Wielding the Sword of the Spirit Effectively
In the Battle to Accept God's Unconditional Love
God’s unconditional love transforms.
The problem is, I have a tough time accepting and believing God loves me unconditionally when I fail… when I sin… when I feel depressed, worthless, lonely… or when I’m in a particularly difficult situation. Plus, I have an adversary, the devil, who is doing all in his power to convince me that God’s love is conditional at best, but more likely nonexistent.
Do you struggle with this too?
There is hope.
Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us that we are soldiers in a galactic battle over God’s character of love. Paul tells us that in order to overcome our natural tendencies and destroy the devil’s lies we must put on the whole armor of God, especially the sword of the Spirit. And in 2 Corinthians 10:5, he tells us to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” with the sword of the Spirit.
But sword fighting doesn’t come naturally, whether it’s a spiritual sword or a real sword. Like any soldier, we need training and practice in order to wield the sword effectively.
Here are three sword-fighting techniques we can practice daily to thwart our carnal nature and defeat the devil’s lies about God’s love and who we are in Him.
1. En Guarde – Sword held in attack position. Feet solidly planted ready to fight.
Daily fortify your mind with the truth about who God is.
Purposely collect the passages of scripture that describe God’s character. Put them somewhere easily accessible for killing any doubts or fears about God’s true nature when they come. Write them on three-by-five cards to carry with you. Store them in the notes section of your phone. Or record them in a google doc you can access anytime anywhere.
For example, 1 John 4:8 “God is love.”
Notice, it says God IS love. Not that He has love, or expresses love, but that love is who He is.
Take love out of God and He ceases to exist.
1 John 4:9-10 “This is how God showed His love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
As Christians, we tend to focus on Jesus’ love for us as evidenced by His suffering and death. But this text gives us a glimpse of how much God the Father loves us too.
As a parent, I can tell you it was gut-wrenching to watch my child suffer sickness or pain and not be able to do anything to relieve it. Many times, I wished for the ability to take their place—suffer for them. Or, to snap my fingers and make it disappear altogether.
Imagine how awful it would be to watch your child go through the torture and agony that Jesus went through with the full knowledge that you had both the power and the ability to stop it at any second. However, because you love the very people torturing and crucifying Him so incredibly much, you don’t intervene.
That is the hell God the Father went through so that you and I could receive salvation.
Romans 5:7-9 “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Think about that for a minute. God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus were willing to go through the agony of Christ’s death, not because we deserved it; not because we were so cute, so adorable, so irresistible. They were willing to do it while we were deformed beyond recognition by sin. While we were “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17). We were dirty, stinky—repugnant. But they loved us in spite of ourselves.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Notice that it says “whoever.” It doesn’t specify Christians only. Or only those who love Me. No! He loved every single person who ever lived or will live on this earth so much that He made salvation open to any person on this planet who will choose to believe in Jesus and follow Him.
This is just four verses out of many. Click here for more verses to get you started sharpening your sword to demolish the arguments against God’s character.
However, always be on the lookout for more verses to add to your list. Find ones that are meaningful to you and keep them handy. Never stop looking for them.
The more verses you have in your arsenal, the more effective your sword will be.
When you are tempted to believe that God doesn’t love or care about you; when you are tempted to believe the lie that God is vindictive, selfish, or plays favorites, pull out your sword of the Spirit and demolish those lies by quoting scripture.
Remember, God and you are on the same side in this great controversy.
Ezekiel 33:11 “Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’’”
God’s supreme goal is to save every one of us.
If you want to be saved, you and God are on the same side.
2. Parry – Deflect your opponent’s blade with your sword.
Daily affirm who you are in God by making “I am” statements based on scripture.
Ephesians 1:7 “He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.” NLT
I am redeemed and forgiven through His abundant grace and kindness.
John 10:28-29 “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
I am held in the palm of both Jesus’ and God the Father’s hands. No one can take me out of their hands.
Romans 8:16-17 “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.”
I am God’s child and a joint heir with Christ, God’s Son.
Turning these verses into “I am” statements about who God says you are as a result of His love is an extremely powerful method to move from intellectual assent to personally internalizing its truth.
For more verses about who you are in God, click here. However, don’t stop with those. Continue searching your Bible for more to add to your collection. Create your own “I am” statements. Mine are just suggestions.
For the sharpest possible sword, memorize the texts. That way, no matter where you are, when you feel worthless, useless, unloved…or whatever… you can demolish those false emotions and lying words with the sword of the Spirit. Declare your true identity and worth in God’s eyes utilizing scripture.
And remember, all of these scripture promises are true…
not because you deserve it;
not because you earn it;
but because God created you and He loves you.
They are true because God said so.
3. Attack – Aggressively moving in on your opponent with the objective of mortally wounding them.
Daily thank God for who He is and who you are in Him utilizing the very scriptures you are collecting for the first two moves.
In my experience, this is the most effective way to internalize these truths, learn to fully believe them, and be transformed by them.
Let me give you a couple of examples.
1. Thanking God for who you are in Him with scripture:
Ephesians 1:7-8 “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us.” NRSVUE
Thank you, Jesus, that I am redeemed by the blood you shed on the cross on my behalf. Thank You that through Your sacrifice I have been forgiven for my sins. Thank You that You lavished Your love and grace on me through the gift of the life of Your Son. A gift so extravagant that it is hard to comprehend.
2. Thanking God for who He is utilizing scripture:
Romans 5:7-9 “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Thank You, God, that Your love is so great and so strong for me that my salvation is not dependent on any action of mine. You gave irrefutable evidence of this love when 2,000 years before I was even thought of, while I was a clueless sinner, Christ chose to die for me.
For more examples, click here.
It is vital that you use personal pronouns in your prayers. Remember, you are internalizing God’s truth for you personally. You are training yourself to depend on God’s Word and not your deceitful, lying emotions, or your incorrect beliefs and ideas.
You are also training yourself to wield the sword of the Spirit effectively against the devil’s lies.
Hebrews 4:12 says that “the Word of God is living and powerful.” John 1:1-3 tells us that Jesus is the Word and that He created everything we see and touch. Psalms 33:6 states: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.”
The same creative power He used to speak this world and everything in it into existence is the same creative energy released in your life when you pray scripture—the Word of God—to demolish lies.
Praying scripture transforms you from the inside out. Your beliefs, your theories, and your understanding begin to conform to God’s truth.
Thus, His unconditional love will set you free to become a powerful witness for Him.
*** All texts quoted are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.
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Click here to read the blog: God’s Unconditional Love Transforms
Click here to read first person stories from The Gospel of John.
Click here to explore Lessons from the Gospel of John