Yet, God has not left you defenseless. He dresses you in protective armor. He even identifies the parts of that armor. In a few seconds you will hear those parts listed. As you listen, pay attention! God names many parts used for defense, but lists only one weapon. I want you to identify that weapon. Alright?
Stand firm[…] with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (6:14-17).
So, what is the one weapon God hands you? A sword, and the sword is the Word of God. That means, you do not stand powerless against your devilish enemy. God gives you a weapon so that you may strike the devil away. The Word Remains Ever Near You to deliver you from defeat and to rely on in battle.
In Romans 10:8, God zeroes in on the sword he puts in your hand. He reminds you: The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart… That ‘word’ is God’s Word, the Bible, the instruction God gives for life. In that ‘word’ God uncovers a perfect universe created for you. In that ‘word’ God lists Ten Commands as to how we are to treat him and each other. In that ‘word’ God points to Jesus, whose obedience makes you a friend of God. In that ‘word’ God whispers promises so that you may set your trust in those promises, cling to them, and live under his care.
The word is near you… Literally. You can purchase the Bible at just about any store or order one online. You can download Bibles to your smartphone. We have Bibles in the church and at the library. You can even hear the Word preached. The ‘Word’ can literally be in your hand. Yet, the ‘word’ can be even closer than your end table or bookshelf. The Word is in your mouth and in your heart… You have heard of God’s great love for you. You believe God’s great love for you. What you believe in your heart comes out of you with words. For example, each week you put your faith into words by using the Apostle’s (or Nicene) Creed. You admit: “Jesus is Lord.” That Jesus is more than just a man, he is the Son of God— the Son of God who destroyed the devil by his innocent death and that God raised him from the dead…
So, here’s the key point God makes about that sword: You have access to the most powerful weapon in the world because the Bible reveals a Savior who delivers you from eternal defeat.
The devil knows that. He knows Jesus conquered him. He knows that as long as you trust in that ‘Word,’ then you will enter heaven. So, he fights and he foams and he rages to separate you from the Word. If he gets the Word out of your hand, then you will have no weapon. If you have no weapon, then you lack the power to drive him away. If the devil does not go away, then he can destroy you. Do you know how he gets the sword out of your hand? With one question: “What do you think?” That sinister question invites you to lay aside what God teaches and rely on your own opinion.
That question is so seductive because it speaks to our pride. The devil wants you to think that you already know everything in the Bible. If you think you already know everything, then you will not read it and double-check your knowledge. If you will not read it, then you can forget Bible teachings. If you forget Bible teachings, you will just start creating wrong ideas. Soon, you rely on those wrong ideas. You trust your wisdom. You consult only yourself for life’s many choices. You may tell God he is wrong. The heart can even grow so callous that it divorces God from life.
Sound over-exaggerated? Well, the ‘word’ says: “Let us not give up meeting together” (Hebrews 10:25). Were you excited to be here today? Or, did the heart pump out excuse after excuse to stay away from worship? “You’re too tired. You lost an hour of sleep. God wants you to be healthy.” “You’re too busy for Jesus right now. You have school, sports, friends, bed, dinner. Jesus understands if you stay home.” “You already know enough about Jesus. You don’t have to be here that much. After all, you will spend eternity with him. Why spend time with him now?” The ‘word’ says: “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes” (Psalm 118:9). Does that promise steady your heart? Or, do you still worry about the future? The ‘word’ says: “Do all things for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Do you remember that God is involved in your decisions, or have you forgotten that? Do you stop to wonder if the television show you watch is really God-pleasing? Would God be pleased with what you do behind closed doors? Do Or, do you act in whatever way feels right to you?
The devil wants you to put down the ‘word’ because when you do, you have laid down your sword. If you have put down the sword, then he can enter your mind and heart without effort. He can lead you false ideas. He can steer you far from a perfect God. He can defeat you for good.
So, God points at the sword he gives you. (1) The Word Remains Ever Near You. (2) It even does something great: it delivers you from defeat.
In the Bible you see Jesus, the Son of God. The words Jesus speaks are the words God speaks. When Jesus commands, God commands. When Jesus promises, God promises. When the devil tempts Jesus in the wilderness, God strikes down each temptation.
Jesus is tempted in every way just as we are (Hebrews 4:15). The devil hisses: “What do you think Jesus? Does God really love you? Do you really need to worship him?” Every sly word is meant to get Jesus to disobey. If Jesus disobeyed, then he would lose. He, too, would be sinful. We would go to hell forever.
Yet, Jesus strikes back with: “It is written” (Luke 4:1-13). He points to what will happen. It is written that Jesus will be pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. It is written that God will kill Jesus because we wandered. It is written that we are healed because of Jesus (Isaiah 53:5).
All this is recorded in the Bible. You can hear it and read it for yourself. The Word Remains Ever Near You. In that word, you watch Jesus deliver you from (eternal) defeat. You can rely on this word in every battle.
Why? Well, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile— the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Your ‘Lord,’ your Jesus has the only thing God wants; Jesus has an absolutely perfect life. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life (Romans 6:23). Jesus never sinned; he lives forever. On the cross, he hands his Father that perfect which counts for you.
The devil lost. He never got Jesus to sin one time. You (and I) hold victory. Nothing will keep you (and me) out of heaven. The Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
That is the sword God has placed into your hand. When the devil tempts you, reveal that Word. Cut through the devil’s lies, and remind him that “Jesus wins.” Remind him how Jesus succeeded in his mission to save you. Remind him that you obey the Word of your God because it pleases him. Remind him that you listen to the Word because it will bring you to heaven. How furious Satan will be if we die trusting in Christ, not ourselves. How livid he will be because we will slip between his hideous fingers into our Father’s hands forever! The Word Remains Ever Near You to rely on in battle.
Relying on the Word will be difficult because it calls you (and me) to put God’s Word first. That means putting God’s wants ahead of your own wants. Sometimes that will set you at odds with many. That may even put you at odds with yourself. Some days it would feel better to put the Word down, to ignore, to do whatever pleases you. Yet, to remove the Word removes you from God.
That is the reason you fight. You fight so that you will not lose—and you will not, not with God on your side. He tells you: Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. So many parts are used for defense, but only one part is a weapon: the Word. That Word reveals a Savior who delivered you from the clutches of the devil. That Word replays the devil’s loss again and again. That is the weapon God hands you. Use it and strike the devil away. The Word Remains Ever Near You to deliver you from defeat and to rely on in battle.