Ephesians 6:16(ESV)16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
Faith is not something we conjure up on our own, nor is it something we are born with, nor is faith a result of diligence in study or pursuit of the spiritual. Ephesians 2:8-9(ESV)8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. this makes it clear that faith is a gift from God, not because we deserve it, have earned it, or are worthy to have it. It is not from ourselves; it is from God. It is not obtained by our power or our free will. Faith is simply given to us by God, along with His grace and mercy, according to His holy plan and purpose, and because of that, He gets all the glory.
The Roman shield of the time was called a scutum. This type of shield was as large as a door and would cover the warrior entirely. Such a shield was not just defensive but could also be used to push opponents. When fighting as a group, soldiers could position their shields so as to form an enclosure around themselves, called a testudo (In Latin meaning “tortoise shell”). This was especially helpful to protect against arrows launched from the walls of cities they were attacking. Shields, often made of wood and then covered in hide, when wet, could extinguish flaming arrows.
Clearly, a shield is vitally important to a soldier. It provides a blanket of protection. It is meant to be taken up in all circumstances. It is the first barrier against the enemy’s attack. Often, shields were painted with identifying marks; a Christian who takes up the shield of faith identifies himself as a foot soldier who serves the Commander of the Lord’s army.
2 Timothy 2:3-4(HCSB)3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the recruiter.
As soon as we confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are drawn into a spiritual battle. It is a battle where eternal death or eternal life is at stake. It is a battle with one who is 100% committed to drawing us away from God. It is a battle that calls us to make the spiritually lost a priority as we stand in unity with Jesus. Is this the battle that we are winning? Are we truly concerned that there are real people that will die and go to Hell? Are we concerned with it? Do we know that we are in a battle, even though it is invisible and spiritual it is real and it is eternal.
Hebrews 10:38(ESV)38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
Hebrews 11:1 (HCSB)Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.
Hebrews 1:6(HCSB)6 Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him. This verse stresses the importance of faith: “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Satan’s attacks can sometimes cause us to doubt God.You start asking yourself, “Did God really say? Can I really trust God? Isn’t that just your interpretation?” Faith prompts us to believe God.
Romans 1:16-17(ESV)16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
There is a saying and even a song that says “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” It may be a nice sentiment, but it’s bad theology. The truth is, “God said it, and that settles it — whether I believe it or not.” God’s truth isn’t based on whether you believe it or not. It’s still true even if you don’t believe it, because God can’t lie.
You need that kind of certainty in difficult days. With the Shield of Faith, you have certainty that God’s promises are true even when they don’t appear to be true in your life. God comes to the Garden of Eden, creates a perfect environment, creates a perfect man and perfect woman – perfect in the sense of sinlessness, not in the sense of an accomplished perfection. And there they are, and here comes Satan, and what does he say? “Has God really said?” And then he says, “You know, God doesn’t want you to know good and evil because you’ll be like Him, and He doesn’t like competition. You can’t trust God He has ulterior motives. You can’t always believe exactly what He says.” Satan was tempting them to doubt God and believe him. Eve was a sucker, Eve was a fool, she believed the devil, and you know what happened. Every temptation that ever came to you came on the tack of “believe me, not God.”
Watch this, Christ has been fasting forty days and forty nights, led into the wilderness by the Spirit of God as God prepared Him for His ministry. At the end of that time, Satan comes to Him to tempt Him. And how does he tempt Him? He tempts Him to not believe God – same old deal. “Don’t believe God, believe me.”
Matthew 4:1-11(HCSB)Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. 2 After He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights, He was hungry. 3 Then the tempter approached Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 But He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”5 Then the Devil took Him to the holy city, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: He will give His angels orders concerning you, and they will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”7 Jesus told him, “It is also written: Do not test the Lord your God.”8 Again, the Devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 And he said to Him, “I will give You all these things if You will fall down and worship me.”10 Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written:Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.”11 Then the Devil left Him, and immediately angels came and began to serve Him.
We give in to temptation when we believe what it has to offer is better than what God has promised. It’s seducing temptations, that’s all. Satan fires arrows of impurity, arrows of selfishness, doubt, fear, disappointment, lust, greed, vanity, covetousness – it all comes down to this: 1 John 2:16(ESV)16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
Christians have always been, and will always be, lured by the same three temptations Eve and Jesus experienced. Satan doesn’t change his methods; he doesn’t have to because his methods continue to be successful. He tempts us with the lust of the flesh—sexual gratification, gluttony, excessive alcohol consumption, and drugs, both legal and illegal, as well as the ones which Paul warned the Galatians about, Galatians 5:19-21(ESV)“sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these”. He tempts us with the lust of the eyes—the endless accumulation of “stuff” with which we fill our homes and garages and the insatiable desire for more, better, and newer possessions, which ensnares us and hardens our hearts to the things of God.
But perhaps his most evil temptation is the pride of life, the very sin that resulted in Satan’s expulsion from heaven. He desired to be God, not to be a servant of God Isaiah 14:12-15(ESV)2 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! 13 You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’15 But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit. The arrogant boasting which constitutes the pride of life motivates the other two lusts as it seeks to elevate itself above all others and fulfill all personal desires. It is the root cause of strife in families, churches, and nations. It exalts the self in direct contradiction to Jesus’ statement that those who would follow Him must take up their cross (an instrument of death) and deny themselves. The pride of life stands in our way if we truly seek to be servants of God. It is the arrogance that separates us from others and limits our effectiveness in the kingdom. The pride of life “comes not from the Father, but from the world.” And, as such, it is passing away with the world, but those who resist and overcome the temptation of the pride of life do the will of God, and 1 John 2:17(ESV)17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
In other words the arrows are, “Don’t believe God, He doesn’t keep His word, He didn’t give You the whole picture, He didn’t tell You the truth. Believe me, do it my way.” And that’s the way every temptation comes to every believer every time. Satan comes along and says, “Oh yeah, I know the Bible says you’re not supposed to have sexual relationships with somebody outside of marriage, but it’s fun.” Who do you believe when you sin? You believe the devil. It’s the bottom line, people; it’s so simple. When you sin, you believe Satan; when you obey, you believe God. That’s the bottom line. And the shield is the double protection. “I will believe God,” said Christ. “Get away, Satan. God will feed Me when He’s ready, and God will anoint Me as Messiah when He’s ready, and God will give Me the kingdoms of the world when He’s ready, on His terms. I will not believe you.”
Titus 1:1-2(HCSB)Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to build up the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness, 2 in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.
God isn’t lying. And yet every time you sin, you believe Satan and his lies and so do I; we’ve been suckered again. Satan comes along and says, “Do it my way, and you’ll like it.” It’ll be fun. It’ll fulfill you. You’ll gain what you desire” – it’s a lie. He is a liar, John 8:44(HCSB)44 You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars.
Whenever you sin, you’re saying, “I really don’t believe God knows best, Satan knows best.” We say, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches and glory” and we all say, “Amen, brother, preach it. Yes, He’ll supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus, no question about it.” And then when we lose a job, “Ohh, God what are You doing to me? Why did you do this – see? There’s Satan “The Lord has forsaken you,” see?
Matthew 6:33(HCSB)33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. And we run through life seeking all the things that should be added and missing the Kingdom of God. You see, you can’t just go around saying, “I believe God, I have faith in God, the just shall live by faith,” and then grab everything you can grab that is worldly.
So the only way to extinguish the arrows of Satan is to believe God. The Bible says, “Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness.” Who do you believe? Abraham believed God. Who do you believe? Do you believe God?
In other words, what God said is true. If you believe it and obey it, it’ll be a shield; if you mess with it, you’ll suffer, see? Satan comes along and says, “Oh well, I know God said that, but let me add this.” No. No, “He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.”
Psalm 12:6(HCSB)The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in an earthen furnace, purified seven times.
He literally bombards the believer with the arrows, the fiery darts of seductive temptation, to elicit out of us ungodly, non-Christlike, evil responses. And the only defense we have at this point, Paul says, is the shield of faith, because sometimes it just rains temptation. We live in a world where it really does rain temptation, all around us, and we must have the shield of faith. Faith reminds us that, though the fulfillment of God’s promises may not be readily visible to us, God is true to His Word. When Satan attempts to plague us with doubt or entice us with instant gratification, faith recognizes the deceptiveness of his tactics and quickly extinguishes the arrows. When Satan accuses us, faith chooses to believe that Jesus has redeemed us and that there is no more condemnation. Romans 8:1(HCSB) Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus,
Romans 8:34(HCSB)Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.
The term “faith” means believing God, and that is the bottom line of the Christian faith. That is the bottom line of everything we believe, everything we hold to, everything we have our confidence in. The whole of Christianity is an act of believing that God is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Believing that He wrote the Bible, believing that Christ is God, believing that He died, believing that He rose, believing that He’s coming, believing that by believing we can enter into His Kingdom – the whole thing. That’s why in Habakkuk 2:4 (HCSB)Look, his ego is inflated; he is without integrity. But the righteous one will live by his faith.
Romans 1:17(HCSB)“17 For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.
Galatians 3:11(HCSB)11 Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith.
Hebrews 10:36-38(HCSB)36 For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised.37 For yet in a very little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. 38 But My righteous one will live by faith;and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him.39 But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life.
Faith is our life; it is a matter of believing God. Now, everybody lives by something, everybody has faith in something.
Faith is one of the greatest gifts, and it is the means by which we receive grace and come into right relationship with God.
Ephesians 2:8–9(HCSB)8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. It is because we have been justified through faith that we belong to God and have peace with Him. Romans 5:1(HCSB)Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Faith is the doorway to hope in God.
Romans 5:2(HCSB)2 We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Because we have faith in God, our suffering need not faze us; in fact, we can persevere under it.
Romans 5:3–5(HCSB)3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. 5 This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
The things Satan attempts to use to discourage us can actually become tools in the hands of God.
All believers have this promise:1 John 5:4(HCSB)4 because whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. Faith is a protective barrier between us and the schemes of Satan. When we believe God and take Him at His word, we remain grounded in truth, the lies of the enemy lose their power, and we become overcomers. In that way, faith is our shield.
1 Peter 5:8-9(HCSB)8 Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.
We win when we believe God, we win when we trust God. You may go through doubts, and anxieties, and fears, and worries, and concerns, and problems, and struggles, and trials, and tribulations, and persecution. As long as you believe God, as you believe His sustenance, you believe His Word, you believe His power, you believe His promise, that doesn’t have to be a point of loss; it can be a point of strengthening, a point of gain.
The shield of faith is the consistent application of what we believe about God to the issues of life. Now, if you don’t trust Him then you don’t know Him well enough, right – because if you really knew Him, you’d trust Him. Oh, the more you know God, the deeper you get into the heart of God, the more you know about His truth, and the Word of God, and the more you meditate upon His person in your prayers and meditating times, the more you know God, the greater you’ll trust God, and the greater you trust God, the less likely you will be to not believe Him.
And so it all goes back, as everything does in the Christian life, to your relationship to God. It’s there; it’s down deep in the heart. If you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, if you believe that God is who He claimed to be, if you believe all that God’s promises that He gave to you are really true, then you’re not going to sin, because you’re going to stand in the place of the greatest blessing. Everybody wants to be blessed, everybody wants the best. God says, “I’ll give it to you if you do it My way.” If you do it Satan’s way, you just disbelieved God. But the more you know Him, the more you’ll trust Him, the more you’ll believe Him.