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The Shield of Faith (excerpts)
Eph. 6:16 So take you the shield of Faith with which to quench the enemies fiery darts. . ..
Deut. 33:29 Who Is like you, O victorious people? Yahweh is the shield that protects you and the sword that leads you to triumph. Your enemies will try to corrupt you, but you yourself will trample on their backs.
The use of a shield certainly seems easy enough to master. It is picked up, grabbed by the straps, and held in front of the body. While a shield is certainly an instrument that can readily be picked up and handled, Faith is altogether a different thing. In times of need and confusion, we are so often counseled to pick up, or rely on, our faith to see us through a trying time or dilemma. For many of us, while we are so often directed to do this seemingly simple feat, How to do this eludes us. This principally is due to the simple fact that, while we are instructed to use our Faith, we have never really been instructed in what Faith is, let alone how to rely on, or use it.
It is interesting that Faith should be described as our spiritual armor in the form of a shield. In many ways, this symbolism well associates the use of faith with the function and use of a material shield. Just as a shield must be applied to serve as an aggressive defense or offensive arm, it is our Faith that we are taught must often be exercised or applied in those situations calling for other than simple solutions. When confronted with a situation, dilemma, or decision which we cannot, or do not understand, it is our Faith on which we are called upon to rely. As it is typical for a shield to be held before oneself when in use, in much the same way, our Faith best serves us when we allow it to precede us in times of uncertainty. . ..
The chapter proceeds to compare the historical construction of classic shields as compared to the shield of faith as described in the Bible. While there are obviously no direct comparisons in means and manner of construction, the analogy of faith used as a shield is very appropriate for the cited reasons. How shields had been used historically is compared to how we are instructed to use our shield of faith today. . .
This decline in the need for protection from a shield continued until the shield was no longer carried. Society today is generally deemed safe enough to preclude the use of even body armor, but think again. While our society may be safer in a physical nature, it is far more deadly in the spiritual context. As we have moved away from the use of shields, we have lost sight of their use in this context, and this has contributed to our cloudy understanding of the use of faith as a shield. For this reason, understanding the use of faith as a shield is of vast importance. To be without faith is to be without God, as our belief relies on our faith for its existence. Such is the nature of believing in a redeeming Creator. Our faith relies on our trusting in the Word of God, and accepting it as true. This can only be done through faith, with perseverance. Without it, we are lost. . . . and do not forget, I say, that you were at that time separate from Christ and excluded from membership of Israel, aliens with no part in the covenants of the Promise, limited to this world, without hope and without God. Eph. 2:12.
There follows a description of how shields were used as a means of identification, and this is compared to the scriptural use of faith in this regard.
Several examples are then cited to show how faith may serve us in our lives as protection. The coordination of protection between the shield and our breastplate is then looked at scripturally and compared to situations in life. . .
Love and Faith have been used to describe the elements making up our spiritual breastplate, and they are the principle weapons to be used to vanquish doubt and fear. Faith in this context joins with an element of our breastplate to “double up our protection.” We fear less when we are loved filled. This is simply because, In love there is no room for fear, but perfect love drives our fear, because fear implies punishment and whoever is afraid has not come to perfection in love. 1 Jn. 4:18. We have been designed by God to be fearless: 7For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Tim. 1:7. Bear this in mind, and the enemy will have an impossible job of planting “a spy within.”
Up to this point, faith has been described as a defensive accoutrement. The next section shows how shields were used as a weapon as well, and scriptures are used to bear this point out.
As we approach the middle of the chapter, we find a surprising fact revealed in the scriptures concerning the actual material of which the shield of faith is made of. The vast majority of Christians may never have heard this ever mentioned before, and this revelation will rock the way you approach life after learning it.
A historical note is mentioned concerning the most unusual battle record of the 91st Brigade during WWI. . .
A true Warrior invokes God’s protection by honoring God with faith in His Word. When this is claimed, the protection of our spiritual Shield of Faith will then prevail and cover the faithful from attacks above, unseen, and all about. An additional element of the Shield of Faith is the strength that comes with it. Bow down, then, before the power of God now, so that He may raise you up in due time; unload all your burden on to Him, since He is concerned about you. Keep sober and alert, because your enemy the devil is on the prowl like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand up to him, strong in faith and in the knowledge that it is the same kind of suffering that the community of your brothers throughout the world is undergoing. You will have to suffer only for a little while; the God of all grace who called you to eternal glory in Christ will restore you, He will confirm, strengthen, and support you. His power lasts forever and ever. AMEN. 1 Ptr. 5:6-11.
Just as a physical shield offers a barrier of protection from attacks in a number of directions, the scriptures show the versatility of Faith in this capacity.
Scriptures show pecific characteristics are related to the use of faith, and these are noted in depth. These characteristics further show the interrelatedness of our various pieces of Spiritual Armor. . ..
As difficult, a concept as this perception of using faith may seem, simply by virtue of its simplicity, we are encouraged to act fearlessly when it comes to matters of faith. These are the most exciting moments in our life of faith, and when a Warrior begins to “live the ordinary life in the unordinary way,” it comes easier and easier to rely upon one’s faith. Liken the experience to skydiving. You had better believe the first few times a skydiver “takes the leap,” he thinks a lot about that chute opening. But very quickly, with regular success, this no longer pervades the mind, and the leap from the plane is exuberantly looked forward to. In the eventuality of a main-chute failure (liken this to our spiritual enemy pulling a fast one on us), a successful deployment of the reserve chute after many drills in this sort of emergency, results in a successful, although somewhat abbreviated, jump. No matter what happens, God is with us, and we are to give no thought to failure. Do not lose your fearlessness now, then, since the reward is so great. You will need perseverance if you are to do God’s will and gain what he has promised. Heb. 10:35-36. A contingency plan will always present itself to the faithful Warrior, for God is in control of the battle, and we are merely to claim the victories for Him! A human heart makes the plans, Yahweh gives the answer. Prov. 16:1.
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Ultimately, when we most fear to take action, it is then we MUST ACT! This is the purest expression of courage. Simply believing something is going to happen does not exclude us from imparting some of our will and exercising our faith to show that we expect an outcome. Faith alone will not cut the mustard. We are expected to “put our actions where our faith is,” much like we are asked to “put our money where our mouth is” when it comes to mundane situations. Some time we have to unscrew the jar and dip some mustard out with a knife. It certainly is not going to come out of the jar by itself, now is it? 17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Jm. 2:17. Even though we may fear in our heart, or question with our mind, we must still be willing to act on this faith of ours and act. This exemplifies our willingness to do, and the doing, both which may become acts of courage and perseverance in light of our faith.
The Shield of Faith is truly a mighty piece of armor in the arsenal of the Warrior and to take a phrase from a popular credit card, “Don’t leave home without it!” While a literal shield is typically the last piece of armor to be picked up and settled into for combat, our walk of faith begins with applying faith’s principles. Everything else follows in kind, but faith begins us on the road. We never know when our time has run out, so it is imperative that we avail ourselves of faith’s protection at the earliest convenience.
Mk. 1:15 The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel.
Our last piece of armament will be handled in the next chapter:
“The Sword of the Spirit”
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