In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. Ephesians 6:16 (ESV)
Roman soldiers in Paul’s day used two kinds of shields. They had a small shield that was used in hand-to-hand combat and a large shield. The soldiers on the front line of the battle formation used the large shield. It was made in such a way as to protect the entire body from fiery arrows that were shot by the enemy. The large shield could be maneuvered in any direction making it effective against ambush. It is this large shield that Paul was alluding to in Ephesians 6:16.
Our basic trust in God is our shield of faith. It covers all of the other armor that God has made available to us. We must have faith that God is who he says he is and will do what he says he will do. The writer of Hebrews said, And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 ESV)
The flaming darts of the enemy assail us as temptations to sin, whether it is an enticement to follow after the passions of our flesh or thoughts of doubt that thwart our confidence in God and his word. These temptations can ambush us from any direction without warning. Without the shield of faith we are totally defenseless. We must have confidence that God does exist and that the promises he has made will come to our aid.
Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by the devil to doubt God (Matthew 4:3-9). First, the devil tempted Jesus to doubt that he was God’s son by saying, “IF you are the son of God.” Secondly, the devil tempted Jesus to doubt God’s provision by saying, “Turn these stones into bread.” Thirdly, the devil temped Jesus to doubt God’s protection by saying, “Throw yourself down.” Fourthly, the devil tempted Jesus to doubt God’s plan by saying, “I will give you all the kingdoms if you will worship me.” Jesus was able to resist the devil’s temptations because he had confidence in his Father’s words. He knew what he had heard from the Father was true.
Our heavenly Father has promised to provide for us (Philippians 4:19), to protect us (Luke 21:16-19), and to complete the plan he has for our lives (Romans 8:28; Philippians 1:6). Greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).
Victory over the schemes of the devil including the flaming darts of temptation has been provided for us in the shield of faith. John wrote, For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5 ESV) We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. (1 John 5:18 ESV)
Do you trust God to keep his promises? Will you put on the shield of faith?
Scriptures for meditation:
2 Thessalonians 3:3
1 John 3:20