…taking the SHIELD OF FAITH
The Crucial Importance of the Shield of Faith
. . . your adversary, the devil, like a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8
Shoes are to the feet . . . toothpaste is to the teeth . . . and clothes are to the body, as the shield of faith is to our spiritual lives. It would be foolhardy for the child of God to walk about unprotected, thinking he could fight the battle against the god of this world on his own. God directs Christians to protect themselves from the real enemy which they as His children face. It is just for this reason that God provided the shield of faith (Eph. 6:16). As one must protect his physical body from the many potential dangers which he faces on a daily basis, so he must defend himself spiritually from his foe, Satan. It is much more than a suggestion to take up your shield – it is a requirement in order to experience the promised abundant life and maintain a testimony for the Lord and Saviour.
A shield is an article of armor used as a means of defense. It is a device made of a rigid substance which is placed in front of one’s body, actually between the person holding the shield and his enemy who is seeking to either maim or kill him. The protective armor must be sufficient in strength to ward off the missiles coming toward it with destructive purposes in mind.
The shield referred to in Paul’s metaphor is extremely significant. The Roman soldier employed one of two shields: One was small and round in shape which placed a great strain upon the soldier. His protection was minimal since the shield was limited in its covering capabilities. It demanded much laborious work and fervent concentration on the part of the soldier as he endeavored to use it to provide adequate protection. The second shield was oblong and much larger. Its great size and shape provided much greater protection. This is the shield which Paul refers to when he exhorts the Christian “soldier” to take up the shield of faith in order to withstand the wicked one.
The original Greek word for shield employed in Ephesians 6:16 is derived from a term which refers to a door, gate or portal; thus the shield would be large and shaped in similar fashion. This Roman shield was about four feet long and two-and-one-half feet wide. When a soldier was on the front line, he could plant the shield in the ground and stand behind it, concealing his entire body from the weapons of his enemy’s arsenal.
Two analogies can be drawn from the shield referred to: The first is obvious. The Christian “soldier”, who is in spiritual warfare, needs to utilize a shield. Logically, it should be the larger of the two shields. He must have total protection from his archenemy, Satan. The shield of faith can accomplish this.
Second, the shield of faith is effectual since it is God who provides the protection – not the soldier. The Christian has no need to worry because his security does not stem from his own ability in maneuvering the small shield for protection, but, rather, he is wholly dependent upon God who never fails. God, not the Christian, is the only One able to withstand Satan.
The Components of the Shield of Faith
Just as the Roman soldier’s shield was made of a substance strong enough to withstand the enemy’s offensive weapons, the Christian’s spiritual shield must also be made of a substance which is strong enough to withstand the wicked one’s arsenal. This substance is FAITH.
In order for the Christian “soldier” to take up the shield of faith, it becomes vital to understand what that faith is lest he place his trust in something that is insufficient and incapable of protecting him. The writer of Hebrews describes and defines faith as “. . . the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Faith is the reality or the assurance which one can and should have concerning the spiritual realm which operates in the invisible rather than the visible – the immaterial rather than the material arena of life. Faith manifests the protection necessary in the invisible world in the same way a shield defends one in the physical world.
Faith is not leaping into the dark and grabbing hold of some ambiguous never-to-be- understood way of life. It is the understandable communication of God. God does not ask the Christian to walk through this life groping, reaching out for who knows what – but, rather, accepting Him as the sovereign, omnipotent Ruler of the universe, thus believing Him to be capable of accomplishing that which He has promised to do. FAITH THEN IS A BELIEF AND A TRUST IN GOD AND HIS INSPIRED WORD, THE HOLY BIBLE.
God has communicated the marvelous truth that every born-again believer has the power to overcome the world and that this victory is based upon our FAITH (1 Jn. 5:4). In the Epistle of First John, God further states that he who is of God and has His Word in him, has the power to overcome the wicked one (1 Jn. 2:14).
This is substantiated in the statement that is made: “. . . greater is he [God] that is in you, than he [Satan] that is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4). God has made it clear that He in His triune nature permanently indwells all born-again Christians (1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 6:16; Col. 1:27, cf. Col. 2:9; 1 Jn. 4:12, 15). Further, all power resides in the Father (Rom. 13:1), the Son (Rom. 1:4) and the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:13).
It boggles one’s mind to ponder the unfathomable truth that the POWER which created the universe and sustains it resides within the true believer. If the Christian believes and embraces this marvelous truth, he has at his beck and call call the supreme power to overcome all that opposes God in his life. The question is . . . DO YOU BELIEVE THAT? If so, are you putting it into practice?
The Catalyst in the Shield of Faith
Faith is more, actually much more, than simple belief or easy “believism”. It is one thing to assent to a statement of fact – it is an altogether different thing to combine truth and belief in that statement of fact. The writer of Hebrews, in chapter 4, verse 2, making reference to the Jewish community trekking through the wilderness millennia ago, put it this way: “. . . the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” The writer simply stated that knowledge which is not integrated with belief will fail to produce proper results.
The Apostle Paul in his logical treatise to the Romans stated in chapter 6: “Likewise, reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” Based on the facts which preceded verse 11, we are to accept what God has accomplished as an established fact. We are to believe that we have died with Christ, that we have been raised with Christ, and that we have become new creatures. The truth of this statement calls for one to act upon his belief. Freedom – release from the grip of sin and Satan – has been accomplished for God’s children. Now he must accept this gift from God as fact. For many this is a principle that has yet to be put into practice. Most Christians would unhesitatingly state they believe all of this, yet many do not evidence the truth of this teaching in their lives. It calls for childlike faith. My son was but a few years old when I asked him to jump into a pool of water which was over his head. This did not bother him, even though he did not know how to swim, because he took his father’s word that he would catch him and keep him safe. HE ACTED UPON HIS BELIEF. This is what God is asking of His children.
Faith is always equated with belief and action. The two are inseparable. Not only do Christians experience new birth or regeneration through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but they are also to walk or live by faith (Hab. 2:4; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38). The entire Christian life is to be ordered by believing every word of God and acting upon it. To summarize, faith may be viewed as:
F = Favorable
A = Actions
I = Issuing
T = Through
H = Head and heart belief in God.
We are soldiers of the Cross who are constantly on the front lines of the battle. Don’t fail to pick up your shield! Keep it there between you and Satan. Faith is the victory which overcomes the world and the wicked one.