In all circumstances, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; (ESV)
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (NIV)
In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. (NLT)
When Paul first wrote this letter to the church in Ephesus, Roman shields would have been crafted from solid wood and covered in strong animal hide. They were then soaked in water before battle in order to extinguish the fiery arrows of their opponents. Paul, likewise, calls believers to take up a shield saturated in faith, which is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. In raising this shield, we become immovable in God's promises.
Stand Behind Your Shield
We are often taught to defend our faith; therefore, it can seem backward that this passage tells us to take up faith as our defense. However, when we grasp the depth of our faith in Jesus, we realize it possesses an inherent ability to withstand trials and attacks. It is not a fragile belief system that we must shield at all costs, but rather a formidable and immovable force meant to be actively employed in our defense.
The passage suggests a shift in perspective—from being only defensive about our faith to actively embracing it and using it as our source of strength. This perspective encourages a deeper understanding of the power in our relationship with Jesus. As we let faith take the forefront, we discover that it is not only a set of doctrines to be protected but a living, powerful force that actively defends us against the enemy. Therefore, we are to both defend our faith to the world and also allow faith to defend us from the world.
God, Our Shield
Psalm 18:30 says, "As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in Him." This verse tells us that God Himself is the shield for those who trust Him. In trusting in faith and, ultimately, its founder, Jesus, to defend us, we acknowledge that the foundation of our belief is secure in His word. We defend our faith not by our own power but by the power of God.
Practically taking up the shield of faith involves a conscious choice to trust in God's promises over our immediate and fleeting feelings and emotions. Rather than ignoring doubts and fears, we can now face them head-on, using our faith as our powerful defense. We combat these doubts with the truth and assurance of God’s promises and our confident hope in eternity.
Just as Roman soldiers rely on the strength of their shield in the midst of battle, we too, depend on God, who is our shield, standing firm against doubts and lies, allowing our faith in Christ to lead us to take captive every thought that opposes the truth. Hebrews 12:2 encourages us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. It's essential not to underestimate the strength of our faith, recognizing that it is not found in our own abilities and our striving but rather in who our faith is in. It’s a gift of God, a powerful shield that surpasses the destructive force of doubt when rooted in Him and His word. With your eyes fixed on Jesus, let your trust in His promises, your hope for the future, and your assurance in the things not seen be the shield that guards you in every circumstance.
Written by Blake Stanley
Form a greater understanding of what faith is and how to live in it by reading Hebrews 11.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1” (NLT)