In this part of the series about the armor of God, we will look at what the Shield of Faith really is, how it serves to protect you, and what happened to me when I let it down.
Ephesians 6:16 says: “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;” (ESV)
Why you won’t survive without the Shield of Faith
I don’t have to tell you that flaming darts or arrows are dangerous. Not only do they pierce any unprotected body part they hit; after piercing, they will completely set you on fire. Hellfire, that is.
And as you read in the verse, the devil won’t stop at shooting one arrow, no, we have to carry this shield all the time and everywhere to protect us against all the flaming arrows. We can never let our guard down, as he is looking for an opportunity to take us out.
Let me put it this way: without faith, you are dead.
In Daniel 3 we can read how Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego wanted to remain faithful to God despite horrible threats of being thrown into a fiery furnace. They believed that God was more than able to save them from the fire, but even if He wasn’t willing, they would never serve and worship anything other than God. Now that is bold faith.
We know how the story ends. We know that God shielded them from any harm. But they had no idea that they would step out of the fire unscathed, all they knew, was to trust God either way.
What happens if you lower your Shield
I’ve personally been burned often enough when I thought I was living in faith, but a large part of me was actually living in fear. Because I trusted the wrong people, I let my guard down, allowing arrows to penetrate my skin. Hurtful comments, fits of rage, below the belt blows, I accepted them all as true as I thought I was weak, unlovable, and deserving of punishment. Those attacks just confirmed what I already thought was true about me.
Each time I would accept those arrows until one of them almost set me ablaze. That final arrow would always make me choose between being loyal to the enemy, or being loyal to God (much like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). That test would put me at a crossroads. But by the grace of God, I always chose God, and He came to my aid each and every time. And therefore I’m now still alive, stronger and bolder than ever.
Lies aimed to destroy
All of the arrows of the enemy are lies aimed to kill and destroy since the devil is a murderer whose native language is the language of lies (John 8:44). In my case, the flaming arrows came in the form of lies that predominantly sparked my fear, which was my main Achilles heel. Of course, your weakness could be something different. But whatever it is, he will find it and he will aim at it to wound, discourage, disable, and stop you most effectively in hopes to take you out completely.
One of the lies I almost believed was the lie that women have no place in ministry, especially not in teaching or preaching. That one nearly broke me. Because I gave everything up for God, Who promised me that I would be teaching His people successfully. And if that wasn’t true, I would be living a total lie. Of course, now I know that giving up your old life for God means gaining new life and that giving up everything for God means gaining all things, but at that moment, I simply couldn’t see it.
It felt like the purpose Jesus gave me – a broken, hopeless sinner – was reduced to ashes. And where would that leave me? Because if it hadn’t been for Jesus saving me, I would have ended my life a long time ago.
Hold on to God’s promises
You can see how believing that lie threw me back into a darkness so black, that I forgot almost all of God’s promises and the miracles He performed to back them up. My faith was shaken and I started to drown in despair, which now reminds me of Peter sinking in the water after Jesus called him to walk on it (Matthew 14:25-33). After Peter cried out for help, Jesus reached out His hand and said: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (verse 31, ESV).
I was like that too. Instead of holding on to trust in Jesus, I doubted and sank. In my case, the support of Christian friends helped a bit, but what really was a game-changer for me was a dream that God gave me after crying myself to sleep, which I’ll tell you about in a future blog post. That was His way of extending His hand to me, and telling me: “Just do as I tell you and don’t doubt.”
After that, my shield of faith was up once more, and I never believed that lie again. If anyone throws that arrow at me, my shield blocks it completely.
The enemy is smarter than you might think
So, never let your guard down. Wherever you are, whatever you do. Because you can never know how the enemy will hit. He isn’t stupid, he has thousands of years of experience. The arrow that hit me didn’t come from a random stranger I just met. No, it unexpectedly came from a wise, renowned Christian pastor I trusted, and still trust (just not with this topic). I learned the hard way that I need to trust Jesus more than anyone. Even if it means stepping out onto the water, and the whole world tells me it can’t be done. And when it means that I will be thrown into a furnace, God can save me from the flames. But even if He won’t, that still won’t stop me from following Him.
Carry a strong Shield
Faith in Christ serves as a shield that will stop the enemy’s attack from hurting you. And faith counts as righteousness (Romans 4) so it will also strengthen the Breastplate. That is why you must make sure that your faith stands strong because burning arrows won’t penetrate or burn steel, but they will pierce a piece of paper and reduce it to ashes.
That is why it is very important to fend off lies with a strong shield. This is how I’ve learned to do it:
- Trust God’s promises for your life above anything anybody throws at you, even though it means you’ll have to cross a sea on foot. He’ll make a way for you, either on it or through it, even if it seems that there is no way.
- Remind yourself of how God has always been faithful in keeping His promises. Throughout His Word and your life. You can trust Him, with every fiber of your being.
- Call in troops when you feel weak. Ask for support from other Christians, and above all, ask God for help. He will not let you fall, but He will reach out His hand to support you. And don’t forget that He is able to strengthen your shield of faith. Because faith is a gift (1 Cor 12:9, Eph 2:8) and Jesus taught us that we should ask to be given good gifts (Matt 7:7-11). God wants you to turn to Him and ask for help because that teaches you to trust Him. In fact, that is one of the big reasons why all the testing of your faith began in the first place: to get you to trust Him more perfectly and love Him more deeply. And when you ask, He answers, so that will make you love and trust Him even more.
One of God’s promises you can take to heart is written in Isaiah 43:1-3, which ties in with our next armor piece, the Helmet of Salvation:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (ESV)
Click on any of the links below to read about another piece of armor. Or read them all to see how they all work together.