Shield of Faith
In Ephesians 6 there are 6 different pieces of armor.
The 1st piece is the belt of truth. That piece is a commitment to the fact that God is truth and all He has spoken. In other words, the Bible is true.
The 2nd piece is the breastplate of righteousness which is a commitment to doing our best to live each day without sinning and knowing that when we do sin, we must be willing to confess that sin knowing God will forgive us.
The 3rd piece is having our feet fitted with the readiness to stand firm and to take the gospel wherever God leads us.
The 4th piece is the shield of faith.
Paul made it very clear that we are to put on the whole armor of God. By looking at each piece individually so we can better understand how each one fits into the overall armor. We need, however, to see them collectively as a package worn by us.
Read Ephesians 6:16. To understand the imagery of the shield of faith we need to examine the details of a soldier’s shield that served as a model for Paul’s illustration.
The “flaming arrows” served as the basis for the design of the shields. One of the weapons an enemy used against the soldiers was arrows that they soaked in oil and pitch or tar. As they got ready to shoot them, they would light them on fire. The intent of this weapon was that when they hit the intended target, they would spread the burning tar and at a minimum badly burn the one struck and perhaps even set his armor or clothing on fire.
Roman soldiers used several different shields, but two were more common. The first common shield was a small round one about two feet in diameter. The primary use of the smaller shield was ward off the blows of a small sword the enemy commonly used in hand-to-hand fighting.
The second popular shield was a much larger one called a scutum and was the shield Paul referred to here. This larger shield was about two and half feet wide and four and a half feet high and was designed to protect the entire body of the soldier. That shield was made of wood and covered with thick leather. The leather not only absorbed the impact of the arrows, but also protected the rest of the shield from the burning tar. Often a soldier would soak his shield in water to give it an additional barrier to the flaming arrows sent his way.
The edges of these shields were built in such a way as to allow an entire line of soldiers to interlock shields. When joined together, those large shields formed a wall behind which the troops could hide themselves from the flaming arrows sent their way by the enemy. In addition, the rows behind held their interlocking shields over their heads. That protected them from arrows that might rain down on them. In addition to providing protection when an enemy attacked, when they were interlocked the soldiers could march into the enemy like a solid wall.
For a Christian, the shield is not something made of wood and overcovered with leather but a shield of faith. Of course, ultimately our shield is God Himself, but God works through our faith in Him to protect us from the attacks of Satan. Read Psalm 18:30; Psalm 28:7; and Proverbs 30:5.
While God is our ultimate shield, here Paul called on us as Christians to put on faith. In the Bible the term “faith” has three different uses.
- The first it used to describe the body of truths that the make up our belief system. That is the way Paul used the word earlier in his letter to the Ephesians (4:13). Read Hebrews 11:6.
- The second biblical use of the word “faith” is in reference to saving faith. Read how that faith is defined in Hebrew 11:1. Saving faith is the personal commitment that allows God to apply the provision of Jesus on the Cross to an individual. Read Ephesians 2:8.
- The third biblical use of “faith,” and the one Paul is urging believers to put on is allowing our belief system to impact our everyday living. The faith we are to use as our shield in day-to-day life is a faith that impacts everything we do because it is applied to every situation.
Paul is calling on us to have a daily trust in who God is and what He has promised to do for us. The faith we are to put on is a living faith, a daily trust in the promises and the power of God. Paul presented that faith as the defensive weapon that protects us against Satan’s fiery darts.
The Old Testament writer encouraged us protect ourselves against sin. Read Habakkuk 2:4 and Romans 1:17. If we are going to ward off the attacks of Satan, we must live every moment guided by and strengthened by our confidence in who God is and what He has promised to do for us. Read II Corinthians 1:24 and I John 5:4.
Satan wants to hinder us from living the life God wants us to live and enjoying the blessings God has for us as His children. The imagery Paul used here to describe his attacks on us was that of fiery darts. The details of those darts will vary from individual to individual. Because Satan knows which dart is more likely to get to each of us because he knows where our shield of faith is weakest.
To some Satan will shoot the arrow of doubt, to another the arrow of disobedience, to another the arrow of fear. To some Satan will shoot arrows of hateful thoughts and to others he will shoot fiery darts of lust. The list of his arsenal goes on and on, but the aim of each arrow is the same, to get through our shield of faith and inflict harm. If we do not extinguish those arrows, they will light fires within that will rob us of blessings and ultimately lead to sin that destroys our fellowship with God.
Our shield is faith. Faith that lays hold of God’s promises in times of doubt or fear. Satan fires the arrow of fear, and the shield deflects it with the promise that we do not have to fear.
Our shield is faith, faith that lays hold of God’s power when we are tempted to sin. Satan shoots a temptation at us, and our shield deflects it reminds us of I Corinthians 10:13. Read that verse.
As Christians we must grow in our understanding of the promises and provisions of our faith, so we are protected against the arrows of Satan. Our victory over those arrows is possible only through faith. If we fail to use that shield, the pitch from Satan’s arrows will get all over us.
There is one more aspect to that shield of faith that we should not miss. The Roman shields were designed to interlock so all the soldiers moved forward together. As believers we are not in battle alone. We move forward as a team. That means that we are to be interlocked, encouraging one another as we use our shield of faith to quench the arrows Satan is throwing at anyone in our fellowship. When properly interlocked and working as a team we prohibit Satan from attacking from in front or raining down temptations from above. We are as responsible for one another just as the Roman soldiers were in Paul’s day.
Satan hates the fact that God loves us beyond measure and wants to shower the blessings of that love upon us. He will attack us in any way he can, so we miss out on all of that. God, however, has promised to help us win the victory, but He can only do that as we walk by faith. When Satan attacks, we are challenged to use our faith to overcome. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.