What is the sword of the spirit?

The last piece of armor listed in the "armor of God" passage (Ephesians 6:10-20) is the sword of the Spirit, which represents the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). The Holy Spirit uses the power of the "sword of the Spirit" to first bring people to salvation (Romans 10:17) and then to give them strength and protection in their battle against the spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12-13).

All the other armor pieces are defensive or protective, but the sword is both defensive and offensive. In a physical battle, a soldier’s sword would both protect him from an attack as well as strike an enemy to overcome and destroy him. In the same way, God wants Christians to use the sword of the Spirit to stand against, overcome, and destroy our spiritual enemy, Satan, along with the spiritual rulers and forces of evil in this present age (Ephesians 6:12).

How can I use the sword of the Spirit?

One of the greatest protective uses of the sword of the Spirit is to keep us from the temptation to sin (Psalm 119:11). God’s Word helps us learn spiritual discernment for when we need to make decisions (Psalm 119:105). 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that Scripture is useful for teaching (what is right), rebuking (what is wrong), correcting (how to make things right), and training in righteousness (how to keep things right), so that the child of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 also shares that the sword of the Spirit is an offensive weapon to "demolish strongholds" of error, lies, and false teaching.

In Hebrews 4:12, the Word of God is referred to as a double-edged sword. The Roman sword was commonly fashioned two sharp sides, which made it easier for the soldier to strike from any direction. Thinking of the Bible as a double-edged sword reminds us that God’s Word cuts straight to the heart--the very center of one’s being--whether its someone else's or our own. The sword of the Spirit lays open the heart's motives and feelings, evaluating and sanctifying under the light of God’s Word.

Training to Wield the Sword of the Spirit

Rigorous training is important for any soldier who desires maximum protection, effectiveness, and survival with their weapons. So how can you "train" yourself to use the sword of the Spirit? Let's think of it as a 4-step training process that we practice regularly: Read, memorize, meditate, and apply.

  1. READ: To benefit from God’s Word, you have to know what is says. If you haven’t read through the whole Bible yet, now is a great time to start. There are so many useful Bible apps that can help you stay on schedule. I've done a challenge to read the whole Bible in two weeks, and it was an amazing experience that gave me a biblical big picture overview. (A blog post about this challenge is linked below!)
  2. MEMORIZE: Scripture Memory Fellowship has a poster that reads, "God’s Word in your heart is like God’s sword in your hand." If you already have God’s Word memorized, the Holy Spirit will be able to bring it to memory when temptations arise (John 15:26, 16:7), when you're discouraged (John 6:63; Psalm 119:105), when you need to share God’s Word with someone (1 Peter 3:15), when you're talking about salvation (John 14:6), etc. Having God's Word memorized is like having it "on hand"—like a sword on your belt, ready to use at any time. If you don’t have the Scripture memorized, it’s a lot harder to wield the sword when you need it. (See: Tips on Memorizing Bible Verses)
  3. MEDITATE: Once a soldier has initially learned a technique, he needs to practice. Practice involves repetition of movements until they become natural. Soon, the soldier will develop muscle memory and will be able to perform without thinking. Then, when fighting in battle, the soldier's body will automatically respond to the situation. You could say he "meditated" on how to use his sword.

    When Scripture talks about "meditating" on God’s Word, this means intentionally thinking about God’s Word throughout the day (Psalm 1:2). Psalm 1 compares meditating on Scripture like a tree that is planted by a stream; this tree will never wither, as it has a continuous stream of water. In the same way, we are to continually soak in God’s Word—not just on Sunday morning or once in a while.

    Tips for Meditating on God's Word:
    • Listening - If you're an auditory learner, try listening to God’s Word throughout the day, whenever you have idle time, or when you are doing things that don't require more than a little concentration. (e.g. When you're getting ready for the day, doing chores, waiting in line, etc.) A lot of Bible apps have audio versions available for free to help you meditate on God's Word.
    • Recitation - Purposefully reading or reciting Scripture at a certain time can help develop a healthy, regular habit of mediating on the Bible. Whether you do it when you wake up or go to bed, while you're on your way to or from school or work, or during another normal daily routine, set a reminder for each day. Remind yourself to think about God’s Word regularly. Maybe pick one verse or passage, then meditate on that one for the week to practice "wielding" the sword.
    • Reflection - Part of meditation is just thinking about Scripture and connecting it to your experiences. Ask yourself questions like, "What does this verse mean? What do each of these words mean? What does this verse teach me about God? What does God want me to learn about this verse?" Asking questions like these can help enhance your understanding of the Bible and how it fits in with your life. A study Bible or other Bible study tools could be helpful too—whether you're a new believer or have been a Christian your whole life. A great resource to expand your understanding of biblical context is BibleRef.com.
  4. APPLY:
  5. The Bible tells us to not just be hearers of the Word, but to also be doers of the Word (James 1:22). A soldier who knows all about sword fighting but never actually goes into battle is of little use to their general. In the same way, God doesn’t want us to merely "take in" His Word; He wants us to USE IT. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we have a sword that is divinely equipped to defend, protect, and fight. If you know Scripture, use your sword and apply what is right in your words and actions.

The more we know and understand God’s Word, the more we will be able to do God’s will (Romans 12:2), and the more effective we will be in resisting the enemy of our souls (James 4:7).



God has provided spiritual armor to believers for protection against and attack on the spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12-13). The "sword of the Spirit" is the power of the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). This sword will help you resist temptation, walk in God’s way, and "demolish strongholds" of sin and lies. Train yourself to wield this sword by reading, memorizing, and meditating on God’s Word. And once you know God’s Word, be sure to apply it to your life! "God’s Word in your heart is like God’s sword in your hand" (Scripture Memory Fellowship).

Writer: Hanna S.

Hanna loves spending time with kids and teens. She enjoys being detectives with them to investigate God's Word to discover truths to answer any questions. She is the co-author of a newly published apologetics curriculum for children and teaches one online for highschoolers-adults. To learn more about her ministry you can visit networkerstec.com. For fun, she likes to play Ultimate Frisbee, read historical fiction, and paint.

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