The Armor of God Part 4 – The Shield of Faith

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“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 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 6:10-16)

Dr. Darrell Bock says this about the shield used by Roman soldiers:

“The shield could be as much as 4 ft high, 2½ ft wide and an extra palm’s length in breadth (Polybius, Histories 6.23.2). So it was long and thick. The arrows were known as malleoli, and were dipped in pitch, lit and then shot at the enemy (Herodotus, Histories 8.52.1). These arrows were up to 7 ft long and had an iron tip that could be as long as 2 ft. Such arrows could travel up to 33 yards. The threat of fire could cause panic among the troops, as a flaming shield would be thrown away, exposing that soldier and the other troops to the fire (Livy, Histories 21.8.12). The shield protected the soldier and prevented such panic, especially as soldiers often stood next to each other and locked their shields to protect the group (Josephus, War 3.259).”[1]

Warren Wiersbe further explains how this shield protected more than just the individual soldier, “In ancient times, the edges of this shield were ‘so constructed that an entire line of soldiers could interlock shields and march into the enemy like a solid wall. This suggests that we Christians are not in the battle alone.’”[2]

The first question we must answer is, what is Paul referring to when he speaks of the shield of faith? Is it our own faith? We would probably all admit that our faith often proves to be a very ineffective shield. Rather than stand before an advancing army, there are many times when we are tempted to simply drop our weapons, turn tail, and run as fast as we can in the other direction. The enemy seems too strong, and the danger too real.

So, while we certainly must exercise faith in wielding this shield, the power behind it is the faithfulness of God. In fact, throughout the Old Testament we find verse after verse where God is described as our shield. Just a few examples:

  • Genesis 15:1 – I am your shield, your very great reward.
  • Proverbs 30:5 – He is the shield to those who take refuge in him. 
  • Psalm 3:3 – But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
  • Psalm 28:7 – The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
  • Psalm 119:114 – You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.
  • Psalm 91:3-6 – Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

Those are some pretty remarkable truths about our God! And the truth is, the better we know God, the more we will trust in His power to protect us. As Gregory Brown explains, “The more we know God and who he is, the stronger we can stand in spiritual warfare. At the same time, the less we know God and his character, the more prone we’ll be to believe Satan’s lies and stumble.”[3]

He goes on to describe how this plays out in our everyday lives:

“When tempted to fear, we take hold of Philippians 4:6-7—if we pray and give thanks in everything, the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds. When we feel like giving up, we hold on to Isaiah 40:31—those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. When burnt out, we take courage in Proverbs 11:25—those who refresh others shall themselves be refreshed. When weak, we hold on to 2 Corinthians 12:9—God’s power is made perfect in our weakness; therefore, we will boast in our infirmities and trials. When God seems distant, we hold on to James 4:8—if we draw near God, he will draw near us.”[4]

It should be clear that in order to take advantage of this type of protection we must spend disciplined time in God’s Word, in prayer, and in fellowship with other believers. The more we get to know our Heavenly Father, the more we will trust Him and His promises. The more we trust Him, the better we will stand firm in the face of the trials and temptations that come our way. And, of course, as we have all experienced, standing together with other believers, sharing our faith, with our shields locked together, makes standing firm against any enemy easier!

There is, however, a downside to this, if you want to call it that. Satan is not at all happy when we put up our shields and repel his attacks. He reacts rather like a petulant child. As Gregory Brown says,

“…the more serious we get about God—the more we pursue God and serve others—the more Satan will attack us. In some ways, we should find encouragement from being attacked—this means we are a threat. And if we are not being attacked by the enemy, we should be alarmed. Maybe, we are not in the battle.”[5]

Thankfully, we have a sure promise from God: 

“Therefore let the one who thinks he stands firm [immune to temptation, being overconfident and self-righteous], take care that he does not fall [into sin and condemnation]. No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy]. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13, AMP)

Are you standing sure in God’s faithfulness, with your shield raised?

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Go Deeper

  1. Darrell L. Bock, Ephesians: An Introduction and Commentary, ed. Eckhard J. Schnabel, vol. 10, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (London: Inter-Varsity Press, 2019).
  2. Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), p. 58, in Gregory Brown, The Armor of God: Standing Firm in Spiritual Warfare (BLT Publishing; Kindle edition), p. 66.
  3. Brown, p. 64.
  4. Ibid., p. 65.
  5. Ibid., p. 67.

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