E50: Armor of God series: Sword of the Spirit and prayer
PODCAST: On this episode, we talk about weapons that are needed for attack.
Why is God’s word called the sword of the Spirit? Why is prayer mentioned after all the pieces of the armor of God in Ephesians 6? Join Milenko and Eunice in the last episode of this armor of God series as they talk about these points and more!
Transcript: “Living the Gospel” podcast, Episode 50: Sword of the Spirit and prayer
Welcome to ActiveChristianity’s “Living the Gospel” podcast. Join us as we talk about how we can “live the gospel” every day, no matter who we are, where we live, and what our circumstances are.
Eunice: So, welcome to episode 50 of “Living the Gospel.”
Milenko: That is actually amazing. 50th episode! It doesn’t feel like it at all.
Eunice: Anyways, I’m Eunice.
Milenko: And I’m Milenko.
Eunice: And we are actually carrying on today with our series on the armor of God. It’s actually the last part in the series. So today we are going to talk about the sword of the Spirit and about prayer. So, last week Kathy and Julia talked about the helmet of salvation. And in verse 17 it says, “… take [up] the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:17. So, the word of God is compared to a sword. And that means that it’s sharp, right? Why is it compared to a sword?
Milenko: Well, it’s interesting; if you look at the whole series, all the different parts of the armor so far have been protective. You’ve got shoes, you’ve got a helmet, a breastplate, a shield. Here we’re talking about an actual weapon that you use to attack – to fight. And of course, the battle is very much made up of also defending yourself against the attacks of the enemy but if it was only a defensive war, if that was all you did, you’d never make any progress. So, what we have to do is that we actually have to forge ahead; we have to defeat the enemy and take new land. That’s basically what it’s about. And then you need a weapon to fight with. And that’s what the sword is. The sword is sharp. So, the sword can actually be used to attack the enemy and it can be used to expose things. And it’s a very strong thing to have the word of God. It’s written there, we can actually read that, in Hebrews 4:12, it says, ”For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” So here it’s also talking about exposing things. Like, it makes a division between different parts and it also exposes the thoughts and intents of the heart. And that’s really important, because anything I do has to be done with that longing to please God, to live for Him. It has to be done out of love to Him. Anything done out of selfishness is tainted; it’s not effective against the enemy. Anything done for getting honor for myself, for example, or because I want to take it out on someone else … You know, you can do it in many different ways, it doesn’t have to be very obvious. But things can be done with a different motive. And the word of God can expose that. Because the word of God is sharp and it goes straight against the sin that’s in my flesh, which is what the enemy is; we’ve spoken about that before. The enemy is the sin that come up through the lusts that are in my flesh.
Eunice: And in practical terms it can be that maybe you do something and then you realize that I wanted to seek honor, or actually I secretly was a bit envious of someone and said something that sounded quite nice, but then the word comes to me and it, you know, I get a word like “humble yourself.” And bam! It’s sharp too, because it’s actually what you needed to hear, but you didn’t want to hear it, in a way. That’s how I experience it anyway.
Milenko: That’s exactly the thing. Because sin is egotism. So, if I don’t get to see that, I can’t do anything about it. So, the sword comes in, God’s word comes in and it exposes things to me. There’s light in God’s word. It enlightens us, it says. Through the word the Spirit speaks to us. So, being sharp, the word – which is the sword – can cut through and expose all this egotism, self-righteousness, whatever there is underneath, and can help you to become free from it. And it exposes what you have to fight against as well. And it also says that it cleaves between soul and spirit, for example. And your soul, that’s your feelings and all that, and you can really be very much influenced by that, you know, what happens around you, and that your feelings are taking over. The word of God comes in and makes this clear division. “No, that’s all feelings!” And it gives you access to the spiritual side, which is contact with God and God’s will.
Eunice: The truth.
Milenko: And there it becomes clear for you what you have to do, no matter how you feel. And that’s a real help to keep your head clear and to be in contact with God at all times.
Eunice: And then when that happens then you actually don’t want to protect yourself. Like what you said, the sword is used to attack, so in that case then actually we’re happy to be laid bare. Open for God to judge us, and then to let the sword have its deep effect. We can’t use the sword if we don’t know how to use it – if we don’t know God’s word. And it comes by reading His word. It also comes by having an open ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to us.
Milenko: And we have to believe it. If you use a practical example, you’ve got two different types of swords. You’ve got battle swords and you’ve got ceremonial swords. Ceremonial swords are often really beautiful, with a lot of carvings, and a lot of jewelry on them, and so on.
Eunice: What are they even used for?
Milenko: They’re used to symbolize something, but they’re never used to fight. And they’re not sharp, they’re placed there on display. Beautiful sword. It looks fantastic, it looks like it could be used for all kinds of things, but it’s not used for anything. It’s just like a ceremonial sword lying there.
Eunice: I can know a lot of verses.
Milenko: And you can use the word of God in all kinds of situations and the beautiful verses from Psalms and everything’s nice. But it doesn’t give you anything. A battle sword gets taken out of the scabbard and it gets used. It’s actually wielded; it’s something that you use. So, when we use the word of God, when we use all those beautiful verses to actually … what they’re intended for, as we were talking about before, to expose sin and to fight against it and to fight for God’s cause, then you’re actually using the word. Then we have to believe it and we have to obey it. That’s when the sword really has power. There’s always power in the word, but if I don’t use it for myself, it’s useless for me. I have to really obey it and believe it.
Eunice: Why is there actually such great power in God’s word?
Milenko: Well, God’s word, it’s written there in John 1, that the Word was God and the Word was with God. And then the Word became flesh. That’s what Jesus was – the word of God that became flesh. And God – and it says it was God – so it contains all of God’s wisdom. It contains all of God’s strength. All of God’s will and His purity. God is 100% pure and good and light. There’s no shadow at all in Him. And that is something that can always defeat the devil. It’s written that God is Almighty. So, the word of God, that’s His almighty strength, in the word of God.
Eunice: Nothing is above the Almighty.
Milenko: Exactly. And you see it in the natural, that light drives away darkness, not the other way around. When you turn off the light it becomes dark. So, the way to drive out the darkness of sin is with the light of God’s word. By obeying it. By doing it. So – to use these practical examples – when it says “Judge not,” for example. That’s a huge, powerful light. When I come into a situation, there’s a lot of things in another person that I see and that I want to start judging them, then the word comes in. “Judge not!” It’s like a sword, it goes straight to me: “You’re the one who’s making a judgment now. You’re coming to conclusions; you’re thinking bad things about another person; you have no right to do that.” The sword comes, and it cleaves between my feelings and my spirit, and it shows me the intents of my heart. Then I pick up that sword and I fight against that judgment in my life.
Eunice: And then it can quickly put an end to all these feelings too. These self-righteous thoughts.
Milenko: Exactly. And then the light of God’s word drives out that darkness. It puts an end to all those feelings. And light comes in. So that other person can genuinely have done something bad. It doesn’t mean that everyone is good. But it means that I no longer have that judgment and those harsh feelings and so on.
Milenko: I can now bless that person. That’s where the light comes in. And I can pray for that person. And I can be an example to them. And I can show them love and I can give them loving exhortations maybe, whatever’s needed. But it comes through that use of the sword that drives out the darkness.
Eunice: And you said also that God’s word is pure. And purity is also a huge power, right? It gives you access to hear God and to know His will. Instead of being mixed up in all your own thoughts.
Milenko: And you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to be ashamed of, you’ve got no double motives. Everything is pure, it’s open, it’s powerful. And that’s the power in God’s word. That God’s own purity and light and goodness and strength and wisdom – it’s all there.
Eunice: It’s really inspiring actually. It makes me want to be so much more open to hear God’s word and to read in God’s word.
So, that’s like the last piece of the armor, but what’s interesting is that it doesn’t end there. It says, “… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God …” and then it says, “… praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplications for all the saints,” it says in Ephesians 6:18. Why do you think that Paul mentions this right after he mentions all the pieces of the armor?
Milenko: Well praying, it’s not mentioned here with the example of a piece of armor, but you can say in a way, praying is what binds it all together. Praying in faith and praying for our salvation and praying to get light in the word of God. It’s what gives us the connection to our commander-in-chief, you can say.
Eunice: To God.
Milenko: To God, who is leading the battle. To Jesus who is our Forerunner. By prayer I have a direct line to the headquarters and I can get the strength I need. I can get the commandments to do what I have to do. I get light and revelation. And in that way, I can always do the right thing. And I can pray for wisdom – then I get wisdom to fight in the right way. So, prayer is a weapon in itself. It’s not mentioned as a physical piece of armor, but it covers everything. All those different areas. Prayer is right at the center of it all. And it speaks here about supplication in the Spirit.
Eunice: What does supplication mean?
Milenko: Supplication is like intense requests. You know, I pray to God in the Spirit. And it’s written there in Romans 8 about the Spirit who makes intercession for us; where we don’t have words to express ourselves, the Spirit knows what we need and prays for us. And if we’re in that Spirit, maybe we don’t have the words, but we’re in that Spirit, that we’re intensely praying to God, requesting help and requesting light. And when we do that then we open ourselves to all the spiritual and heavenly powers that can help us to fight the spiritual hosts of wickedness. It’s a spiritual battle, but it takes place in my own life. In my situations. So, prayer is totally necessary.
Eunice: And it’s also not a battle that we fight alone, right? It’s written also, praying for all the saints, with all perseverance and supplication. So, we bring all those requests and need also for those around us to God. And then we’re part of a battle together.
Milenko: Yeah. It’s written about that we’re part of the body of Christ. And in that body, we have care for one another. So, we have to pray for each other. We’re all in a battle. Everyone’s got their situations, everyone’s got their own nature, their own flesh to deal with. So, it’s a battle for everyone. And people go through different things in life, you know. And we can really pray that they can remain faithful and be blessed and experience all of God’s goodness in the situations that they’re in. We don’t need to know what it is. Sometimes we do know, sometimes we don’t. But we can pray for them. Also, those who are struggling and so on, that they can be protected. Prayer is such a powerful force. It moves God’s hand and it shows our love for people. And again, the sword of the Spirit comes and it discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart and then it finds that you have this burning love for other people. That really shows how you have it and God has to answer that. God has to work with that. And then we are really in the mind of God Himself, as well. So, it’s a powerful weapon for ourselves, but also to help other people. People that are near to us that we love and also others. And you can pray for the government, it says as well, you know, that really, that Satan doesn’t get power. We’ve got a real responsibility there in that battle.
Eunice: Yeah, because, you know, if I strengthen the people around me with praying, then that’s only going to help the war.
Milenko: It’s a huge advantage. And they pray for me too. Imagine that! It’s not only my own prayers, but they’re praying for me. It’s really this army working together with Jesus at the head. With headquarters in heaven where God is. And we’ve got contact and we’ve got the armor of God that He’s given us. He’s given us the weapons we need and the protection we need. So, there’s nothing to fear, but we do have to fight. It’s what we’re called to. The whole Bible is full of this metaphor of a struggle, of a battle, a war between the good and the evil and we have to be on the side of God. That’s the winning side. And that’s why we’ve been given armor. It’s not to put on the armor and then … nothing. The armor is given to fight with.
Eunice: And, I mean, the truth of the matter is that fighting gives you so much freedom and peace that … why wouldn’t you do it, actually? We need it! We need this armor; we need to fight.
Milenko: Oh yeah. We don’t have to do it by ourselves. We have all the strength we need and all the protection we need. It can’t fail. We are going to win this war against sin.
Eunice: So, it’s not like an armor that you have to put on every morning when you wake up, but it’s an armor that you actually should never take off, right?
Milenko: Exactly, it’s a lifestyle. When we’ve gone into this, when we’ve given our life to God, we’ve said yes to this life, we’ve said yes to start waging a war. We’ve now given ourselves into His service. And now, that’s when the fight starts, and we have to keep that on at all times. Always ready. Always ready in prayer. Always ready in faith. Always ready, you know, to fight with the word of God.
Eunice: Because you can go into battle without armor, but then you’re so tired with just doing it in your own strength. You can think about that fight. If I go without God, without listening to Him, without having any faith, then I can fight for a little bit, but then most likely you’ll fall. Well, not most likely. It’s guaranteed that you’ll get hurt by the enemy. And then it says, actually before the armor is mentioned in Ephesians, it says that, “… be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” And strength in the Lord means that I get strength from Him, right? And that I don’t rely on my own abilities and thinking that this has worked for me before; it will work again. Things like that. And then it also says, “… that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” And that’s incredibly hopeful, that after every battle I’m still standing, and I still have strength to keep going. How can we be like that?
Milenko: That is because it’s the armor of God. And the fight is against, as it says, not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities in the spirit world. Those powers of wickedness. And if we don’t have the armor on, when we’re using our own strength, maybe you want to fight for justice, you know, stand up for justice in the world. There’s a lot of injustice and there’s a lot of good causes, very commendable. But if you do it in your own strength, because you feel something …
Eunice: You go along, also, with what’s going on.
Milenko: Yeah, and the thing is that you then might stand up for a just cause, but at the same time you’re offended because of what they’ve said, you know. And you’ve let sin into your life. But if you are doing it with the armor of God, then you find the sin in yourself first. And then you really have something to work with and you can overcome there. And then of course you can speak out for justice. But it’s not because … I don’t do it because I’m offended. I’m doing it because it’s the right thing and it’s because it’s according to God’s will. And I can remain standing after any battle. And at the end I’m not damaged. Sin hasn’t damaged me. I’m still standing. The thing is that I’ll remain standing for eternity. I get a place in heaven. When that battle is won, when the war is won, then that final peace comes, where sin has no dominion at all. Sin is defeated forever. And that’s our eternity. And think that we can go into that eternity standing up, because we have been along in that battle. That’s really something to work for and to fight for and to be enthusiastic about. So, put on this armor, keep it on, and remain standing. You don’t need to be defeated at all.
Eunice: So that concludes our series on armor of God. And I hope that, for us and for everyone listening, that we are well equipped for battle with the whole armor of God.
Milenko: Yeah, and that we really think about it in our daily situations. That they really are something that we can use. Why not write them down on a note that you can have in your pocket? You can take it out when you’re in your situations. What should I be using now? The shield of faith or the breastplate of righteousness. Now righteousness is needed; now I’ve got that breastplate on. And you can really use these things in your daily life.
Eunice: And then after a while it becomes more and more natural.
Milenko: It does!
Eunice: Thank you for listening to this whole series. And if you’ve missed one or the other, feel free to go back and take a listen. And we’ve also got some good articles about the armor of God on our website, so even if you just use the search function, type in “armor of God” and you should be able to find some good articles. And we have actually an awesome, awesome topic page called “overcoming sin” that we worked on a few years ago. We did a series on the armor and different things like that and those are super, super hopeful, helpful articles. So, feel free to take a look.
Milenko: And tune in next week again, we’ll be back with a brand-new series, so you can really look forward to that. Have a good week everyone!