The Sword of the Spirit

Robin WilliamsonPosted on Monday, November 11, 2013 by Robin Williamson

Hebrews 4:12-16 and Matthew 4:1-11

The theme is “The Sword of the Spirit” – what do we mean – what is it referring to?

We read,

“The word of God is living and active, sharper than any double edged sword – it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit; joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.”

The Message has it,

“God means what he says. What He says goes. His powerful word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s word. We can’t get away from it – no matter what.”

I read last week, “Nothing penetrates like radiation. A low dose of X-rays reveal your skeleton – a high dose can destroy internal organs. Used carefully, radiation can destroy harmful growths.’

‘If the author of Hebrews were alive today, he could use this picture rather than the double-edged sword Roman soldiers carried and which would have been familiar to the Hebrew Christians.’

‘The passage is saying that our thoughts are as visible to God as our bones are to the radiographer. His searching gaze penetrates to the deepest corners of our hearts, to first expose and then purge out, all that is unworthy of him. So there is no point in trying to hide anything from him, no point in shutting things out of our minds and pretend they don’t exist, or never happened.”

In John 1, we read that,

“In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God and was God…”

And then,

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”

And John records,

“We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

So the Lord Jesus is, in a sense, God’s perfect word – His life, death, resurrection and ascension showed us what God is like: God’s truth was revealed by Jesus.

Do you remember when Jesus was talking to Nicodemus recorded in John 3?

He said,

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light – and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed – but whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done through God.”

All very well, but how do we apply this?

Our Gospel reading from Matthew has Jesus in the wilderness being tempted, and describes how He overcame His temptations.

If we see a luscious cream cake in a shop window we may say, ‘I’m going to give into that temptation and purchase it – and then eat it!’

I believe the temptations Jesus faced when alone in the wilderness were much much stronger than we can imagine. He’d fasted 40 days; He was hungry and alone. We believe He’d gone into the wilderness straight after His baptism when God the Father had encouraged Him by saying that He was his beloved Son, and He (God the Father) was pleased with Him.

Satan however wanted to derail God’s purposes by getting Jesus to misuse His gifts and please himself rather than carry out His destiny, or the purpose He had came into the world.

Each time Jesus was tempted, and knowing His Bible – our Old Testament – Jesus quoted Scripture, and applied it appropriately. (Satan also once used scripture here – but misquoted it and misapplied it) Knowing Bible verses, and applying them appropriately can be very helpful in overcoming temptations we may face, when we are in a tight corner.

Of course we have to be careful and sensible. We can take Scripture and misquote or misuse it e.g. Judas went and hanged himself – and go and do likewise!

As well as through Scripture, the Holy Spirit can help us when we are talking, or praying with others: He can sometimes give us pictures – or words in our minds, that if we are brave enough to share them, they can be a real help to speak to the person we are with.

They can really gently penetrate, and sometimes through them God can get to the heart of the matter, and really help the individual.

When I was praying recently with a friend, I mentioned about having had my eyes tested – and the need to have 2 new pairs of glasses (the cost of an arm and three legs!)

That gave him the courage to share with me that he thought God wanted to encourage me to put my specs on as it were and spend more time really looking at Scripture and let it penetrate my life, and the way I live in a deeper way.

Of course we need to be gentle and careful with this sort of sharing, and remember that Scripture and words of knowledge will never contradict God’s character: God loves us deeply – more than we can say – and always wants to help us become more like Christ, and obedient to Him.

So in conclusion, the sword of the Spirit can penetrate our very beings, show us by word and action the love of God and help us become more like Jesus.

So let’s be encouraged, and perhaps as we receive Holy Communion ask the Holy Spirit to gently penetrate us in a greater measure, so that we may more faithfully live out by deed and word our faith in Christ.

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