The combination of the Spirit and the Word is an essential one for us to recall at all times. To focus on one without the other can be dangerous. The danger facing those who focus only on the Word is that they may become over cerebral in their Christianity, developing a clinical attitude towards spiritual problems and sometimes focussing more on issues and on doctrines rather than on experiences. The danger facing those who focus only on the Spirit is that they are likely to accept any spiritual encounter as genuine. Yet we are told to test the spirits, and the only way we can do so is by the Word. Therefore, we need both the Word and the Spirit. Here are three ways of thinking about the Word and the Spirit.
First, this sword is the production of the Spirit. Every sword has to be made from material mined and located from the earth before it is created on the swordmaker’s forge. In a similar sense, the contents of the Spirit’s sword were mined and located from different sources and each contribution was added to it by the heavenly craftsman, the Holy Spirit, who cannot make a defective sword (its contents are inerrant). He supervised the collection of each item and brought them together to form a remarkable and effective sword for his people. In this sword, there are accounts of individuals’ experiences of spiritual living as well as promises of God’s wide-ranging provision for these areas of life. There are prophecies of the Saviour, descriptions of God’s purpose, foretastes of heaven, encouragements to prayer. In it, there is everything each Christian soldier needs to defend himself against the devil.
Second, this sword remains the property of the Spirit, even although we use it. This means that the Bible is accompanied by the power of the Spirit. When wielded by the believer in harmony with the Spirit the Bible is a very effective tool against all the intrigues of the devil.
Third, every Christian has to use this weapon. It is not only for young Christians or for ill Christians or for intellectual Christians. This is a reminder of the importance of continually studying God’s Word. In what ways can this be done? Obviously, there should be private study and meditation, although this should be done with regard to passages that we understand. Then there are times of fellowship with other Christians when we can listen to the opinions of mature believers on biblical passages. Both these ways are very important and helpful.
The most important and helpful way that God has provided is in the ministry of the Word by those he has gifted for that role. This can be done by reading the helpful writings of eminent preachers or by listening to videos and cassettes of their sermons and addresses. Yet these should not be a substitute for the church fellowship where God’s people meet together to be instructed from his Word by pastors. It is no secret that church attendance is not a priority today, and one of the consequences is that the devil easily defeats believers because they don’t know how to use their sword.