Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
In this series on Spiritual Warfare and the Armor of God, we have already looked in depth at the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, and what it means to have the readiness of the Gospel of Peace as shoes for your feet. These three have been foundational layers to our armor, for our ability to “stand firm.” Now, in this post, we turn our attention to the pieces of armor which Paul commands us to be armed with “in all circumstances,” so that we can win in the daily battle with the enemy. We will begin these pieces of armor with the “Shield of Faith.”
What is Faith
As believers, we talk a lot about “the Christian faith” or “having faith in Jesus,” so it seems like the word should be simple to define. However, we could be talking about many things when we say “faith.”
There is the simplest definition of faith, being “belief.” There is the active view of faith is “belief in action;” or “because I believe ______, I do ______.” This would go hand in hand with James’ teaching that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).
We could also be talking about “the faith,” which can mean either the complete set of teachings of the Christian religion (Jude 3) or your personal adherence to a particular creed or set of beliefs (1 Timothy 6:12).
Possibly one of the most simple explanations of “faith,” which we hear preached often is found in Hebrews 11:1.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Honestly, though, that explanation of faith is still a pretty confusing concept to grasp. Trying to add clarity to this definition, one Bible handbook says that faith is:
Confident trust in the promises of God, centered in His provision of spiritual life through a sacrifice (which would be the sacrifice of Jesus); it is the sole condition of salvation and is not a work, but, in fact, a gift of God… synonymous with belief.
Paul S. Karleen, The Handbook to Bible Study: With a Guide to the Scofield Study System (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 324.
I really like that definition, and within it, I see three ways in which our faith is built, which then merge together to form the “shield” we carry into battle.
1. Faith Comes from God
Firstly, faith is a gift from God. It is not something we create within ourselves, and biblically, it is not something we can even choose to step into. Jesus is the one who creates faith in us. Even our choice to get saved is something He initiates in us, through the power of the Holy Spirit! This is why Hebrews 12:2 calls Him “the founder and perfecter of our faith.”
If He is the one who put faith in us, and He is the one who will see that faith through to completion, then one way we tangibly grow our faith is to stick close to Him in life’s journey. In fact, that is exactly what the Passion Translation of Hebrews 12:2 says,
We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection.”
2. Faith Comes from God’s Word
The second way our faith grows is through God’s word. The Bible teaches that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). The Greek word used here for “word” is “rhema.” This literally means “that which is spoken.” We must therefore include the written word of God in the Bible, by which God has spoken to every generation of believers, as well as the inner voice of the Holy Spirit which continually speaks to us intimately and personally.
The Written Word of God
From the scriptures, we can see who God has revealed Himself to be, and know the plans He has shared concerning human history and the establishment of His Kingdom. As we learn what the Bible teaches, we can then have a clear view of the world around us, judging what is in accordance to His plan and what is not. We will discuss this more when we look at the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,” but for now, I must understand that the Bible is the foundation of everything God will speak to us personally.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The Spoken Word of God
Beyond just the Bible, however, we must also be seeking to develop a deep relationship with the Spirit of God, who is always with us and speaking to us.
As miraculous of a gift as the Bible is, the complete thoughts and intentions of God cannot fully be contained in a book. In fact, Jesus told His disciples that even after His three years with them there was still so much more to speak, but the time was too short and they wouldn’t be able to take it all in. He, therefore, promised the Holy Spirit who would continue to speak and reveal the things of God.
I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
The Holy Spirit will take the scriptures and make them real to us. He will apply them to our lives, personally, and He will further reveal the plans and intentions of God over us.
As we hear God’s Word – in the Bible and through the Holy Spirit – our faith will continue to be developed and strengthened.
3. Faith Comes from Our History with the Lord
The third way our faith grows comes through experience of the Christian life. We know that faith starts as a gift, and is built as we continue to hear God speaking over us, however, our faith will begin to grow exponentially as we experience God’s faithfulness, first hand. It is inevitable that we will develop more and more trust in Him, as we experience His continued faithfulness to us.
We must learn to keep a personal record of His continued faithfulness to His promises. I would suggest that it is a good idea to write them down. This is the same testimony of faith that was commanded to the Jews as they walked through life with the Lord.
In fact, 21 times in the book of Exodus, God gave some teaching on how the testimony of His faithfulness was to be kept. In the books of Psalms, the musicians reference either the command to, or the blessings of, remembering the testimony of God — 23 of those references are in Psalm 119 alone.
Your testimonies are righteous forever; (they) give me understanding that I may live.
One of the ways believer’s overcome the enemy in the book of Revelation is by keeping the testimony of Jesus!
And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…”
So faith comes as the Lord initiates it inside of us and as we choose to walk closely with Him. It develops as we hear the Word of the Lord, both written in the Bible and spoken by the Holy Spirit. And it grows all-the-more as we learn to keep account of His faithfulness to us. This faith, then, which is fully-established and growing, becomes the shield we carry which puts out the flaming darts of the devil! So what are those darts?
The Darts of The Enemy
The enemy’s goal is to discredit God and bring doubt into our minds concerning His Word and His intention. He wants us to doubt God’s goodness and His faithfulness to us. From his first attack on humans in the garden of Eden, this tactic was evident.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say…”
His goal was to bring doubt to Eve’s mind regarding the Lord!
He did the same thing when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, urging Jesus to distrust what God had already spoken over Him. The last voice we hear before Jesus goes into the wilderness is that of the Father:
The Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The next thing we hear is the devil challenging that word:
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God…”
Our daily encounters with the enemy are no different. He wants us to doubt who we are in Christ; he wants to convince us that we lack what God says we have, and if possible, he wants to destroy any relationship we have to God through our salvation in Jesus. These attacks are why we must hold our shield of faith, boldly, and resist these blows.
Holding Our Shield
As we know God intimately, hear His Word, and establish a personal record of His faithfulness to us, our shield of faith is forged. We are then readily equipped to discern God’s plans by faith and to extinguish the power of the enemy’s darts.
The shield of faith — that “confident trust in the promises of God, centered in His provision of spiritual life” — gives us the ability to break down every doubt the enemy tries to create in us! We must not forget, however, that Paul’s command is to carry this shield “in all circumstances.” We never know when the attack will come, so we must not allow ourselves to be caught unarmed. The Apostle Peter reminds us of this same thing:
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith…”
1 Peter 5:8-9
We must always be growing in our faith so that no flaming dart of the enemy can land a blow!
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Anthony Scott Ingram.