During this cold season, layers are everything, right? When it comes to the following Jesus, what you take off is as important as what you put on. The scriptures say to “rid yourself” of malice and deceit. We are to turn away from envy and lust. And put on the characteristics of Jesus. The armor of God helps us do that. The shield of faith doesn’t just protect us from the enemy’s attacks, they help us avoid the enemies’ distractions so we can stay focused on the call. Everything about each piece is designed to help us stand firm and also advance so that God’s Kingdom can expand. Like everything else in life, we do that better together. It’s not about the individual soldier. It’s about the entire army of God.
We are in the midst of a series discussing the armor of God worn by every Christian designed to prepare them for battle against the real enemy. The goal is to 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 (Ephesians 6:13). If you are able to remain standing, then you are not falling down in defeat.
The first three pieces of armor (belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, and feet fitted with the Gospel of peace) were discussed last week. This week, we are addressing the next three pieces of armor: the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit.
The Shield, the Helmet, & the Sword
Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16). The shield of faith is a defensive weapon designed to extinguish fiery darts thrown at your direction. These may be doubts, depression, anxiety, shame, or any number of avenues by which the devil seeks to cause distractions or chaos. The shield of faith provides protection and coverage. In the Roman time period, these shields were large enough for the soldier to crouch behind for coverage. The soldiers were also stronger together, whereby fellow soldiers protected each other and formed a “turtle shell” protecting the entire group. The same is true for the Christian walk – we are stronger together.
What is this faith that can extinguish flaming arrows from the devil? Hebrews 11:1 states, Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. In faith, the enemy’s blows are extinguished. We find shelter and refuge behind the shield of faith. Faith that is our shield is one that confidently rests in God and trusts every area of our lives to the promises of God. The enemy knows where we are vulnerable and knows how to attack us; his arrows are strategic. We fight fire with faith. When condemnation creeps in, we are reminded we are forgiven; when we feel isolation, we are reminded we have a place in the family of God; with uncertainty and unknowns, we are reminded that God is sovereign and in control.
Next, we take the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17). This helmet is not salvation in itself, but rather it’s the reminder that we have been saved. We remember that we are becoming more Christlike, and that one day we will spend eternity with God. The helmet gave protection, confidence, and assurance as the strong metal with which it was made resulted in the helmet being virtually impenetrable. We are to remember that we are saved and what happens because we are saved. We are rescued from the deadly results of sin – separation from Christ. We are restored to a right relationship with the Father. We have a new direction, and we have security in the promises and power of God. Every day we live out our identity in Christ and in light of eternity.
The third piece of armor is the only offensive weapon – the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17). Hebrews 4:12-13 states, For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (NIV). The Word of God is alive, and it is active today.
How do we skillfully and correctly handle the Word of God? There are six key ways to prepare yourself for using the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God: hearing God’s Word, reading God’s Word, studying God’s Word, slowing down and spending time with God in His Word, meditating on God’s Word, memorizing God’s Word, and speaking God’s Word.
We must understand and treasure God’s Word in order for us to effectively utilize God’s Word in battle. The battle – it is already won; Christ has won for us and gone before us. He is our defender, and we can trust Him.