The Sword of the Spirit

God’s Word is eternal (see Psalm 119:89), a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (see verse 105). The Word of God is the only offensive weapon in the armor of God. It is the “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). Paul uses rhema instead of logos for “word,” because the Greek word rhema carries the idea of proclamation. Our defense against the direct attacks from the evil one is to speak aloud God’s truth. In addition to thinking and believing God’s Word, we need to speak it because Satan is not omniscient and he doesn’t perfectly know what we are thinking. By observing us, he can know reasonably well what we are thinking, just as any student of human behavior can.

If you are paying attention to a deceiving spirit (see 1 Timothy 4:1), he is putting thoughts into your mind and will know by how you behave whether you buy his lies. It isn’t hard for Satan to know what you are thinking if he has given you the thought. You are ascribing too much power to Satan if you think he can perfectly read your mind and know the future. Occult practitioners claim to be able to read minds (or influence them) or predict the future. However, Satan doesn’t know perfectly either. We should never ascribe the divine attributes of God to Satan.

It is not uncommon for people to come under a spiritual attack at night (see Job 4:12-16). The usual experience is an intense feeling of fear and the inability to speak or move. It may feel like a pressure on our chest or something grabbing our throat. We can easily resolve such spiritual attacks by submitting to God first, and then resisting the devil (see James 4:7). We can always silently and inwardly call on the name of the Lord, because God knows the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts (see Hebrews 4:12). As soon as we acknowledge God, He will enable us to resist the devil. All we have to say is, “Jesus” and the evil spirit will flee, but we have to verbally express it. Trying to respond physically wouldn’t work, because we don’t wage war as the world does (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-4). Spiritual battles have to be won spiritually.

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10). You know your own thoughts and God also knows them, so why does verbal confession result in salvation? Paul is saying that saving faith is not complete until the will is exercised, but he is also implying the need for the god of this world to hear our commitment.

Jesus fasted for 40 days, and then the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness to be tempted. He was on the verge of starvation, alone and isolated. Nobody could be more vulnerable. He answered the tempter by speaking God’s Word (see Matthew 4:1-11). Christians face their greatest temptations when they are alone, but they also won’t be embarrassed by verbally rebuking the devil in the name of Jesus.

Dr. Neil

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