I wake up every day in a battle. More often than I would like to admit, anxiety rises in my heart before I even rise from my bed. For years, this morning battle has been the first domino down in a day that spirals out of control. But recently I’ve realized what’s been missing, and I’ve begun to have victory in my life. The problem? I’ve been going into battle with no weapon.
I don’t do my devotions in the morning. I likely never will. I’m so far from being a morning person that morning is the least profitable time for me to study God’s Word. This is not about having morning devotions. I will always advocate for studying the Bible at your very best time of the day, and I acknowledge that for many people that is not the morning. But as soldiers entering into spiritual warfare every single day, taking up the Sword of the Spirit is not an option.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
When Jesus fought the temptation of Satan in the wilderness, He modeled for us how we are to use the Word of God as a weapon in our own spiritual warfare.
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Jesus used a specific verse to fight the specific temptation He was faced with. That’s why we’re supposed to memorize Scripture, right? But sometimes it’s helpful to have a more tangible reminder of the Scripture we want to use to combat sin. So Scripture flashcards? That may be helpful for some, but personally, loose papers drive me crazy, and I won’t keep flashcards around for long. So what’s the solution?
Enter, The Pocket Sword.
My husband first came up with the idea of carrying a New Testament marked in a way that would be functional for combatting temptation in our lives. I thought the idea was brilliant, and I made a few tweaks to make it easy to use for myself. This concept has been so revolutionary in both of our lives that I want to share with you how you can set up your own Pocket Sword and have victory in the spiritual battles in your own life.
IDENTIFY SINS, STRUGGLES, AND SYMPTOMS
The hardest part of learning to use God’s Word effectively as a weapon in spiritual warfare is identifying the specific sins and struggles we need to be fighting against. I have found in this process that some of the sins and struggles in my life have become so internalized I hardly recognize them for what they are. If you feel the same way, it may take some digging to discover your own sins and struggles, but God will honor your desire to root out the sin in your life and live a life that is honoring to Him.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
It may be helpful to start by identifying the symptoms of our besetting sin rather than the sin itself. These are the feelings that come to the surface that indicate something is not right on a deeper level. Two feelings that I have identified as frequent symptoms of sin in my life are anger and anxiety.
Anger is often seen as a sin, but I disagree with this. Anger is simply a feeling. If acted on, it can certainly become sinful. It can also be an indicator of a sin struggle deeper down. Why do I feel angry? Is it a result of selfishness? Pride? Something else? Allow God to reveal to you what your anger may be a symptom of.
Anxiety is rarely seen as a sin, but is rather seen as a struggle. I fully believe anxiety can have some physical causes. I am not here to tell you that the root cause of your anxiety is sin. But when I am truly honest about what is at the root of my anxiety, it is usually worry or discontentment.
What about feelings of depression? Where do they have their root? Again, I’m not saying there can’t be physical causes for depression. If you need further help with depression, please seek out a professional. But we would do well to first take time to do some self-reflection and be honest about where we believe our feelings of depression may be coming from. Perhaps feelings of depression could have their root in guilt or shame. I would also say that guilt and shame should not be classified as sin either. I would call guilt and shame struggles.
There are issues in our hearts that need to be fought against with the Word of God that are not sins at all, but rather struggles. Guilt, shame, insecurity, and many other issues are not sinful, but are an indication that we have believed a lie about God or about ourselves. Only the truth of God’s Word can give us victory over the power of these lies.
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
As we seek to identify sin in our lives, it may be helpful to use the Sunday school definition of sin: Anything we think, say, or do that displeases God. Maybe you’re already aware of the sins in your life; maybe you need to do some more self-reflection in the presence of God to pinpoint what these are. The three sins I’ve identified as the biggest issues in my life are selfishness, discontentment, and worry. There are certainly others, but it may be helpful to start by combatting those you deal with on a more frequent basis.
Once symptoms, struggles, and sins have been identified, it’s time to start making your Pocket Sword into a real weapon that can readily be used to combat these issues.
CREATE A COLOR KEY
Write out sins and struggles somewhere in the front or back of your Pocket Sword. There are many ways you could do this, but whatever way you choose, you will want to somehow color code each item on your list.
- Put a colored piece of washi tape next to each sin or struggle. (This is what I did.)
- Write the sin or struggle on the colored washi tape. (This is what my husband did.)
- Write the sin or struggle with a specific colored pen or highlighter that you will use to mark the verses.
This list is not exhaustive, but is intended to give you some ideas. You can get creative with this step in whatever way works best for you.
HIGHLIGHT VERSES AND BOOKMARK ACCORDING TO YOUR COLOR KEY
The next step is to highlight or underline the verses that you want to use to combat your specific sins and struggles. You may want to start by using a search engine or concordance to find verses on a specific topic, but I really recommend taking the time to read through the Bible and allow the Holy Spirit to point out the verses He has for you to use in your spiritual warfare.
I have chosen to highlight the verses in my Pocket Sword all in one color and then use washi tape to make tabs that correspond to the color key in the back. You could also use page flags or small sticky notes to bookmark the verses. Whatever you choose, I do recommend using something that goes with your color code for sins and struggles so that you can easily find verses on a specific topic when it’s time to do battle.
The Pocket Sword is a powerful weapon, but it only works if you use it. There is never a wrong time to reach for your weapon in spiritual warfare, but there are a few specific times that may be especially pivotal in winning the spiritual battle.
When You Wake Up
We really do wake up in a battle every day, whether we realize it or not. It’s best to be proactive and begin our day with some verses that combat the sins and struggles we know we will likely be facing. I try to pick at least one category of verses in my Pocket Sword to read before starting my day based on what sin or struggle seems to be the most likely I will deal with that day.
When Symptoms Arise
When feelings of anger or anxiety surface, I will best be able to combat the sin they are a symptom of if I immediately reach for the Scripture that deals with that sin. So when anxiety surfaces and I recognize it’s a symptom of worry in my heart, I try to pick up my Pocket Sword and go through my verses on worry.
When You’re Reaching for a Quick-Fix
I don’t know about you, but often when those symptoms of sins or struggles appear, I reach for my phone. Maybe you reach for food or the remote or a novel. None of these things are bad, but when we reach for them in moments of anxiety or anger instead of digging to find the root of the problem and fighting it with Scripture, we are essentially trying to put a Band-Aid on a broken bone and fix it. This will never work. Only the Word of God will truly heal us. When you find yourself reaching for a quick-fix, reach for your Pocket Sword instead.
BEFORE Symptoms Arise
This takes a little more awareness of the patterns and habits of your life, but if there are situations or times of day when you find yourself more tempted to sin or more likely to be engaged in a struggle, reach for your Pocket Sword before this happens. Learn to be proactive about using the Word of God as a weapon in your spiritual warfare.
Carry It With You
We wouldn’t go into battle without a weapon, so we are really foolish to go anywhere without the Sword of the Spirit. Try to always have your Pocket Sword within reach so that you will be ready to use it when temptation comes. However, be careful that you don’t get into the habit of carrying it with you and not actually using it. This is not a lucky charm, but the weapon of our spiritual warfare.
Since I have been effectively using The Pocket Sword as a weapon in the spiritual warfare in my life, I have found that I wake with anxiety far less often. I have found that I’m able to stay calm and kind in my interactions with my family. I have found that I am walking in the Spirit instead of walking in the flesh. I am truly having victory over sins and struggles in my life. You can have victory too. God has given us the only Weapon we need. Will you use it?
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;