Wielding the Sword in a Turbulent World

The cultural landscape in the West has changed drastically in recent years. What seems even more striking is that more drastic changes appear to loom on the horizon. The world as we know it is turning upside down. How does the Christian and how does the Church stand in such a world? In a similarly hostile world, Paul instructs the Ephesian church to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6). In the list of armament, Paul details only one offensive weapon: the sword of the Spirit.

It is telling that Paul does not use a word for “sword” that would have referred to the large broadsword some wore in battle. He also does not call this weapon a spear, which would have been a normal offensive weapon for a Roman soldier. Rather, Paul employs a term that refers to the short two-edged sword that fit into the Roman soldier’s belt or hung at his waist. This is a weapon for attack and defense in close quarters—when the assault draws near. Make no mistake, our attacker is not at a distance. He is close, and the changes in our culture only scream this reality louder.

What sword must we brandish? Paul says it is the Word of God. It is instructive that our Savior, when tempted by the adversary and facing the onslaught of his assaults, engages by quoting the Scriptures. After forty days and nights of fasting, the tempter comes encouraging him to turn stones into loaves of bread, and Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” And so, it is not surprising when tempted to throw himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple, Jesus again quotes the Scriptures. When the devil takes him on top of a mountain with the promise to give him all the kingdoms of the world, Jesus replies yet again by quoting God’s Word. He strikes out with the sword.

Why the Word of God? Because, as Paul says, the Word of God is the sword “of the Spirit.” The Spirit makes this sword powerful, effective, living and deadly. It has power, cuts, and turns away our adversary. “All-Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). It is as the writer of Hebrews says, “Living and active,” therefore, “sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). We live by the words of this book and proclaim this truth, because they are Spirit-wrought and the Spirit chooses to work through and by this Word.

In Isaiah 11:4, we are told that the Messiah to come “shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.” We see this pictured throughout the Scriptures. In 2 Thessalonians 2:8 we are told, “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.” In Revelation 1, that wonderful scene in which the Apostle John has a vision of the glorified Christ, a sharp two-edged sword comes from His mouth (Revelation 1:16). In Revelation 19, we are told the returning Messiah will strike down the nations with a “sharp sword” that issues forth from His mouth (Revelation 19:15).

The weapon which our Christ wields in battle is the Christian’s to employ. It is this weapon that He places in our hands, so that we might persevere and progress in this hostile world. “Stand firm,” Paul says over and over (Ephesians 6:11, 13, 14). And the Christian and the Church do so by standing upon His Word. It is a short-sword. We jab with it and make progress. We parry with it and persevere. We assault and we protect with this sword. It is the chief means by which we stand in this world, the chief means by which we persevere though assaulted, progress though opposed.

Dear Christian, this is our weapon. With the same weapon that our Lord Jesus Christ is equipped, by which He slays all His enemies, so you are equipped. He takes His sword and places it in your hands. Wield it. This is our weapon.

The Thessalonian opponents of Christianity said of the Christians that they “have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). Little did they know that the world was being turned right side up. Could our generation serve this same purpose? Only if we stand firm, grip this sword, and wield it for Christ’s glory.


Jason Helopoulos is author of These Truths Alone: Why the Reformation Solas Are Essential for Our Faith Today, a Bible study for small groups. Available to pre-order now through Amazon and direct from The Good Book Company.



Jason Helopoulos