“The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
There is only one weapon whereby we can fight Satan to any purpose, and that is the word of God. But observe, that it must not be merely the letter of the word. It must be the “sword of the Spirit,” and therefore a spiritual sword, which can only be taken in hand when the word of God is applied with a divine power to your heart, and you have a living faith in it as made “life and spirit” to your soul. It is of no use my bringing forward a text to resist a temptation of Satan, unless I can make that text my own; in other words, unless I can handle that sword as one who knows how to wield it. To take up a text and not know the sweetness and power of it, would be like a child taking up a warrior’s sword without having the warrior’s hand. He might play with the sword, but what is the sword of a giant in the hand of a child?
The sword of Scander-Beg, a famous Albanian warrior against the Turks, used to be shewn at Vienna. A man who once looked at and handled it said, “Is this the sword which won so many victories? I see nothing in it; it is but a common sword.” The answer was, “You should have seen the hand that wielded it.” So it is not merely taking a text, adopting scripture language, and quoting passages, which will beat back the fiery assaults of Satan. This is having Scander-Beg’s sword without having Scander-Beg’s arm. But it is having the word of truth brought into our heart by the power of God, faith raised up to believe that God himself speaks it to our heart, being thus enabled to wield it in the strength of the Spirit and by the power of faith in living exercise, to resist every hellish thrust.
In this battle we must not give way. To flee is to be conquered, for, as Bunyan well says, there is no armour for the back. Thus even if in this conflict you should slip and fall, lie not still as a conquered captive, but get up again and fight. “Resist Satan, and he will flee from you.” He is a conquered enemy; he cannot destroy you if you are the Lord’s. The word of truth, therefore, is full of most gracious promises, and sweet encouragements “to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ,” and never in heart or hand submit to be conquered by sin or Satan.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869