Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 6. Experiencing the power of the cross . No 12:- Dead to Satan (Part 8) Sword of the Spirit

. No 12:- Dead to Satan (Part 8) Sword of the Spirit

 

EXPERIENCING THE POWER OF THE CROSS


DEAD TO SATAN (PART 8)

This morning we march on to our last part of the full armour of God, so that we can stand firm against the devil and his attacks on our lives. Now we know that we are in constant battle against the principalities, against the evil forces of darkness which is against Satan and the demonic world. Many of us might never in our lifetime encounter demons as such, but however you look at it, your struggle remains against a demonically inspired system that comes at us and at our sinful tendencies through the world and through the system that is under the power of Satan who is the prince of this world. Now remember, believers cannot be demon possessed as we are the temple of the Spirit of God, we are new creations and we have been transformed and changed. But the fact remains that we are assaulted by the system around us and we have tendencies to fall to that assault because of our remaining flesh which we will possess until we receive our heavenly inheritance and leave this world as we saw last week. Until that final glorification which is phase 3 of our salvation, when you will be saved from the presence of sin, you are in battle.

So today we get to the last part of the armour:

Armour part 6: The sword of the Spirit.

Ephesians 6:17 (ESV) “and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,…”

Now so far everything that we have looked at is defensive, it is all about protecting ourselves. Now even though we are called to stand firm in the day of evil, it is not going to be good enough to stand there and take blow after blow while being protected by the completed work of Christ in our lives. You can be clothed with the most truthful character as you wear the belt or truth or truthfulness, you can be clothed in righteousness or right living and holiness as you wear the breastplate of righteousness, you can stand firm in that wonderful peace that you now have with God  due to the gospel that came to you as shoes for your feet, you can hide behind that shield of faith and stand in the full security that the final victory is yours as you with the helmet of salvation await your final glorification and you know that whatever the devil can throw at you will not take that away from you. But all of this does not make for an effective battle until you go into offensive mode and take up the sword of the Spirit. You will never win the greatest sports trophy if your team only defends and defends and defends. In any sport, you might keep them from going over the ‘goal-line’, but until you start attacking and scoring some points of your own, you may just lose the battle.

Now it is easy in the Christian battle with the first five parts of the armour to sit back and say that I am guaranteed victory therefore I do not fight. It is like the Springbucks playing rugby against a primary school. Even though they are assured of victory, they must still play. They cannot stand around and celebrate their assured victory for 80 minutes. Those little guys will kill them on the scoreboard at least.

And so you are called to take up the last part of the armour and to fight. It is yours, it is part of your armour but you must use it. The sword in mind here is the 'machaira {makh'-ahee-rah}' which we spoke about last week that is anything from 20 cm to 45 cm.  This could either be a single edged or a double edged sword that the Romans would carry in a sheath that was attached to their belt, which they would use when they go into one on one combat. It was in some cases not much bigger than a hunting knife or a dagger. The primary purpose however was not to clean your nails or to cut biltong, but to fight. So each soldier owned one, but it was of no use if he did not take it up in battle.

Now, Paul does not leave us in any doubt what he is talking about here. He is talking about the Sword of the Spirit and then states categorically that it is the Word of God. Paul also does not leave us in doubt to the origin, or the ownership or the character of the sword.

We know that according to 2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV): “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,…” The Holy Spirit is revealed to us in John 14:17 (ESV) as the Spirit of truth. Listen to the words of Christ regarding the Spirit. “even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you”. 2 Peter 1:20-21 (ESV) knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

I love the way John Wesley defends the authorship of Scripture. He says: “The Bible must have been written by God or good men or bad men or good angels or bad angels. But bad men and bad angels would not write it because it condemns bad men and bad angels. And good men would not deceive by lying about its authority and claiming that God wrote it. And so the Bible must have been written as it claims to have been written – by God who by His Holy Spirit inspired men to record His words using the human instrument to communicate His truth.”

Now because the word is from God written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit, based on the character of God we can conclude that the Word of God is infallible, inerrant, complete, authoritative, sufficient, powerful, divinely authored and spiritual. This is what the Bible by the way claims for itself. As such, it is obviously a formidable weapon. So we know that the Word of God comes from God, it is owned by the Holy Spirit and given by the Spirit.

Now remember that in Paul’s time they only had the Old Testament.  Just some interesting statistics, and if you had time I can prove it to you, but Old Testament writers refer to what they wrote as the Word of God about 3,800 times. New Testament writers refer to the Old Testament as the Word of God about 320 times, and they refer to the Old Testament about a 1000 times. New Testament writers also claim that they are writing for God, so both Old and New are God’s words.

Now before we look at what Paul says about taking up the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, I want to excite you for a moment regarding the value of the Word of God to us as part of the armour.

Firstly, it is the source of truth. It brings people to the knowledge of the truth. Jesus says in John 17:17 (ESV) “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” This is a very simple short statement but impregnated with meaning.

Secondly, it is a source of happiness or blessedness. Luke 11:28 (ESV) “But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” When you come to the blessedness of understanding the Word of God and applying the Word of God it brings joy. It is like the joy experienced by the men on the road to Emmaus which we read about in Luke 24:32 (ESV) “They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” That is my greatest desire as pastor that you will leave here every Sunday with that testimony and blessing in your hearts.

Thirdly, it is a source of instruction and growth. 2 Timothy 3:14-17 (ESV) “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” 1 Peter 2:2 (ESV) “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—“

Fourthly, it is a source of power. Hebrews 4:12 (ESV) “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Here the Hebrew writer says that it is not only as sharp as a double edged sword, but it is sharper. I once heard a comment on what Martin Luther says about the Word of God being alive. I do not have the exact quote, but here is my modified one. “The word of God is living, it has eyes and it looks into you, it has feet and it will chase you, it has a mouth and it will speak to you, it has arms and it will grab hold of you.” It has the power to cut into the heart and it also has the power to heal the heart and restore it and sanctify it.

Fifthly, it is a source of guidance, Psalm 119:105 (ESV) “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Sixthly, it is a source of comfort. Romans 15:4 (ESV) “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Seventhly, and this is where we will stay till the end of the sermon.  It is also the source of spiritual victory in battle.

Now, we can talk on this point till the cows come home, but we do not have the time, so I am just going to share a few thoughts with you. Now something we must realise is that while the rest of the armour is defensive the sword is defensive and offensive, and it is the only weapon in the armour. For every blow that a soldier might deal to cause the death of the enemy, he might have to fend off hundreds to protect his own life.

Let’s firstly look at the sword as an offensive weapon.

Now as I said in my opening statements. The Sword of the Spirit is Spirit-given, it is Spirit owned and it is spiritual. Paul helps us somewhat in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (ESV) to understand this: For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,”

So Paul says that we are human but we don’t engage in war with human weapons, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh. This means we are making war with a spiritual weapon. It has divine power which would lead us to conclude on the basis of Ephesians 6 that the power of the Word of God is seated in the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is so powerful that it destroys strongholds.

Now we come to a critical question. What are the powerful strongholds that we attack? They are the arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God.  The word ‘argument’ comes from the Greek word 'logismos {log-is-mos'}' which means logic, imaginations, speculations, ideas, theories, viewpoints, any lie, anything that’s raised up against the knowledge of God. These are the things we fight. This verse means so much to me as I engage atheists in debate, because these are all the things they throw at you, but the battle will rage and keep raging until the Spirit of God, by the Word of God destroys their arguments.

Listen carefully Christian, so that you can prepare yourself for battle. The only thing that smashes what is raised up against the knowledge of God is the true knowledge of God. The only way to bring down lies and deceptions, these ideologies, these anti-God concepts and bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ is to bring the truth, and that’s found in the Word of God. So the Word of God is your only weapon that can defeat Satan. If Jesus, God incarnate used it in the wilderness, may we never stand in our own strength?

Somebody may say to you that they do not believe in the Word of God, well that is their problem, you still use it, it is the sword of the Spirit and it will do its work. If I am pointing a Walter PPK Special pistol at the head of my enemy and he says to me he does not believe it is a real gun, well is his disbelief going to lessen the power of the gun to kill? No ways, when I pull that trigger he will know it is real. So pull the trigger church family, go to bed and sleep peacefully, the Holy Spirit will take His word and be the after preacher, and while you enjoy a peaceful night your enemy is rolling around knowing that the stronghold of his mind is under attack.

So our weapon is of divine origin provided for us by the Spirit of God to give us a powerful and effective instrument to use against everything that is raised up against the truth. Fleshly weapons, frankly, are useless in such a combat. As I said earlier from Hebrews 4 it is sharper than a double edged sword and it cuts into man and judges him in his innermost being.

But the Sword if also a defensive weapon.

Like the shield that protects the whole body, the sword can protect the whole body as well. You must just be more skilled than your enemy. So what is Paul telling us? I believe that he is challenging us to become experts at knowing and using the Word of God. It doesn’t do you any good to own a Bible if you don’t know what is in it. We need to become like DL Moody. Listen what somebody said of him. “I went to hear Mr. Moody with no other idea than to have something to laugh at. I knew he was no scholar, and I felt sure I could find many flaws in his argument. But I found I could not get at the man. He stood there hiding behind the Bible and just fired one Bible text after another at me till they went home to my heart straight as bullets from a rifle. I tell you, Moody's power is in the way he has his Bible at the tip of his tongue.”

You can’t just pick your Bible up wave it in the air at the enemy, and shout pe-we-we-we, I own a Bible. Hand to hand combat requires precision at using your sword. The reason most Christians get injured in battle is because they do not know the Word of God. There are many opinions about the Word of God, but sadly opinions will not conquer the evil one.  The Word of God for example says a lot about forgiveness, now you can own a Bible with it in, but unless you know what the Bible says on forgiveness, you will not apply it and when your day of evil comes and you stand in a place where the enemy attacks you in this regard, you will not forgive as you ought to and Satan will defeat you. We saw this the other day didn’t we?  2 Corinthians 2:8-11 (ESV) “So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. 9 For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. 10 Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. Let me retranslate verse 11 for you. “We are not outwitted by Satan, because we have knowledge, we know how he fights”. So many Christians know what the Word of God teaches them about victory through forgiveness, but they will rather die in pride in the battle with anger and bitterness than to forgive, and so Satan defeats them over and over again.

If you’re going to go forward into the kingdom of darkness and penetrate that darkness, you better know the truths of the Word of God so that you can defend yourself adequately against the deceptiveness of Satan. He is subtle and he is crafty. He has very clever schemes, as they’re called in verse 11. Satan doesn’t like a fully taught congregation. Satan doesn’t want you to know everything you need to know about the Word of God, about what God expects. Satan doesn’t want you to understand all that Scripture teaches because he doesn’t want you to be able to defend yourself against his deceptions.

Just for interest, the Greek Word ‘word of God’ here is not Logos, it is ' rhema {hray'-mah}' which is or has been uttered by the living voice, it is things spoken. We can only defend ourselves against the attacks of Satan in given areas if we know the specific statement of Scripture that defends us at that very point. We can only attack the lies and deception; if we know the specific or right teaching of Scripture that applies to that deception. Do you understand why it is important to sit under the Word of God and specifically under somebody that will teach the Word of God with honesty, patience and correctly? That is why we are taught in 2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV) “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

How do we do that?  Let me give you a few practical guidelines.

Firstly sit under the preaching and teaching of the Word.

If I am not a faithful preacher of God’s word, please go somewhere else. The day I tell you to turn to Imaginations 2 instead of Galatians 2, pack your bags. Scripture is sometimes difficult, especially being a 2000 year old text, but that is why the Lord gifts His church with pastors and teachers. That is why pastor is told by Paul in 2 Timothy 4:1-2 (ESV) “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” Why must he do that? 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (ESV) For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

Secondly, study the Word of God privately.

Be like the Berean Christians who listened to Paul and Silas but they did more than that. We read in Acts 17:10-11 (ESV) “The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” Do we realise just how privileged we are today as far as owning our own Bibles are concerned? We have it in book form, on computers cell phones etc. We have access to commentaries and books in their tens of thousands. But be like the Bereans and realise that there is a whole lot of junk out there as well. Let me tell you this, until you start desiring the Word of God like a new-born babe, you will not study it privately. You do not have to tell a new born babe to desire milk, their vocal chords will give you a full understanding that they realise their need. They will not let a mother rest until she has provided.

I find it so interesting these pastors or Sunday School teachers who claim that they can just get into the pulpit or class and preach without preparation, they just get inspiration at the moment. Well for me it works differently. I sit before the word of God with 95% perspiration and 5% inspiration and then I get into the pulpit and pray that I will be 100% empowered and used by the Spirit as I share that which I believe the Lord laid on my heart through much sweat during the week.

Thirdly, meditate on it.

Psalm 1:1-3 (ESV) “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Let me give you a revised Nicki Coertze translation based on the theology of 2 Corinthians 5:10 & Ephesians 6:17 built in: Blessed is the man who destroys arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, as he takes up the Sword of the Spirit and on His Sword he meditates day and night. He is like a soldier standing firm and when the day of evil comes, he does not fail in the battle, but he lives victoriously.”

Fourthly, teach it.

They say the best way to learn is to teach. One of the things I found regarding teaching the Word of God, be it in a one on one context or a small group context or a larger audience, is that whatever you give away is what you keep. Paul understood this and he tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2 (ESV) “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

I have so much more to say, but let me say this. Putting on the whole armour of God is nothing more than in the end being able to use the Word of God effectively. It is the Word of God that helps you to understand the rest of the armour in the first place. It is the Word of God that helps you to understand Christ and to clothe yourself with Christ and more vital than these parts of the armour is to be clothed with Christ as he is the way the truth and the life. Remember I shared some verses with you a few weeks ago from Romans 13:11-14 (ESV) “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

I have heard of many Pastors who say that we must take up the full armour of God daily. Can I give you different advice? Never take it off, not even on washday. Keep that belt on, keep that breastplate on, keep those shoes on, keep that shield in your hands, keep that helmet on, and make the Sword of the Spirit so part of your life, that you just like Christ, fight off Satan when he has a go at you. Be like David who with the full might of God on his side can say in Psalm 18:29 (ESV) For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.”

Church family, clothed with the full armour of God, neither Satan’s troops or Satan’s fortresses have any power over you. So this is the power of the Word of God for us in our own lives, to do its work and through us to impact the lives of others. Christ is the model. Putting the armour is putting on Christ.

I want to end with an illustration from the life of Martin Luther that shows the power of the Sword of the Spirit. We all know about the Reformation. Towards the end of Luther’s life as he has lit a match in 1517 it spread to the continent, it spread across the English Channel into Scotland and England as they were infected with this reformation as people were coming back to the Scriptures. They asked Luther this question: “How, how did you bring about the reformation, how have you turned Europe upside down.  His answer: “I simply taught, preached and wrote God’s word, otherwise I did nothing. When I slept, the words so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor inflicted so much damage upon it. I did nothing, the Word did it all.”

 

Amen.

Logos Community Church: - 2 June 2013