The Shield of Faith
November 21, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Paul’s words, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood,” are well known among Christians, but do we truly live mindfully of spiritual warfare? It is far too easy to allow our sight and physical realities to command our attention. The call of Scripture, however, is to be battle ready for spiritual warfare. Through this multi-week series, we will consider what Scripture teaches about this spiritual struggle. This is part eight.
In Ephesians 6:16, Paul writes about the fourth piece of the Armor of God. “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” This is the only piece of armor for which Paul gives an explicit use. The shield of faith is used to “extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” Let’s seek to understand what this “shield of faith” is and how it helps in our battle against Satan.
Once again, we can look to the Old Testament for the background behind Paul’s use of “shield” as a piece of the armor. In Psalm 91:1-4, the psalmist celebrates the protection of God. He writes, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty…He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler… under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.” The Psalm continues with further explanations and metaphors of God’s gracious protection of his people. We highlight, though, the specific mention of “shield.” God’s faithfulness to his people is a “shield.”
Again, in Psalm 18, David compounds metaphor on metaphor to speak about the protection and provision of the Lord. Verse 2 reads, “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.” This truly is a beautiful passage to which believers can cling for the promise of God’s protection. Each metaphor communicates the strength, consistency, and trustworthiness of God’s care. Again, we highlight the mention of “shield.” David says, “The Lord is my shield.”
I contend that Paul would have these passages in mind when he commands “take up the shield of faith” in Ephesians 6. The psalmist, however, says that God and his faithfulness are our shield. Paul calls it the “shield of faith,” which seems to imply that our faith becomes our shield. This would mean that if only we would have more faith, if we would believe more, than we can withstand the “flaming darts of the evil one.”
Paul, however, does not want to direct our attention towards, or commend to us, the strength of our faith. We’ve already seen in verse 10 that we are to be strong “in the Lord and in the strength of his might,” not in our strength of faith.
Iain Duguid helps us understand what the emphasis is of the “shield of faith.” “True biblical faith derives its power not from any power inherent in faith itself but rather from the object of that faith. Faith is merely the instrument that connects us to the utterly trustworthy and all-powerful God, who created the heavens and the earth and who made us for relationship with him.” (The Whole Armor of God, 66). So, taking up the shield of faith effectively is finding refuge and protection in God and his faithfulness.
God, through his faithfulness toward us in Christ, protects us from the flaming darts of Satan. Satan cannot take God’s love away from us. Satan cannot corrupt our incorruptible inheritance preserved for us in heaven. Satan cannot take away our eternal life. Satan’s lies will fail when we are shielded by God’s gospel truth. Satan’s temptations will fall as we are satisfied in all that God has for us in Christ.
James makes this connection between clinging to God as a shield and our protection against Satan when he writes, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (Jms. 4:7-8). Our ability to resist Satan is rooted in our clinging to God as our shield.
One last highlight from Ephesians 6:16. Paul says, “In all circumstances…” There never is a moment in our lives where we are safe by ourselves. “In all circumstances” we need the protection of God and his faithfulness.
Do you have a practice of taking up the shield of faith?