Summary: Be strong in the Lord and hope in Him!
October 17, 2012
We’re one Body with One Head, and so we submit to each other (5:21). This is impossible to do because powers far superior to us are plotting and working against us, so we’re told to be strong in the power of the Lord (6:10) and to put on His full armor. We’ve covered, so far, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and having our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Now we pick up in verse sixteen:
This doesn’t mean this piece is more important than the others or that they can be excluded. Think of a soldier under attack from fiery darts; does he want to be shot in the breastplate or in the shield? As far as placement, the shield is “above all” or first in position between the enemy and the soldier.
taking the shield of faith,
The Greek word for this type of shield comes from the Greek word for “door.” You can picture this soldier holding a very large, rectangular shield. Why is it the shield “of faith”? How about Hebrews 11:6: “Without faith it is impossible to please [God].” And also Hebrews 10:38: “The just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” Tie those in with the command to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, and take into account the context of the passage: we’re outnumbered and outmatched, but by faith in God’s promise and in the power of His might we stand against our enemy. Think of David and Goliath—David could not use the king’s shield so he went to battle with nothing more than a sling and three stones shouting, “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied” (I Sam. 17:45). You see, that story is not about us defeating the giants in our life; that story is about being strong in the power of God and standing by faith against the enemy. David was far outmatched, as are we, but he came in the name of the Lord.
And that is the true object of faith, isn’t it? Isn’t faith looking to Christ? We live in a day in which there’s so much confusion because we’ve got preachers telling people that faith is nothing more than wishful thinking. They say that “faith is believing something is so, even when it isn’t so, in order that it may be so.” You hear people going around saying things like, “I’m just believing God for healing.” Well, if God promised to do that then you should; but otherwise it’s not faith—it’s wishful thinking!
Like all false doctrine, the confusion over faith begins when we make it about something other than Christ. What are we saying when we talk about the shield of faith? We stand behind Christ. He has promised to deliver us—just as He promised David and Abel and Enoch and Noah and Abraham and Sara and Isaac and Jacob and Joseph and Moses and Joshua and Rahab and Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah and Samuel and all the others in the Old Testament whose stories were written “for our learning” (Rom. 15:4).
Christ is the author and finisher of our faith; He is our life and our righteousness and our Savior.
When we talk about taking up the shield of faith we’re not talking about having a winning attitude or a positive mindset; we’re not saying to believe it and receive it—we’re saying “He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” and so “the Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man [or angels] shall do unto me” (Heb. 13:5-6). We’re saying “by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall” (Ps. 18:29).
And so, we take up this shield of faith,
wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
Something interesting is that the Greek word for “fiery” is πυρόω (pyroo, puh-raw-oh) which is where we get our English word for “pyro” (a pyromaniac likes to set things on fire). It’s the shield of faith which quenches the fire in the darts. We may be hit anyway (and we will) but keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and trusting in His promise will snuff the fire out. I think of Paul and Silas in prison yet singing. Even better, I think of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego standing over the fiery furnace unafraid: “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Dan. 3:17-18).