The Holy Spirit cleared her throat to get my attention, and asked me why I wasn’t applying the insight she had imparted to me. I was pondering the passage in Ephesians chapter 6 in preparation for a home group we’re leading for the church we attend. In it, Paul likens armor piece by piece with the protective and offensive provisions from God. If you’ve attended church for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard this passage preached more than once. Typically, a study of this passage remains a dry outline of all these armor parts and their spiritual equivalents. For me, this outline of armor parts had never yielded much, and I was just posing the question, how can this be rendered useful, immediate, even powerful? To add insult to injury, whoever prepared the leader study notes had made what I consider to be a significant mistake.
Verse 17 in several translations says something like this:”And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The notes explained that the word of God refers to the Bible. This sounds very plausible, but for some reason I chose to look it up in the interlinear bible. If you’re not familiar with this source you might want to bookmark this app:
This is what you would see:
Sadly, if you went with Bible as the explanation of what the Sword of the Spirit meant, you would miss totally what Paul is saying. The sword is, after all, the only offensive weapon in the whole armor, so I would give this item at least some special attention. After all, if life is to be compared to war, you can’t win a war without an offensive weapon. Tragically, if you tried to throw your bible at the enemy, or even recite verses, I don’t think you could win the battle. What you will notice in the direct translation above is that the original word in the Greek is “rhema”. Now, by the magic of the internet, you click on the number above the word, 4487, and you will see its meaning in Strong’s Concordance, which used to be a big cumbersome book. But now, we are all sort of experts with just a click of the mouse.
4487 rhḗma (from 4483 /rhéō, “to speak”) – a spoken word, made “by the living voice” (J. Thayer). 4487/rhḗma (“spoken-word”) is commonly used in the NT (and in LXX) for the Lord speaking His dynamic, living word in a believer to inbirth faith (“His inwrought persuasion”).
The takeaway is that in the everyday battles of life, our main offensive weapon is to hear God speaking to us with his living, vibrant, creative Rhema-word, the same word he used to create the universe! As you can imagine, I was pretty pleased with myself for this discovery. This is the kind of stuff I live for… but it gets even better. In my defense, I really never think of myself as discovering anything in the realm of the spirit, but I was just savoring this insight or rather, gift. Just then, I “felt” or perceived someone as if clearing their throat to make their presence known and somehow, I knew it was the Holy Spirit.
“So, Franco, why aren’t you applying this to a certain little problem…” People say that the Holy Spirit is a gentleperson, never violating your freedom of choice. Well, I discovered she is also kind, choosing not to rub my nose in this “little thing”. If I had to characterize this exchange, I would say it was almost humorous “Hmm, hmm…” – I really don’t know how to spell the sound you make when you clear your throat like that. But I immediately what the little problem was. In this case the Rhema word was not so dependent on the actual words. The message was more like a Vulcan mind meld.
Immediately, I started using this idea. The idea is that the battle is lost if we own a bad thought or emotion. If we can intercept the bad thought, the battle is won. But how? This may sound too simple to actually work, but I decided to just cry out, “Holy Spirit!!!” the second something unwanted “arrived”. The effect has been nothing less that spectacular. And although I’m sure there is much more to be extracted in this passage on the armor of God, I’m pretty content for now to have understood something precious about the Sword of the Spirit. Bottom line, this Sword of the Spirit, this word from God, has been completely effective in eradicating the so called “little problem”.