“and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”
The Bible, Holy Scripture, the Word of God is neglected at alarming rates by Christians; at least according to the polls, and based upon what the churches look like. I think and work in the ‘theological’ world, but for me this means being constantly bathed in the words of Holy Scripture. If Scripture is God’s ordained place for us to encounter His dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ, then it behooves the Christian to be saturated in its text; just so that they might be saturated in the very power of the resurrected Christ. Christ is the res (reality), and the text is the signum (sign) that points beyond itself (like Calvin’s spectacles) to its transcendent yet immanent reality for us in Jesus Christ. It is as the Christian inhabits Scripture that they are made aware of the reality and ground of their life in the vicarious humanity of Jesus Christ; a life that is indestructible, and not only impervious to death, but an eternal life that has dismantled death from the inside/out. And yet this ‘last enemy’ remains; death that is.
The Apostle Paul was well aware of this last enemy, and he informs the Christians in Ephesus of the means by which they might confront death, and its minions, who is the satan and his fallen cohort. As the Apostle knew, while living in the far country of this world system, the Christian would be beat here and there by the darts and lies that the great deceiver would attempt to thrust at them; with the might of a dragon. God in Christ has provided for us (pro nobis) the means, through Holy Scripture, by which the Christian cannot just be an ‘overcomer,’ but be so through a vibrant life of participatio Christi (participation with Christ in the triune life of the living God). Jesus in His humanity for us understood the outright power of simply inhabiting Holy Scripture; of internalizing it, and organically living it out. We see this best in the satan’s attempt to tempt Jesus in the wilderness.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. –Matthew 4:1-11
As many of you already know Jesus is recapitulating Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness because of their failure to obey God’s Word. Here Jesus quotes Deuteronomy at the satan, from that very context, and prevails over the devil himself by the living Word of God; ironic, since He is that Word in Himself (in se). But this is how Christians ought to inhabit God’s Word, just as Jesus did. We need to inhabit, internalize, and deploy it (by the Spirit) in such a way that it is canonical and contextual. This means, in order to experience the power of the Word of God, as that finds its reality in Jesus Christ and the triune life of God, that we need to rightly divide it (II Tim. 2:15). We need to labor over it, and in it. We need to allow the canonical reality of the text itself, as that finds its life blood through Immanuel’s veins, to so flow through our lives that it might shine out of our broken bodies into a shadowy and dark world.
But I am afraid Christians are not being vigilant in knowing, inhabiting, meditating, and thus rightly dividing the Word of God which is truth. There is a raging spiritual attack to keep Christians from their primary means of offense (let alone defense), in regard to taking up the Word of God and reading it. The Christian will never experience the real power of God in their lives outwith an obsessive, even myopic focus on Holy Scripture. The very breath of creation and recreation itself underwrites the very ink and paper upon which God has chosen to disclose Himself to and for the world; indeed as that lowly paper and ink bears witness to the flesh and blood of God in Jesus Christ. The satan knows that if he can keep the Christian away from the text of Holy Scripture, OR if he can indoctrinate people with bad hermeneutics (i.e. which would mean that people mishandle Scripture for their own vein or misguided ends), that the Christian will have no power to be an ‘overcomer.’ Remember the seven sons of Sceva in the book of Acts? They attempted to do an exorcism, as the Apostle Paul and the other Apostle’s were known for, and the demons said they knew who Paul was, but they didn’t know these men; at which point the demonic power surged through their human dwelling place and beat the Scevans to a bloody pulp. This remains the reality today. Even if they aren’t always physically beating people up (although they still do that too), they most certainly are entrapping people, Christians, who do not know the reality of Holy Scripture.
Kyrie eleison. Lord have mercy.