Peninsula Community Church
Ephesians – The Shield of Faith
June 7, 2015
Ephesians 6:16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one…
As in the previous parts of the armor we have discussed, when we read this passage we encounter a practical illustration of a spiritual principle. The soldier of Paul’s day was equipped with a shield when they went into battle. The purpose of the shield was to protect the soldier from the darts, arrows, and spears that would be lobbed their way. The shield itself was made of metal, leather, or heavy cloth which was often bound by metal straps to hold it all together.
It is noteworthy that the shield had several uses. For one, it was a defensive weapon that could be moved about to ward off the attacks of the opposing army by way of the darts that would be flung at the soldier. In Paul’s day, soldiers would often soak their arrows in tar and oils so they could be lit and then fired at the opposing army. If hit by one of these arrows the soldier would not only be wounded but would also feel the effects of their skin and clothing being burned.
The shield would also protect the warrior. The soldier would hide behind the shield while in battle, not out of fear but for protection against the onslaught of the enemy. The shield was long enough and wide enough that it could be placed in front of the soldier so that he could squat behind it. Thirdly, the shield protected those soldiers around them as shields of that day were designed to be interlocked with the shield next to it. For example, in battle, the front line warriors would position their shields so that the army behind them would be protected. The second line of warriors would in turn extend their spears beyond the line of the shields so that the onslaught of the enemy would be thwarted. The idea presented here is that the soldiers needed each other and would work together for the success of the entire army.
Spiritually, the believer in Christ uses the shield of faith to protect themselves against the fiery darts aimed at them. The bad news is that the evil one flings darts at us every day and all day long. His attempt is to get us to sin or get us to give into the temptations hurled at us. This barrage of flaming arrows from the evil one can take many forms. Let me give you a few. There is temptation, doubt, anger, frustration, pride, despair, fear, guilt, shame, confusion, deception, discouragement, depression, hopelessness, greed, lust, presumption, stubbornness, laziness, suspicion, jealousy, hate, wrath, discord, and conflict. His darts might also include the bitterness over one’s spouse’s busyness or their inattentiveness to one’s needs. It might include the guilt about yesterday’s lust, the sense of failure, or it can be the thought that you are not good enough. The list continues to go on and on. These darts while they are spiritual, emotional, and mental are also very real and therefore must not be ignored. To do so would subject us to his attacks.
While this is the bad news, there is also good news and it is very good news. The good news is that we have the means to fight back and resist the darts that are thrown our way. The shield of faith combined with the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, and the shoes of peace give us the strength to overcome the power of the evil one. These tools help us combat the darts thrown at us. The shield of faith is raised against the barrage of darts thrown at us. But what is the shield of faith? Faith is based in having trust in something or someone. For us as believers it is a faith in God who never fails us. By knowing God and who He is, our faith and trust in Him grows. Our faith is in the Lord who is able to protect us and keep us safe! I have always said that to understand faith we must get to know God more. The more we truly know God and understand who He is, the more our faith will increase. So in essence we trust God who is our shield. Like the soldier, when trouble comes we hide behind him and find protection in him because he is our shield.
The Bible is replete with passages that relate to God as our shield. Listen to a few of these. In Genesis 12:3 when God called Abraham to a covenant relationship, God spoke to Abraham that He would be his shield. That is, He would be Abrahams’s protection and covering. David had a view of God as being his shield, as well. Listen to David’s words. O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. Selah But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah (Psalms 3:1-4). But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield (Psalm 5:11-12).
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies (Psalm 18:2-3). The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him (Psalm 28:7). Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you (Psalm 33:20-22). He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday (Psalm 91:4-6).
Solomon when he penned the Proverbs also saw the power of recognizing God as our shield. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints (Proverbs 2:6-8).
While God is our shield, it is interesting to note that the shield of faith is used to protect others thus we know that we are not alone in the battle. How awesome is it to know we are fighting many of the same battles? We are interconnected to one another just as the shields of the Roman soldiers were interconnected to protect the individual soldier but also the soldier next to them. Roman shields were interlocking. Two-thirds of the shield would cover a soldier and one-third of the shield would cover the person next to him. This made the Roman army nearly invincible, because there was no gap in the battle line.
Sometimes our faith is weak but when we have others along side of us our faith is strengthened. When we see the faith of others, our faith is built up. The fact is Christians cannot stand alone against opposing forces; we need each other in order to live faithfully. A Christian community helps us stand strong. Faith knows that our worth is derived from the One to whom we belong, that God’s love embraces us, sets us free to be truly ourselves, and helps us accept the people around us.
The third idea here is that not only do we need to know the God who is our shield but we must know that the shield of faith fits us properly, it is our shield. We might reject the call of God to take the shield of faith or we may try and add to the shield of faith but we will fall short when we do that. We must know that it is our faith and it is a faith that has been given to each of us. I am reminded of the story of David when he went to fight Goliath. Saul wanted to give him his armor but it did not fit David. Saul was a tall large man and David was just a young boy at the time. Instead of using Saul’s armor, David used what God had given him. You see, all we need is the faith God has given us. The Bible tells us that faith does not have to be any bigger than the size of a mustard seed to accomplish great things. Think about this. The smallest of seed has the greatest of results! So here is the point, our faith, no matter how small, has the power to move mountains when it is focused on Christ as our shield and our protector.
The final point is this when do we use the shield? The Scripture here tells us that the shield of faith is to be used in every circumstance of our life. When we trust God, we will always have enough faith and grace to make it through every issue we are walking through. Too often, we worry about if we will have faith for tomorrow or enough grace to face the difficulties of life. Here’s a fact though. You don’t have to worry about having faith for tomorrow because you are guaranteed that you will faith tomorrow. Why is this? It is because our faith is in the one who does not fail. We will always have enough faith as long as our focus is on Christ the shield and provider of our faith.
Listen to the writer of Hebrews. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2).
In the midst of Satan’s rain of fire, we can take up the shield of faith. Instead of fretting or becoming anxious, we can look to Jesus who is not only the originator of faith but also the one who perfects our faith. The key is to focus on God who is our shield and our protector. To do so does not mean that we will not ever face problems or difficulties in our life. That is inevitable but we can face them courageously when we take the shield of faith to ward off the flaming darts of the enemy. We must also choose to walk in faith. We can choose to fight in faith and trust God or we can choose to fight in fear and reject the teachings and power of God. So let’s get dressed and fight the good fight.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom