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Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"God’s Sword Versus Man’s Swords"

August 21, 2005

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Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Ephesians 6:17

In Victor Hugo’s novel “Les Miserables” Jean Valjean was imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread. After his release he was relentlessly pursued for years by Inspector Javert for being a parole breaker. In some societies lawbreakers are excessively punished. In our time, however, the opposite seems to be true.

Crime should draw its due penalty. Saint Paul writes that the government “is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4). Justice is not served when the victims of crime suffer while the perpetrators go free. Peace and tranquility in the community are endangered when unauthorized private citizens carry dangerous weapons with evil ends in mind, such as robbing and stealing. Jesus told Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Put your sword back in its place … for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). It is a safe prediction that killing others by any kind of lethal weapon will sooner or later find killers to be the victims of their own preoccupations.

The great deterrent or preventive of sinful swordsmanship is not the sword of punitive power of the government but, in the words of the apostle, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). This Word includes God’s law, which declares, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). It includes, above all, what Saint Paul in this connection calls “the Gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). This Word is effective because it changes hearts, for it is out of unchanged hearts—according to Jesus in Matthew 15:19—that murder proceeds.

The Word of the Gospel fills hearts with love that replaces hatred, greed, or whatever else drives people to hurt or harm their neighbor. This love has its source in the love of the Father who sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as our Savior. This same loving Father continues to send the Holy Spirit to strengthen us in the saving faith and to grant us peace on the basis of sins forgiven. God’s sword prevails where man’s sword fails.

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord God, for changing my heart through the Gospel of peace, and for filling it with love for my neighbor. Amen.

(Devotions from "With Jesus Every Day" copyright 1997, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For information on other devotional material, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit CPH at www.cph.org.)

Today's Bible Readings: 1 Chronicles 17-19    1 Corinthians 13

Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.

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