Wielding the Sword of the Spirit
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 1 Peter 3:8
I recently saw something that unsettled my spirit deeply. Some people I love and respect shared a video disparaging several Bible teachers I have also come to respect.
Henry Blackaby was one of them, labeled a false teacher for his Bible study Experiencing God. That Bible study was the very tool God used to lead me to salvation in His beloved Son.
Grief is the only word that aptly describes my response. I literally wept. What tool of the enemy would draw me into intimate, authentic relationship with Jesus Christ?
I can say authentic with deep conviction, because that relationship unleashed the power of grace in my life. I was changed. God tendered my shackled heart and caused it to love in ways that it couldn’t before. His Spirit within me brought forth beautiful fruit.
And yet some would say that teaching didn’t come from God.
It’s amazing how people who profess the same Lord can view things so differently. Passionately clinging to our own interpretation of scripture, we stand on opposing sides, using the same Bible to hurl accusations at one another in a desperate attempt to prove we’re right.
I don’t believe that’s what God had in mind when He placed the sword of the Spirit in our hands. We’re not meant to turn it on one another. We’re meant to unite against the real enemy—God’s enemy—the one whose agenda remains division among the body of believers.
Scripture clearly defines our enemy in Ephesians 6:11-12.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
A scheming devil wages war against the church with his army of evil. 1 Peter 5:8 reveals how he likes to attack.
Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
We’re in little danger when the pack unites. Together we’re too strong for him. The gates of hell cannot prevail against a healthy church (Matthew 16:18). He knows he must divide us to have any chance of claiming us for dinner.
Unfortunately, we can be quick to oblige, separating from our brothers and sisters over often petty differences. And sometimes we do more than keep our distance. Sometimes we become the teeth he uses to devour his prey.
You might be interested to read Proverbs 6:16.
There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him.
Guess what appears seventh on the list.
. . . one who sows discord among brothers (verse 19).
When we use the sword of the Spirit to cut one another down in the name of defending truth, we become tools in the hand of the evil one to sow discord among brothers. And God couldn’t be clearer about how He feels about it: He hates it.
Dear one, if we continue to fight amongst ourselves, we only advance the kingdom of darkness. Take a few moments to carefully consider Paul’s plea to the church at Ephesus, a plea the Spirit of the Living God still breathes to each of us through the page.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6
Beautiful, isn’t it?
Perhaps it’s time to look past our differences and let Christ’s love unite us. After all, it is men, not God, who have divided the body of Christ into many.
The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Deuteronomy 6:4
Only the Spirit of God can bring about the unity described in God’s Word. Only God Himself can take men and women with different backgrounds, beliefs and teachers and bring them into agreement about the mysteries of truth.
The day is coming, dear one. Christ will unite His church in love, and the world will know that Jesus is everything He says He is (John 17:23). They will come from every denomination, every tribe and tongue, all whose hearts answer His call and humbly seek the truth.
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6:14-15
Interesting. Apparently the gospel of peace may require us to move.