The Word as a Weapon of Offense
Have you ever looked at your personal copy of the Bible and thought of it as a weapon? If not, then read on and you';ll find out that the leather-covered book you carry with you to church and Bible studies — and, hopefully, that you take time to read on your own — is a devastating weapon when it';s used correctly. The Bible is indeed a weapon, but it';s a weapon in the kind of fight that a lot of people don';t even know is going on right now: in the spiritual world.
All of the steps of Bible reading and study listed in this chapter are important parts of being able to use God';s Word as a weapon of offense against the devil. When you make all these things a part of your personal Bible reading and study, you';ll be more than equipped to handle anything the devil throws at you.
Paul wrote to the church in a city called Ephesus and told the people that they were to put on what he called “all of God';s armor” (Ephesians 6:11) with which they were to do spiritual battle not against humans or human institutions but against “evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world,” “mighty powers of darkness who rule this world,” and “wicked spirits in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
In that passage, Paul gives the readers a rundown of the armor of God, including the belt of truth and the body armor of God';s righteousness (Ephesians 6:14), shoes of peace (Ephesians 6:15), the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16), and others. The last piece of armor Paul lists isn';t really armor at all but is in fact a weapon of offense. It';s what he calls “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
It';s no accident that God has revealed His written Word as a weapon of offense against the work and wiles of the devil. In fact, that is very clearly demonstrated in accounts in the Gospels that tell us of Jesus himself facing down the temptations of Satan (see Matthew 4:1–11, Mark 1:12–13, and Luke 4:1–13).
In Matthew';s account of this story, the devil throws three specific temptations at Jesus, all of which Christ answers with the words “It is written” followed by a direct quotation from the Old Testament. Finally, Jesus completely repels the devil';s attacks by telling him, “Get out of here, Satan … For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God; serve only him';” (Matthew 4:10). With that said, the devil had no choice. He left the scene utterly and completely defeated.
In the scene where Jesus faces down the devil and his temptations, it';s interesting — and important — to note that the devil himself quoted Scripture to Jesus in order to tempt him. As believers, we need to keep in mind that the devil not only knows Scripture but also knows how to twist it to suit his purposes.
The Prince of Peace had successfully and decisively fought a spiritual battle against the one who was not just his spiritual enemy but also ours. And he';d done it using a weapon available to us all.
Paul';s encouragement to the Ephesians as well as Jesus';s victorious encounter with the devil demonstrates something all believers need to understand: When it comes to spiritual battle, when it comes to going toe to toe with the devil, there is no more powerful weapon at our disposal than the written Word of God.
As Christians, we face not only a spiritual enemy (the devil) who is in opposition to everything we do but also a world system that the Bible tells us is also an enemy (1 John 5:4–5). But we have a spiritual weapon that neither can stand against: the Word of God. For that reason we can answer every temptation, every trial, every discouragement, and every battle with the wisdom and truth of what God has already spoken.
When the enemy says, “You';re a miserable sinner,” you can answer, “Yes, but I';ve been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
When the enemy says, “You';re worthless and can';t do anything!” you can answer, “On my own that might be true, but I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
When the enemy says, “How could God love a miserable sinner like you?” you can answer, “While I was still a sinner, Christ died for me!” (Romans 5:8).
When the enemy tempts you to sin, you can answer, “There isn';t one temptation you can throw at me that people haven';t seen before. Not only that, God is faithful to show me a way out of it before I give in” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
And when the enemy starts whispering in your ear, trying to get you to worry, you can answer, “I won';t be anxious about anything but instead I';ll thank and praise God and pray to him about what I need” (Philippians 4:6).
It is true that our spiritual enemy has more ways to wage war against us than we, in our limited human understanding, can comprehend. But it is equally true that for every thing he can throw at us, we can have an answer, an answer from the very mouth of God.