And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you. (Ephesians 6:17 TEV)
In Ephesians, the apostle Paul says the sixth thing necessary in spiritual warfare is to use the Word of God as a sword. So, the full armor of God includes integrity, purity, serenity, certainty, sanity and maturity
Most people don’t know how to use the Word of God against the devil — even people who’ve been in church for years and have heard the Word that whole time. But hearing the Word isn’t the same as using the Word.
Being able to use God’s Word against Satan is one of the most important marks of spiritual maturity. The Bible says, “You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food” (Hebrews 5:12 NLT).
It’s not hearing, reading, or even learning the Word of God that makes a believer mature. According to Hebrews 5:12, a mature believer is the person who puts the Word into practice.
Paul calls the Bible “the sword of the Spirit” in Ephesians 6. The sword is an offensive weapon that soldiers used to expand their territory — and take something over. Putting the Bible into practice is how you invade Satan’s territory. Satan isn’t afraid of your words, but he is afraid of God’s Word!
The Bible doesn’t become your sword until you memorize it, though. Why? You rarely have your Bible with you when you need it. If you’re looking at a $300 dress and trying to decide whether to go into debt to buy it, you need to have stored in your heart what God’s Word says about buying what you can’t afford.
Jesus did this. When Satan tempted Jesus three times in the wilderness, Jesus always responded by quoting the Bible. Jesus didn’t have to pull out his pocket Old Testament to respond to Satan. He had already hidden the Word in His heart. That’s how you defeat the devil, too.
I have been memorizing Scripture since I was 17 years old. I’ve memorized thousands of verses since then. Those verses give me power most people don't have. Often, someone will ask me a question for which I don’t have an answer. When that happens, I ask God, “What do you want me to say to this person?” The Holy Spirit then goes back through all the verses I’ve learned and brings the right verse to my mind.
Start with key verses in areas where you’re often tempted — like sex, impatience, or speaking without thinking. Then, when you’re tempted, you’ll be able to use God’s Word against Satan.
40 Days in the Word
This January, I will be delivering a new church wide campaign/small group study at Saddleback Church called 40 Days in the Word. My hope and prayer is that churches and individuals across the country will unite in a common desire to Learn the Word, Love the Word, and Live the Word of God like never before. This is our most significant campaign since 40 Days of Purpose, when more than 30,000 churches united nationwide. I encourage every church, pastor, or individual reading this to pray about participating. You can find more information about this at www.40DITW.com.
For church pastors or leaders, the campaign preview kits can be found here, or if you have a small group, you can get the teaching DVD and Workbooks here. James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” I hope you come along with us as we seek to live the Word of God!
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. Rick is author of the New York Times Best Seller The Purpose Driven Life, and also The Purpose Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers. © Copyright 2011 Rick Warren.