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand vs. the schemes of the devil. … In all circumstances, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. … Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession … Do not throw away your confidence which has a great reward. … My righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.  But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. … Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. … Without faith it is impossible to please [God], for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. … Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world ~ our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? … Psalms 3:3; 28:7; 84:9; Eph. 6:11,16; 1 Timothy 6:12; Hebrews 10:35,38,39; 11:1,6; 1 John 5:4-5 (English Standard Version)

This semester we are introducing our Tuesday night Kids Clubbers to the spiritual armor which Jesus Christ purchased and then gives to His people, by grace … so that we can win against sin.  God gives these to us, and then we put them on, daily:  the Helmet of salvation, the Breastplate of righteousness, the Belt of truth, our feet shod with the readiness of the gospel of peace, the Shield of faith, and the Sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).  “But what about prayer?!” some ask.  Prayer is the way we put on the armor pieces.

Consider many examples of inadequate shields which fail to do a good job because they are too small, or they are strangely shaped, or they are unwieldy, or they are soft and so easily pierced.  Compare these to effective shields (especially from ancient times):  A good shield is large enough to protect.  It has a good handle on the back.  It can be moved or wielded quickly in order to cover the exposed and weak areas of the soldier’s body.  Or it might be large enough to cover the body, going all around it!

Especially in a battle unit or in a company of soldiers, through organization and attentive listening to the commander, twenty or more soldiers with their shields can become like a many-plated turtle, protecting each other and especially the prince (or some other vital person or item) hiding safely in the middle of them.  Some shields were covered with leather, then soaked in water; this explains Paul’s specific reference to the shield of faith being able to extinguish the enemy’s flaming arrows or darts.

A shield and a breastplate are not redundant; though they perform similar functions, a shield can be moved to protect the weakness of the moment … but only if the soldier is awake and alert!  In the spiritual reality which this armor analogy pictures, weak areas are like our doubts, questions, anxieties, and immaturities.  A shield can be trusted if it proves itself to be solid and effective time after time.  It should be used as often as it is needed, as many times as you are being attacked.  But there is only one FIRST time to use the shield.

Faith is too often depicted as a one-use gift:  “I expressed faith in the Lord back when I was first saved.”  First faith is good and necessary:  “I will now trust in God.”  But if it is real faith, then God’s people will keep on trusting, believing, “faithing” … until there is no more need for faith.  Oh, when is that?!  When we are in heavenly glory, face-to-face with Jesus, and there are no more attacks, no more promises remaining which are not fulfilled, and where everything for which we have hoped is being seen.

There are many Bible accounts where “the shield of faith” is needed to protect the people of God in their weak moments:  when Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac on an altar; when David went forward against the giant Goliath; when the faithful prophets (and later, apostles) were called by God to say hard but true things to angry audiences; when Peter was walking to Jesus on the water; when Jesus Himself was on the cross (experiencing His Father’s perfect wrath, yet committing His spirit into His Father’s hands).

In all of those examples and in your own particular story, the most impressive thing is not the human faith, but the faithfulness and the trustworthiness of God.  We can have faith in God-our-Shield because He is faithful, strong, and true.

The Breastplate of Righteousness

In [the true Shepherd’s] days, Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely.  This is the name by which He will be called:  “The Lord our Righteousness.” … Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. … I count all things loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, [that I may] be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God depending on faith. … How can a young man keep his way pure?  By guarding it according to Your word.  With my whole heart I seek You.  Let me not wander from Your commands.  I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.  [Jeremiah 23:6Matthew 6:33Philippians 3:8-9;Psalm 119:9-11]

Please keep praying for this congregation’s Kids Club and the covenant children who are benefiting from your commissioning of our Children’s Ministry Leaders for several years now.  In the first year the children considered simplified catechisms about the basic gospel message.  In this second year we have sampled the fruit of the Spirit (from Galatians 5) & now the spiritual armor (from Ephesians 6).  We are learning about all six armor parts and how we put them on (through prayer):  the Helmet of Salvationthe Breastplate of Righteousnessthe Belt of Truthfeet shod with the Readiness of the Gospel of Peace (whew!), the Shield of Faith, and the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  Though we are instructed to obediently put these on, we see them in the first place as gifts of grace from our Savior Jesus Christ, who bought them for all of His people at great expense (His own blood).  Jesus defeated Satan, but these armor pieces help us to “Win Against Sin” every day (that’s the goal)!

Recently we learned about the Breastplate of Righteousness; this involved simple principles which we believe even some adults can understand!  “Righteousness” involves being completely right or good before God, as He defines it (that is, perfectly perfect)!  Nobody here (among the mere humans in this room) is that or achieves that.  This sad reality matches what Scripture tells us, then, that we begin our lives as enemies of the holy God.  Far from having God’s help to “Win Against Sin,” we ourselves were actively fighting against the all-powerful God, who always wins against all of His foes.

So we are doomed, unless God in His mercy works a rescue plan:  He does!  This involves His perfect Son (Jesus) becoming a man, living a perfectly righteous life (proving Himself to be God’s Friend, not His enemy), but then still paying the penalty which God’s people deserve for their rebellion, their sin nature, and their many individual sins.  Once finished (and it is … our full release and debt paid for), the Lord our Righteousness (Yahweh Tsidkenu is one of the many names God announces for Himself) supplies all of His people with His own Breastplate of Righteousness (or we might even regard it that Jesus Himself covers us, in the fullness of His resurrected life).

A breastplate provides covering for the chest area, making a hard barrier against weapons that would otherwise pierce the heart and lungs (etc.).  So this covering is a matter of life and death.  In the first place, this breastplate (which is the righteousness of Christ, OR the righteous Christ) covers us from the holy wrath of God the Father.  One fascinating feature of this particular breastplate model (which has a reflective surface) is that what God would see is Himself!  But that old fight is over, done, and finished … behind us for those who are adopted by God, but not a thing for us to forget.  Our happy union with the perfect God depends upon Jesus Christ.  Then the Breastplate of Righteousness becomes that protection against Satan and his dark forces, to help us Win Against Sin in daily battles.

  • But on Day 1 … I forgot to put on any breastplate.  So I was pretty much toast.  Sin won that day.
  • So on Day 2 … I remembered my breastplate … and I do mean MINE!  It was way too thin (like Saran wrap)!  Sin won again.
  • So on Day 3 … pain was a good teacher, so I put on Christ’s righteousness.  But Satan is clever, and he worked all day to remind me of my sins, weaknesses, and failures (past and present).  Dropping my guard (that is, switching out Christ’s armor-plating for my plastic wrap!), sin won again.
  • So on Day 4 … we taught the kids to truly battle against the world, the flesh, the devil … and sin … pointing one and all (especially the self) to the natural, achieved, proven, expensive righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We are more than conquerors … eternally and daily … through Him!