Summary: Discusses the Shield of Faith
Faith Part 3: The Shield Of Faith
Scripture: Ephesians 6:16
“In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:16
In my previous messages on faith, I told you what faith was as Paul defined it and how assurance leads to expectation as it pertained to your faith. I shared with you the importance of knowing what you believe historically from Scripture and how your faith is based on your assurance in what you believe. When you know that you know that you know (assurance), you will begin to expect God to do what He has promised to do. This morning I want to continue this series by discussing what Paul calls our shield of faith. In Ephesians the sixth chapter, Paul discusses the whole armor of God, the spiritual armor that we should be wearing every day. One piece of the armor is the shield of faith. A shield is used for protection when you are in battle with an enemy. This is what Paul describes as one of the primary purposes of faith, to enable us to handle what the devil brings our way. Our faith is our shield and without it we are exposed to our enemy. Paul uses the Roman shield to give his readers a literal example of the purpose of faith. There were two shields that the Roman soldiers used; the first shield was one used in ceremonies and parades while the second “real” shield was used in battle.
I. The Ceremonial Roman Shield
The first Roman shield that we will look at is one that was used only for public parades and ceremonies. This shield was a small round shield that was primarily a decorative piece of equipment. It was decorated with all kinds of etchings, engravings and was beautiful to see. Although this shield was very beautiful to see, it was never used in battle for it was just too small. This shield offered little to no protection for the soldiers who carried them. They were not designed for battle but for show. Although this was not the shield that Paul was referring to when he talks about the shield of faith, this is the shield that many Christians are toting around for protection.
There are many Christians whose faith shield is decorated with many engravings of their “works” and paraded around for all to see. They parade their faith around in the safety of the walls of the camp, the Church, while the enemy is on the outside of the walls. While they are in Church their faith is high and on display for all to see, yet when they get into battle they realize that their faith is not what they pretend it is. This is similar to the Roman soldier who sat around in the camp bragging about what he would do when the battle started but died immediately because he did not have the right equipment. Let me give you a biblical example for your reference. Remember the disciple Peter? Peter is a good example of where many of us are today or have been at some point in our lives. Peter was always ready to act while he walked with Christ. He walked in faith, performing miracles while being at Christ side. He even bragged to Christ in Luke chapter 22 that he was willing to go to jail and die with Him. During this time in his walk with Christ, he was toting a ceremonial faith shield. Why do I say this? Because when Christ was arrested, Peter’s response demonstrated that his faith was not as strong as even he had thought it was. The faith that he had was not able to protect him and he ended up denying that he even knew Christ. After going through such a humiliating situation, we know that Peter did acquire the right shield of faith and was able to go into battle being fully protected by his shield. The ceremonial shield of faith that is displayed during Church service and bible study is not the shield of faith that enables us to withstand the attacks of the enemy. When you consider your shield of faith, are you carrying a ceremonial shield? When you are under attack, are you able to withstand the enemy or do you crumble when the battle gets hot? If you find yourself not being able to stand in the midst of your battle, maybe you have the wrong shield.
II. The Battle Prepared Roman Shield
The second kind of shield is the shield that Paul was referring to when he talks about our faith. This shield was wide in width and long in length. The shields that the Roman soldiers carried into battle were actually shaped like doors. They were much larger that the shields that were used in parades and ceremonies. This shield completely covered the man. The battle readied shield attached to a small clip on his loin belt when it was not in use. This is an important point for you to remember, the shield clipped on to the belt that the soldier wore around his waist. This kept the shield readily at hand in case he needed it quickly. The shield was composed of multiple layers (usually six) of thick animal hide that had been tightly woven together. They were woven together so tightly that they became almost as strong as steel. These shields were extremely tough and exceptionally durable. Because the Roman soldier’s shields were made of leather, it was important for the soldiers to take good care of them. To keep the shields in good shape, the soldiers were given a daily schedule to maintain the excellent condition of their shields. Each morning when the soldier was awakened, he would reach for his shield, and would also reach for a small vial of oil. After saturating a piece of cloth with oil, he would begin to rub a heavy ointment of oil into the leather portion of the shield to keep it soft, supple and pliable. If a soldier failed to provide this type of care for his shield, it could mean certain death in battle for the shield would dry out become hard, stiff and brittle. The other thing that the soldiers did to protect the shield (and themselves) was to soak their shields in water before going on the battlefield, another reason the shields were made from animal hide. They soaked their shields in water until the shields were completely saturated with the water. The reason they did this was because their enemies would shoot arrows that carried fire. By saturating the shields with water, even if those dangerous flaming arrows hit, they were extinguished upon impact by the wet surface of the Roman shield. So it was very important that the shield was taken care of. The shield provided protection for the whole body of the soldier. This is crucial for our understanding of our shield of faith. Our shields should be able to cover all of our exposed body during our battles just as the Roman’s shields did.