Sabbath, September 1, 2018

Lesson 9 – Sword of the Spirit

“A familiar acquaintance with the Scriptures sharpens the discerning powers and fortifies the soul against the attacks of Satan. The Bible is the sword of the Spirit, which will never fail to vanquish the adversary. It is the only true guide in all matters of faith and practice. The reason why Satan has so great control over the minds and hearts of men is that they have not made the word of God the man of their counsel, and all their ways have not been tried by the true test. The Bible will show us what course we must pursue to become heirs of glory.” –Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, p. 89.

God’s word is like a sword

1. What image did the apostle Paul use to represent the power of God’s word?
Ephesians 6:17, second part. … The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

“‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.’ God has provided abundant means for successful warfare against the evil that is in the world. The Bible is the armory where we may equip for the struggle. Our loins must be girt about with truth. Our breastplate must be righteousness. The shield of faith must be in our hand, the helmet of salvation on our brow; and with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, we are to cut our way through the obstructions and entanglements of sin.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 502.

2. How are the effectiveness and depth of the holy word described?
Hebrews 4:12. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

“The truths of the Bible, treasured in the heart and mind and obeyed in the life, convince and convert the soul, transform the character, and comfort and uplift the heart…. The word makes the proud humble, the perverse meek and contrite, the disobedient obedient. The sinful habits natural to man are interwoven with the daily practice. But the word cuts away the fleshly lusts. It is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the mind. It divides the joints and marrow, cutting away the lusts of the flesh, making men willing to suffer for their Lord.” –Our Father Cares, p. 129.
“You need the perfect armor of truth now, the sword of the Spirit, whose edge will never be blunted, but will cut its way through sin and unrighteousness.” –My Life Today, p. 315.
“The word of the Lord is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword. The word is a power as we practice it. The great change that the truth makes is inward. It begins in the heart, and works outwardly.” –The Upward Look, p. 30.

Spiritual sword and victory

3. Being very sharp, how is God’s word the standard of our character and the test of doctrine? Like the sword, what are the characteristics of other spiritual weapons?
2 Timothy 3:16, 17. 16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
2 Corinthians 10:4. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.

“In His word, God has committed to men the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are to be accepted as an authoritative, infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the revealer of doctrines, and the test of experience. ‘Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness; that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.’ 2 Timothy 3:16, 17, R.V.” – The Great Controversy, p. vii.
“God’s word is the sword of the Spirit, and with a knowledge of revealed truth, which is our spiritual weapon, we must go to work, laboring to pull down the strongholds of the enemy.” –Review and Herald, March 8, 1887.
“Not only does our own salvation depend upon our knowledge of the word of God, but the salvation of others is to a large degree dependent upon our faithfulness to this duty…. The knowledge of revealed truth is the spiritual weapon by which God is to make us mighty to the pulling down of the strongholds of the enemy. It is through the power of the word that souls are to be delivered out of darkness into light.” –The Medical Missionary, May 1, 1892.

4. What powerful spiritual weapon did Jesus use against the enemy in the wilderness? What was the result of the conflict?
Matthew 4:4, 7, 10.4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God…. 7Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God…. 10Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Luke 4:13. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.

“Temptation is not sin. Jesus was holy and pure; yet He was tempted in all points as we are, but with a strength and power that man will never be called upon to endure. In His successful resistance He has left us a bright example, that we should follow His steps. If we are self-confident or self-righteous we shall be left to fall under the power of temptation; but if we look to Jesus and trust in Him, we call to our aid a power that has conquered the foe on the field of battle, and with every temptation He will make a way of escape. When Satan comes in like a flood, we must meet his temptations with the sword of the Spirit, and Jesus will be our helper and will lift up for us a standard against him. The father of lies quakes and trembles when the truth of God, in burning power, is thrown in his face.” –(Testimony Treasures, vol. 2, p. 135) Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 425.
“We live in an age when to resist evil calls for constant watchfulness and prayer. God’s precious word is the standard for youth who would be loyal to the King of heaven. Let them study the Scriptures. Let them commit text after text to memory, and acquire a knowledge…. And in trial let the youth spread out the word of God before them, and with humble hearts, and in faith, seek the Lord for wisdom to find out His way, and for strength to walk in it….” –My Life Today, p. 315.

Following Jesus’ example

5. What results did Jesus obtain by using this spiritual weapon? Considering these victories, how should we receive and use God’s word?
Mark 1:23-26; 5:8; 9:25-27. 23And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. 25And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. 26And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him…. 8For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit…. 25When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. 26And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. 27But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.

“At the command of Jesus the evil spirits departed from their victims, leaving them calmly sitting at the Saviour’s feet, subdued, intelligent, and gentle.” –The Great Controversy, p. 514.
“As we contemplate the great things of God’s word, we look into a fountain that broadens and deepens beneath our gaze. Its breadth and depth pass our knowledge. As we gaze, the vision widens; stretched out before us we behold a boundless, shoreless sea.
“Such study has vivifying power. The mind and heart acquire new strength, new life.
“This experience is the highest evidence of the divine authorship of the Bible. We receive God’s word as food for the soul, through the same evidence by which we receive bread as food for the body. Bread supplies the need of our nature; we know by experience that it produces blood and bone and brain. Apply the same test to the Bible; when its principles have actually become the elements of character, what has been the result? What changes have been made in the life?” –Education, pp. 171, 172.

6. In Jesus, where were the law and word of God deeply engraved? What should we do, like Him, if we desire to gain the victory over sin?
Psalms 40:8; 119:97, 98, 11. 8I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart…. 97O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. 98Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me…. 11Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

“Let the youth, then, be taught to give close study to the word of God. Received into the soul, it will prove a mighty barricade against temptation. ‘Thy word,’ the psalmist declares, ‘have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.’ ‘By the word of Thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.’ Psalms 119:11; 17:4.” –Education, p. 190.
“Temptations often appear irresistible because, through neglect of prayer and the study of the Bible, the tempted one cannot readily remember God’s promises and meet Satan with the Scripture weapons. But angels are round about those who are willing to be taught in divine things; and in the time of great necessity they will bring to their remembrance the very truths which are needed. Thus ‘when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.’ Isaiah 59:19.” –The Great Controversy, p. 599.

Best use of the spiritual sword

7. Since the Bible is like a sword, what is necessary for those who wield it?
2 Timothy 2:15; 4:2. 15Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth…. 2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
Luke 11:28. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

“To the youth of today, as surely as to Timothy, are spoken the words, ‘Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.’
“The burden bearers among us are falling in death. Many of those who have been foremost in carrying out the reforms instituted by us as a people are now past the meridian of life and are declining in physical and mental strength. With the deepest concern the question may be asked, Who will fill their places? To whom are to be committed the vital interests of the church, when the present standard-bearers fall? We can but look anxiously upon the youth of today as those who must take these burdens, and upon whom responsibilities must fall.” –Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 536.
“You who mourn your spiritual dearth, do you seek to know and to do the will of God? Are you striving to enter in at the straight gate? There is work, earnest work, to be done for the Master. The evils condemned in God’s word must be overcome. You must individually battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. The word of God is called ‘the sword of the Spirit,’ and you should become skillful in its use, if you would cut your way through the hosts of opposition and darkness.” –Christian Education, p. 117.

For additional study
“When the word of God, as a sharp, two-edged sword, cuts its way to the heart and arouses the conscience, many suppose that this is enough; but the work is only begun. Good impressions have been made, but unless these impressions are deepened by careful, prayerful effort, Satan will counteract them. Let not the laborers rest content with what has been done. The plowshare of truth must go deeper, and this it will surely do if thorough efforts are made to direct the thoughts and establish the convictions of those who are studying the truth.” –Gospel Workers, p. 367.
“But armed with the word of God, having it treasured in heart and mind, they will come forth unharmed by all the assaults of the foes of God or man….
“Let them take the word of truth as the man of their counsel, and become skillful in the use of ‘the sword of the Spirit.’ Satan is a wise general; but the humble, devoted soldier of Jesus Christ may overcome him.” –My Life Today, p. 315.