Spiritual Arsenal #6: Listening to God's Word

The final installment in this Spiritual Arsenal series deals with scripture. Listening to God's word as spoken in the ancient biblical texts is a key weapon in your spiritual fight. Jesus defended himself from the devil with it, "One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." By quoting scripture in his resistance, Jesus was modeling precisely how you can live on God's word.

Just how exactly does God's word function in your spiritual battle against evil? Some folks will of course immediately protest that they can hear the Word of God through avenues other than the Bible. There's no doubt about this fact. God can speak through a sunset, in a piece of music, via the touch of another human being, or even through a donkey if needed. There's no serious argument about this.

One could also point out that Jesus is the living Word of God. That's what John says in John 1:1. It's the message of the Hebrews writer in 1:1-3, ". . . but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son." Instead of undercutting my point about the Bible being the primary avenue for hearing God's Word, this actually underscores it. Apart from the teachings of scripture, how do you learn about Jesus or about what it means to follow him?

The Bible, therefore, is not just one among many vehicles through which God speaks. For centuries, it has been the primary tool to teach the Word of God. In it, you can hear the stories of how God relates to people and vice versa. Scripture brings the living presence of God into the midst of his people. And this is more than symbolic. The Bible can truly unleash power that is able to shape the church and subsequently your own life in ways both tangible and unseen.

Folks sometimes misunderstand their relationship to the Bible. Some Christians believe it their job to praise the Bible and to revere it above all other books. Others think it crucial to defend the Bible and to set forth doctrines defining its authority. But in the words of one scholar, "It is not we who save the Bible but rather it is the Bible that can save us from ourselves."

In other words, the Word of God has power to transform your life from the inside out and lead you into God's mission. "Your word is a lamp unto my feet," the psalmist states. Or according to the Hebrews writer, it exposes your deepest needs and shines light on what's hidden. Scripture is the instrument through which God's Word speaks—if you allow it.

That's the key. You have to listen. You must create space for God's word to speak into your life. Granted access, it can penetrate your innermost being. But this can only happen when you are humble enough to sit patiently in front of God's Word. Fasting and prayer are complementary tools that give you the opportunity to hear. But you must make a conscious choice to fill yourself with God's Word rather than the words of talk radio, pop music, Facebook, or the fears of your own heart. If you can listen to God's Word, your heart will begin to be flooded with a living power that defends you from evil and sends you forth to rescue others from darkness.

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