Sunday Sermon – ‘The Victorious Christian Life’ – The Shield of Faith – Growing in Christ Series

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Jesus said – “In the world ye shall have tribulation…” (John 16:33)

God has not promised us as His children a care-free life. We are not immune to trouble. The word ‘tribulation’ means: pressure, distress, trouble or oppression. Christians get sick. The car of a Christian breaks down. Christians sometimes struggle with their finances. And above all, Satan constantly attacks God’s people.

It is because of Satan’s attacks that the Apostle Paul wrote-

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Satan cannot take away our salvation, but he can render us ineffective as a believer. Through his intimidation tactics He can back us into a corner and keep us prisoner through his lies and deception – if we let him. Paul tells us that we can’t let Satan control us. We can’t allow him to defeat us. We must stand against him. How do we resist the devil? Thus far we have seen that we do so with truth, righteousness, and the gospel. Today we add to our spiritual armor by taking up the shield of faith.

Ephesians 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

What is the shield of faith?  How can it help protect us? How do we defend ourselves daily with this shield?

1) The Shield

First we need to take a look at what Paul envisioned as he spoke of the shield of faith. As we have already discovered, Paul was using the armor of a Roman solider as his guide.

 A. The Roman Soldier’s Shield

The Roman soldier’s shield was a large, rectangular shield approximately 3’ X 5’ in size. Originally it was used to describe a door that covered an entrance. This shield was curved to help deflect enemy arrows. It was also covered on the front which helped serve two purposes:

1)  Bore the Roman insignia which boldly declared for whose army this soldier was fighting.

2)  It was covered with leather which the soldier would soak in water just before the battle.

The reason he did so was because often the arrows of the enemy were flaming missiles. The enemy would dip the tip of his arrow in hot tar and then ignite the arrow just before he shot it. By doing this, not only would the arrow be on fire, the hot flaming tar would also splatter once it hit its target, thus spreading the fire. By soaking his shield in water, the soldier could not only deflect the arrow, he could extinguish it. The water-soaked shield would put the fire out.

The shield was an important part of the soldier’s armor. I have read that after one battle, one soldier had over 200 arrows sticking in his shield. Here was a warrior!

B. The Christian Soldier’s Shield

It was with this image in his mind that Paul wrote –

Ephesians 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

Brethren, we are in a war. Every day Satan is shooting his flaming arrows at us. Yet there is a defense for us. It is the shield of faith. Please note also that this shield not only deflects the flaming arrows, it extinguishes them.

2) The Christian Soldier’s Faith

A. What is Faith?

What is faith? Is it – “I want, I hope, I wish?”  No my friend; the word faith means – “I know”. True faith is a confidence in God that fills us with holy boldness. Paul uses it well in his testimony about the surety of his salvation.

2 Timothy 1:12 …for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that  which I have committed unto him against that day.

The Greek words ‘believed’ and ‘persuaded’ are linked together in the Greek. Truth faith is a confidence and persuasion in God.

B. The Christian’s Faith

Today we will study faith from three angles:

1) The Object of Our Faith

2) The Opposition to Our Faith

3) The Operation of Our Faith

I. The Object of Our Faith 

In what or whom do we trust? In what or whom do we place our confidence? Do we trust in ourselves? Do we trust in others? Do we place our confidence in our circumstances? In order to have spiritual victory against the fiery darts of the devil, we must have faith in God and God alone.

Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. ESV

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

The object of our faith must be God. Circumstances will change. People will fail us. We will even disappoint ourselves. Only God is constant and never changes. Only God is worthy to be trusted.

II. The Opposition to Our Faith

Satan knows that faith in God has great power; therefore he plots and schemes and does everything he can in order to try to destroy our faith.

Ephesians 6:16  Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

What are some of Satan’s fiery darts?

  1. They are flaming darts of discouragement
  2. They are flaming darts of depression
  3. They are flaming darts of distractions and deception
  4. They are flaming darts of doubt

Satan will do everything he can to divert our attention away from God and onto ourselves and our problems. Do you remember the story of Peter walking on the water? Brethren, Peter walked on the water until Satan tempted him to focus on his problems rather than on Jesus.

III. Operation of Our Faith

  • How does faith work in our lives?
  • How does it act like a shield between us and Satan?

A. God-sized Problems

1. God Allows Us to Be Attacked

One would think that God would shield His people from Satan’s attacks. Yet if we carefully biblical study the stories of many of God’s men and women, we will discover that God often allowed them to be attacked. God allowed Satan to attack Job. God allowed Satan to attack Simon Peter and the Apostle Paul. The Bible says that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness in order to be tempted by the devil. Why does God allow us to be attacked? Why does God allow difficulty to come into our lives? His purpose is not to defeat us, but to develop us. As God takes us through these storms our faith in Him grows stronger and stronger.

2. Heroes of Faith – Hebrews 11

In Hebrews 11 we read of a group of people many call the ‘Heroes of Faith.’ They were not heroes because they were super-saints. They were heroes because they learn to walk by faith and not by sight. Their strength came from their faith in God.

As you read down the list you will discover that it was by faith that:

a) Abraham left his friends and family, and moved to a strange country

b) Abraham and Sarah saw God do the impossible by enabling them to bear a child when they were physically incapable

c) Moses chose to turn his back on the pleasures of sin in order to be identified with God’s people

d) Joshua brought down the walls of Jericho and conquered the Promised Land

B. God-sized Promises

With every God-sized problem there comes a God-sized promise. When we first moved to  Ohio, we met a man named Mel Booher. I came to love Mel Booher. He was a giant of a man with a gentle spirit. Mel made it his ministry to give out little books entitled – ‘GOD’S PROMSIES FOR YOUR EVERY NEED.’ I am sure that during his life he gave our hundreds if not thousands of these books. I still have my copy that is signed on the inside –  “To Terry from Mel Booher, 10-3-92”.   I will always treasure that book from my dear friend who is now at home with the Lord. I treasure that book because it came from Mel, but also because it contains many of God’s promises to me.

C. God-sized Protection 

Through our faith in God-sized promises we find God-sized protection. So many times through life God has used many His promises to fortify my faith and protect me from Satan’s attack. One of my most favorite promises comes from the book of Philippians.

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

The word ‘keep’ refers to a garrison of soldiers who stand guard.So many times in my life when Satan has been attacking me with his fiery darts of doubt and despair, I have found safety and shelter in God’s love by praying with thanksgiving.

CONCLUSION

It says in the book of Jude that Michael the archangel said to Satan during a time of conflict – ‘The LORD rebuke thee.’ (Jude 1:9) Do you know where Michael learned to say that?

There is a story in the book of Zechariah concerning a priest named Joshua. The Bible says – ‘Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments…’ Joshua was a representative of the nation of Israel and their spiritual sins. Standing right beside Joshua was Satan. The title ‘Satan’ means adversary and one who opposes. Satan was there to point out every sin Joshua and the people had committed. But before the devil could open his mouth and begin his argument, God said to him – “The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee…” (Zech 3:2) “…is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” God didn’t deny the people’s sin. He knew better than Satan how guilty they were. Yet the LORD reminded the devil that Israel was the object of His electing grace.

The Shield of Faith is simply this – it is the child of God choosing to believe the love and grace of God rather than the attacks of Satan. Like a shield we hold up the grace of God against Satan’s attacks. “The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan.  The LORD rebuke thee!”

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