Don’t Take The Bait!
Has it ever felt like Satan set a trap for you? You don’t see it coming but then you are caught. If you have ever set a trap for an animal, you know there are two components. First, it needs to be hidden. Second, it needs to be baited. That’s how Satan works—he disguises his trap. They he lays the bait to make it enticing. In fact, it is so enticing it makes you overlook the danger that is apparent. Have you taken the bait? Spiritual Warfare requires that we recognize the traps in our lives. Don’t take the bait!
Train With The Sword
The second half of Ephesians 6:17 introduces the sword.
“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17, ESV).”
The sword is the last piece of the armor and it serves both a defensive and an offensive role. The Greek word Paul uses for, “Sword,” refers to a small sword. It was a short sword and could even refer to a knife. There is a reason Paul uses this word—that is what it is like to fight against Satan and his demons. Sometimes you get so close you are locked in hand to hand combat trying to thrust and thwart with this short sword. That is the reality of spiritual warfare: Satan wants you in a knife fight. He wants to cut you and make you bleed so you are ineffective for the kingdom. If we are going to be ready for combat we have to train. The sword, as we will see, is God’s word. To train we must read God’s word, we must memorize God’s word, we must be able to speak and use God’s word clearly and effectively. You have to train with the sword. How? By the power of the Spirit.
Pray In The Spirit
Here is the truth: Prayer sets the sword on FIRE! This is warfare prayer! We should never go into battle against our enemy without praying. Even when we are in battle, we should never stop praying. Pray without ceasing! In v. 18, Paul tells us to use every conceivable prayer at our disposal in warfare. The word, “requests,” is also translated supplication, which means to “beg or plead” for other people. In spiritual warfare, we use every conceivable prayer at our disposal for others and ourselves. Prayer is crucial for the health of the church! The great preacher Charles Spurgeon captures the power of prayer for the church:
“What can we do without your prayers? They link us with the omnipotence of God. Like the lightning rod, they pierce the clouds and bring down the might and mysterious power from on high […] The Lord give me a dozen importunate pleasers and lovers of souls and by his grace we will shake all London from end to end.”
I love that image! Prayer brings the LIGHTNING from heaven. What follows lighting? FIRE! Prayer is what lights the sword of the Spirit on FIRE! What can we do without prayer? Church, are we praying? One thing I can tell you is that we are under assault every day. Satan wants to make our church ineffective for the kingdom. We push back the kingdom of darkness through prayer. When we engage in warfare prayer, we can shake Basking Ridge, New Jersey from end to end!
Open Your Mouth
Lastly, Paul tells us to open our mouths in spiritual warfare. This is an instructive point for all of us. Some of us open our mouths too quickly—we are combative. Others of us fail to open our mouths—we are passive aggressive. What Paul teaches us at the close of this section is this: discern when to open your mouth. How does he finish the section? He tells us to pray …
“And also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel […] (Ephesians 6:19, ESV)”
Paul is not afraid to ask for prayer himself. Paul, this spiritual giant, this spiritual warrior who has been run out of town multiple times for the preaching the Gospel, for unsheathing the sword, he asks for intercessory prayer in this battle. This is a challenge for many of us. Some of us have a difficult time going to God in prayer. Others of us do not like to ask for prayer because we do not want to appear weak. We want to seem like we have it all together. This is another bait of Satan.
Where is God calling you to SPEAK? Where do you need to open your mouth? Spiritual warfare is a close combat exercise. Satan is coming after us. In fact, he may be getting in your face right now trying to intimidate you into silence. Paul closes this section on warfare by challenging us: Open your mouth! Do not be silent! Fight back with the Sword of the Spirit, the spoken word of God.