The Full Armor of God: The Shield of Faith

The Full Armor of God: The Shield of Faith

Opening Illustration: A Human Shield
On March 11, 2011, the island nation of Japan experienced an earthquake.  The earthquake triggered s tsunami that struck the Fukushima nuclear power plant.  A man who you have never heard of did something so unusually heroic.  Macao Yoshida was the General Manager in charge at the time of the tsunami.  His superiors told him to cool the melting reactors with salt water and then abandon the power plant.  Yoshida, realizing that if he abandoned his post, the reactors would have overheated causing a disaster of Chernobyl proportion.  If he would have listened to his superiors, the entire north eastern portion of Japan would have been uninhabitable for decades if not centuries.  

So, what did Yoshida do?  He stayed behind when everyone else left and manually regulated the heating and cooling of the reactors in the midst of earthquakes and tsunamis.  His actions saved hundreds of thousands of lives.  In doing so, Yoshida exposed his body to deadly and harmful radiation.  



9 months later, Yoshida would be admitted to a local hospital and given the news that he had terminal cancer.  The cancer was directly related to his actions that day at the power plant.  Yoshida would succumb to the cancer in 2013.  

Yoshida powerfully illustrates what it means to have a shield.  A shield stands between death and life and says to death “you will not pass through”.  Yoshida laid his life down as a shield to save his homeland and perhaps millions of his countryman.  He did this while not giving one thought to himself, his body or his family.  

There are few illustrations that powerfully display the meaning and the imagery of the shield of faith.  That’s what we are talking about today.  Write this down so that you will remember it.

Between Life and Death, We Have A Shield!

Background:
Over the past several weeks, we have been reading through Ephesians 6. 

1. We learned in verses 10-13 that there is a battle waging.  

2. We learn in verse 14 that we have a belt of truth.  This belt is symbolic of the Word of God.  God’s Word is the foundation for our armor and holds us together in battle.  It also provides for us access to our weaponry.  

3. In the same verse, we have a breastplate of righteousness.  This breastplate protects our hearts.  It prevents our hearts from growing hard, jaded and cynical.  It also lets the enemy know whose kingdom we belong. 

4. In verse 15 we discover that we have boots.  These boots are fitted just for us and it is these boots that empower us to deploy our spiritual gifts to grow God’s Kingdom.  Our boots are not meant for stomping but sharing the Gospel of peace around the world. 

5. So, today we talk about our barrier.  We have been given a shield.  Not just any shield but a shield of faith.  This shield has a very specific purpose against a very specific enemy.  

So, let’s read Paul’s letter to the Church in Ephesus.  Let’s discover more about this shield that stand between us and certain death.  

Scripture:

Ephesians 6:10-16 ESV
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 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. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one…”

How Should I Take Up My Shield of F.A.I.T.H.?

Forsaking All I Trust Him

Hebrews 11:1 KJV
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

I. We Should Take Up The Shield…Consistently 

Point:
It is easy to take up the shield of faith when things are good.  When life is good at work, when our marriage is rocking right along, when our children are obedient and when we have our health, the shield of faith is easy to take up.  

Scripture tells us that we need to take up the shield of faith “in all circumstances”.  So Paul, knowing the nature of life and understanding human nature, encourages the believers to take up the shield of faith when it is hard.  When persecution breaks out or when our faith does not seem very convenient, we must take up the shield anyway.  When we lose our health to cancer and our marriage is struggling, we must take up the shield of faith.  

The shield is not something that we get to pick and choose when we want to use it.  Why? Friends life is dangerous and we need to be ready for that day of destruction to come.  Listen to Peter’s words.

I Peter 4:12 ESV
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

So, its not if calamity will find you, it is when.   The Lord is outfitting every believer with tools to be ready for that day.  How foolish it is when a believer grows apathetic and lazy and lays down his or her weaponry of faith.  

Brothers and sisters, God cannot effectively use you in battle if you are not prepared.  Case in point.  Let’s read a story together.  Open your Bibles to Judges 7.  It is a familiar passage.  It is the story about how God whittled down and army of 32,000 Israelites to a mere 300 men.  God would then defeat the terrifically terrible and awesomely powerful Midianite army with that tiny band of men.  

Judges 7:1-8 ESV
Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him rose early and encamped beside the spring of Harod. And the camp of Midian was north of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.

2 The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ 3 Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained.

4 And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.” 5 So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.” 6 And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. 7 And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.” 8 So the people took provisions in their hands, and their trumpets. And he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the 300 men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.

Point:
Did you see what just happened?  So the cowardly leave first.  Leaving 10,000 men.  Then God leads them down to the edge of a river.  God tells Gideon that any man who laps up the water like a dog is not fit for battle.  How does one lap up water like a dog.  The soldier would have to lay down his shield and other weaponry to be on all fours lapping up the water.  The converse is also true.  The soldier kneeling would still have possession of his shield and weaponry.  Even while taking a water break, that soldier would be ready for a fight.  

Point:
You see friends, we must have our shield of faith with us at all times.  God cannot use a soldier not committed to the cause.  You cannot have victory in your life if you do not possess faith.  You must believe.  Belief and faith are powerful instruments in the toolbox of a believer.  Don’t believe me, listen to what Jesus says.  

Matthew 17:18-20 ESV
18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Point:
Having faith gives us assurance that God is in control and that we are on the side of life.  We have strength and power when we deploy our faith in all circumstances.  

How Should I Take Up My Shield of F.A.I.T.H.?

I. We Should Take Up The Shield…Consistently 

II. We Should Take Up The Shield…Cautiously

Point: 
Scripture tells us that “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts darts of the evil one”. 

Now things just got worse.  The world is already a dangerous place, but now we have an enemy shooting arrows at us.  We will talk about that enemy in just a moment.  First, let’s talk about these flaming darts and what they are who they are aimed at.

Point:
In the days of Paul a formidable weapon was the flaming arrow. This arrow had a heavy iron tip which was dipped into pitch and set alight. Even the speed of the arrow in the air wouldn’t extinguish the flame – it was a deadly flaming missile. These arrows would cause panic within the opposing ranks, especially when they embedded themselves into shields and began to cause the shield to burn. A frightened soldier would throw down his burning shield leaving himself, and those around him, unprotected from arrows and spears. You can imagine the result.

Such a deadly weapon needed a formidable defense; and this is where our shield comes in. This is a big shield. It was 1.6m high and 80cm wide. It was made of 3 layers of wood, with linen sandwiched between each layer. It also had an outer layer of leather or animal hide. To hold it all together there was a bronze strip was wrapped around the whole edge. If it was hit by a flaming arrow this shield would still burn. So, before they went into battle, the soldiers would soak the shields in water. The wet linen and leather would stop the shield from igniting, even when there was a flaming arrow embedded into it.

That’s the battle scene Paul has in mind when he says to us “take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”. But let us not forget Paul primarily has in mind a spiritual battle. A spiritual shield. Spiritual flaming arrows. What strategy of Satan are we being called to defend ourselves against? What are Satan’s flaming arrows?

In a nutshell the flaming arrows of the evil one are any spiritual struggles which cause us to be hesitant in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Flaming arrows are spiritual devises Satan uses to make us question our faithfulness to Christ.

Point:
So for every individual in this room, Satan has developed a flaming arrow just for you.  So, know that when you take up the shield of faith, we better use a great deal of caution because we know that there is a dart with our name on it.  

Illustration:
I was in 7th grade with Operation Desert Storm began.  Saddam Hussain had invaded Kuwait and George H. Bush pushed the Iraqi forces out with military precision.  It was the first time I had ever heard of the SCUD missile.  The SCUD missile is a surface to surface missile.  Even though it is an old form of missile technology, amazing advancements to make the warhead more precise have been performed.  These missiles can now hit specific targets from miles away.  



As a kid, I can remember watching these missiles being launched on CNN.  One thing sort of struck me.  I can remember and American serviceman writing in chalk a message for Saddam Hussain.  Saddam’s name was actually on the missile.  That missile was meant and purposed just for him.  We know the rest of the story.  Kuwait was liberated and eventually Hussain was deposed.  

Friends, the illustration holds true today.  In the same way, Satan has a dart just for you and it is aimed at your weakest part.  He knows your flaws and where you are most likely to stumble.  

Satan knows your doubts.

Satan knows what discourages you.

Satan knows what depresses you.

Friend, you need your shield of faith to water down those arrows and protect you from being infected by Satan’s evil schemes.  

Psalm 28:7 ESV
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

How Should I Take Up My Shield of F.A.I.T.H.?

I. We Should Take Up The Shield…Consistently 

II. We Should Take Up The Shield…Cautiously

III. We Should Take Up The Shield…Combatively 

16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one…”

Point:
In Ephesians 6, Paul warns us against the devil, the darkness of this present age and he warns us agains the evil one.  Friends, we are in a war.  It is a war on multiple fronts.  We are contending with our own sinfulness but we are also dealing with a dangerous foe.  This foe knows your name and is trying to knuckle down of your life.  Satan uses very specific tactics.  

Fear

Worry

…are just a couple of them.  However, i would say that 90% of all my pastoral counseling comes down to fear and worry.  These are two powerful weapons that Satan shoots at believers.  How do we combat them?  

We battle fear with faith and we battle worry with winning.  

Not our winning but Jesus winning.  Remember what Paul said in Romans. 

Romans 8:31-39 ESV
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Point:
Friends, if Satan is combating you today with fear and worry.  Let me point you back to Jesus.  Jesus has a lot to say about fear and worry.  Turn back to Matthew 6.

Matthew 6:25-34 ESV
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious 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: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Jesus tells His dispels that worrying is just a trick of the Devil to cast doubt in your Father.  

Illustration: So Much To Fear

The phrase "Be afraid, be very afraid" was a tagline from the 1986 horror flick The Fly. Google the phrase and you'll get about 183 million results for that phrase. But the trick is to be appropriately afraid of the right thing. What people commonly fear is not always what should be causing that spike of adrenaline. Here are some examples:

Are you afraid to fly? You have a 0.00001 (1 millionth) percent chance of dying in an airplane crash. On the other hand, the car insurance industry estimates that the average driver will be involved in three or four car crashes in their lifetime and the odds of dying in a car crash are one to two percent.

Are you afraid of heights? It's the second most reported fear. Your chance of being injured by falling, jumping, or being pushed from a high place is 1 in 65,092. The chance of having your identity stolen is 1 in 200. Do you fear being killed by a bolt of lightning? The odds of that happening are 1 in 2.3 million. You're much more likely to be struck by a meteorite—those lifetime odds are about 1 in 700,000.

How about dogs? They're bark really is worse than their bite: Your chance of suffering a significant dog bite is 1 in 137,694. On the other hand, your chance of being injured while mowing the lawn is 1 in 3,623. How about sharks? You're much more likely to be killed by your spouse (1 in 135,000) than a shark (1 in 300 million). Won't ride a roller coaster? If you have the patience to stand in the line, the chance of a roller coaster injury is 1 in 300 million. But if you play with fireworks on the Fourth of July, you're really playing with fire: the chance of injury is 1 in 20,000.

Closing Point:
Friends we have a lot to fear but fear has no power over the person with the shield of faith.  The shield of faith should be taken up consistently, cautiously and combatively.  We are at war.  Are you prepared?  


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