Summary: Ephesians 6:10-16
GEARING UP FOR WAR - The Shield of Faith
February 3, 2019
Ephesians 6:10-16 (p. 817)
My weird sense of humor always lets me enjoy Gary Larsen’s cartoons…He was the artist of little one scene drawings called, “The Far Side.”
And my favorite Far Side cartoon by far was this one…two deer standing upright in the forest…one deer is looking at his buddy who clearly has a target on his chest…and says, “Bummer of a birthmark, Hal!”
I think all of us have felt like Hal the deer at times. It seems like there’s a target on our chest and its hunting season.
The struggle Paul talks about is real and intense…Satan has a quiver full of arrows…He and his demonic army notch and light them up…and these fiery missiles shoot toward us from all angles.
We’ve put on God’s armor at the cross…buckled on the belt of truth, covered our hearts with Christ’s breastplate of righteousness, laced on new shoes making us ready to share the gospel of peace…but then comes a vicious attack…It’s the day of evil we’ve been warned to prepare for…How can I stand up under this barrage of flaming arrows? How can I stand firm? How do I stand my ground when I want to run away?
It’s when this is happening in our life God’s word tells us…“In addition to all this…take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish ALL the flaming arrows of the Evil One.” (Eph. 6:16)
Roman legionnaires carried a large rectangular shield called a “scutum.” It had a leather handle toward the top and was made out of wood with iron around its borders. It was the most important part of their gear for personal protection…and also for the protections of their comrades
SHOW INDIVIDUAL SHIELD PIC
When arrows were launched into a unit they would form a protective shell with their shields
SHOW UNIT PIC
It was called the “Testudo Formation, Tortoise Formation.” Soldiers in the back used their shield for covering…It was strong, tight formation formed by a unit to protect every soldier when they were attacked.
The individual shield was curved to wrap around the soldier’s body and allow him to stay in the fight…and it also could be held against another’s shield to form a protective shell.
It's not a coincidence that the Apostle Paul chose the shield to represent faith in God’s armor.
Roman soldiers have two hands…just like every one of us (unless we’ve lost one in combat or never had one) but in those 2 hands they hold two things…in one hand they hold a sword…we’ll talk about that in a couple of weeks, Lord willing…and in the other hand they hold a shield…Both have to be grabbed and held on to.
I. UNLESS WE GRAB THIS FAITH SHIELD, AND USE IT, IT’S USELESS
Ephesians 2:9 tells us “we are saved by grace, through faith…”
Grace and faith are the two essential ingredients of salvation according to the Word of God. Grace is the gift of God. It’s the action He took to send His son to die on the cross to pay for all our sins…all sin period. None of us deserve it…none of us can earn it…He paid our unpayable debt…and He conquered the consequences of sin by rising from the dead…Jesus now offers that same resurrection to those who will accept His gift of grace…
But that gift is accepted by the gift of faith…Grace comes to us through faith…there is no other avenue…unless I grab this gift, it lies useless on the table…unless you pick up this shield you have no way to extinguish the Evil One’s flaming arrows.
“Put on” and “take up” as in “put on” the whole armor of God and “take up” the shield of faith are clearly things we’re responsible for…God does grace…only He can…but He won’t force you to put it on or take it up.
It’s as if your commander comes to you with a shield…marked with your unit’s crest, it’s beautifully made out of wood and iron…Leather covers the outside so you can soak it with water to extinguish flaming arrows…but you decide it’s too cumbersome…too heavy…so you leave it on the floor…you were offered this shield…you just chose not to pick it up…who’s responsible for that choice…you or your commander?
Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “Faith is the confidence of things hoped for and the assurance about what we do not see.” And verse 6 in that same chapter says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”
You and I cannot see God or the Devil…neither of their Kingdoms or their armies are visible…both are in the heavenly realms…not the earthly…and both are fighting for our souls.