“… and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
The Word of God is an essential weapon in our battle with the enemy, and it is a weapon we must use with skill. There is no better example of using the sword of the Spirit for victory in spiritual warfare than Jesus himself.
In the desert at the beginning of his earthly ministry, Jesus was challenged by the devil. Three times the enemy attacked Jesus with temptation, and three times Jesus responded with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The temptation to satisfy hunger
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4.1-4)
The temptation to put God to the test
“Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,’He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ Jesus said to him, Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Matthew 4.5-7)
The temptation to pursue and possess the things of the world
“Again the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, ‘All these I will give to you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ (Matthew 4.8-10)
Note that in response to all three temptations of the enemy, Jesus responded with “It is written.” He faithfully and skillfully wielded the sword of the Spirit in order to defeat the intense, personal attacks of the devil.
The passage closes with, “Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.” (Matthew 4.11)
Tomorrow we will see that the three temptations the devil used against Jesus are the same three temptations the enemy throws at us.