When it comes to armor, the shield is an extremely vital piece – something I definitely wouldn’t want to go into battle without. Sure, I may be wearing body armor, but it’s my shield that allows me to protect the most vulnerable parts of me. I can maneuver it to guard me against all sides. And while my body armor can prevent me from being injured in an attack, my shield can keep me from getting hit in the first place.
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The Bible tells us that our battle is not against flesh and blood, and I have learned from experience that the battleground we fight on most is in our minds. When Paul tells us to hold up the shield of faith, he tells us that our shield has the power to extinguish “fiery arrows” from the devil. (Ephesians 6:16) If the real battle occurs in the mind, then what exactly are these fiery arrows that Paul references?
The enemy’s fiery arrows:
Disbelief – Is there a God? Did God really say that? Hasn’t science challenged the existence of God?
Temptation to Sin – Is it really a sin? It’s not that bad. I’m technically not hurting anyone. God can’t expect me to give up something I feel is okay. Everyone does it.
Self-Reliance – It’s my life, and I can live it however I want. I don’t need God. I can take care of myself. There are just some areas of my life that God can’t have.
Empty Religion/False Teachings – As long as I’m a good person, I’ll get into heaven. There are many paths that lead to God. The Bible is outdated and not culturally relevant; therefore, I don’t have to follow all of its teachings.
Fear – What if I’m not good enough? What if I can’t feed my family? Or what if something bad happens? What if things never work out for me?
Discouragement – I’ll never amount to anything. I will never overcome my problem. Why hasn’t God answered my prayers?
Condemnation – There is no forgiveness for the things I’ve done. My sin is too great for me to be used by God. No one could possibly love me considering my past.
Depression – There is no way out. I’m all alone. No one knows what I’m going through.
Our main defense against these fiery arrows is our faith.
Here’s what the Bible has to say about faith:
It can be weak or strong. – Jesus often said to those He healed that their strong faith made them well. Yet, He also told others (including His own disciples) that their faith was too weak. (Matthew 8:5-10, Matthew 8:23-27, Matthew 17:19-20)
It can grow. – Faith can be nurtured and put into practice allowing it to grow. This happens when we spend time with God, read His Word, and use our faith on a regular basis. (2 Corinthians 10:15, Colossians 2:7)
It often goes hand-in-hand with love. – I found it interesting in my studies that love and faith often went hand-in-hand. In the words of Paul, “What is important is faith expressing itself in love.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8, Galatians 5:6, Ephesians 1:15)
So how do we use this God-given faith to defend ourselves against the enemy? It’s simple. We have to choose to use it. If we don’t use our faith, it can become weak; and when our faith is weak, so is our defense against the enemy.
And truth be told, putting our faith into practice is what nurtures it to grow stronger.
Every time we trust God to protect us or help us through an intense situation, our faith has a chance to develop. We can also nurture our faith by staying in the Word (which is our sword against the enemy), expressing our faith in love, being bold in sharing the Gospel, and encouraging one another to stay strong in our faith.
Remember: Paul tells us to “hold up” our shields. We don’t just shy behind them and hope that enemy runs out of firepower.
As children of God, we stand firmly and confidently behind our shield of faith.
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.