REFLECTIONS #136: WHAT ARE YOU WEARING? PART 5, TAKING THE SHIELD OF FAITH
“Above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:16).
The verse in Ephesians above is so powerful when we dig a little deeper into the Greek meanings of the words Paul used, so let’s take a closer look.
Paul says, “Above all,” take the shield of faith. Why above all? Because without faith, the rest of the armor doesn’t work!
Even if you know the truth, even if you know Jesus has given you His righteousness, and even if you can recite the gospel scriptures of salvation, if you don’t have faith in those things, your knowledge is just book knowledge. It’s “head” knowledge, not “heart” knowledge. Every piece of the armor must have faith behind it to be effective. It isn’t a matter of what our emotions are telling us; it’s a matter of what we truly believe in the deepest parts of our being. If we “know that we know that we know that God is God, His Word is true, He has saved us, He has made us His child, He is with us always, He always causes us to triumph, He works all things together for our good, and nothing can ever separate us from us love,” we cannot be shaken on the battlefield. We can keep fighting for victory even when all looks lost. We can keep trusting there is a way even when we cannot see a way. Without the shield of faith, we are helpless, easy prey for the enemy.
Paul also says, “take” the shield of faith. That’s an important word.
take= analambano, Greek, Strong’s #353: 1. To take up, raise; 2. To take up (a thing in order to carry or use it)
In other words, not only do we need to have this shield, we need to “take” it and raise it; it is to be used!
faith = pistis, Greek, Strong’s #4102: “conviction of the truth”
quench = sbennymi, Greek, Strong’s #4570: 1. To extinguish, quench; 2. To suppress, stifle
The Roman shield was made by stretching calf or goat skin over strong pieces of wood which curved inward, and over that a curved piece of iron was fitted to the center of the board and iron rims were fitted along the edges. A leather strap was fastened to the back of the shield so the soldier could hold it. The shield was three feet wide and four feet long and so shielded much of the soldier’s body.
If our faith is little, our shield is little. If our faith is weak, our shield is weak. Rather than the attacks being extinguished as they hit the shield, they penetrate the shield, causing damage, and, possibly, severe injury and death. If our shield is strong, it can repel, suppress, stifle, and even extinguish the darts of the enemy. Let’s take another look at those “darts.”
darts = belos, Greek, Strong’s #956: a missile, dart, javelin, arrow
DARTS, JAVELINS, ARROWS, AND MISSILES
I know don’t know about you, but I see a big difference between a dart, an arrow, a javelin, and a missile! A dart is short, thrown by hand, and if it lands in the right place (or wrong place, depending on your point of view), it can be fatal. Otherwise it can cause injury and pain, and take a soldier out of the battle. A javelin is a spear, between 6 and 7 feet long; it also is thrown. Because it is bigger and heavier, it can be more lethal. An arrow is shot out of a bow, so it has more speed and can cover a greater distance quickly. It also can cause injury or death. Besides being thrown, at close quarters, darts can be used to thrust into the body, rather than thrown. Sometimes the devil attacks us with what I think of as darts. We get hit and it stings and hurts. Unless it hit a vital spot, however, it’s more of an aggravation and irritation than a fatal wound. Unless the dart has penetrated our shield and is embedded in us. If we don’t pull it out and cleanse the wound, it can fester and become infected, much as an unforgiven offense we hold onto can become a root of bitterness, causing all kinds of toxic damage to our spiritual, emotional, and physical lives. Darts can easily become the “little foxes that spoil the vines” (See Song of Solomon 2:15).
Javelins are much easier to recognize as being attacks from the enemy. They are not subtle. We know we are being attacked. Health issues, relationship issues, attacks on our reputations, ministries, jobs, and businesses are more than an irritation; they can have serious consequences.
Arrows can seem to come out of nowhere. They strike suddenly and without warning. Everything is great, and then someone criticizes you, your spouse forgets to say, "I love you," or a thought comes into your mind that no one really cares about you or appreciates you.
I know the Greeks didn’t have missiles like we have today in mind, but I think of missiles as those things that can absolutely devastate and destroy us if we don’t have that strong shield of faith. Loss of a loved one, a fatal disease, a problem with our children, an unexpected divorce, the loss of a job or business. Our personal missiles might be different, but we all know when we’ve been hit by a missile rather than a dart. Nevertheless, we need the shield of faith for protection from all of them, because if not repelled or extinguished, serious damage can occur from each of them. Some attacks come from a distance, some come from much closer, and many come from within. The shield of faith is necessary for protection from them all.
WHAT IS FAITH?
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
Have you ever spent time really pondering what that means? “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…” Huh? We’ve already seen that faith is the conviction of the truth of something. But Paul also says it is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Let’s go back to the Greek and see if we can get more understanding.
substance = hypostasis, Greek, Strong’s #5287: 1. substructure, foundation; 2. That which has actual existence; the substantial quality, nature, of a person or thing
evidence = elenchos, Greek Strong’s #1650: 1. A proof, that by which a thing is proved or tested; 2. Conviction
This is how I have come to understand Hebrews 11:1 for myself: My faith, which is the conviction of truth about God’s Word, is the substance, the “stuff,” from which what I’m hoping for is going to be made. My faith is the proof that what I hope for, though not yet seen, exists, and will be manifested!
God uses our faith, our belief, our trust in Him and His Word, as the substance to create what we hope for. Faith is real. It has substance from which things are made.
“... God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;” (Romans 4:17).
God created the world. He called things into existence which had not before existed. He is still doing that. When He said, “Let there be light,” He totally believed light would appear, and it did. When He said, “Let there be trees and shrubs, sun, moon, and stars, animals, birds, and fish, He believed they were going to come forth, and they did. We are made in His image, we share in His nature. We have the power to create what we hope for through speaking in faith.
FAITH IN WHAT?
Faith in GOD and in HIS Word. Faith in His goodness, faithfulness, and love. Faith in His trustworthiness. Faith in His promises.
When Jesus was tempted by satan in the wilderness, we see a demonstration of the power of His armor. He had to resist the devil the same way we do, because He lived on the earth as a man, not God. He had on the belt of truth, because He was well-taught about the Torah and the rest of the Old Testament that existed at that time. He knew and believed the word that had been revealed in the Scriptures. He knew the character and nature of God, and He knew God’s promises. He had a personal relationship with GOD, His father. He had on the breastplate of righteousness, because he had not sinned. When Satan sent the darts and arrows, Jesus easily repelled them with His shield of faith. He Knew God. He trusted God. He believed God.
He told His disciples they could do the same miracles of healings, deliverances from demons, and signs and wonders that He did. They just needed one thing: F A I T H.
For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20 NIV).
“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Matthew 21:22 ESV.)
“So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:22-24).
The Holy-Ghost-filled disciples got hold of the revelation of the power of faith in God and changed the world!
“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-8 ESV).
“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:17).
GOD IS OUR SHIELD
Faith is very important to God. So important that without it, we cannot please Him!
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
First, we must believe that He is, and then that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. It’s common sense, really. How can we please God if we doubt He exists? How can we please Him if we doubt His goodness, love, and justness? How many parents are pleased when their child doubts his parents’ love for him? Only monstrous ones! If we don’t have faith that He exists, we sure can’t count on Him to help us in our time of trouble! If we doubt His goodness, we can’t have faith that He cares about us or will do what is good for us. If we doubt His love and mercy, we will be in constant fear, not faith. There are at least 365 references in the Bible in which God says, “Fear not,” or “Do not be afraid.” Why does He keep telling His people that? Because He wants His people to know they can trust Him and depend on Him! Whatever the situation, whatever the test, whatever the battle, God is saying, “Do not be afraid. I’m right here with you. I will give you the victory.”
If we are abiding in Christ, if we are raising our shield of faith, the darts, arrows, javelins, and even missiles, cannot defeat us, for GOD Himself is our shield!
As for God, his way is perfect… He is a shield for all who take refuge in him (2 Samuel 22:31 NIV).
“My shield is God Most High, who save the upright in heart” (Psalm 7:10 NIV).
“You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me” (Psalm 18:35 NIV).
WHAT IF MY SHIELD IS WEAK OR DAMAGED?
What can we do when we feel that our personal shield of faith may be a little weak or incomplete? We add to it!
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,” (Jude 1:20).
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
When faith is weak, pray more in the Spirit and spend more time in the Word! Doing both consistently will keep our shield of faith strong.
Beloved friends, we are in turbulent times and the Church (and we) are going to be tested like we have never been tested before. There is great spiritual warfare going on in the heavens and on the earth right now. If we are going to pass the tests, we must get over the idea that things will “get back to normal” and we can resume our comfortable lives and easy Christianity. We have entered into a new era. The showdown has begun, and God is preparing His true Church for the battles ahead. We should not be alarmed, but rejoice, for this means we are ever closer to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ! But until He comes, it is STILL the job of the Church to demonstrate His Kingdom on the earth. That is the mission of each believer. To carry out our mission, we must be wearing our armor at all times, because it is the job of every demon to prevent us from being successful in demonstrating the power and the Kingdom of God!
So, Beloved, armor up, be encouraged, and go fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12)!
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV).
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4 ESV).
Love, Hugs, and Blessings,
All scripture references are from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.