Summary: 61st in a series from Ephesians. The shield of faith requires belief that results in action.
Just a little over a week ago on August 8, Russia invaded the former Soviet republic of Georgia and it is quite apparent that Georgia just doesn’t have the ability to stop the Russians. While this action by Russia certainly has some very interesting implications for Biblical prophecy, especially Ezekiel 38 and 39, it also points out the importance of having the right armor to defend against the attacks of others.
As we’ve seen for the last four weeks, all of us who are followers of Jesus Christ are in a war against an unseen, but very real, foe. And if we’re going to be able to hold our ground against the devil and his schemes, we need to make sure that we put on the right armor and use it properly. We began by discussing the need to put on the belt of truth by putting on the one who is truth, Jesus, and by living that truth. Then we focused on the breastplate of righteousness, which primarily refers to practical righteousness which requires us to live in accordance with the righteousness of Jesus that he has given to us. And last week, we saw how we need to be fitted with the shoes of the gospel of peace so that we can be at peace with God and with others. This morning we’ll continue our study as we look at the fourth piece of armor. Let’s read our passage out loud together:
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Ephesians 6:16 (NIV)
Once again, Paul is certainly influenced here by the picture of the shield of the Roman soldier, but I’m convinced that his primary influence came from many of the passages that we included earlier in our worship service today that pictured God as a shield who protects His people. So, just as we’ve seen with the other pieces of armor, putting on the armor of God requires us to put on God Himself.
But understanding more about the shield of the Roams soldier will help us to be more effective in taking up the shield of faith in our lives. The Roman soldiers actually used two different types of shields. They had a small, circular shield that was primarily used for ceremonial proceedings, but could also be used in close in fighting to ward of the blows of the enemy. But the shield that Paul describes here is a much larger shield. In fact, the Greek word for this shield came from the root word which meant door.
The shield consisted of a 3 layer wood frame with linen sandwiched in between the layers. Then there was an outer skin of several more layers of leather. And the whole thing was then held together by a bronze strip around the edge. A typical shield measured about 2-1/2 feet wide and 4 feet tall. Since the average soldier was only about 5’-5” tall, you can see how the shield would protect almost the entire body.
As we examine the shield of faith in more detail this morning, there are three important questions we need to answer:
1. Why do I need the shield of faith?
2. What is the shield of faith?
3. How do I take up the shield of faith?
Let’s begin with our first question:
WHY DO I NEED THE SHIELD OF FAITH?
It’s interesting that this is the only piece of the armor for which Paul describes exactly how it operates. He exhorts us to put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness and to sandal our feet with the gospel of peace and to take up the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. But he never explains exactly what their purpose is or how they work. But with the shield of faith, he makes it very clear exactly why we need the shield and how it operates in our life. The last phrase of this verse describes why we need the shield of faith:
...with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
The shield of faith allows us...
• To extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one
Let’s take a look at each of those key words and phrases:
o The evil one is a real foe
When Paul refers to Satan as “the evil one”, he is making it clear once again that our adversary is not just some principle, or some force, or some philosophy. He is a real being who’s goal is to do everything he can to separate us from God. He is a real foe, so we need real armor to be able to stand firm against him.