The Offensive Weapons in Christian Warfare

“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17-18).
The blessings of the Christian life are indescribable. Ephesians chapters 1–3 have made that more than clear. (Pause and let that thought sink in. I cannot write all those details in this article. Read Eph. chapters 1-3). But every day and hour bring us new hardships and difficulties. This is a fact of which we are only too well aware. Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke openly of the cost of discipleship to those who were thinking of following him. But such Christian living is not easy. In fact, it is a real battle. Paul would not have anyone believe otherwise. So it is that he closes his letter with his well-known teaching on the Christian’s armor. As he dictated this paragraph, under house arrest at Rome, the apostle probably had a Roman soldier in the same room. He may even have been chained to him. The first person to hear the epistle to the Ephesians, other than Paul’s secretary, was this living visual aid! What did he think as Paul described each piece of his armor and showed what was its spiritual equivalent? Did he also notice that Paul’s style as he signed off his letter was rather like that of a general briefing his troops before battle? How different is the life of a soldier at war! He is under arms both day and night. His every waking thought is concerned with the conflict in which he is engaged. There may be an encounter with the enemy at any moment. All his work is directly connected with the war effort. His eating, sleeping and relaxing serve only one purpose—to strengthen him for warfare. There is no time when he ceases to be a soldier and there is no limit to what he may be required to do. His life is one of sacrifice, difficulty, danger, pain, tears, frustration and, perhaps, death.
This is the picture which Paul uses to speak of the Christian life! Being a Christian is not a hobby. It is not something in which we can get involved for only part of the week. It demands all that we are, all of the time. It is our life. We are soldiers at war. Everything is difficult and dangerous. It is a battle. All that we do is worth it, as we have so constantly seen in Paul’s letter. But this does not lessen the reality of the war. ‘We do not wrestle against flesh and blood,’ insists Paul (6:12). We are not at war with Roman Catholics, liberals, Jehovah’s Witnesses or evolutionary scientists. We do not fight adulterers, gays, pop stars or the managers of abortion clinics. We are not in conflict with any man or woman. So who, then, are our enemies? We are ‘against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places’ (6:12). Why do people believe ideas which are not true? Why do they persist in behaving in a way which God condemns? It is because their minds are controlled by other personalities. Who, precisely, are these personalities? The Epistle to the Ephesians has already spoken of the existence of the devil (2:2, 4:27). He is a personal, invisible and powerful spirit who controls the minds of the unconverted (2:2). He does this by means of his countless agents mentioned in verse 12. They, like him, are evil spirits. They are organized into various ranks, some of the names of which are given here. The devil himself is over them all. The darkness of this age is to be attributed to these awful beings. The invisible dimension is infested with them.
In addition to the armor which perfectly protects us, God has given us two weapons to attack with. It is not enough to remain on the defensive. Just image a Roman soldier with the full armor and without his Sword. How long can he defend himself when the enemy is coming at him. He will be like a sitting duck. It is not sufficient to hold our ground. We must invade and capture the enemy’s territory. We must go forward. Our first attacking weapon is the sword—‘the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God’ (6:17). The hands which hold it are ours, but strong invisible hands are placed over them. We wield the sword as best we can, but it is the invisible hands which give it force, direction and cutting power. God uses us to do His work. It is none the less God’s Spirit who does God’s work.
The Spirit’s sword is the Word of God. How are the devil and his agents brought to release their grip on the minds they have captured? How are error and ungodliness put to flight? How are people brought to submit to Christ? How are victories won in the spiritual dimension? How are we to advance? When Jesus himself was tempted three times, He used the Word of God. He quoted the scriptures all the three times by saying, “It is written… It is written… It is written…” If we do not fill our hearts with the Word of God, Satan will fill our hearts with the garbage of this world.
Signs and wonders will not do it. Nor will clever arguments. All God’s work is done by God’s Word; and what is not done by God’s Word is not God’s work. The devil cannot stand against the Holy Spirit working through the Scriptures. It is by the proclamation of God’s Word that minds are enlightened, lives are changed, and conversions take place. Spiritual work is done by spiritual weaponry. This is obvious, but we need to be reminded of it. The declaration of the Bible’s message must always be our great priority. There is no true spiritual advance where the Bible does not lead the way. The Holy Spirit has no other sword apart from the book which he has inspired. Those who believe this will give themselves to spreading the biblical message. What happens on the battlefield will not disappoint them.
But God has also given us a second attacking weapon (6:18-20). As Paul talks about it his Roman soldier fades from view, for this spiritual weapon has no earthly equivalent. We have a secret weapon which has no human parallel and so it is not portrayed in the armor. It is prayer. Jesus also exhibited a strong prayer life. How much more we need to fill our hearts with the Word of God and spend time on our knees in prayer.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Parable of the Sower Explained

What is a parable: Although there are many valid definitions let me give you a simple one. A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Jesus spoke in parables only after a certain point in His ministry. Despite the popularity of the parables, both the method and the meaning behind Jesus’ use of these stories are frequently misunderstood and misrepresented. Jesus’ parables had a clear twofold purpose: 1) They hid the truth from self-righteous or self-satisfied people who fancied themselves too sophisticated to learn from Him 2) The same parables revealed truth to eager souls with childlike faith—those who were hungering and thirsting for righteousness. Jesus thanked His Father for both results: “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.” (Matt. 11:25-26). While the parables do illustrate and clarify truth for those with ears to hear, they have precisely the opposite effect on those who oppose and reject Christ. And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables” (Mark 4:10-11). “For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore, I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (Matt. 13:10-13, NKJV).
Please read Mark 4: 1-20
PARABLE OF THE SOWER
But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable. And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred” (Mark 4:10,12-20).
Jesus’ explanation of the Parable of the Sower highlights four different responses to the gospel. The seed is “the word of the kingdom.” The hard ground represents someone who is hardened by sin; he hears but does not understand the Word, and Satan plucks the message away, keeping the heart dull and preventing the Word from making an impression. Those who are in darkness they do not want the light to shine on them, lest it exposes their dark deeds. The stony ground pictures a man who professes delight with the Word; however, his heart is not changed. The stones are still there inside the heart. “Out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” (Mark 7:21-23). Because of these unconfessed sins when trouble arises, his so-called faith quickly disappears. The thorny ground depicts one who seems to receive the Word, but whose heart is full of riches, pleasures, and lusts; the things of this world take his time and attention away from the Word, and he ends up having no time for it. The good ground portrays the one who hears, understands, and receives the Word—and then allows the Word to accomplish its result in his life. The man represented by the “good ground” is the only one of the four who is truly saved, because salvation’s proof is fruit (Matthew 3:7-8; 7:15-20).
To summarize the point of the Parable of the Sower: “A man’s reception of God’s Word is determined by the condition of his heart.” A secondary lesson would be “Salvation is more than a superficial, albeit joyful, hearing of the gospel. Someone who is truly saved will go on to prove it.” May our faith and our lives exemplify the “good soil” in the Parable of the Sower. The answer to the poll is found in Mark 4:13. He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?”
“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace” (Num. 6:24-26).