The Roman sword, or gladius
, was crafted of iron. Blacksmiths hardened the iron by coating the red-hot sword blade with coal dust, thus forming a hard carbon coating on the blade. Sword handles were made of iron, ivory, bone, or wood.
The Romans used their swords both offensively and defensively.
Used in a defensive manner, the sword, along with the other armor pieces, enabled the soldier to deflect the enemy's blows. As an offensive weapon, the sword was used to attack and counter-attack an enemy until the weapon seriously wounded or killed the assailant. In battle, rows of Roman soldiers pressed back their enemies one step at a time by alternating a forward thrust of the shield with a forward plunge of the sword.
The apostle John had a vision of Jesus while imprisoned on the isle of Patmos. John described the Lord as having a "sharp twoedged sword"
coming out of His mouth (Revelation 1:16). Later, John wrote, "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war ... and his name is called The Word of God ... out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron"
(Revelation 19:11-16). The mighty warrior described here is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the living Word of God
Jesus, Who is the Word (John 1:1, 14), has graciously given us His written Word
, the Bible. The written Word was given to men by inspiration of God, and it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16-17; II Peter 1:21). The Word is made alive by the Holy Spirit of God, causing it to be filled with divine energy and ability. "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it"
(Isaiah 55:11). Jesus said in John 6:63, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
God's Word, our sword of the Spirit
, is able to cut down the strongholds of Satan. Tragically, however, many Christians fail to wield their swords. Instead, they display their swords as a decorative shelf piece: beautiful to look at, but of little practical use. This passive approach merely gives the enemy a greater advantage. The Lord said to Israel's leader Joshua, "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein"
(Joshua 1:8-9; also see Psalm 1:2, 119:97-100). By actively
using the sword of Scripture, Joshua would have a huge advantage over his enemies: his way would be prosperous and successful and the Lord would go with him wherever he went.
Psalm 149:6 says of the people of God: "Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand."
That double-edged sword is the Word of God
, and it is a powerful spiritual weapon, perfectly suited for spiritual battles (see Ephesians 5:19). Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is
quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
It is important to realize that when we take up the sword of God's Word and live by it, our family and friends may become offended at us. Jesus said, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household"
(Matthew 10:34-37; also see Luke 12:51-53). Jesus continued by saying that those who love their father, mother, son, or daughter more than Him are not worthy of Him. You see, our devotion must be first be toward God, then toward our family. This might mean making some difficult choices to stand alone
against the actions or opinions of those close to
us. However, Jesus promised, "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you,
and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you"
Learning to use the sword of God's Word requires many hours of practice. Don't wait until the heat of battle to learn to use your sword! Rather, store up Scripture in your mind and heart on a regular basis through memorization and meditation. What do those words mean? Well, memorization
means to commit a passage to memory
, while meditation
means to thoroughly process, ponder, think about, and apply a passage of Scripture.
II Timothy 2:15 says, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." The more you memorize and meditate upon God's Word, the more natural it will become to wield the sword.
You will gain confidence in speaking the Word, praying the Word, and singing the Word. The Scriptures you hide in your heart and apply to your life will be with you at all times, even if your Bible isn't nearby.
Many Christians neglect the Word of God because they "don't have time." But we all have the same amount of time allotted to us each day, so it really comes down to a matter of priorities
. David said to the Lord, "Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word"
(Psalm 119:148). Certain activities may not be wrong in and of themselves, but putting them first at the expense of God's Word is. Even reading books about
the Bible should not take the place of studying the Bible for ourselves.
Paul wrote, "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as
wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the
will of the Lord is"
(Ephesians 5:15-17). That word redeem
means to buy back
or rescue from loss.
Paul expressed here an urgency that our time is a limited and extremely valuable resource. We need to make wise decisions in how we spend our time so as to make the best use of it (see Psalm 90:12). Our goal should be to understand and do the will of God
, which is revealed in His Word, for "thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path"
In trying to disarm us, our enemy will often try to convince us that a particular portion of scripture is not true or relevant for today.
Satan may say something like, "Well, it looks like God has forsaken you this time and left you in a real mess. The Bible may sound good when things are going well, but right now you need something a little more practical. I've got a way out for you."
Notice the slander against God's integrity, the questioning of God's Word, and the contradiction of God's promises (such as Philippians 4:19 and Hebrews 13:5). In a situation like this, don't defend the Bible to Satan — just use it against him! When the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus didn't try to reason with the devil or prove His identity to the devil. Jesus simply responded, "It is written ..."
and then decisively used Scripture to combat against the devil's temptations (see Matthew 4:1-10).
Remember that the sword is both an offensive and a defensive weapon.
, you hide God's Word in your heart, root out sin, and strengthen your inner man with God's promises before the enemy attacks. Used defensively
, you deflect the devil's lies, doubts, and temptations with the truth of the Word.
As you learn to effectively use your sword against the wiles of the enemy, remember the Lord's words to you: "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed;
for I am thy God: I will strengthen
thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness"