Summary: When we examine our lives we can find many areas where Satan has successfully thrown a fiery arrow which makes us question our faith and the integrity of our Christian lives. The shield of faith has been give to us by Jesus as protection against these at
The Shield of Faith
Brothers and Sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ,
When it comes to the demonic, many in our culture take one of two extreme approaches. Some believe demons are nothing but a myth – the product of over-superstitious medieval minds. Others see demons and devils at every turn. Diseases are caused by demon possession. Desires such as greed, envy, lust are produced by demons. Whole towns and even whole geological areas are under the influence of demons, devils and beings from the underworld. These are the extreme ends of the views which can be taken on the issue.
So, as we think about our position, how should we assess devils, demons and spiritual forces?
• Are we to be like the 5yr old child who, after telling a blatant lie said, "The devil made me do it."?
• Are we to take the attitude of modern `logical scientists’ who say these creatures cannot possibly exist?
• Should we be more wary of Satan’s craft, taking Scriptures evidence which show him to be quite powerful?
• Should we see Satan’s influence at every turn?
How should the body of Christ appraise the evil one? I ask these questions because our text makes it clear that we are in the firing line of flaming arrows which comes form the evil one. It is an attack directed personally at each one of us. And we need to know how to defend ourselves against them.
The best place to start defending ourselves is to know the nature of the attack and how it was defended. What are these fiery arrows that are coming our way? One thing we have come to understand well as we have made our way through these verses is that Paul has been basing his descriptions of the spiritual armour on the armour of a real Roman soldier.
In the days of Paul a formidable weapon was the flaming arrow. This arrow had a heavy iron tip which was dipped into pitch and set alight. Even the speed of the arrow in the air wouldn’t extinguish the flame – it was a deadly flaming missile. These arrows would cause panic within the opposing ranks, especially when they embedded themselves into shields and began to cause the shield to burn. A frightened soldier would throw down his burning shield leaving himself, and those around him, unprotected from arrows and spears. You can imagine the result.
Such a deadly weapon needed a formidable defence; and this is where our shield comes in. This is a big shield. It was 1.6m high and 80cm wide. 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 there was a bronze strip was wrapped around the whole 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.
That’s the battle scene Paul has in mind when he says to us “take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”. But let us not forget Paul primarily has in mind a spiritual battle. A spiritual shield. Spiritual flaming arrows. What strategy of Satan are we being called to defend ourselves against? What are Satan’s flaming arrows?