The Shield of Faith
As we continue our 7-week series on the "whole armor of God," we will look at the "shield of faith" today. Ephesians 6:16 states, "In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one."
As Paul is writing to the Ephesian churches, he is reminding them of the cosmic battle in which every believer takes part. And one cannot successfully fight this battle without the "whole armor of God." Paul lays out not separate weapons, but a list of different pieces of the same whole. All of these things go together. And ultimately, as we have stated in previous blog posts, this is Christ's armor. He has worn it first and has gone before us, winning the war and then equipping us with His very own victorious armor. This includes the "shield of faith."
So, what exactly is faith? Our world has all kinds of various concepts of faith. We don’t have time to go into all of them right now, but the part where most people fall short is that the emphasis is put on the strength of the faith itself, rather than the object of faith. We hear all the time “you just gotta have faith.” While that is a cute sentiment, what are those kinds of sayings telling us we need to have faith in? Faith, according to the Bible, means trust. It means you are putting your hopes and dreams and value on the object of that faith. So, are we to simply trust in trust for trust’s sake? That reasoning makes no sense.
Rather, we must have a strong object of faith. Let’s say you are about to drive out onto the ice this winter. Let’s say that you have a lot of faith that the ice will hold you. Does that make any difference as to whether or not that ice will hold you? Of course not. Even if you firmly believed 100% that a half inch of ice will hold your truck, the reality is, you are probably going to fall through. But if you have two feet of ice on the lake, even if your faith is small, the object (the ice) is strong and it will firmly hold you.
Hence, why it is so essential that we have a strong “object” of our faith. The point of faith is not about the strength of your faith but about the object of it: Jesus.
So when Satan attacks with his “flaming darts,” how are we to defend ourselves? Look no further than Christ and His faithfulness toward you. Looking again at the Old Testament, notice this verse in Psalm 91:4:
“He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”
Notice the key words: “his faithfulness.” Because of Jesus’ faithfulness toward us who believe, we can stand firm when the attacks of the enemy rain down on us. We have a strong shield: the faithfulness of Jesus, as well as the faith that He has given us. Ephesians 2:8-9 states,
"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." (emphasis added)
It is Christ that has given us grace and it is Christ that has given us faith. We can trust that He will keep us firm to the end in that faith.
In practice, this means doing things that will grow our faith in Jesus. Take some time to identify what grows your faith in Jesus, and do those things. For some of you, that may be getting out into nature. The Bible makes it very clear that all of creation screams out the glory of God. Go on a walk, get out onto the lake, go fishing or hunting. And while you do that, conscientiously dwell on the glory of God revealed in creation. For others, it may mean journaling, listening to music, prayer, etc. All of these spiritual disciplines (and more) should be practiced by all believers, but we will find that some are more helpful to us than others in growing our faith.
For all of us, it should mean gathering with the church. The very things we do and that the church has done for thousands of years are meant to grow our faith in Christ. We sing, we study the Bible, we pray, we take communion, we fellowship, etc., so that our faith may increase and so that we may have a better, clearer view of Jesus in our hearts and minds.
Sermon Series: Ephesians: Church Alive In Christ