Armour of God- About the Shield of Faith, Helmets and Swords

In previous messages we have looked at the enemy we are fighting, and at the first 3 parts of the Armour of God, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness and the feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel, but now we move onto the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit!

I mentioned that our true struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities and powers of this dark world. I also expressed dismay that many Christians are leaving themselves exposed to the devil and his minions by compromising their integrity and lying, so the belt of truth slips down around their ankles and the breastplate of righteousness is full of chinks!

Now to complete the Armour of God, our means of standing against the evil one, let’s look at the final 3 pieces…

Ephesians 6:14-17

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.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Let’s start with the shield of faith…

 

SHIELD OF FAITH

The shield of faith is an essential part of our protection.  But what is the shield, and what exactly is faith?

The shield described an oval, door sized shield called a scutum, designed to cover and protect the entire body of the soldier. It was made of wood, covers in heavy leather or hide, which was wet so as to extinguish the flaming arrows an enemy would launch.

Now before I examine the shield further, I want to investigate HOW a Roman soldier would use the shield.

Clearly a shield is a defensive weapon, designed to protect a man. But eh Romans use to fight as a group, called a phalanx, and in this context shield s could collectively push back the enemy. The use to position the shields locked together in front of the column, and also overhead and even behind, forming a protective enclosure around the column which they called a testudo, or a tortoise formation.

So, as we come to look at your shield of faith, know that it is designed to protect you, but know also that when you join your faith with others in church, you not only enhance your protection but faith becomes an offensive weapon!

In an age where we are told over half of the committed Christians in our area are not going to church regularly, and are not committed to a church, this is a great lesson. If you are seeking a community of real faith so you can win the Sunshine Coast for Jesus, join with us and let us stand with our shields locked together!

 

SO WHAT REALLY IS FAITH, AND HOW DOES IT SHIELD?

Hebrews 11:1

​Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain if what we do not see.

It is believing something you cannot tangibly see. And we know that having faith really pleases God…

Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

In both these instances, and in Ephesians 6, the Greek word for faith is pistis, which is not just believing something but a lifestyle or system of believing that is displayed by your actions.

One dictionary says, Faith perceives as a real fact that which is not revealed to the senses. It rests on that fact, acts upon it, and is upheld by it in the face of all that seems to contradict it. Faith is a real seeing.

As Oswald Chambers once said, “Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.”

I like to think of it as being out on a limb and still looking up.

The shield of faith is a lifestyle that believes God no matter what. But what does this actually mean for you and me? I think that faith more than any other facet of Christian belief is the most abused and overhyped part of your armour!

So let me share with you my journey of faith, and how I have learned to trust God. Have I arrived? Not even close. Will you all agree with me? Unlikely, but I hope my journey helps some of you take up the shield of faith.

I am a scientist, a clinician and a realist. I never bought into the blab it and grab it hyper faith movement. I know many people whose version of faith is to ignore the real world and psych themselves into faith, and it know some of you are already offended, but please hear me out.

If you have a runny nose, bleary eyes, aches all over and incessant coughing, I have no issue praying for healing from the flu. Pray, believe, stand than rejoice and be thankful when the healing comes.

But I struggle with those who say they are already healed, in between coughs and sneezes. I understand what they are saying,

Romans 4:17 (KJV)

God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

I get it… I just don’t buy it.

I mean, call me a realist, but if I’m going to be healed I want the real thing. I’m not going to pretend that God has done it, but does that make me faithless? Have I dropped my shield?

Let’s look in depth at Romans 4 and get a bit of context as to what Paul is saying…

Romans 4:18-22

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.

Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,

being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”

So Abraham didn’t repeat, “I’m going to have a baby, I’m going to have a baby,” over and over to try and raise his so called faith level. What does it say? It says he looked at his body and recognised it was as good as dead, a hopeless situation. He stared reality straight in the face…

BUT, he said to reality, “My God is bigger than you!”

That’s faith! It’s not trying to convince yourself to believe, it’s just believing. Because faith is not about you. It’s about God! All the faith you can muster in the wrong God is a failure. A mustard seed of faith in my God will see a mountain moved into the sea! (Matthew 21:21)

HOW DO YOU BUILD FAITH?

If you want more faith, get closer to God. This shield of faith is not a one off thing, you need to put it on daily, and the closer you are to God the more faith you have.

If you were to ask me to loan you $50, I might give it to you, especially if I know you well. If my wife asked me for $50, I wouldn’t hesitate. Some guy on the street, some homeless dude down at a refuge, no chance. Would he ever pay it back? Unlikely, right?

The more and deeper I know someone, the more I can trust them and have faith that they will do the right thing. That’s why marital infidelity is so destructive, because you are so close and your faith is just shattered.

So the more you know Someone, the deeper your faith will be. The more you know God, the bigger your shield is.

A few years ago Fiona and I lost everything and then some in a financial collapse. We lost our home, our investments, our retirement, our health trying to stay afloat, everything physical we had worked for and accumulated over 25 years, lost in an instant doing what licensed financial planners had recommended!

I remember just after it happened, standing in church and telling people we had lost everything, but that I know God will restore it all to us. I have that surety in my heart. Have I convinced myself by “speaking it out again and again?” No, I just know God, and am utterly convinced that He will do as He has promised.

That’s faith. My faith is not in my abilities, but in the infinite abilities of an infinite God, who loves me. So today, against all odds, we never went bankrupt and are 60% financially resorted and it’s still being restored.

The shield of faith is not something you try to concoct, not something you convince yourself of, it is directly dependent on how close you are to God.

 

THE FLAMING ARROWS

One of the most feared terror weapons of the ancient world was flaming arrows. These were dipped in pitch and set alight, and caused havoc as they would stick into wooden shields and set them ablaze.

The leather was well soaked with water before battle, and that tended to put out the sizzling incendiary arrows that would flare up and burn purely wooden shields until the bearer dropped them in panic.

The fiery darts Paul has in mind would include anything from direct occult attack to devilish persecution, but more than anything these numerous flaming darts are the steady rain of temptations to fear, bitterness, anger, and division that could break up the unity of the church. These darts are to be countered with faith.

Faith here is firm confidence in the Lord and in His word, and you only get this by spending time with Him.  When temptations burn, when circumstances are adverse, when doubts assail, when shipwreck threatens, faith looks up and says, “I believe God.”

What are you being attacked by right now? What darts is the enemy firing at you? What is giving you doubts right now? Is it a relationship? Finances? Health? Your future?

Your shield of faith can stop and extinguish these potentially destructive attacks. And remember, when we join our faith together, we are even stronger. That’s why I am going to ask you forward in a little while, so that others can join with you in faith and we can see you triumph in your life!

Faith here is firm confidence in the Lord and in His word. When temptations burn, when circumstances are adverse, when doubts assail, when shipwreck threatens, faith looks up and says, “I believe God.”

 

THE HELMET OF SALVATION

The next piece is the helmet of salvation. Now clearly a helmet is to protect your head, your mind, your thoughts. And this is vital, because the enemy loves to attack your mind.

This is not a revelation to most of us. Something happens, and immediately doubts and fears enter your mind.

And where does Satan love to attack you mind? He loves to make you doubt your salvation. If you do not have that surety, he neutralises you as a threat to the Kingdom of Darkness, and you are near enough to useless for the Kingdom of God.

Yet so many Christians live right there. They doubt their salvation, and thereby their mind is exposed to the devil.

You need to know that your salvation is not only assured, but it is also grounded on solid fact…

Some say that salvation or faith is a leap in the dark. That is not true. God never asks you to take a leap into the dark. In fact, God says if it is a leap in the dark, don’t take it. God wants you to leap into the light. God has a solid foundation for you, and how wonderful it is!

Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let us reason together,”

says the Lord.

“Though your sins are like scarlet,

they shall be as white as snow;

though they are red as crimson,

they shall be like wool.

 

So, here are the facts…

Everyone has sinned, Romans 3:23, and therefore we all deserve death, Romans 6:23. Yet Christ paid that penalty (Romans 5:8) and so all we need to do is confess our sin and ask Jesus into our life. If we do this, from that point on, you are saved. You are going to Heaven. You don’t have to be good enough, but if your commitment is genuine, your life will indeed change.

From that point on your salvation is assured.

Steve McQueen was a famous, hard living actor, whose philandering and excesses were as famous as he was. Towards the end of his life he was dying of lung cancer, and he attended a Billy Graham crusade in Los Angeles, asking Jesus into his life and totally surrendering to Him.

After the crusade he asked to meet Billy Graham, and the only opportunity was in a limousine of the way to the airport. He told Dr Graham or his decision for Christ, and asked oh he could know he was going to heaven for sure.

Billy Graham underlined the following verse in how own Bible, and gave his Bible to Steve McQueen…

Titus 1:2

in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,

Steve McQueen flew to Mexico to a cancer clinic where he died a short time later.

At his request he was buried with Dr Graham’s open Bible on his chest with his finger pointing to that verse

Titus 1:2

in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,

If you have asked Jesus into your life, you need to be sure of your salvation. You can’t sin enough to loose it, save one sin, so without that assurance you mind is exposed to attack. Right now, today, you can be totally assured of going to heaven. If you’re not sure, make today the day you get it right!

Maybe you’ve prayed a prayer in the past, but still have doubts. If that’s you, today is the day to make sure forever!

 

THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT

This is the main offensive weapon, and in the Greek is the word machiara, which sounds like a type of coffee but really is a short sword, one used for thrusting, slicing and probing the enemy. Interestingly in Romans 13:4, the same word is used to symbolise a judge or magistrate, so we can imply that the sword of the Spirit can test and probe our conscience and mind.

Hebrews 4:12

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.

When you are trying to find God’s will for your life, when you are trying to stand under the attack of the evil one, you need to know the Word of God. That’s how Jesus responded to Satan’s attacks in Matthew 4, and that’s how we should too!

That’s why I challenged you to start reading the Word of a God every day. Who has done that? Now can you keep it going? Because only the Word of God can give you that discernment, as it separates or judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart!

Matthew 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

When a piece of coal is placed on top of a sizzling hot bed of ashes it soon catches the flame and begins to burn in brilliant colors as it radiates heat for long periods of time. However, if we took that same piece of coal away from the flame, it would quickly lose its glow and burn out. The brilliance would disappear and the heat from it would rapidly diminish. Only a big, black, useless lump would remain.

Read God’s Word every day, and live a life that shines for Him!

 

STAND AND FIGHT

So, take up the shield of faith, extinguish the fiery darts of the enemy, and make sure your salvation is firmly on your head. And what do you need to have faith in? Yourself, your positive talk, your church, your pastor?

NO! Put your faith in God’s Word, take up the sword and believe in the God of the Bible!

If you are not sure of your eternal destination, and it mean if you are even a little apprehensive that you will make it to heaven, we need to pray and you need to gain assurance this very day.

And if you are certain of eternity, that you may find yourself facing arrows and flaming darts, in which case you need to take up the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit. And remember, our shields are far more effective if we stand together, so I am going to challenge you to make a commitment to the Lord that you will stand. And stand with others in your church.  Join your shield of faith with others and see how strong your stand becomes when you work together as God’s mighty army!

 

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