The maintenance of a soldier’s issued weapon is always a priority. While they may have a wide variety of kit that can offer some level of protection from the enemy, it is only their weapon that will cause the enemy to leave. As a result, in basic training, they are taught how to disassemble clean and reassemble their weapon. A rifle that is not clean could malfunction, which is potentially fatal during an attack.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul defines the spiritual armour that a Christian must wear in order to be protected against the attack of the devil. He identifies one resource that is offensive rather than defensive, ‘the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God’, Eph. 6. 17.
Consider the power of the weapon at our disposal. ‘By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God’, Heb. 11. 3 ESV. The sword of the Spirit is the only weapon which can pierce ‘to the division of soul and of spirit’, Heb. 4. 12 NKJV. There is no question that our enemy is powerful; Paul states that we fight ‘against spiritual wickedness in high places’, Eph. 6. 12, yet our weapon is sufficient for us to be victorious.
When John sees a vision of the Son of man at the beginning of the Book of Revelation, he states, ‘out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword’, Rev. 1. 16. This shows us that the Bible is not a good luck charm that wards off evil merely by its presence; it must be in our mouth, that is, it must be spoken or communicated.
The Lord Jesus demonstrated this during His temptation in the wilderness. Repeatedly, the devil came to him with a variety of temptations, and, on each occasion, Jesus quotes scripture, stating ‘It is written’, Luke 4. 4, and, as a result, the devil ‘departed from him for a season’, Luke 4. 13.
This is an important tactic. We also must make use of the word of God when facing temptation. Perhaps we are tempted to respond angrily in a certain situation, quoting an appropriate scripture either audibly or mentally will help us to overcome the temptation. For example, we might say, ‘He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city’, Prov. 16. 32 NKJV.
Jonathan and his armour-bearer defeated many Philistines in 1 Samuel chapter 14, but it was clearly not the first occasion in which he had used a sword. Similarly, we must spend time with the word of God prior to the attack of the devil. For example, I read recently of a Christian who had the verse ‘I have made a covenant with my eyes’, Job 31. 1 NKJV, taped to his computer monitor. This man obviously understood the potential for sin, and had prepared accordingly for this temptation.
This does not mean we have to be able to memorize the whole Bible. We must get to know our enemy and be aware of the ways he might attack us, or perhaps areas where we have previously failed and are vulnerable. An elder or older Christian may be able to advise us regarding verses or passages that are suitable for the temptations we face. It would be good if we were able to say, ‘Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you’, Ps. 119. 11 NKJV.