“And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:17
My boys and I have a nightly bedtime routine of reading something that’s about or in the Bible. It’s a habit I started when they were just toddlers, and one I am very blessed to keep up. I’m so thankful they still want to hear the word of God.
A few nights ago, we were reading a fictional story with Biblical themes where the main characters were about to receive their swords after proving they knew how to use their armor. So I asked my boys, what is the real sword God talks about in the Bible? I admit I was a bit stunned when they knew the answer since they’re only nine years old (#proudmama).
Maybe you know too that the real sword is the word of God. The Bible itself is our weapon. Many people know this, but do we know how to use it? That’s where the challenge happens. Let’s explore how to use the sword of God effectively in a world that is daily attacking our faith.
The Armor of God
The word “sword” is used many times in the Bible, but only once is it used to indicate that the Bible is a weapon. We find it in Ephesians 6:10–20 where Paul is warning us to put on the armor of God so that we can be ready when the enemy attacks.
Just as a quick review, here is what the armor of God includes:
Belt = Truth
Breastplate = Righteousness
Shoes = Peace
Shield = Faith
Helmet = Salvation
Sword = Word of God/Holy Bible
We can see in this list that we are to be armed with the truth of who God is, to guard our hearts by choosing righteousness and integrity every day, to walk in peace with others, to defend our faith, and to remind ourselves of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice for us.
But, what do we actually do with the Bible? How can it be a sword? And, which one is best?
Choosing Your Sword
Choosing which sword is best for you is so important. It takes a little research and shopping around, but eventually, it’s like Harry Potter choosing his wand. Sometimes the wand chooses the wizard, as they say. After some time, you’ll know you have the right one.
My advice is to choose a Bible you can clearly understand. Most scholars agree the King James Version is the most accurate in terms of vocabulary. It’s the closest to what was first printed in Greek. But, let’s be honest, who can understand all those thee’s and thou’s?
I started with the New International Version (NIV). Then, when my kids needed a Bible for church, I bought them an rNIV, which is an early readers version I love. If you struggle to understand the Bible, this is the version for you. It’s written in plain language, and it has sidebars of little tidbits of knowledge scattered throughout it to help you along.
Now, I use the New King James Version. It’s just one step from the King James Version, and it has amazing study notes on each page.
Other great versions are the New Living Translation (NLT), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), and the English Standard Version (ESV). Some people also like The Message or an amplified Bible. Try a few different versions until you figure out which one is best for you.
But, please be careful. Not all Bibles are the same. Some omit certain verses completely, some change the words that are nowhere near what the King James Bible says (which means the meanings are changed), and some even add in words that were never there.
I encourage you to compare and contrast a few versions. A great place to do that quickly and easily is at Bible.com powered by YouVersion. I promise you’ll eventually find one that works for you.
Taking Hold of Your Sword
You can’t learn about your weapon, the Bible, unless you read it. And, if you don’t read it, you won’t know how to use it in any given situation.
There are many great reading plans out there that will help you get through the Bible in one year, but I encourage you to take it slow.
If you’re a new Christian, begin with the Gospels, particularly Matthew and John in the New Testament. If you’re fairly familiar with the Gospels, then go back to the beginning. Start at Genesis and read the Bible straight through to Revelation. My mother gave me this advice, and
I’m so glad I listened. Reading the Bible this way will help you better understand the events leading up to Jesus’ birth, the reasons why He had to come, the struggle to plant the early Christian churches, and what we can expect when Jesus comes again.
How much you read is completely up to you. Maybe you only have five minutes a day. That’s fine. Or, maybe you read only one chapter plus a Psalm or two. That’s great too. Whatever works for you is fine.
What’s most important here is that you are reading. Reading is the beginning of knowledge that leads to understanding and wisdom. And, it’s wisdom that strengthens your sword to its greatest potential.
Try Memorizing a Few
Once you feel pretty comfortable with reading the Bible, consider memorizing a few Scriptures. I have two great ways to do that.
Sticky Notes. I started with simple sticky notes. When I found a verse that really spoke to my heart, I wrote it down on a sticky note and put it wherever I knew I couldn’t help but see it.
Some people put their verses on the bathroom mirror. I do that too, but I mainly put them on my kitchen cabinets. I got a lot of jokes about it from friends because there were so many. But you know what? I couldn’t help but see them several times a day every day. And eventually, I had them memorized. I may not have had them perfectly memorized at first, but I remembered them enough to comfort me in difficult times or to offer help to someone else.
Verses. If you’re more high-tech, another great way to memorize Scripture is with a free mobile app called Verses. It’s set up like a game where you are given a certain Scripture, and then you have to retype it word for word before you can pass the level. You can choose whichever verses you want to memorize by adding them to your “collection.”
Everything is in King James Version unless you are willing to pay to unlock the other versions, but even in the KJV, I’m learning a lot. If you find yourself waiting in doctors’ offices or at the soccer field or dance studio, I’ve found Verses to be a good way to kill some time while learning more about your sword.
According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, the Hebrew word for sword is “yahad.” The difference between the Hebrew and English translation is the sword is not a noun, but a verb.
Yahad means “to unite or be united, to join.” So, we see that God originally meant for us to join in His kingdom’s work of sharing the Gospel, to be united in Christ as we share the Scriptures with others.
Being united in Christ also means we can lean on each other as we go. We’re all on the same team. So, join a group of Christian friends or find a Bible study group at church to help you get stronger in the Word.
Maybe you think it’s too difficult to share the Gospel with others, either alone or in a group. Maybe you think you don’t know enough of the Bible to sound factual or convincing and you won’t fit in. It’s true some new Christians need time to be alone. They need time to get into the Word and study it.
I was like that, and it took me many years to get the team mentality. But what I’ve found is that being part of a group takes your Christian walk SO much farther. You’ll get stronger quicker.
When God made Adam and Eve, he determined that man is not meant to be alone (Genesis 2:18). This verse is also true for every believer as we walk out our faith.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Being a part of a group — uniting together — teaches you even more about your sword.
Sharpening Your Sword
So, what’s involved in learning to wield your sword? How can you sharpen it?
We’ve determined that joining a small group or Bible study at your church is a great beginning as well as taking time every day to read the Scriptures. On your own at home, there are two activities you can do to enhance your reading. Both are very effective at sharpening your sword.
One method is Bible journaling. It’s a very popular activity where you write down certain Scriptures that stand out to you, taking notes as you read, writing out prayers or words of praise or thoughts you have. What you write is used as a reflection of your walk with God.
You might also create a Bible or verse map. It is a technique that helps you not only memorize Scripture, but also learn its context by looking at its surrounding verses, reading about the author of the book and when it was written, and getting a strong feel for the culture of the time.
The more you read and study, the more it takes hold in your heart. It becomes a part of who you are. Soon you’ll see the world in a very different way. You’ll realize you can’t go a day without thinking of certain Scriptures in certain situations. It will just come naturally.
Time to Be a Warrior
Reading, studying, journaling or mapping, joining a small group, and praying are all essential to learning how to use your sword effectively. Before you know it, it’s time to use your sword.
Soon you’ll be sharing Scriptures and stories with confidence as you reach out to comfort, encourage, and love others. You’ll be an effective witness to those who don’t understand who Jesus is because you will know what to say and do. And, when the enemy attacks, you’ll be ready.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to pick up your sword and be a warrior for Christ!