"In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." – Ephesians 6:16 (NIV)
Isn't it odd that every time you set out to do the work of God, you seem to be pushed back, resisted, or bombarded with attacks to your mind, relationships, and perhaps even your physical body itself? It can be really daunting, disheartening, and make you feel like you are in a battle for your life! Well, I hate to tell you this, but you are, in fact, in a battle for your life! Because of Satan and the evils of this world, we as believers are in a battle for our lives and for the whole of Christianity. We are fighting for God and the fight is hard! There is however, hope since God understands our battle and our needs to fight.
Paul tells us in Ephesians that we must put on the armor of God to stand against the schemes of the devil. But, what is the armor of God anyway? Today, we are on our fifth part of our series all about the armor God gives us to stand against the evil one and what it means to put it on as a soldier of Christ. Last time, we discovered that in order to walk in the peace that the Gospel truth brings us, we must ready ourselves through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and today we move forward to learn all about the Shield of Faith.
Everyone loves a good Shield. You can tell by how much they are incorporated into battle armor, or folklore, or even comic books. My favorite comic superhero is Captain America. I can go on for days about Captain America (Steve Rogers) and all the attributes he shares with a good Christian but today I want to focus on a part of his character that is probably most recognizable and that is his shield. Captain America shield is something to be marveled (pardon the pun). It is Star Spangled, indestructible, lightweight, and one of the only weapons that Cap carries. It really is in a defensive piece of armor because although he will wield it in a way to disarm his opponent, he will never attack with it but defend himself and protect himself or others from harm with it. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe there's this great scene in Infinity War where the superheroes are preparing for battle and Cap has lost his shield and Black Panther, knowing full well that Captain America cannot enter the fight without protection, says the iconic line, "Get this man a shield!"
Why am I talking about superheroes? Well, I'm talking about this particular superhero because of the faith he puts in to his shield. When the enemy inevitably pursues him, Captain America does it run away in fear, he doesn't back down; he lifts his shield and deflects the attacks of the enemy. And as he does so, he does something that I think is really amazing, he moves forward, he advances, towards his end goal.
In our spiritual war, we will be relentlessly pursued by the enemy. He will throw absolutely everything he has at us to get us to shrink back, or run away, or lie down in defeat. That's why in this armor that God has so graciously given us, we are equipped with the shield of faith. The Shield is not meant to necessarily launch an offensive against the enemy; rather, the Shield is meant to protect us from harm as we advance through volleys of enemy fire. So then, how do we activate the shield of faith or rather how do we use it to the best of our advantage?
Well, the answer to that question really lies in the name of the piece of armor itself: The Shield of Faith. As we know we aren't fighting against flesh and blood, not a mortal enemy that would fight us in the normal way. We are fighting against the spiritual enemy whose main focus is to pull us away from eternity. We said this before but it's worth noting the devil doesn't really mind how long you live physically. You could live 300 years on this Earth and he would not be bothered one bit as long as your soul, your spirit, your inner self, everything you truly are doesn't reach the finish line of Eternity with Christ. So, the Warfare that you will experience is designed to test, tear down, break apart your faith. This is when, and I know we've said it multiple times in this series but that's only because it is so important to every piece of this armor, your faith has to be rooted within the truth the knowledge and your relationship with Christ. You have to know and truly believe that God means what he says. And that's not just some of the things he says, but every single word but he is left for us in the Bible. Because here's the kicker, if one of those words is wrong or untrue then we can't believe in any of them. That's really what the enemy is betting on. That's really how he will attack you too, he will use the word of God and change it or turn it in a way to make it untrue in order for you to start wavering in your faith.
Next week, we will continue this discussion of how the enemy uses a manipulation of God's word to pull us away from God and then we will discuss the next piece of the armor of God, which is the word of God, known as the Helmet of Salvation.
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