Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ephesians 6:16 Shield of Faith

Ephesians 6:16

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

I have always pictured a shield this way. A single component, used in a battle one on one.

However, a shield can also be implemented with a group of soldiers in a very effective way. There are several references made to how Mark Antony used the shield to overcome insurmountable odds, however, the soldiers had to work together.

Cassius Dio writes about the testudo when describing the campaign of Mark Antony in 36 B.C. : "this testudo and the way in which it is formed are as follows. The Baggage animals, the light-armed troops, and the cavalry are placed in the center of the army. the heavy-armed troops who use the oblong, curved and cylindrical shields are drawn up around the outside, making a rectangular figure, and, facing outward and holding their arms at the ready, they enclose the rest. the others who have flat shields, form a compact body in the center and raise their shields over the heads of all the others, so that nothing but shields can be seen in every part of the phalanx alike and all the men by the density of the formation are under shelter from missiles. Indeed, it is so marvelously strong that men can walk upon it and whenever they come to a narrow ravine, even horses and vehicles can be driven over it. "
A shield protects from a direct or glancing blow. It protects in close battle and in attacks made from a distance, but, if we do not know how to use a shield then it becomes useless. Shields can be very heavy and awkward to use without pratice and strenthening our muscles. A young man trained from a very early age with lighter, less cumbersome pieces of armor until he became comfortable and then he would be given increasingly heavier weapons. A solider was equiped for battle over a period of time, he did not just wake up one morning and ta-da, he was a soldier ready to go to war. We do not wake up and “poof, we are Christians ready to do battle.” Just as a solider prepares for battle every day of his life, Christians must prepare every day. Our shield of faith is part of that preperation.

Satan will attack from each and every corner of our lives. Areas that we feel we have in control, Satan will undermine, relationships that we think are solid, Satan will try to erode, beliefs that we have held as sacred Satan can attempt to chip away. Friends, it is all around us, every single day we are in a battle with the king of lies and deceit. By weilding the shield of faith we can protect not only ourselves but those around us from satan’s attack. How do we use this weapon though? Dr. Martin Luther writes it better then I ever could. Read his words on faith here.
faith is God's work in us, that changes us and gives new birth from God. (John 1:13)
So our faith is something that we can only obtain by our trust in God the Father. Faith is not created out of what we “do” or how “good” we are. (You can’t do enough and you can’t be good enough.) We do not know what lies ahead. (But that’s okay, God does) We cannot know what tomorrow is going to bring. (But that’s okay, God knows). We can only move forward in faith believeing that our Heavenly Father will be there to give us the strength we need to get through each day.

That strength comes through faith, and we strengthen our faith by using it daily, so we can boldly step into battle, raise our shield and know that with the shield of faith in place satan’s arrows will fall short, his blows will be glancing, and he will not be able to get to our hearts. We will be able to hold everything together with God’s truth (belt of truth), that our hearts will be protected with God’s armor (breastplate of righteousness) and because we know that what we believe is The Truth we will be able to stand firm because are feet are fitted with the gospel of peace. And just like the soldiers who stood together and lifted their shields, how much stronger are we as Christians when we come together and stand side by side, and can move as one, protecting our brothers and sisters and moving through this battle together.

Start working your faith muscle. Trust in God starting today in ALL THINGS. Allow Him to lead you in this battle. Reach out to your friends that are Christians and stand beside them. Your shield doesn’t have to be huge. Your shoes don’t have to fit perfectly, your belt doesn’t have to be through each belt loop and your breastplate can be a little small right now. It’s okay, but stand my friend. Put it all on, others can help you get used to it. There is no time to wait until you “get it right”. We are at war and today is the day that you can lift your shield of faith and step into battle.

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