Summary: The more we trust God to sustain us, the more protection we will have against the enemy of our souls. The greater the trust, the greater our shield against the attacks of the enemy.
Faith under Fire
Ephesians 6:13-16 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Intro: We are nearing the end of a 6-month series through the book of Ephesians. Paul leaves his readers with words that encourage them to use the tools God has given them to stand their ground against the enemy. The belt of truth was first given when they responded to the good news about Jesus, acknowledging the fact that every human needs God and His forgiveness that Jesus provided through His death. Truth is not an invention of man, but is reality from God Himself. The breastplate of righteousness was also imparted when they confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior and believed in their hearts that God raised Him from the dead. They were brought into right standing with God because they put their entire trust in Him. The sandals of peace came when they made peace with God by calling on the Lord in repentance. Having peace with God brings the peace of God into our hearts and lives, helping us be peacemakers as Jesus said we should be. His peace gives us traction for action as we stand against the enemy.
-Today I’d like to look at v.16 of Eph. 6, which introduces the shield of faith. In the days of Roman warfare the flaming arrow was a dreaded weapon. This arrow had a heavy iron tip which was dipped into pitch and set on fire. Even the speed of the arrow in the air would not extinguish the flame. It became a deadly flaming missile. These arrows would cause panic within the opposing ranks, especially when they lodged in a shield, causing the shield to burn. A frightened soldier might throw down his burning shield leaving himself, and those around him, unprotected from arrows and spears. You can imagine the resulting chaos.
-Such a deadly weapon needed a solid defense, which is where the shield comes in. This big shield stood 4-feet high. It was made of 3 layers of wood, with linen sandwiched between each layer. It also had an outer layer of leather or animal hide. To hold it all together a bronze strip was wrapped around the entire edge. If it was hit by a flaming arrow this shield would still burn. So, before they went into battle, the soldiers would soak the shields in water. The wet linen and leather would stop the shield from igniting, even when there was a flaming arrow embedded into it.
-Sometimes we lose the meaning of things through over use. When something becomes a catchword it can lose meaning. So I like to interchange words sometimes to get a clearer picture of Scripture. As I think about the shield of faith, I put in the word trust – shield of trust. What is a shield of trust or faith? Soldiers trusted that these shields would extinguish and stop the flaming arrows. But Paul, of course, is writing about something spiritual here. What does it mean to be shielded or protected by faith or trust? Psalm 91:4 says that God’s truth or faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. If we have faith in God’s faithfulness, we will stand strong in the battle. Don’t have faith in your own faith – have faith in God! If we actively trust God’s trustworthiness, the enemy will not find an opening in our lives to shoot in his flaming arrows. The arrows might represent any spiritual attacks or struggles brought on by the forces of evil around us. So here is the main thought of today’s message:
Proposition: The more we trust God to sustain us, the more protection we will have against the enemy of our souls. The greater the trust, the greater our shield against the attacks of the enemy.
TS: So, let’s look at some areas of trust for a few minutes that will help us beef up our defense against the flaming arrows launched by the dark forces of Satan’s kingdom.
I. Trusting God in the face of condemnation
-Those with the gift of accusation also imagine themselves as having the gift of discernment into the motives of others. It really is amazing how we often credit ourselves with good intentions when we fail. “I didn’t mean to hurt anyone.” However, when somebody else does something wrong, we assume they planned the whole thing out and were hoping for the very worst for us.