Ephesians 6:16…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. (NASB)
The armor of God is a popular passage to teach on and it is a relatively easy concept to grasp and apply to our lives. But, like every word of scripture, it is also alive and continually teaching us things we didn’t understand before. Here are a few thoughts to consider…
The first three pieces of the armor of God (truth, righteousness, and gospel of peace) are complete and independent of us. God has established His truth, our righteousness (through Christ), and His gospel and nothing will ever change or diminish the power contained within these three pieces of armor or their effectiveness in our lives.
However, the second three items (shield of faith, helmet of salvation, Word of God) are only as powerful and effective in our lives as we allow them to be. And their ability to protect and guide us is dependent on our ability to use them effectively.
The shield of faith is the only protection we have from the attacks that will come our way. If you are like me, you probably envision this shield as large and thick, capable of protecting you from everything. But in fact, our shield of faith is only as thick and strong as we allow God to make it. Every believer must have faith because that is the starting point of our relationship with God. But the child-like faith that allows us to accept Jesus as our Savior is not at all the same faith that will sustain us when Satan attacks. Faith that allows us to continue loving and following God in the midst of Satan’s attacks is faith that has been tried and tested by trials throughout our lives.
In 1 Peter 1:6 we read that we will face trials and that they are reason to rejoice because they can produce glory for God. But quite often we wilt under the pressure of the trials and we miss the opportunity to bring glory to God and to have our shield of faith strengthened. The result is that instead of a shield that is large and solid that deflects the arrows of the enemy, we will be hiding behind a small flimsy shield with holes in it. And because Satan’s goal is to kill and destroy us, he always aims his arrows at the weakest part of our shield.
Here are two examples of how this happens. Many people have very strong faith in John 3:16. But they struggle with 2 Cor. 5:17 so Satan keeps telling them the lie that they are the same old person committing the same old sins. Or, they will have faith in 1 John 1:9, but they struggle with Ephesians 2:8-9. Satan will exploit this weakness by telling these people they must “try to be better” so that God will forgive them. These attacks on the weak areas of our shield keep us in bondage that Christ died to set us free from.
Knowing and believing in scripture is only the starting point. Paul is very clear in Romans 6:11 that we must put into action what we believe. This alone will strengthen our faith and give us a stronger shield to stand behind and this will ultimately bring glory to God!
Dear friend, may your shield be large and solid for your benefit and God’s glory.