Intro: Does living the life of a Christian feel like warfare? Although Jesus is called the “Prince of peace, and scriptures instruct us, inasmuch as it is up to us, to be at peace with all men (Rom. 12:18) as Christians we are certainly at war.
I. A Time of War: Matt 10:34-36 – 34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’
A. In Ephesians 6 the apostle writes… Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God…
1. The call for armor implies a battle and an enemy. Of course this war is not a jihad or crusade to be fought with physical weapons. It is not against “flesh and blood”. Paul identifies the enemy as the devil, and our battlefield as the spiritual plane of heavenly places, against “spiritual hosts of wickedness, rulers of the darkness of this age.”
2. 2 Cor 10:4-5 – For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
II. The Shield of Faith: Our discussion this month has centered on the “One Faith” mentioned in Ephesians 4 – There is one faith. Last week we studied from the book of Jude, where he admonished the Christians to contend for, or defend the faith. Today I want to flip that around and notice that just as we are to defend the faith, the faith also defends us. In fact, in the spiritual battle in which we are engaged, faith is a vital, and divinely given, defense.
A. As Paul describes our spiritual battle, he lists the 6 pieces of armor of the Christian. Eph 6:14-17 –Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; Our attention today is on the shield – Faith is the shield of the Christian soldier.
B. Although all the pieces of armor mentioned in Eph. 6 are essential, Paul made a distinction between the first three and the remaining three.
1. The first three are translated with the verb, “to have” which indicates permanency. We wear these pieces continually in preparation for battle. (belt, breastplates, shoes) The last three (shield, helmet & sword) are described with the verbs “take” and “taking up”. These separate pieces of armor were to be kept in readiness and taken up during the actual conflict.
a. The same concept is present in baseball. There is certain equipment that the player has on all the time – uniform, spikes, belt. But other things are essential to the game that he must take up.. bat, glove, helmet. Many Christians are at the game with their hat, maybe even take their glove to catch a foul ball, but they are not in the game. They are just spectators.
C. The Roman shield was no small piece of armament. It was called a thureos (thoo-reh-os), a word that originally signified a door or entrance. It came to mean a large shield perhaps 2.5 X 4.5 ft. that resembled a door. It was usually covered with leather or metal and used to put in front of the soldier’s whole body.
1. The Roman shield was uniquely beneficial when the Romans were approaching the enemy’s walls. The Roman soldier would be pelted with every kind of missile the enemy had at his disposal. The soldiers were commanded to form the “movement of the tortoise.” This was accomplished by closing ranks and locking shields together. The shields had hooks at the top, bottom and sides for this purpose. When in the formation of the turtle the soldiers were practically invulnerable. In the same way, every Christian has his own faith, and must utilize it to protect himself in the battle. But when they band themselves together they are much less vulnerable.
III. Faith as Our Defender: As we have mentioned in our previous lessons on faith, the Bible uses the word faith in different senses. We can view faith as our defender in both senses.
1. It describes God’s objective, once delivered message. As we studied last week, we are to contend for THE faith. We will see that THE faith, as God’s word, defends us in the battle.
2. But faith is also used to describe our personal conviction in what God has said. It is personal trust. “The just shall live by faith…” (Heb. 10:38) A missionary was translating the scriptures for a South Seas Island tribe and could not find a word in their vocabulary for faith. One day an islander came in from the field and flopped down in a chair. He said, in his tongue, “it sure feels good to rest my full weight on this chair”. The missionary now had a way to explain faith – Faith is “resting your full weight on God.” The Christian is also shielded in the battle by placing his full weight on God’s words. Thus the protective quality of faith is connected to faith both, objectively and subjectively.
A. “All the fiery darts of the wicked one” – Paul tells us that faith has the shielding power to extinguish all the fiery darts of the wicked one. It was a common tactic in 1st century battle to dip arrows in tar and light them us, so as to create a fiery projectile that could devastate the enemy. Even if you missed a direct hit to a vital organ, the fiery aftermath would get the job done.
1. When facing that type of weapon, your shield had better be real and formidable. You don’t need a pasteboard shield that is pretty and easy to carry. When the fiery darts come, you do not need confidence in yourself; or confidence in your friends, or confidence in your congregation or the preacher. Not even your confidence in the Bible is a sufficient shield. Because someone will ask you a question you cannot answer. Thaxter Dickey talks about one of the best sermon he ever heard was called, There are questions I can never answer; But there are answers I can never question. I have to know the difference. There are problems on every page of the Bible – people can raise questions. If we place our confidence in our ability to answer all the questions we will falter. But there are some things I can know; My confidence rests in Him and what He has said. People can ask me questions I cannot answer, but they cannot get me to question the answers God has provided.
B. What are the fiery darts? They are same ones he has always used (not ignorant of his devices). Satan will fire shafts of impurity, selfishness, fear, disappointment, lust, greed, vanity, and covetousness. Those temptations are all part of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16).
1. Deception: Satan is a liar and the father of lies. Sin began when Satan took aim at Adam & Eve’s confidence in what God had said. God created a perfect environment and there was no reason to doubt what God had said. But God gave Adam and Eve the power of choice (as He has you and me). So Satan, disguised as a serpent, said to Eve, “Did God really say?” (Gen. 3:1, NIV) Satan wanted her to doubt God. The temptation to doubt God was made more appealing because Satan lied to Eve, saying, “You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (vv. 4-5). Satan was saying, “You can’t trust God because He has ulterior motives. Eve believed Satan’s lies and failed put her trust in what God had said. (lean her full weight upon him, and obey.)
a. This world is filled with lies and liars. You cannot believe anything around you. Truth is viewed as non-existent or completely relative. (football season on us – we used to know what a touchdown was – now we can look at 20 minutes of video from every angle and we still don’t know if he scored. – postmodern world we live in.)
• 2 Tim 1:12 – For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. I need to know what God has said, and to put my full weight on that – put all my confidence in Him.
b. Satan tries to confuse the issue and make you doubt.
1) Satan says you are too weak to resist me – Yes I am weak, but Jesus is strong and He will not desert me.
2) Satan says you are not good enough to be a Christian – Yes I know I am not good enough – But Jesus is good enough.
3) Satan says you are too great a sinner. You said you were never going to do that again, and you did again yesterday, and you can never be saved.. Yes I am a great sinner, but Jesus is a greater Savior.
4) Satan tries to make us doubt God – but God is great & God Is good. He is so good to me. I know that for sure. Jesus can be trusted.
2. Anxiety – (what are you going to do? What will I eat, What will I wear, How will I get by?) Satan implants his doubt into our everyday experience in the form of worry. We live in a sea of anxiety and crisis, where peace of mind and contentment are hardly ever experienced.
a. Satan tells us that we are not in control, and we say Yes, but Jesus is. Matt 6:25-33 – Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? ….. 28 So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
3. Discouragement – (You have suffered enough.) Yes, but Jesus has suffered more. Hebrews writes to encourage Christians who are suffering for their faith – get them to hold on and not turn back. Gives them numerous examples of those who lived by faith in the face of adversity. But notice Heb 12:1-4 – Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.
a. unto Jesus – Jesus is the author and finisher of my faith. He endured the shame. My faith in Jesus protects me from Satan’s arrow of discouragement.
4. Despair – (You are all alone. No one cares about you.) Elijah in 1 Kings 19 was hit by that dart – Let me die, I am the only one left. God’s answer was enough to protect him – I have reserved 7,000 in Israel who have not bowed down to Baal.
a. You are not alone. It may appear that way – but Jesus is with you, and He will not forsake you. People such as Joseph, Moses, David, Jeremiah, and others all faced times when they felt abandoned and alone. But their faith in God’s promises shielded them.
b. Daniel’s 3 friends in Daniel 3 – bow down and worship the image or you will be thrown in a furnace. Dan 3:16-18 – O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” We trust God – and they held up their shield.
c. Paul in prison – (you are all alone, you cannot do this by yourself, everyone has abandoned you). In 2 Tim. 4, Paul accounts himself his desperate circumstance: v. 10 Demas forsook me; Crescens and Titus are gone, Only Luke is with me… v. 16 at my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. But in v. 17 Paul lifts up his shield- 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen! Paul put his full weight on Jesus.
Conclusion: How would like to have the job of testing bullet-proof vests? I am not sure I would want to be the first one to try it out. Not much confidence. But if someone else has already tested it, I can have more confidence when I put it on. The scriptures provide a convincing look into the protective power of faith, by showing us the victorious faith of others who have gone before, lifting up their shield against the assault of Satan. 1 John 5:4 – For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.
Faith is the victory
Encamped along the hills of light,
Ye Christian soldiers, rise,
And press the battle ere the night
Shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below
Let all our strength be hurled;
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world.
His banner over us is love,
Our sword the Word of God;
We tread the road the saints above
With shouts of triumph trod.
By faith, they like a whirlwind’s breath,
Swept on o’er every field;
The faith by which they conquered death
Is still our shining shield.
Faith is the victory!
Faith is the victory!
Oh, glorious victory,
That overcomes the world.