A War of Words

“And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword” (Lev. 26:7-8).

“Who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places” (Deut. 33:29).

Edward R. Murrow (1908–1965), renowned World War II broadcaster, said of Winston Churchill: “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle…”1 Few would question the stirring influence of the statesman’s words in rallying the British Empire as it stood virtually alone in the darkest days of the war.

Since the night that Peter pulled his sword in Gethsemane, the most shameful chapters in the history of the Church have been those when the supposed followers of Christ have forgotten what their true weapons are. “If My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight…” (Jn. 18:36), said our Lord. He did not mean, of course, that Christians were not soldiers engaged in a battle. What He did mean was that the war we fight is spiritual. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against…spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).

What good, then, would broadswords be against spirit beings? “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:4). This panoply—the strengthening influence of truth, the encompassing influence of  righteousness, the preparatory influence of the gospel, the adaptive influence of faith, able to quickly move in any direction and in any situation, and the selective influence of salvation (not isolation), allowing some things in but blocking others to protect our minds—all this is defensive weaponry, that we “may be able to withstand in the evil day” (see Eph. 6:13-17). How we need such protection in these perilous times!

But there is one weapon more. It is not, like the others, defensive. This one—the sword of the Spirit—is designed to be pulled from its scabbard and skillfully used to put the enemy to flight. How shall we learn to use it effectively? Our Commander is the master swordsman. In fact, the concluding portraits given of Him in Scripture present Him as “He which hath the sharp sword with two edges” (Rev. 2:12; see also 1:16; 19:15). No need to guess what the two-edged sword represents. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12). In fact the One who bears this sword “is called The Word of God” (Rev. 19:13).

Christian swordsmen need to get used to the heft of their weapon, and to its incisive action—”even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit” (Heb. 4:12). The darkened soul can keep people from Christ: the mind says, “I don’t understand it”; the heart says, “I don’t feel it”; the will says, “I don’t want it.” But the right use of the sword can free the spirit to rise to God in faith, for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).

We must not wait for swordsmanship lessons until the enemy comes over the hill. Have confidence now in the power of the Word. Memorize it and meditate on it today. Talk about it with other believers, asking what they have found helpful in their witness. Then go into the day depending on the Spirit, whose sword it is, to bring just the right scripture to mind as you need it. A sword in the scabbard has never yet put an enemy to flight. Better than Churchill, let’s mobilize the Word of God and send it into battle.