In all circumstances take up
the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all
the flaming darts of
the evil one
We've seen how God supplies the breastplate of righteousness to protect our heart, the belt of truth that gives us confidence in our relationships with God, ourselves, and others, and shoes of peace to walk out the Gospel in the lives of those around us. What about the shield of faith? How exactly does it put out the flaming darts of the enemy of our soul?
A little background info on the shield that Paul used as a visual for this piece of armor.
The Roman warrior would have had a shield that was much larger than what we see in this picture. Made of metal, it was three-sided and closer in size to a door than this platter-size. Visualize how protective this would have been - its bearer could easily hide behind it and ward off arrows not only from the front but also from each side.
What's really interesting is that it was covered on the outside with leather that had been soaked in water. Those arrows shot by the enemy were not only often flaming with fire but also dripping with poison. The water-soaked leather diluted the poison, put out the fire, and kept the metal of the shield from becoming so heated that it burned the one behind it.
What is the parallel for the Christ-follower?
First, what is faith....and what is it NOT. Faith is not positive thought or feeling. It is not the absence of doubt or fear. Rather, faith is confidence in an unshakeable God and His unfailing love for and never-wavering commitment to His saints. It's not the
of faith that we have but
who our faith is in.
Omnipotent, omniscient, always loving, Holy, perfect, Mighty God.
Faith is the assurance that leads to obedience. Because I know He loves me completely, I trust Him. Because I trust Him, I will do what He tells me to do in His Word. I love the way that old hymn puts it "Trust and obey". Inextricable link of faith and obedience. I "behave what I believe".
Faith. The assurance of things hoped for. The evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) That's what faith is. How do I get it?
So faith comes from
hearing, and hearing by
the word of Christ
How do I "take up" this shield of faith? When the arrows of doubt and fear and temptation come at me, I "extinguish" them with God's Word. I hide behind His Word, not my own understanding. I don't rely on what I feel like or what seems to be true. I place my faith on what God says to me in His Word. If I ask Him for something and He says no, I don't assume that I "lacked faith" or that He didn't answer or that "this doesn't work". I respond to those suggestions with promises like the one in Psalm 84:11 - "No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly." If I didn't get what I asked for, then I know that - no matter what it seems like - that which I asked for was not a "good thing". His Word assures me that He loves me and that ALL His ways are loving and faithful. His Word trumps my feelings every time.
Faith. The assurance of things hoped for. The evidence of things not seen. Place for me to hide. Protection from the assault all around me.