TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-18
So far, in this series, we have looked at three pieces of the armor which God has supplied:
1. The belt of truth — we must understand that our belief in the truth of God’s Word is the foundation to any successful spiritual warfare.
2. The breastplate of righteousness — we must understand that we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ and we must determine to live in obedience to God if we are to be victorious in spiritual warfare.
3. The shoes of the preparation of the Gospel of peace — we must understand that part of our job as Christians is to faithfully carry the message of the Gospel wherever we go.
Today, we are going to look at the fourth piece of armor — the shield of faith. The Bible says, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
Now, the Roman shield, which was what Paul was using as a model, was a very large, slightly curved rectangular shield featuring at its center a large metal knob (called a boss). The shield was an impressive tool of defense. Some of these shields were three and a half feet tall and almost three feet wide, and soldiers were afforded a great deal of protection from enemies.
One of the famous tactics of the Roman infantry is called the tortoise formation in which the soldiers advanced against their enemy as a single, tight, compact unit. The soldiers on the outside of this unit would hold their shields so that the edges were touching the shields of the soldiers to their right and left. The soldiers in the middle of this unit would hold their shields above their head, again with the edges touching the shields of those around them. One of the benefits of this formation is that it protected the soldiers from the arrows of their enemies.
The Bible tells us that our shield of faith is meant to deflect the flaming darts (or arrows) of the wicked one. First of all, what is faith, and how is it meant to be used as a shield? The Bible’s definition of faith states, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” At its very core, faith is a strong, unyielding belief in God Almighty and His only begotton Son Jesus Christ even though we can’t see them. However, this faith is not belief based on nothing. Rather, this belief is based on the solid foundation of God’s Word. It is our firm belief in the Word of God which deflects the flaming arrows of the wicked one.
The second question we must ask is what are the fiery darts which the enemy shoots at us? These fiery darts are meant to tear at our faith, our belief, and our confidence in the Word of God. The devil knows that if he can get us to stop believing the Word of God and start acting on our feelings or our own human ideas, he can eventually defeat us.
The fiery darts of the wicked one take on several forms.
1. The devil will shoot the fiery dart of doubt at us. He will tell us that God will not really do what He says He will do. How do we respond? We respond by raising our shield of faith and using the word of God to extinguish the devil’s lie because the Bible says in Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that he should lie…”
2. The devil will shoot the fiery dart of discouragement at us. He will tell us that our present situation will never get better. How do we respond? We respond by raising our shield of faith and using the word of God to extinguish the devil’s lie because the Bible says in Romans 8:28 that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
3. The devil will shoot the fiery dart of delay at us. He will try to get us to stop trusting God because something that we wanted to happen yesterday still has not happened yet. How do we respond? We respond by raising our shield of faith and using the word of God to extinguish the devil’s lie because the Bible says in Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.”
4. The devil will shoot the fiery dart of difficulty at us. He will place people and circumstances as obstacles in our path to try to get us to stumble and eventually give up on whatever it is God has called us to do. How do we respond? We respond by raising our shield of faith and using the word of God to extinguish the devil’s lie because the Bible says in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
5. The devil will shoot the fiery dart of depression at us. He will try to steal our joy, our contentment, and our happiness from us. How do we respond? We respond by raising our shield of faith and using the word of God to extinguish the devil’s lies because Jesus Christ said in John 16:33, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Although the shield is a defensive weapon, raising the shield is something we must actively do each time the fiery darts of the devil come flying at us. Rick Warren said putting on the shield of faith is “trusting God, no matter what you see, hear, or feel about the world around you. You need the certainty of God when you face the uncertainty of Satan’s fiery darts.”
The devil will never stop throwing his fiery darts at us. That is why we must never take off this all-important piece of armor. We must spend time in the word of God so that we will know what God says about the various difficulties we will face along our Christian journey. When we face those difficulties, we can raise the shield of faith to deflect the arrows and extinguish the fiery darts that the devil throws our way.
During the second World War, a town in England was bombed by the Germans one moonlit night. When workers were clearing away the debris, they found on top of a heap of rubbish a sailor’s prayer book, open at the Twenty-seventh Psalm, with the thirteenth verse marked. That verse reads: “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” The incident was widely commented upon in Great Britain, for it seemed to many that the verse noted in the open prayer book found amid the ruins of that town was the secret of Britain’s magnificent endurance during the worst days of her trial. The victory was won, not just by battleships and tanks and rifles and armed men, but by faith in God and by faith that they would be victorious in the war. Unless the Britons had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in their land, unless they had believed that the future included the survival of their country, they may very well have fainted and given up hope that they would be victorious.
When we believe God’s promises, when we put our trust in Him by holding the shield of faith aloft as we go into battle, we will not faint, and we will eventually be victorious.