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-- © GodSpeak International 1999 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Teresa Seputis <ts@godspeak.net>
Editor: Al Vesper

Prayer-School Course #16

Dressing For Intercession


How to Avoid Holes In Your Armor

Lesson Ten

The Sword of The Spirit

Why We Need The Armor

In the first four lessons, we discovered that we need the armor of God because the battle is real. The enemy does NOT want us effective in prayer and intercession because it tears down his kingdom as we build God's kingdom, so Satan comes against us and does all he can to stop us. But God does not intend that we be vulnerable to Satan's attacks. That is why He gives us the spiritual armor to put on. Each piece is especially designed to protect us from a specific form of attack from the enemy.

It is important that we understand what each piece is, the type of attack that it protects against and how to put that piece of armor on. Then we will be fully clothed and able to stand firmly in the battle. God does not want us to become casualties of war, He wants us to be overcomers in Christ. He wants us to walk in His victory. That is why He has given us this armor. So let's be sure to put it on.

What Is the Sword Of the Spirit?

Eph 6:17 says
"Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

What Is the Sword Of The Spirit? Clearly, it is the word of God. But what precisely is the word of God?

It is two things:

  1. God's written word, the Bible. This is what Christians must consider to be authoritative, and be the standard against which everything is tried, evaluated and measured.

  2. God's Rhema word, the Holy Spirit communicating to us and breathing His life and understanding into us. This is quite biblical, because a part of the Holy Spirit's job description is to teach us all things and remind us of everything Jesus said to us (John 14:26).

    How does He do this? He does it in several ways. He may simply quicken our understanding as we read a verse.. have you ever had a verse "jump off the page at you and come alive" as you were doing devotions or reading scripture? That is the Holy Spirit quickening it to you. But that is just one of many ways that God's Rhema goes forth. God will speak to His children directly through that still small voice, through dreams and visions. Another way that He speaks to us is through the prophetic.. both corporate and individual words. These prophetic words can be extremely powerful, but they do need to be judged and evaluated (1 Cor 14:29) to assure that it is really God and NOT someone inadvertently putting words into God's mouth.

    God's Rhema word can seem "subjective".. because we experience it through our senses and through deep spirit to spirit communication. It is not as concrete as reading something in black and white (or as an angel visiting us with a message from God). We are humans and it is always possible for us to make a mistake. Sometimes we confuse our own voice, or our own thoughts with God's voice. And sometimes the enemy will try to imitate God's voice to lead us astray. Therefore, we must always run what we think we hear from God through the filter of the Bible.. and if if there is a conflict, we discard what we thought we heard.. because God has already expressed Himself in His word and He will NOT give new revelation that contradicts what He has already said.

    But it is possible for us to learn to hear God's voice (John 10:1-16) and God does speak to us frequently and consistently. The good news is that His ability to communicate is greater than our ability to hear wrong.

If you are in a rowboat, you must row with both oars to get anywhere.. if you row with just one, you will simply go in circles. If we take the Bible, without the quickening of the Holy Spirit to our spirits to reveal what it means.. it can be misunderstood. On the other hand, if we rely solely on hearing God's voice, without the Bible to bounce it off, we won't be able to evaluate whether we've heard right or wrong.

What Are Some Holes In The Sword Of The Spirit?

  1. Being Lead Astray (bad doctrine)

    If we don't know what the Bible says, we can become susceptible to flaky doctrine and/or practices.

    The sword is the only offensive weapon in the armor of God. It is not to be taken lightly. Before soldiers are released into battle they are trained on how to effectively use their weapons. Could you imagine sending a combat soldier into World War II without teaching him how to fire his machine gun? Yet so many Christians are willing to run into spiritual warfare without a clue of what their weapon is or how to use it.

    When Jesus fasted for 40 days, the enemy came and engaged Him in spiritual warfare (recorded in both Matthew 4 and Luke 4), Jesus used the word of God to combat the enemy. Satan tempts Jesus to turn the rocks into bread and eat because He is hungry. Jesus replies with "It is written..." (Matt 4:4) and then quotes scripture. Satan resorts to using scripture himself, trying to contort its meaning. He suggests that Jesus throw Himself off of the top of the temple.. in plain sight of everyone there, to prove He is really God.. Satan uses two verses from Psalm 91 as "grounds" for his suggestion.. but Jesus uses scripture to interpret scripture.. (Matt 4:7). You see, Jesus did not just know scripture, He understood what it meant and could identify when it was being misapplied. That is what God wants each of us to be able to do. That is why we need to spend time and energy reading and learning and understanding God's word.

    We need to make sure we are "fighting the right battles"... therefore we need to know God and know what He desires to do to advance His kingdom. God reveals Himself to us in His word. If we want to know Him and what He is like and what He is likely to do, then we must first and foremost go to His word and see what He reveals to us about Himself.

    I personally don't think it is enough to simply read a chapter of the Bible a day. I believe we need to study it, memorize it, use our concordance (or a good Bible software package) to do word and topic studies. We need to really know what the Bible says on many different topics. We need to be intimately familiar with its contents, just like Jesus was.

    Do you know how they train bank tellers to recognize counterfeit money? The do it by making them intimate with the characteristics of the "real thing". They point out (sorry, gonna use a United States example here, cuz that is where my own experience lies) how there are little colored threads on the paper the money is printed on. They point out how a certain picture goes in a certain place on the bill, how granular certain aspects of the picture are.. sort of a tiny grid or hash instead of being a solid color. They point out how the serial number on the bill is located in a certain place... and precisely what the color differences are between the serial number and the rest of the bill. There are many other details they point out. The trainee spends about 7 or 8 hours studying the real thing. They become intimate with its characteristics. They never spend any time studying an imitation, yet when they are introduced to an imitation they recognize it immediately. Why? Because they know the real item and when a counterfeit comes along, they realize it immediately by its shortcomings.. by how it does not measure up to the real thing.

    The best way to recognize flaky doctrines or practices is to be intimate with the real thing! Study, learn, and get to know God's word.. know what His views are on a given topic. Then you will be able to easily recognize when something is outside of God's views. His word remains the standard by which we judge / evaluate everything.

    Be careful of practices that are "extra-biblical". There are areas of our existence that the Bible does not address one way or the other. Some of the "extra-biblical" practices are valid, but do try to bounce them against scripture as a whole. Watch out for "fads"... sometimes someone gets a revelation for a specific situation or circumstance. It may be very right on.. precisely what God wants to do in that particular case. Then someone else watches it and sees it work and tries to copy or imitate it in another circumstance... but it may not be what God is doing in the other circumstance. They turn a specific revelation into a recipe, cite the example of where it worked, and teach everyone else to do it. This can put a reliance on the method or practice instead of on God. Let me give a fictitious example.. but one that illustrates this principle. In lesson 9 (the shield of faith), I shared how God led me to intercede for Chuck's depression in an unusual way. Instead of taking authority over any attacking spirits of depression, God had me worship for a few hours on Chuck's behalf. The results were astonishing.. the bout of his depression lifted at the very moment that God quickened to me that the break through had occurred. This was precisely what God was doing in that situation. Now let's suppose that we turned this into a recipe for fighting depression. We taught people to stop rebuking spirits of depression and to stop cancelling their assignments and had the intercessors all worship on behalf of their assignment instead of finding out how God would have them pray in each specific case. I think the demons would have a field day.. because the recipe would NOT be empowered if that was NOT what God wanted to do in the specific circumstance. Get the point?? If we take something that God selects and anoints for a specific circumstance and blindly try to apply it to every similar circumstance, we lose the anointing and empowerment and become ineffective. If we want to remain effective, we take each circumstance back to God and ask Him what He is doing in this one and then do with Him what He is doing... this is where the life and power is.

    One last thought on this subject... put your time/energy into the things God has clearly laid forth as His priorities in His word.

  2. Not Knowing How To Hear God's Voice

    First, we must believe that God really does desire to speak and communicate with His children today. We must understand that God is a communicating God and He wants to communicate with each of us individually and personally. In fact, He specifically created us with ears to hear His voice (Proverbs 20:12).

    It should be normal for us to hear His voice on a daily basis. In fact, it is actually abnormal NOT to hear His voice. (Some of us have been living in the abnormal for so long that we don't even realize it's abnormal any more...) It is time to stop and take a "reality check" with what God says about this:

    In John 10:27, Jesus says "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."

    Are you one of Jesus' sheep? (e.g., have you been redeemed by the Lamb and entered into a personal relationship with God through Christ?) You have? Good! Then know from John 10:27 that Jesus expects to speak to you and it is normal for you to hear His voice.

    In fact, we need to know God's voice to be led of Him. We run into situations that are not covered explicitly in the Bible and we have to discern what God wants us to do. Let me share two recent real-life examples from friends and acquaintances of mine:

    Jose is a friend at church who had a terrible job where his supervisor was always putting him down and making him feel stupid and miserable about himself. The job paid well, but it was extremely unpleasant and affected Jose in a very negative way. He wanted to know whether God wanted him to stay there and suffer or quit his job without a prospect of a new one.

    I met a couple who feel a passion to go to the missions field. They feel called and have heart to go. They know it is scriptural to go to all nations and share Jesus. But don't know what country God is calling them to. So they are stuck, not sure what to do or how to proceed.

    I went through many years where I could not hear/recognize/discern God's voice... in fact I began to wonder if it was really possible. Could I really hear God's voice well enough to discern His will on major decisions in my life? Did He care enough to communicate with me? Would God really speak to me? (I have been a Christian for 28 years now, and I did not have a clue how to hear His voice for the first 17 years.)

    One day I got desperate with God and asked Him to teach me to know His voice. To my surprise, He did. But there were three things that He required of me in this process:

    1. First, a commitment to obey Him on anything He told me to do.
    2. He told me to really study/memorize His word (the Bible) to give Him a vocabulary to speak to me. In the early days, He spoke to me primarily by recalling scriptures to my memory.. but I had to put them in there before He could recall them. When I was first learning to discern God's voice, He had me spend an hour per day for over a year memorizing and learning scripture.
    3. He told me to give myself permission to make mistakes.. to not give up if I heard wrong but to keep pressing in. How many times does a baby fall down before it learns to walk well? And trust me, I DID make mistakes. It was frustrating and there were times when I wanted to give up.. but at those times God would remind me that I had given myself permission to make mistakes and that this was a part of the learning process.

    WE CAN KNOW GOD'S VOICE!!!!! This is available to each of His children. Scripture teaches that knowing God's voice is born out of intimacy with Him

    John 10:27
    My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
    John 10:14
    I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep, and am known by My own.

    However, the more clearly we know God's voice, the more accountable we are held to obey

    Luke 12:47-48
    1. And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
    2. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much as been committed, of him they will ask the more.

    So, if we want to know God's voice, we must be committed to obey Him. If we do not obey what we hear, God will stop teaching us to hear more clearly.. because He knows we'd get into more trouble with Him if we could hear more clearly without the heart to obey Him. Obedience can sometimes carry a big price tag.

    Let me share a real life example. One time God asked me to give a few thousand dollars to a minister who wanted to purchase an engagement ring for his fiancee. This minister lived by faith and did not take a salary from his tiny church. God communicated clearly to me what He wanted me to do.. and it irked me, because this was a lot of money to me and because it did not seem fair to me to pay for someone to have a nicer engagement ring than I had myself! But now I was faced with a choice.. do I obey God or not? I would be lying if I said it was not a struggle.. but I finally chose to obey God and I brought the money to the minister's house and knocked on the door. I was hoping he would not be home, and if he wasn't I intended to put the money back into the bank and assume I'd heard wrong after all.. But he answered the door. So I explained that God had told me to give him this (the envelope containing the money) and that it was from God for him to purchase an engagement ring for his fiancee. He looked astonished and said "thank you" and took the envelope. He did not even invite me into his house. It was all over in a matter of minutes.. I was obedient but substantially poorer. The door closed and I started home. Then God recalled Luke 16:11 to me and promised me that I would walk in His true riches (His power and anointing and authority) because of my obedience.

    That was on a Saturday. The next day, I heard the story from the pastor's prospective. He shared it in his sermon... He had been sitting there in his living room.. wondering whether or not to call of his engagement. He loved her tremendously, but was not sure it was reasonable to ask her to live on faith the way he did. He cried out to God and God told this pastor to trust God. "How can I trust you in this, Lord?" He cried back in anguish.. "I can't even afford to buy her an engagement ring. If you won't provide for that, how can I trust you to provide for my wife and family?"

    Just then there was a knock at the door, interrupting his prayer. It was me, standing there with the envelope. No wonder he looked so astonished!! You see, God does know what He is doing and He orchestrates incredible circumstances, but He does expect our obedience if we want to be used of Him in His plans.. if we want to hear His voice clearly, we must commit to obey Him.

    Has my example of costly obedience scared you away from wanting to hear God's voice? (I hope not!!) But you can be assured that if you really want to hear/discern God's voice, He will hold you to a costly obedience at at least one point in the process.. and probably more. It may not be financial, but it will be something where you have to make a conscious choice to obey Him even though you **really** don't want to. Hearing His voice clearly carries a big "price tag".. we must commit to obey what He says to us. Are you still willing?

    If your answer is yes, then stop right now and ask God to teach you His voice.. tell Him you are willing to obey what He says as He teaches you.. and He will teach you! It will be a process, it will not come instantly. There are a couple of things you can do to help facilitate this process:

    • give God a vocabulary to speak to you.. learn His written word
    • give yourself permission to make mistakes.. it is a learning process, don't quit after the first failure, keep on learning

  3. Disobedience

    There are three types of disobedience:

    1. being in bondage to a besetting sin.

      If we have this problem, then we need deliverance.

    2. accidentally slipping and falling into sin.

      We don't mean to sin, but we do. Oops and Ouch!!

      We realize what we have done and we are very sorry and feel bad for it. We confess our sin to God and we are restored through Christ's atonement. At this point we are fully restored to God. Nothing separates us from Him.

      But the enemy may try to come in with guilt and condemnation, attempting to keep us separated or isolated from God. This is a strategy Satan loves to use on intercessors.

      So, if we still feel guilt after it is under the blood, then we need to choose to accept God's forgiveness and restoration. We must not try to punish ourselves or to make ourselves be separated from God. When God forgives our sin, it is forgiven and we are no longer separated from Him.

      There are so many times that God has said to various ones of His children, "I am standing here with My arms wide open ready to receive you. Run back to me and I will not turn you away".

      In fact, Jesus is personally committed to keep us, we don't have to try and "keep" ourselves:

      John 6:38-40
      I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
      And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.
      For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

    3. Willful disobedience

      Willful disobedience is knowing what God wants and intentionally choosing not to do it. This is very serious stuff and the type of thing that God chooses to discipline.

      Willful disobedience can be in a big area or in a small one, but both are equally serious to God. I will close this section with an example of willful disobedience from my own life and how God dealt with me on it. Before I do, I want to share that Jesus expects us to obey Him:

      John 14:15: (New KJV)
      If you love me, keep my commandments.

      John 14:22-24: (NIV)
      1. Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?"
      2. Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
      3. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

      Jesus is displeased with disobedience

      Rev 3:2-3
      1. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.
      2. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent.

      We need to make a commitment, to purpose in our heart to obey God. We need a lifestyle of walking out His Lordship in our life, just as Jesus had this lifestyle of walking out the Father's lordship in His life. We also need to understand that when we do fall into willful disobedience, the Lord will chastise us.. because He loves us and He wants to correct inappropriate behaviors before we hurt ourselves. His motive is not to punish or to be mean, but to fix a problem and help us to become all that He has destined us to be in Him.. to help us reach our full potential in Christ.

      With that in mind, allow me to share a true story of one "spanking" that I got from the Lord in November of 1997. This is lifted from my www page: (http://www.godspeak.net/misc/misc_20.html)

      The Lord spoke to me on Thanksgiving day that I was NOT to eat sweets after Thanksgiving was over (He let me have a little on Thanksgiving itself). It was tempting, but I did pretty much OK with the sweets on Friday (except for one small piece of pumpkin pie). But this morning when I came downstairs for a cup of coffee, the box of French wafers that Ed had brought back from Europe practically jumped off of the table into my hands. Then next thing I knew, I had the box open and was eyeing my favorite... these little hollow chocolate coated wafers. They were almost gone.. only a few left... Ed has definitely been into these... if I did not have them soon, I would not get any...

      Well, I found myself taking one.. then another. Then the Holy Spirit seemed to remind me that I had agreed with God to put my eating under His lordship and He'd clearly told me no sweets. That slowed me down for a little while.

      But on my way to get the second cup of coffee I passed the box again. Before I knew it, I had the box open and was going for those wrapped tube-type of wafers. I had a sense that the Lord was saying that if I did this, it would be willful disobedience... I tried to ignore this little nagging voice. With the first bite, I had a sense that God would "punish" me if I continued to choose willful disobedience over laying down my desires to obey Him. Awe, come on, I told myself, its such a little thing... God won't punish me. Then all nagging was gone and I enjoyed 4 more wafers.

      Half an hour later, God spoke to me again. He said, "Teresa, I told you that I was going to punish you if you continued in willful disobedience, didn't I?"

      "uh.. yes, Lord." I had a sense that I might be in a bit of trouble. It seemed like such a little sin at the time, but...

      "Do you understand what you did wrong and why I am addressing it now?"

      "Yeah, I ate some cookies that I should not have eaten."

      "No. That is not it. The sin is that I explicitly called to your attention that I want to move in on Lordship of your eating and that if you ate these cookies, it would be willful disobedience... not a slip, not an accident, but you explicitly choosing to disobey Me."

      uh-oh... it sounded really bad when He put it that way...

      "That is why I am going to discipline you. You asked me to coach you in My ways and I am doing it now. I am not angry with you, not rejecting or disqualifying you. I am not withdrawing My intimacy or My presence. I have been allowing you to move in a higher level of the prophetic recently and with that comes a higher degree of accountability. It is because of that higher level of accountability that I am going to discipline you as a loving father disciplines His children. Do you know what I am going to do?"

      "I'm going to be sick, right?" I was prepared for it... after all, it was a natural outcome of eating wrong.. I have hypoglycemia and am not supposed to eat sweets, so I assumed I'd bear the natural consequences of my action...

      "No, Teresa." The Lord said, "I want to tie closely in your mind the relationship between obedience and anointing for ministry. Since you have been disobedient, I am lifting the anointing for ministry off of you for today. I am not withdrawing My presence from you.. but if you try to minister to anyone today, there will NOT be any anointing on it. If you try to intercede, I will not listen to your prayers for them..."

      My mouth fell open. I never expected He would punish me in that way. Withdraw the anointing for the day. Yeck! My favorite thing in the whole world is to minister under His anointing. What a terrible thing for Him to take away from me.

      "Lord, is this reversible through prayer and repentance?"

      "No it is not. I have lifted my anointing off of you for the rest of the day. Do not try to minister to anyone today because My anointing will not be present if you do."

      "Will I be allowed to minister under Your anointing tomorrow at Church?" I asked. (I was part of the ministry team.)

      "That depends on you, Teresa. If you are obedient the rest of the day, and tomorrow morning, I will not lift the anointing off of you at Church tomorrow. But if you willfully disobey Me, then I will lift the anointing. You must learn that if you want to move in greater levels of My power and My anointing, you will be held accountable to obey Me at a higher level."

      Then the Lord said something very interesting... "Note that I have not withdrawn My presence or My intimacy from you. Even though you are being disciplined, you are invited to press into intimacy with Me. I hope you will choose to do that."

      I did choose to press into Him and He spent a lot of time reassuring me that He was disciplining me because He loved me and because He wanted to release a higher level of anointing and gifting in my life.. but I had to learn to walk in this higher level of accountability. Mistakes were still OK to some degree, but willful disobedience (e.g., consciously choosing to do my will over His will) simply would not be tolerated, even in seemingly little things.

      Well, two situations came up during the day where I would normally have been seeking Him for divine wisdom on another's behalf or Praying with someone... and in both cases I had to explain why I could not minister to them... I have to confess that it certainly keeps one humble to admit to someone that God's lifted one's anointing because that one was disobedient.

      I cannot tell you how many times God has spoken to me about this that day. He kept telling me that it is because He loves me so much and because He wants to release a higher degree of anointing on my life that He was disciplining me. He kept telling me that being disciplined does NOT disqualify me from ministry or from participating in what He has for me. And He kept reminding me how important it is to obey Him because I love Him.. not because I fear Him but because I love Him.

      It is odd... even in the midst of being disciplined, there was so much love and so much warmth from Him.. He made it real clear what I did wrong and I have been much less inclined to do it again in the future. It was not about eating cookies, it was about understanding what He wanted and intentionally choosing to ignore His direction.


We have just spent the past 10 weeks studying the spiritual armor. God wants you to be fully equipped and He desires to break off any misconceptions that hold you back from walking in the fullness of all that He has for you. You will find that the key to dressing for intercession is in knowing Him and allowing Him to refine any misconceptions or inappropriate behaviors, to help you line up with His way and His agenda. The reason that the spiritual armor works is because the Holy Spirit resides within you, transforming you and equipping you and empowering you.

The enemy's strategy is deception (darkness) to try and talk you out of the truth of who you are in Christ and of what God desires to do in and through you. The Lord's strategy is truth and light and life.. those are the qualities that He desires to work in you. He is giving you all that you need to be fully equipped and prepared in Him for what He is calling you to do. God is a loving Father (Matt 7:7-11) who gives good gifts to His children and He has good gifts for you.

Now you need to believe and receive what He has for you, listen for His voice and then simply obey what He says (John 14:15).

God wants you to succeed. That is why He has given you the tools (Eph 6) to dress for success.. to be fully prepared for every battle and to walk in His victory.

Now He is asking you to make a commitment to Him.. to walk in His ways, to put Him first, to obey Him, and to spend time with Him and build intimate relationship with Him. He wants to teach you how to walk out His Lordship in every area of your life. Are you willing?

If the answer is yes, then bow your head right now and tell Him so. If you ask Him to teach you to walk out His Lordship in every area of your life, He will. If you ask Him to teach you to fully and completely put on the Armor of God, He will... but don't ask Him unless you really mean it, because He will hold you to your side of the agreement, which is to give Him Lordship (e.g., let Him be the boss) in every area of your life. If you are willing to make that covenant with Him, His Spirit is present right now and He is willing to make that covenant with you. All you have to do is tell Him you are willing and ask Him to show you how.

-- © GodSpeak International 1999 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

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