How do you feel about gun control? Or having weapons in the home in case someone breaks in? Mark and I had some interesting conversations about these issues with some friends while we were home in the States. (Thanks, Frank & Sharon!)

Mark was pondering the idea of needing a weapon in the home since break-ins are rumoured to be a bit more common in South Africa. ahem. Although we didn’t come to any definitive conclusions, one issue that we discussed, which always comes up, is the safety of having a weapon in the home, especially when there are going to be children present.

The thing about weapons is, they can often be used for good purposes, but also for evil ones. They can be useful, and they can be destructive. And it is interesting that the Word of God is often spoken of in the Scriptures as a weapon – as a sword.

Like any other object, the sword can be wielded as a weapon for good – for one’s protection or self-defence, or for evil. I don’t think examples are needed for that. But for the Word of God to be called the Sword – what does it mean, if a sword can be used for good or for evil?

Image by rbeforee @ flickr

Image by rbeforee @ flickr

We find one answer in Luke 4. Jesus has just headed on this seriously long spiritual retreat. He has fasted for 40 days in the wilderness – I think it was some serious ‘man’ time. And at the end of it, He was hungry. No surprise there, He was human after all. The enemy shows up on the scene with a fairly simple suggestion: “If you have all these supernatural skills, why not turn a stone into some bread and then you can eat something.”

But Jesus has His Sword with Him – and He is aware that this is not God’s will. So He speaks to the enemy from Scripture: “Man doesn’t live just on bread. We live by God’s Word.” Which I think is basically saying, “It’s more important for us to live by God’s Word than to have something to eat.”

The battle of intellects continues with the suggestion that Jesus worship the devil, and in return be given the kingdoms of the earth. Jesus wields the Sword again – “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.” Pretty straightforward there.

Then it gets really interesting. Satan suggests Jesus jump off the top of the temple, if He is the Son of God, because “He will tell His angels to take care of you” and “They’ll catch you, so that you don’t even stub your toe.” Slight paraphrase. Wait – what just happened? Yes, you might’ve picked up on it – the devil just wielded the Sword. He quoted Scripture, at Jesus. That was pretty bold.

Jesus’ response (wielding the Sword again): “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”  Plain and simple.

The interesting thing about this last section of the conversation is an actual demonstration that the Sword – the Word of God can be wielded correctly, and incorrectly. God’s Word can be used for good, or for evil. It can be used to heal, and it can be used to kill. It can justify slavery or polygamy, and instruct us to love and forgive one another.

So Scripture, on its own, is just words on a page. We need the revelation of the Holy Spirit to rightly discern and understand Scripture, and as Jesus demonstrated, we need to let Scripture clarify Scripture for us. Satan could’ve justified Jesus’ attempted suicide with the Scripture he quoted, but Jesus rightly discerned God’s will. God tells us not to test Him. And that’s that.

While I’m still not sure what all the answers are regarding gun control or having weapons in the home, I am certain that the Word of God is true. If we are willing to rightly receive it – not to justify our own preferences, but with the intent of truly understanding the will of God – then we can rightly wield the Sword God has given us and fight the good fight we’re here to fight.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12: 2)