Now, when Paul spoke of the “word” of God, he used the Greek word rhema, not the more familiar Greek word logos. Rhema is an interesting word that refers to “a saying,” or in our context, a particular verse or a number of verses. By using this Greek word, Paul is emphasizing the need to know the Word of God in a detailed manner in order to effectively use it against the devil.
Paul communicates the same idea to Timothy, instructing him to “rightly divide the word of truth” (see 2 Timothy 2:15). The idea is to be able to bring the right word from God to bear upon a given situation. A brief consideration of the earthly ministry of our Lord will enable us to see exactly what Paul is talking about. We have already considered the confrontation between Christ and Satan in the wilderness and have seen how Jesus put Satan to flight with the Word of God. Throughout our Lord’s ministry, He repeated this same approach as He dealt with the scribes and the Pharisees.
Skillfully Using the Sword of the Spirit
On each occasion, our Lord’s skillful use of the sword of the Spirit silenced His enemies. Take for example the situation recorded in Matthew 21, verses 15 and 16. The religious leaders were angry with Jesus for allowing the children to refer to Him as “Messiah.” Do you remember His response? “Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?” (see Matthew 21:16).
How about the time when the Sadducees posed to Him a hypothetical situation that they thought to be an airtight argument against the resurrection? He responded, “Your mistake is not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God”; and again He said, “Have you not read what was spoken to you by God?” (see Matthew 22:29, 31).
Captain of Our Salvation
One last example is found in the Lord’s response to the Pharisees’ assertion that Christ was to be merely the son of David:
“How can they say that the Christ is the Son of David? Now David himself said in the Book of Psalms: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, …’ therefore David calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?” Luke 20:41–44
In each of these examples, the Captain of our salvation is teaching us indirectly how to effectively wield the sword of the Spirit. Therefore, we must study to show ourselves approved, workmen able to rightly divide and apply the word of truth.
Knowledge of the Scriptures
Our ability to effectively use the sword of the Spirit depends upon our knowledge of the Scriptures. Our knowledge of the Scriptures will increase as we spend time reading, meditating, studying, and memorizing them. Next week, we will begin a look at these four disciplines.