The Spirit of the Sword
My spiritual life use to look a lot like Woodstock. You know, lots of peace, love, and good music. Eventually I figured out that I have an enemy. My enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) as he roams about seeking who he can devour (1 Peter 5:8). It was like a woke up out of some sort of drug induced euphoria to realize that I was laying down in the middle of a firefight. In a panic I thought to myself, We are at war! And I am going to die!
We are at war. However, we do not struggle against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces (Eph 6:12). But here is the tricky part. Those spiritual forces use flesh and blood to do their bidding. We see this with the disciples. When Jesus was traveling toward Jerusalem He stopped in a village of Samaritans, but they would not receive Him. James and John were offended that these people would treat Jesus this way. So they asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to burn those Samaritans up. Jesus looked at James and John and rebuked them. Then He told them this, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of” (Luke 9:55).
Peter was once used by two different spirits in a matter of seconds. When Peter confessed that Jesus was “the Christ, the son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16), Jesus told him “…flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (v. 17). Then moments later, probably still buzzing with confidence from the affirmation of Jesus, Peter rebukes Jesus for planning on getting killed. So Jesus tells him, “Get behind Me, Satan” (v.23). Same guy. Same conversation. Same head. Same heart. But two different spirits.
I wonder how quickly we give ourselves over to spirits, not realizing what spirit we are of. We tend to focus only on truth. In other words, if we are telling the truth, that is really all that matters. I have heard more than one red-faced preacher scream from the pulpit, “If it’s in the bible I’m going to preach it!” Each time they were speaking truth, but seemingly never realizing what spirit they were of. And more than once I have told someone like it is, not realizing what spirit I was of. Jesus said that true worshipers will worship in both spirit and truth (John 4:24). If I speak the truth with the wrong spirit it doesn’t make the truth untrue, it just makes my speaking a lie.
Malchus was the slave of the high priest. His name meant my king. He was submitted to an evil scheme. I suspect he did not know what spirit he was of when they came to arrest Jesus. But Peter knew what spirit was using Malchus, or at least he thought he did. Jesus was being threatened. If there was ever a time to stand for the truth, to fight for the truth, surely this was it. So Peter took out his sword and struck Malchus, cutting off his ear. But much to our surprise Jesus rebuked Peter, then healed Malchus’ ear.
We don’t have to worry about learning this particular lesson. Most of us have never even picked up a sword. I doubt we will ever have to decide whether or not to draw one in a fight. But there is one problem. According to Scripture we are in a fight, and we do have a sword:
And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Just because I know the truth doesn’t mean I can say it. The sword of truth, which is the word of God, is dangerous. I cannot walk around slinging it carelessly at people, anymore than my son can walk around slinging his sword at his sisters. The problem for us today is no different than the problem was for Peter. When we encounter Malchus, who is enslaved without knowing what spirit he is of, that same spirit tells us to fight for Jesus, defend Him. So, we start slinging our sword of truth, “If it’s in the bible I’m going to preach it!” Jesus still stands and rebukes us for this. Because the real consequence is that Malchus loses his ear. And once Malchus loses his ear he will NEVER hear the truth, lest Jesus heals him.
Be careful when you speak the truth. If you are speaking from the wrong spirit your sword is not the sword of the Spirit, but a weapon of the enemy. That is the kind of truth that chops off ears. Our problem is not that we have failed to use the sword of the Spirit. It is that we have failed to discern the spirit of the sword.
Great post Jonathan!
1 John 4:6; We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
There is an actual spirit of error out there decieving people’s hearts. It’s disguised as the truth. Our job is to rightly divide the truth from the error with God’s guidance.
Romans 16:17; Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
That word “contrary” is the Greek preposition “para” meaning beside. It’s where we get our English word “parallel” from. We’d think, things “contrary” to the Word of God are easy to spot because they are really off; but this clearly asks us to mark those who are peddling the truth in error so close to the truth, that it looks like truth. The way we spot it is with our spiritual eyes and watch for division. We can’t depend on our 5-senses soley because they can be decieved. Division from error is a sneaky one, piggy backing on good people and rightly-divided teaching. We can ask God who is causing it or where it is coming from and how to deal properly with it.
I just thought I’d share those little gems with you that I’ve learned over the years. You have a wonderful ability. Thanks for the great post!
Great insights, Terri! Thanks for sharing those! I had forgotten about “para” in Romans 16:17. Such a powerful picture! Blessings!
This is so good. We all need to consider this truth and pray we operate and speak out of His Spirit.
A hard but necessary discipline for all of us.
Reblogged this on xpressionoffaith.
Thank you for liking my blog. I also like your blog entry, “Spirit of the Sword”. We must always pray for discernment of spirits because even the most devout Christian can be deceived by all the voices in the world that claim to be of God. Even our purest motives are tainted with worldliness, as the Bible says that our righteousness is of filthy rags. That’s why we need the Lord every waking hour of our life. This article expresses your keen insight into the need for God to create in us a clean heart. Well said.
Thanks so much! Glad we got connected!
Excellent word, it’s only by hearing Him that we will ever be able to “balance” truth and love.
Absolutely! Have to have that balance! Thanks for reading and commenting!
What a great and wise post!:)