“You have forgotten to clean your sword,” said Aslan.
It was true. Peter blushed when he looked at the bright blade and saw it all smeared with Wolf’s hair and blood. He stooped down and wiped it quite clean on the grass, and then wiped it quite dry on his coat.
“Hand it to me and kneel, Son of Adam,” said Aslan. And when Peter had done so he struck him with the flat of the blade and said, “Rise up, Sir Peter Wolf’s-Bane. And whatever happens, never forget to wipe your sword.”
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. C.S. Lewis. Chapter 12.
Even though C.S. Lewis claims to have no intention of writing an allegory or even Christian symbolism when he set out to write The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I see symbolism oozing from these pages. This part about cleaning the sword stumped me for a bit, but if you’ll bear with me I’ll attempt to put my insight into words.
In the Bible, the sword symbolically refers to the word and truth of God. (Ephesians 6) We are equipped with that piece of armor in order to fight spiritual battles. These battles come at us as Christians from all sides: the mind, the flesh, and the spirit. For me, my battles are mainly fought in the mind. The devil tries to get me to believe all sorts of lies about myself or about the situations God has placed me in. If I am not diligent about keeping my focus on God and using the armor God has provided, those lies start to feel true. It’s a battle to keep the lies in perspective in my head, to remember that they’re lies that don’t define me. It’s a hard battle because Satan is good at disguising them to look like discipline from God until I begin examining them closer against God’s truths. Once I recognize the battle has begun I must use all of the armor provided. The other pieces of the armor mentioned in Ephesians help me to stand against the attacks and the sword provides me the ability to fight back.
Just like Peter in Narnia had wolf guts on his sword after fighting, I think we can get dirty in spiritual warfare. During the battle in my mind pieces of the lies can work their way into my head. Just enough that if I allowed them to stay there they could hinder my ability to keep fighting other battles.
In order to clear my head of those bits of lies, I have to return to God and symbolically clean myself so that I am always prepared for battle. This means I have to remain close to God through personal Bible study, prayer, and Christian fellowship/discussion. The sword is God’s word so the best way to keep prepared for battle is to continually study it. In this way, I am ensuring that it is clear and fresh in my mind and not clogged up by pieces of Satan’s lies.
The symbolism may not be entirely perfect because Peter cleaned his sword and there is no way I can make God’s word better. My cleaning is of my understanding of God’s word. Regardless of the symbolism, Lewis’s message rings clear. As he said in Mere Christianity, we have to continually remind ourselves of our faith so that we don’t drift away. Based on this passage in Narnia, I would add that we must also continually remind ourselves of our faith in order to be prepared for battle.