Armor Series, Part Three: The Shield of Faith
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:10-17, NASB)
Our key verse very eloquently reminds us that we are not fighting our battles carnally but in the spirit. Just like we don’t put on physical armor every morning, the battle itself is not visible.
But that fact does not undermine or candy coat the fact that it is just as lethal as a physical war, especially because we cannot see it with the eyes we were born with. Instead, we are fighting against evil rulers and powers that we cannot see. Thankfully, our armor provides just the protection we need
to take down those threats in the spirit realm.
And speaking of protection… Let’s talk about the first weapon available to us to fight off demons and darkness: the shield of faith.
“But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” (Psalm 3:3, ESV)
The question as to why we would need a shield is obvious; shields serve as a protection. But why does faith serve as our protection? First off, we know that without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Just as it is pointless to head into battle without some way to deflect an attack, it is pointless for us to continue on in our relationship with God without faith. The act just doesn’t make sense. You could be an incredibly skilled warrior, but without a shield, you forfeit a defense that is valuable in saving you from the fiery darts of the enemy. God is pleased that you would use your faith as your first line of defense against Satan.
Not only that, but the stronger your faith is, the faster you can designate the attack strategy of the enemy and deflect it. When your faith is steady, you will be able to discern when you’re in the midst of a spiritual attack and block it from gaining a foothold in your life. A Roman soldier’s shield was not some small, cartoonish sheet of metal. It was long, at least three feet in height and a couple of feet across. It was big enough for most of his body to fit behind and provide ample protection. It was thick enough to block every arrow, dart, and sword blade.
Our faith is the thing we hold onto. Notice how Paul tells us to specifically “take up” this piece of our armor. It’s not strapped to us, it’s not attached to our person. Instead, we have to choose to pick it up and carry it into battle. Just the same, our faith is something we have to choose to pick up and maintain each day. We can choose to please God with our mouth, our attitude, and our actions, or we can choose to leave our faith at home on the nightstand with our Bible and satisfy the desires of our flesh throughout the day. We have to choose to take up the protection that our faith provides us every day. It pleases God that we carry it and wield it effectively.
But I want to take the purpose of the shield a step further. The shield is also a reminder to us of the strength we have in community.
In old Roman military tactics, warfare wasn’t always fought in an every-man-for-himself manner. At times, when their adversary was large or intimidating, the soldiers would come together in a formation and lock shields. Picture this: The soldiers surrounding the perimeter would hold their shields out to protect the lower bodies of this group of soldiers from oncoming threats. From there, the soldiers in the center of the clump would hold their shields up, overlapping each other to create one large, impenetrable shield against aerial attacks. Essentially, they would look like a giant turtle shell plowing their way through the enemy like a tank. This tactic shows that even Roman soldiers, in all their strength and might, knew that there was true strength in numbers.
“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4: 10-12, NKJV)
The directive is clear: Yes, you can fight this battle on your own, but don’t forget that your enemy is cunning, deceptive, and knows just where to hit you. He knows whether you struggle with lust, anger, jealousy, pride, or any other temptation. He knows just where your armor might be vulnerable, and if you’re fighting alone, he knows that if he’s tempting enough, you might just fall on the battlefield.
But what if you’re fighting with other like-minded soldiers with the same goal in mind? Well, then that community of Christians can help to shield your vulnerabilities so that they can’t be used against you to take you out of the fight. In fact, you may just find that the faith of others inspires your faith to be stronger and therefore, more protective over your own weaknesses.
So here’s your encouragement for the week: find someone to lock shields with. You were never meant to go this battle alone. Just like you need to be protected from fiery darts of the enemy, someone else desperately needs your covering. Someone else needs the reinforcement of your faith. Join a Bible study, ask someone out to grab some coffee and chat, or call someone (not text) to ask them to pray with you.
There is healing and protection in community. Don’t forego the process.
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