Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Eph. 6:17d “. . .which is the word of God:”
Martin Luther appreciated the role of “the word of God” in spiritual warfare:
The Prince of Darkness grim, We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, For, lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
Luther’s “word” referred to “the word of God.” No word of man can rout demons, but they scatter when God speaks. Satan, the father of lies, is exposed and thrown back by God’s truth. When we, under the Spirit’s anointing, rightly divide the Word of truth (2 TM 2:15), it rightly divides a swath through the heart of Satan’s ranks.
Since “the word” is “of God,” our response toward it should be a reflection of our attitude toward God. We hold two basic sentiments toward God: reverence and love. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (PS 110:10), and Jesus said the first commandment is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God. . .” (MK 12:30). The reverence and love we render to God should be rendered in kind to His Word.
First, we should reverence “the word of God.” The prepositional phrase, “of God,” highlights the importance of its contents. Give it the full attention and credit it deserves. “The word of God” is valuable to our corporate Church life. A desire for revival in the Church is growing among us. Appropriately, much is being said about the importance of prayer in bringing revival. I wish more would be said about the vital role “the word of God” plays in revival.
Six of the Old Testament’s greatest revivals were begun, not primarily in prayer, but in response to the written “Word of God.” The revivals under Joshua (JS 8:32), Asa (2 CH 14:4), Jehoshaphat (2 CH 17:9), Hezekiah (2 K 18:6), Josiah (2 K 22:8), and Ezra (EZ 7:10) were “Bible revivals.” God’s conviction came upon the people from a rediscovery of His written Word. If revival comes in our corporate Church life, it will descend on the wings of prayer and ascend from the pages of the written Word. Revival in the Church hinges on “both/and,” not “either/or.”
”The word of God” is valuable to our private individual lives. It helps us know God well. I remind us of the truth we learn when we compare Ephesians 5:18, “Be filled with the Spirit,” with its parallel passage, Colossians 3:16, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” These two directives yield the same results: music (EP 5:19; CL 3:16), thankfulness (EP 5:20; CL 3:17), family harmony (EP 5:21ff; CL 3:18ff). As a mathematician, I remind you, things equal to the same thing are equal to one another. If being “filled with the Spirit” is equal in result to letting “the Word of Christ dwell in you richly,” then a Spirit-filled Christian is one who is Bible-filled, who lets the written Word infuse every part of our being.
We should love “the word of God.” By establishing the habit of reading about five pages a day, I have now read the entire Bible annually for the last twenty years. Of all the spiritual disciplines, this custom is now my favorite, my number one passion. I wish I could say I always loved this practice, but for years it was merely a duty, a drudgery. It took several years of reading for it to become a passion in my life. I am embarrassed to say, only in recent years have I come to love, truly love with passion, “the word of God.” I rejoice to say, though the passion was slow in coming, once it arrived, thank God, it stuck. Thank you, Lord, for Your precious Book. There is no way to compute how often we would have in ignorance run in the ways of pain and destruction but for the kind restraints of God’s Book. “It has flashed conviction like lightning” (McClure, in BI), and thundered our souls into submission just as we were about to step off into the abyss of destruction.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (PS 1:1-3).
God help us to delight in the law, to truly love with passion “the word of God.” May He grant us a grand thirst, a passion for our roots to go down deep in His written Word, to be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. Pray for God to make us to want our roots to sink down deep into the Everlasting, to drink from His very life. When the love arrives, the burden and drudgery of living for God flees.
Eph. 6:18a “Praying. . .”
The figurative language of being dressed in armor is over, but Paul, though passing from metaphor to literal speech, is still discussing how a Christian stands fast in the conflict. We have sung his admonition since childhood, “Put on the gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer.” Armor is not enough by itself. The armor provided by God is useful only when used in fellowship with God. He has to give us adequate strength and proper strategy to use the armor aright. To marshal our weapons of war in their appointed order, pray. To use each piece of the armor with dexterity and proficiency, pray. Learn what it means to fight upon our knees.
If I had my life to live over, I would spend more time in my younger years mastering the discipline of prayer. Oh! how I wish I had read more biographies of prayer warriors and more books about prayer. I am overwhelmingly conscious of a need for more power in my prayers, but I find myself a middle aged man possessing what I feel to be a child’s grasp of prayer. I should be approaching maturity in prayer, but am instead just beginning. I am playing “catch up,” and I do not like it.
Dear warriors, we must give ourselves to prayer. Once fully clad in armor, turn first, not toward Satan, but toward Christ. He grants us an armory we can employ against Him. He is willing to be overthrown, to be solicited into the conflict, to be reverently “commanded” as it were. He seems to say, “Now that you have My armor, come wrestle with Me first. Let us strive together. You shall win, and I shall surrender to you My power in answer to your prayer.” God waits to be taken.
In the day of battle, the time of danger, sound an alarm in the ears of Heaven. Lay hold on God. “Keep not silence, and give Him no rest” (Isa. 62:6-7). When Satan attacks, we have freedom to send distress signals, specific requests for help. The devil cannot sever our communication line with God, but we can fail to use it.
The Knights of Charlemagne once unnecessarily suffered a terrible defeat. Reinforcements were waiting nearby, but Roland, the commander, was too proud to ask for help. All he had to do was blow his horn, but he refused to, and as a result his men were massacred. Warriors, blow the horn of heaven. Call God to your aid.