The Shield of Faith
By Dr. Tom Walker
Ephesians 6:16 says, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
No sensible person would fight a war without the right equipment. When our soldiers go into battle they have heavy equipment like tanks, aircraft, missiles, and ships. They also have smaller weapons that are weapons of war like an M-16 rifle, hand grenades, knives, and other means of offense and defense.
We are definitely in a war with the forces of evil and Satan. It is wise to fight to win if we are going to engage in conflict. Ephesians 6 tells us how to be winners in the struggle that we find ourselves spiritually. If we follow the directions set down in God’s word we will prevail over the enemy.
In this study, we come upon the subject of faith. It is so important that we exercise our faith, that the Bible says, “Above all taking the shield of faith.” The words “above all” stress the utmost importance of utilizing our faith in the spiritual battle in which we are involved from day to day.
Remember that Paul was in prison and under constant guard when writing to the Ephesian church. He was forced to stare at the soldier’s armor day in and day out. He had an ideal picture of the defenses needed by the Christian believer to combat the forces of evil.
Charles Ryrie says the following about the shield of faith: “The shield in a Roman soldier’s attire, made of wood, was about 2 1/2’ wide and 4’ long. It was overlaid with linen and leather, to absorb fiery arrows. Thus, it also protected the other pieces of the armor; hence Paul used the phrase, in addition to all this. “Of faith” is a genitive of content; the shield consists of faith. The idea, then, is that a Christian’s resolute faith in the Lord can stop and extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one aimed at him.”
Faith is so important in living successfully for the Lord from day to day. To fail to exercise faith is a plan to fail. Here is what the Scripture says about faith in 1 John 5:4 which says: “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”
Initial Faith is of the Utmost Importance
When one repents of his or her sins and puts their faith in Christ to save them from their sins, many wonderful things happen.
Our sins are forgiven through faith. Romans 3:25 says, “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.”
We are justified by our faith. To “justify” is to “declare as righteous” in the sight of God. Romans 5:1 declares, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Without faith, we would still be unrighteous and in our sins, facing all the undesirable consequences of them.
We have spiritual life through faith. John 20:31 tells us: “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
We have eternal life through faith. John 3:16 reminds us: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The best part of it all is that eternal life will be enjoyed in Heaven and not in Hell. Those who go to Hell will live there forever in torment and judgment.
We have spiritual light through faith. Here are a couple of Scriptures that underscore the giving of spiritual light through faith. We can see what we could not see before we exerted saving faith in Christ. John 12:36: “While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.” John 12:46: “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” My faith is in Christ, so I am not living in a condition of darkness but one of light.
We have access to God through faith. Romans 5:2 substantiates this wonderful truth: “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Ephesians 3:12 stresses faith: “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.”
Battling Faith is of the Utmost Importance
This is in line with the context of Ephesians 6. The main thrust of it all is warfare. Faith is not an option but rather a necessity to conquer our spiritual foes.
It might be wise to take a few moments to see what faith really is. It is defined well in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
The keywords are “substance” and “evidence.” First, the word “substance” is the Greek New Testament word “hupostasis” which speaks of assurance or confidence. Faith in Christ gives us confidence and assurance that God will keep all of the promises the Lord has made to Israel and his New Testament church.
The word “evidence” is the Greek word “elegchos” which has the idea of proof. We do not have to put everything in a test tube to believe it. Faith convinces us to embrace unseen hopes and realities. Through faith, we are convinced about what we cannot see without human eyes. The unseen is just as real to us as what we see with our eyes. Someone said, “It is our handle on what we cannot visualize.” It makes real what we cannot see.
1 Timothy 1:18-19 promotes good warfare: “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.”
1 Timothy 6:12 continues this promotion by stating the following: “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”
It is great that we are called upon to worship the Lord and to love others but at the same time according to the preceding two verses we are to “war a good warfare” and to “fight the good fight of faith.”
One who is a warrior in human warfare or the spiritual realm must have the right weapons. If we have them, it is then and only then that we can be victorious warriors, bringing glory and honor to our Savior.
Unwavering Faith is of the Utmost Importance
James 1:6-7 qualifies the importance of unwavering faith: “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.”
Keeping those two verses in mind, consider our text again. If we take the shield of faith, it is promise to us that: “Ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
Warren Wiersbe has an excellent summary of the fiery darts from Satan that we can extinguish if we have unwavering faith: “In Paul’s day, arrows, dipped in some inflammable substance and ignited, were shot at the enemy. Satan shoots “fiery darts” at our hearts and minds: lies, blasphemous thoughts, hateful thoughts about others, doubts, and burning desires for sin. If we do not by faith quench these darts, they will light a fire within and we will disobey God. We never know when Satan will shoot a dart at us, so we must always walk by faith and use the shield of faith.”
Do not allow anyone to convince you that faith is a non-essential matter in the Christian life. One old song God’s church has sung for many years has the following lyrics: “Living by faith in Jesus above, trusting confiding in His great love, safe from all harm, in His sheltering arms, I’m living by faith and I feel no alarm.”
I could give you many instances in my life when I wondered how I could ever overcome what I was facing. I look back over the many years God has allowed me to live and readily confess that faith has won me victory after victory, as I have lived on my Christian journey through this world of sin and unbelief.
Let faith be your defensive shield, your means of protection as you live for God from day to day. Remember that faith is the victory that overcomes the world.