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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Shield of What?

Above all, take the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. (Ephesians 6:16)

Above all… what an imperative statement. What an all-inclusive statement.

One of the amazing things to me about this whole passage is that it speaks of the different aspects of the Christian life as very useful articles in the clothing of a soldier in spiritual battle. I am therefore very inclined to find a clear and practical understanding of what these items are so that I can use them in this warfare that we are engaged in. I am therefore very interested in understanding what it is and how to use this shield of faith.

For years I heard and many times read the definition in Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.

To me this was not very helpful. And it is amazing that this is the answer so frequently given. But if you will read on in the chapter there are very good examples of what faith is and how it works.

Noah may be my favorite of those mentioned although Enoch is also very impressive. Noah is so good because we can read about what happened and if we will think about it see that faith involved a long and difficult task that was the result of a warning from God (Gen. 6:)
. It was also a job that had to be accomplished in the face of opposition with almost no support. Faith then was a matter of being faithful and doing what was required without support or help and possibly with opposition.

In Luke 17 Jesus gives instruction to the disciples about relationships and when they ask him to increase their faith he tells them a parable about a servant who comes in from working all day and then is told to clean up and prepare dinner for his master. The servant does not expect to be thanked or praised for his work. Jesus tells his disciples, “So likewise you, when you shall have done all the things commanded you, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants, for we have only done what we ought to do.’”

So then how is this a practical shield against the darts of the devil?
If we are actively seeking to know and do God’s will rather than our own, when doubts and fears come we can safely hide behind the shield of faith. When discouragement would tear me down when I get busy about the work that I believe God wants me to be doing, that dart has no power against me.

OK, so what is this work that I am supposed to be about?

God’s word is full of activities He wants each of us to be about; In everything Give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thes. 5:18). Finally brethren whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise think on these things (Phil. 4:4-8). I exhort you therefore that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings and all that are in authority(1 Tim. 2:1+). Because of this, make every effort to add integrity to your faith; and to integrity add knowledge; to knowledge add self-control; to self-control add endurance; to endurance add godliness; to godliness add Christian affection; and to Christian affection add love If you have these qualities and they are increasing, it demonstrates that your knowledge about our Lord Jesus Christ is living and productive (2 Peter 1:5-8).

If we become faithful in these activities Satan’s darts will do us no harm. And this is work because it is in every case contrary to the old nature and in complete harmony with the Spirit of God.

Take up the shield of faith.