Soldiers without swords

June 5, 2008 at 8:17 am 1 comment


St. Paul is well known for getting his message through using easily understood and relevant word-pictures. One such message is about the fight that we all face everyday in life – the fight to live right, the fight to stand in the face of adversity and continue to stand in spite of everything else going wrong, the fight to keep our faith alive through all that is happening and so on…. This is illustrated beautifully in the concluding chapter of the letter to the Ephesians, specifically in Chapter 6, verses 10-17

Paul maps the word-picture of a well equipped Roman soldier of his day to a Christian past and present, comparing the armament of this soldier to the spiritual weapons that are available to each and every Christian. The whole of Ephesians is about God’s Master Plan, and how we as Christians fit into the Plan. These verses show how God has already fully equipped us in order to fight this good fight. Starting with the belt of truth that holds everything together and the breastplate that protects, Paul talks about the shoes and the shield and the helmet. Finally, he mentions “… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

(Image courtesy Peter Asirvatham – my brother)

Much has been written about these spiritual weapons, and about this cosmic battle, but I would like to take up just one of these weapons – the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. This sword is the one and only offensive weapon in this repertoire. A sword is an “up close and personal” weapon, one that is wielded and used when locking eyes, skills and muscles with an enemy. The sword should always be present on a soldier, indoors, outdoors and even in a formal setting. The sword is also been an object of majesty and authority. In fact, when a ruler or general surrenders to his enemy, he usually has to offer up his sword to the victor as a sign of his acceptance of defeat. A solider without a sword would never be considered a soldier. Such are the connotations associated with this weapon…..

So why is it that so many of us Christians barely even take up this potent and powerful weapon? Why is that we find many of us just standing in the face of our enemy and taking all that he throws at us without ever lifting the Word against our adversary? It is not that we do not have the Word of God with us – we have multiple printed and even electronic versions of the Word, but we just refuse to use it! Paul used the word picture of a well equipped Roman soldier whose mere presence usually made his enemies quake, but it looks like we need to use the term “Soldiers without swords” in this sad situation of today…..

Granted some of us (and I place myself in the fore here!) have a few standard set of verses from the Word to invoke when difficulties or problems arise, either in our lives or in the lives of others. I just love to rattle off a set of pre-prepared verses in most situations. The question however is not whether we use the Word of God at all, but rather whether we use it fully and effectively. Paul is clear about how we should use this weapon. In his letter to Timothy, Paul instructs his protégé with these words: (2 Tim 2:15) “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” and (2 Tim 4:2) “Preach the Word; be prepared (in the Word) in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.”

These verses make it very clear that we need to know the Word of God well, and be prepared to use it correctly, whenever and wherever required. Just as a soldier does not enter battle without adequate training and continuous, ongoing preparation we too need to be knowledgeable and well versed in the Word, having read it and used it as part of everyday life. The Word of God should not be a ceremonial sword that is just worn on the side on Sunday morning, but a weapon that is available and useful everyday in every situation. Just as a soldier is not content with the basic training received in boot camp but continues to both sharpen his sword and his skills everyday, we need to move beyond the spiritual milk we received as baby Christians and grow up to eat at the full feast of solid food that God has prepared for us in the Word. (Heb 5:12-14 “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”)

Such growth can only happen through commitment to a Word reading schedule, with dedicated time and no compromises. If you are new to this, or just trying to get back to the Word, make a start today – don’t try to read 10 chapters a day or the whole Bible in a year. Even if you read a few verses, make sure you understand and digest and meditate on what you read. I would recommend reading through entire books, sections at a time and not just verses at random. Start with the New Testament – the book of Romans is a good one that lays out the foundation of Christian Faith, followed by the letters of the Apostles. (Personally, reading bits and pieces here and there from the Word is akin to snacking, and not eating full, balanced meals!) Allow the Word to speak to your life and learn to listen. At the risk of repeating myself: Make a start – God through the Holy Spirit will honor your commitment and will speak to you if you are sincere.

My prayer is that starting today, both you and I will get to finally and fully read, understand and use our swords – the Word of God – in our daily battle with the enemy; that we will grow in these skills and teach them to our fellow Christians, and that ultimately God will be glorified through our victorious life lived by His Word.

Don’t be found a soldier without your sword. It is never too late – make a start today!

John Kanagaraj

A Soldier in God’s Army

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Entry filed under: Life, Nature of Man, Word. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • […] Later on in the very next chapter, God, speaking via Moses had very specific instructions about how to learn his Law and even gave us tips on how to remember them easily. In Deuteronomy 6:6 -8, He said “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates….” In other words, God wants us to incorporate His Word into our daily activities so that it will remain with us. After all, the Word is your only spiritual weapon that we need to wield as His soldiers! […]

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