Joop explains how we can put on the shield of faith.
Read: Eph. 6:10-20
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. (New Living Translation)
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (NIV)
Above all…. (King James)
We are teaching on the armour of God.
We need God’s armour to be able to stand firm in the battle that satan rages against God’s children, individually and to the Church.
This section starts with the encouragement to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. (v. 10).
Our battle is not against human beings or political systems, although they can be used by satan in his battle with God’s children. But we are fighting against spiritual powers that are behind all this.
The weapons satan uses to destroy Christians are:
- Our thinking (our mind)
- Our fleshly nature
- The circumstances (like troubles, adversity, sickness)
- Other people
- Wordly systems
Buit we need to remind, it are not those people or systems themselves thant want to destroy us, it is satan behind this all who ‘prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.’ (1 Peter 5:8).
Peter then exhorts us to ‘resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world’ (1 Peter 5:9).
And he also promises that ‘the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.’ (1 Peter 5:10,11)
So we know, the vistory is God’s, we don’t have to be afraid. However to be able to live a fruitful life for the glory of God, we must be aware of the struggle that’s going on, and in which we play a part.
The spiritual armour
The armour of God is a spiritual one, since we’re fighting in the spiritual realm of which our mind is one of the biggest struggles.
Some times Christians are not even aware that there is an armour. We’re not defenceless; God has given us the Holy Spirit, who leads us in the battle against sin, our flesh, bad thinkings etc. So actually, the Holy Spirit is the director of our spiritual warfare.
And then Eph. 6 says that we are to use the whole armour of God (v. 11,13.
Some Christians take parts of the whole armour and hope to fight the war with that. That’s as if you would send a soldier out, with just a gun, no uniform, no helmet, nothing to defend himself. Or sending him out with a helmet and a uniform, but without a gun.
No one would think of doing that, yet some Christians do.
The content of the armor of God
If we take a closer look at the whole armour, then we see that it consist of 7 parts, mentioned here:
Belt of truth
Breastplate of righteousness
Shoes of proclaiming
Shield of faith
Helmet of salvation
Sword of the Spirit
(although the last one is not symbolised by an armour piece).
A soldier is not just to defend his territory, but also to attack enemy ground.
Some Christians only see the armour as a kind of defense to the devil’s schemes.
But we need to realise, that we’re not just defending, but more we’re battling against satan so that the Kingdom of God will be enhanced. So our warfare is as much defensive as offensive.
Some armour pieces look a bit more defensive (e.g. the helmet), others more offensive (e.g. the sword), but they all need to work together and play their different roles in our warfare.
So far, we looked at:
The belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of proclaiming of the gospel. Today we’ll examine the shield of faith.
The shield of faith
This armour piece in Roman times was a large bronze or iron shield that was needed to defence the body of the Roman soldier as much as possible, when he was fighting. But it also safeguarded the other weapons and parts a soldier had.
So this wa an important part of the armour. Without it, he was likely toi die and not to survive the battle.
That’s why Paul compare our faith with a shield. We’re not only saved by faith (Eph. 2:8), but we also live by faith (Rom. 1:17; Hebr. 10:38).
What is faith?
1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (Hebr. 11:1-3)
All of Hebrews 11 talks about faith, what it is, how it works and it gives lots of examples of people living by faith, like Abraham, Moses, Rahab, David and many others. They all had one thing in common: they had faith and by that they achieved what they got.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. (11:8)
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. (11:17-20).
By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.
29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. (11:24-31)
So, all of these Old Testament heroes acted out of faith. But not only that they lived out of faith, expecting the ‘city of God’ (the fulfilment of God’s plan through the church), which they never saw (11:10, 39). So they lived by faith and died in faith.
We however, have received the promise of God by faith through Christ Jesus.
Definition of faith
Trust in God
Confidence in God, reliance that He will do as promised
Expecting God, even without seeing it not yet
Patient endurance, knowing that ´for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.´ (Rom. 8:28).
So, living by faith has nothing to do with over-sensitive trying to work out something supernatural, but simply trusting God, that He will do as He promised and that everything is in His hands.
That’s how people like Abraham, Moses and all the others lived.
Enemies of faith
Unbelief. Jesus often rebuked his followers a lack of faith, because they did not believe that He could perform what He promised. We see the same with the people of Israel: they were most of all rejected by God because of their lack of faith (Hebr. 3:7-14).
In other words they did not trust Him.
Hebr. 11:6: And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
The battle-field in the mind
The mind is the place were satan tries to deal with us. He started with Eve: did God say…?
So our flesh, our sinful nature works together with satan in trying to deceive us and to let go of our trust in God.
His tools are sinful thoughts, sowing doubt, rationalising, envious thoughts, pride, fear etc.
Wayne Grudem says that faith is the opposite to fear. We won’t beat the enemy when we fear, only when we confront him boldly with the truth of God. (comp. the belt of truth).
When Jesus was attacked by satan in the desert, he withstood him by the truth of God’s word: it is written…
So when you’re tempted say to yourself: ‘it is written…’.
When satan tries to focus your attention to yourself: to your weaknesses (or prides), fears, doubts etc., then focus on Jesus. Like David said:
7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:7-11)
Not just defence, also attack!
Faith is not just a defensive weapon, it’s also a weapon of attack: by faith they conquered the land (Hebr. 11). There are numerous people in the Bible who achieved great things by faith: Abraham, Moses, David, Jonathan, Daniel and his friends, Paul, Peter etc.
For instance Jonathan: if God is with us…. We shall….!!
They could only do what they did, because they set their eyes on the Lord and believed that it is true what He spoke.
So, do you trust God? Do you believe that He does mean what He says?
If so, your walking by faith. And if satan comes to attack± resist him in faith.
Read Romans 8: 31-39: the assurance of faith