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Using Scripture Skillfully

The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
–Psalm 19:8

The final piece of armor that Paul talked about in Ephesians 6 is the sword of the spirit. He wrote in verse 17, “And take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” Paul was not referring to a big Roman broadsword that a soldier would use by flailing it around, hoping to hit somebody. The word for “sword” here is “machaira” in Greek. The machaira was a dagger six to eighteen inches long that was only useful in hand-to-hand combat. The soldier had to know precisely where to strike with that dagger in order to render his opponent inoperable. It took great skill.

According to Paul, the dagger in our spiritual armory is the Word of God. Paul was talking about the power of Scripture when we are in hand-to-hand combat with Satan. What makes the Word of God so powerful? Hebrews 4:12 says, “The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and the spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” That last phrase captures why the Word of God is so powerful. It is powerful in spiritual warfare not because of what it does to the enemy but because of what it does for us. Remember that the mind is command central. When Satan wants to tempt you, he will put ungodly thoughts into your mind, but the Word of God can cut through the fog of Satan’s deceptions. It is able to judge the intentions and the thoughts of our own hearts. That is what makes the Word of God so powerful in spiritual warfare.

Now, just like the soldier had to use his dagger with great skill, so we as Christians have to use the Word of God with great skill when we are in the midst of temptation. Too many Christians use the Bible like that Roman broadsword, just swinging Scripture around and hoping the enemy will flee. It does not work that way. Not all Scripture will help you when you are in the midst of temptation. For example, let’s say an advertisement pops up on your computer screen to go to a pornographic website. You think, “The Word of God can help me defeat Satan’s temptation in my life. Let me pick out a verse and see if it really works.” So you look up Leviticus 13:40 and meditate on it: “Now if a man loses the hair of his head, he is bald.” That verse is in God’s Word for a reason, but it will be absolutely no help to you when you are being tempted to look at an inappropriate website. You see, the power of the Word of God is not just any word from God; it is the specific word from God you need at that moment. That is why it is essential for us to know God’s Word well enough to use it in precisely the right way at the right time to counter Satan’s attacks. Only then will we be able to cut through the fog of deception and give ourselves the strength to say no to the evil one.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Helmet And The Sword” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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