Realizing our Riches | Ephesians 6:16 | The Shield of Faith
Ephesians 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
Paul leaves no question about which piece of this armour is the most important. He states clearly "Above all." This piece of God's armour is the very first grace that a man or woman ever has. It is through faith that we are saved and enlisted in the army of our Lord. It was His grace that extended the invitation and paid the price for our enrollment, and what a high price it was, but it was faith that connected us to his grace. Every time God's grace comes in contact with faith, salvation is the by-product. God's grace called to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, Grace made the promise of children to Abram. It was the grace of God that told Abram in Genesis 15:1 "Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." Then for the next five verses, God's grace is presented unto Abram, God makes impossible promises to Abram, and the promises of God's grace found a small mustard seed of faltering, failing, infant faith, that would grow over time into full, fruitful faith and salvation was the by-product; "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness."[Genesis 15:6]
God told Abram "I will be thy shield" and it was the hand of faith that grasped onto the shield and made use of what God had offered to him. God's promises of grace were presented to me throughout my life, I knew He was willing to save, and that He wasn't willing that any should perish and that He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and died on the cross for my sins and rose again on the third day, but the knowledge of that never saved me our offered me any protection from the enemy or judgment. Then the day came when, under conviction, that by faith I reached out and believed God, He said I was lost, I was in need, and that he had provided the payment for my sin. His grace met a tiny mustard seed of faltering failing faith that He has been growing and maturing these twenty-two years.
Faith is held above the other pieces of the armour because of its all-important role, "Without faith, it is impossible to please God." Faith is how you enrolled and faith is how you operate in this Christian warfare. The misconception we have is that faith is something that we have at salvation and then it hardly gets mentioned anymore. What a devastating misconception that the enemy has planted in the minds of people!! Faith was its smallest and most infant form at the time of your conversion and is something that is strengthened and grown and made more useful over the years of your Christian life. Faith is essential to salvation but it is essential to every part of your Christian life. If you hope to serve God, it will be by faith, if you hope to overcome sin, it will be by faith. If you hope to preach the gospel, it will also be by faith. Faith is all-encompassing and all-important. It was "By faith" that Noah built the ark, it was "By Faith" that Moses followed God into Egypt and delivered God's people. It was "By Faith" that Abram, Sara, Noah, Moses, Enoch, Abel, and countless others pleased God and accomplished eternal endeavors beyond the means of their weakness, and it will be "By Faith" that you can do the same things.
I believe Paul compares faith to a shield because of its all-encompassing nature. The shield spoken of here was no small shield but the Greek word used indicates this shield was the size of a door. These shields covered the soldier from head to toe and these shields went into the forefront of the battle, the rest of the armour was made ten times weaker without the presence of the shield. A helmet may take one hit or two, if you were lucky, a breastplate could protect you from a couple of hard blows, but the shield is there to absorb hundreds, even thousands of hits. It absorbs the fiery arrows that flew from the enemy and the soldier carrying that shield never felt a single one. If you take a hit on the helmet, you may escape with your life but you most certainly will feel it. We should run into the battle with the whole armour of God, but "above all" take the shield of faith. Don't strap it to your back or lay down because of the weight of it but march into battle with your faith forward, there's never been a fiery dart pierce through that shield when it was held to and trusted. These shields were the heaviest piece of armour that a soldier had but also the most vital. Faith requires of us some heavy things from time to time, faith, at first, requires you to swallow your pride and confess your condition and trust Him to save and sanctify. Faith may require you to leave your comfort zone and preach to that man at work God has laid on your heart. Faith may require you to leave your home and family to "Go" to someplace you don't know well. Faith can be weighty at times but there's nothing that will protect you as it does. Faith will keep you from harm and even from fear. A new soldier may fear as the arrows begin to hit that shield for the first time, in his mind he may say "This shield won't hold for long," but the seasoned generals seem to have rest behind the shield of faith. They've been holding it long enough to know that there's never been one arrow fly through that shield. The years of trusting their shield have lead them to a stronger trust and confidence.
The fiery darts of the wicked come in an array of different shapes and sizes. Some are shot directly from Satan and his demonic archers, some are shot from the side of the men who are under his control, some are shot from family members, some are shot from friends, some even fly within the church house. The archers who shoot them and the variety of different darts are of no importance, so long as you are carrying this shield because it can "quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." These fiery darts are specifically designed to pierce and if they don't pierce then the hope is that it will start a fire that will kill, steal and destroy. This illustration Paul gives us is loaded with practical application. How many times has the enemy fired a shot and maybe initially it didn't pierce you through but started some fire of passion or lust, some fire of temper and rage, some fire that at the beginning was small enough it was no threat but because it wasn't quenched it grew into a destructive force in your life? Satan's fiery darts must not only be stopped but quenched. The shield of faith does both simultaneously, it stops the dart and quenches the fire. The shields Paul was speaking of here would be covered in some absorbent material and soak in water so that the fiery darts would be quenched as they stuck into the shield. You would rather the dart land in your shield than on the grass beneath you. Dear Christain soldier, be sure to be saturated in the water of the Word, faith can stop the darts and the promises of God's word can put out their flame. Hold up the shield of faith and rest in the promises of His Word, be confident in the battle," Be strong and very courageous."
"Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."
Onward Christian Soldiers!!