The Sword of the Spirit

Are you standing firm against the schemes of the enemy?

Dressed to Kill, by Rick Renner, is one of the best books on spiritual warfare that I’ve read. In chapter 15, Renner discussed the five types of swords that a Roman soldier could use. The most deadly sword, however, was called a machaira sword. In Ephesians 6, the apostle Paul identified seven pieces of armor that we are to use so that we may stand firm against the enemy. Note what he wrote concerning the machaira sword in Ephesians 6:17, “And take up…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

The sword (machaira) that Paul referenced was approximately nineteen inches long and both sides of the blade were razor sharp. This sword was used for cutting and slicing flesh. The tip of the sword was turned upward so that it could rip out the entrails of the enemy. It was extremely lethal. Paul said that we could stand firm against the schemes of the enemy by taking up, among other things, a spiritual sword—the sword of the Spirit. Paul said that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. This is the rhema word, which is an inspired utterance from the Lord. It can be defined as a spoken word by a living voice or a divine word spoken through the Holy Spirit.

A rhema word is a clearly spoken word in undeniable, unmistakable, and unquestionable language that we hear and understand. Renner wrote, “In the New Testament, the word rhema carries the idea of a quickened word, such as a word of scripture or a ‘word from the Lord’ that the Holy Spirit supernaturally drops into a believer’s mind, thus causing it to supernaturally come alive and impart special power or direction to that believer.” Throughout history, there have been men and women who have made critical decisions or life-changing moves simply because they heard a word from the Lord. God spoke an undeniable, unmistakable, unquestionable word to them and they obeyed it. As a result, through God’s people who were obedient to the spoken Word of God, extraordinary accomplishments have occurred. The sword of the Lord was picked-up by those believers and used to stand firm against the enemy by cutting down the work of darkness.

Much of Paul’s ministry was influenced by rhema words being spoken to him. For example: God spoke to Paul at the time of his conversion (Acts 9:4-6), God spoke to Ananias concerning Paul’s life and need of a healing (Acts 9:10-16), the Holy Spirit spoke at the time of Paul’s “commissioning” into public ministry (Acts 13:2), the Holy Spirit warned Paul where he was not to preach (Acts 16:6), God spoke to Paul in preparation for a period of persecution that he would experience in Jerusalem (Acts 21:11), and the Holy Spirit spoke concerning Paul’s ministry in the city of Rome (Acts 23:11).

We can conclude that Paul used the sword of the Spirit to advance the kingdom of God. He heard the rhema Word of God and by obeying it, the gospel of Christ was advance against the perils and wiles of the devil. The Holy Spirit desires to speak a rhema word to you, too. He wants to speak to you in undeniable, unmistakable, and unquestionable language that you hear and understand. Have you heard a word from the Lord recently? The challenge becomes living in such a way that we’re able to hear the subtle voice of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says today if we hear His voice we’re not to harden our hearts (Heb. 4:7). I believe the issue is not if God is speaking, but if we’re listening. Recently, I wrote that one of the most significant things that we can do to stand firm against the schemes of the enemy is to “listen” to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Life is in His voice; we don’t live by bread alone, but by every word (rhema) that proceeds out of God’s mouth (Matt. 4:4). If we live by His words, then, could we spiritually die by the absence of hearing them?

We must arrange our lives in a posture of intimacy to hear what Jesus is saying to us. Choose to live a “Mary lifestyle” at the feet of Jesus. This is a challenge, no doubt, because we live in a “Martha world” that is worried, bothered and distracted about so many things (see Luke 10:38-42). Intimacy with Jesus is fundamental to hearing, and it’s how we’re equipped to use the sword of the Spirit against the schemes of the enemy. Additionally, some of the greatest spoken words that you will hear occur when you read the written words of God. The Bible says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Become a student of the Bible so that you can be adequately equipped for every work that the Lord calls you to do. Read, soak, immerse, listen, study, and memorize the written Word of God, and watch how frequently He will speak a living word into your heart.

Stand firm, my friends, and use the sword of the Spirit against the schemes of the enemy so that you can advance the kingdom of God.

Rob McCorkle

Rob believes in the message of purity and power. In 2013, he completed his Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. His dissertation discusses the fusion of Word and Spirit in the Holiness movement with special emphasis on the supernatural gifts. Rob is the founder of Fire School Ministries, a ministry organization with the distinct purpose of re-digging the wells in the Holiness movement.