“Take Up the Shield of Faith” Deepen Your Commitment to Trusting God
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 6.16
Ephesians 6. In our series, we forced to consider military life and tactics. Army battles are intense. And when the battle is intense, there must be trust established between the soldiers and their commanding officers.
Otherwise, if the soldiers don’t trust their leaders they will not be effective on the battlefield and they will suffer casualties.
Major Doug Crandall authored a book entitled Leadership Lessons from West Point. He writes, “Based on my 24 years of leading Army organizations, I believe that trust is what gets soldiers to willingly follow leaders into combat.” He quotes a Platoon sergeant from the 101st Airborne Division from Iraq as saying, “If your men trust you, they will follow you into any situation.”
A soldier must trust his commanding officer. This is no less true for the Christian. To be effective in the daily Christian battle, you must trust your commanding officer, Jesus Christ. He has shown himself to be the only person worthy of trust for eternity. As a Christian, if you fail to trust Him, you will suffer wounds on the battlefield of life.
Our text is Eph. 6:16…and let’s read once again Eph. 6:10-16
Ephesians 6:10–16 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
If you trust God, you will be able to follow him into any situation in life great confidence. But all too often, we do not trust God. Our lack of trust in him is easily seen. We lack trust in God when we fear, worry, or are covetous … when we doubt God when times are tough, when we are angry with Him because of some bad thing that happened. Or when faced with some temptation and you give in. A lack of trust in God is a stepping stone to many of our sins that we tolerate in our lives. No matter what sin it is, we are failing to trust God and we are opening ourselves up to attacks from the evil one.
So, I’d like to preach that we “Take Up the Shield of Faith”… which means to Deepen Your Commitment to Trusting God.
To take up the shield of faith means to deepen you commitment to trusting God.
But to be effective in the daily Christian battle, you must trust your commanding officer, Jesus Christ. Be prepared today to deepen your commitment to trusting God in every circumstance.
How are you going to do that? The answer is in verse 16…
Ephesians 6:16 16 in addition to all […add to your armament the shield… ], taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Just two main points this morning, first from the end of the verse … The enemy’s attack… Where Paul writes about “the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
And then secondly from the beginning of the verse the Christian’s shield…. , “taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish” all those flaming arrows. The Christian’s shield … And here we will discover what the shield of faith is, what it does, and how to use it.
But first, the enemy’s attack.
I. The Enemy’s Attack
A. The enemy
EXP: Where do the flaming arrows come from? At the end of the verse, the flaming arrows come from the evil one. This is Satan and his demons. They have the capability of shooting, as it were, flaming arrows at believers.
ILL: So Paul is drawing on a scene from Roman warfare. Ancient warfare included the use of archers. They would use bow and arrow to attack the enemy. They would often coat their arrows with pitch or a kind of tar, like pine tar, that was flammable.
Two armies would approach each other from a distance. And they would light the arrows on fire and shoot them at the enemy. So before engaging in hand-to-hand combat with swords, the army would shoot these flaming arrows at the enemy army.
And the Roman army could have up to 17,000 archers. So you can picture the scene.
The enemy general cries to his archers, “Draw your bows!” The terrify sound of thousands of stretching bows… Ready…fire!… […wind sound…] And a barrage of flaming arrows comes hurling at you in a matter of seconds. Are you ready? Do you have your shield up?
APP: Satan is doing a very similar thing today. Satan is the most hideously evil and probably the most beautiful creature of God. He is attractive in every way except he wants to ruin your Christian testimony. He is smart and as we discussed he has had thousands of years of experience on how to attack the human nature, and he has with him his army of evil spirits that are well trained.
…And he’s out to get you! … his bow is drawn with unimaginable strength and the fire on that arrow is hotter than you can imagine. Will you deepen your commitment to trusting God in order to survive the onslaught?
EXP: what are these flaming arrows in the Christian life? These are simply the temptations that you and I face every day. You might be tempted to fear, to worry, to gluttony, to being drunk, to not loving your family, to not honoring your husband, whatever temptation it is ….
ILL: CS Lewis in his book, the Screwtape letters, offers family life as a temptation. Remember in the Screwtape letters Screwtape is writing to his demon-in-training Wormwood. And Screwtape is teaching wormwood how to tempt. And Wormwood is given a particular person to attempt, called his “patient.” So Screwtape tells Wormwood how best to tempt his patient and his mother.
Screwtape notes that hatred in the home often expresses itself by saying things which appear harmless …. I mean, the words are not offensive but when said with a tone of voice like that or with the wrong moment, they are nothing less than a punch to the face.
So Screwtape advises Wormwood to “see to it that each of the two fools, that is his patient and his mother, see to it that each of these two fools has sort of a double standard.
As your patient talks to his mother, your patient must demand that all his own words be taken at face value and judged only on the words themselves, while at the same time you must tempt him to judge all of his mother’s words with the fullest and most oversensitive interpretation of the tone and any suspected intention.
And his mother must be encouraged to do the exact same thing. So when they fight, each of them can go away convinced that they are innocent of any sin. And then Screwtape offers this example, …you know what I’m saying, it’s something like this, … “I simply ask her what time dinner will be and she flies into a temper.” She reads between the lines and takes everything the wrong way … that’s often a temptation.
Isn’t that the way Satan would work? When your mom or dad or your spouse or your the one you’re living with or your coworker or your boss… says something like that… [fire arrow sound] ssssoooooo=>=>=>=>=> ….here comes an arrow…[arrow hitting sound]. And you make it worse than it actually is. … and your testimony is harmed.
APP: Today, there is a spiritual ISIS attack in progress. There is no mercy and no bargaining with us, the enemy…. the attack is in the grocery store, on the internet, the TV, book, even good books to the neglect of Scripture… anything other than actively trusting God and His Word….
…here come the arrow… “If God is good enough and strong enough, the world wouldn’t be the way that it is!”
…. There it is again … the thing you’re so scared of, ‘what if ______ and what if _____?
[fire arrow sound … ] …. God will never forgive you…
… God is always out to get you, always looking over your shoulder to see if you’re doing something wrong…[yeah, that’s God’s nature…]
…. a covetous thought… [fire arrow sound … ] “if only I had ________” …. ‘you don’t have a spouse…. OR…
…[arrow sound] he has given you a wife, but she’s not as good-looking as that other woman or she doesn’t do things in the home like that other woman could….
Or..[arrow sound]… he has given you a husband but he doesn’t treat you right, he really doesn’t love you like that other man could…
… Does God really love you?
He’s not there to help…
Is the Bible really the truth…? I mean… “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, right?”
TRANS: how are you going to guard against such temptations? What is the solution? The solution is to pick up your shield of faith!
II. The Christian’s Shield
“In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one!”
The shield of faith quenches those flaming arrows!
But like a good soldier, before you you something, you must know three things about it. You must know three things about the shield in order to be effective against temptations.
What it is, what does it do, and how do you use it.
A. What it is
first, what is it? The shield of faith. The shield which is faith. Faith is the shield.
And faith isn’t some nebulous mystical feeling in your heart. No, faith here means to trust.
The book of Ephesians this word faith is mostly used that way.
You can turn back to Eph. 1. We’ll look at these verses where faith means to trust in rapid succession…Look at chapter 1 verse 13… Eph. 1:13
Ephesians 1:13 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
Believe…this is trusting God.
Ephesians 1:15 15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints,
Faith in Jesus means to trust Jesus …
Ephesians 1:19 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.
Believe, to believe God, means to trust Him. Over to chapter 2 verse 8…
Ephesians 2:8 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
Faith saves; it’s trusting God who saves you.
Ephesians 3:12 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.
Ephesians 3:17 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
this is trusting God in our growth in Christ …
Ephesians 4:5 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
This is all referring to our trust in God. But your trust in something is only as good as what you trust in, right?
ILL: [prepare them for a point of laughter] If you had a pond and your pond still looked frozen in this kind of warm weather we’ve been having, you could choose to trust the ice that it would hold you, but your trust would be full of holes… and, shall we say, it wouldn’t get you to your primary destination.
But this really isn’t our problem. Our trust must be in God! He’s a far cry from slushy ice. He’s good enough, strong enough, and caring enough.
ILL: It would be like us not trusting in the bridge when it is perfectly sound. Let’s say I’m in your passenger seat… “just go on the bridge!” Cars are streaming back and forth across the bridge …. “No, you say… I’m sacred…I’ll …I’m just gonna … I’ll just go around.” “Go around!…you can’t go around, it’s a river!”
Look, the bridge is strong enough to help you! So the problem is here that even though that’s true, that the bridge is strong enough, you failed to trust the bridge.
And that’s the same way it is with us and God. We know in our minds that we can trust him, that he is good … we see others coming through with strength …. But we still covet or worry or are fearful.
So what’s the problem? The problem is, you do not know God in such a way to change your behavior in that situation. You haven’t come to grow in your understanding of who he is.
This is why you are commanded in Proverbs 3:6 that in all your ways know him and he will direct your paths!
In all of your ways… Be it ways of fearfulness, or worry…. or in the paths in your house or in your family life or at work, in all of your ways know Him … confess him to be true, confess his character to be reliable. Strengthen your heart with knowledge of God every day!
To trust in God in a flaming arrow experience means to apply, at a moment’s notice, truth about God. When that flaming arrow is coming, trust God by crying out to Him, relying on what He says …. It means to rely on him, to rest on him. To be effective in the daily Christian battle, you must trust your commanding officer, Jesus Christ.
But if you don’t know Him intimately, you won’t trust in Him.
This is why you read your Bible and pray every day! You fill your mind with the truth of God and who he is what he has done and you meditate on that and you praise him for who he is and what he has done what he is doing in the earth and what he’s done for you for all of eternity, then you will find yourself to be able to trust in him in difficult times, in trials and temptations.
What is the shield … ? The shield of faith is purposefully trusting God when the fiery darts of temptation come. But it takes a lifetime of building up that shield.
Trust Him and obey. Somebody can’t say that they trust God but they don’t obey his word. “I know that I shouldn’t be scared about this and I know I shouldn’t worry about this sort of thing I know I shouldn’t really covet this other thing but I do and I can manage ok … And so yeah I’m trusting God.” Many times you may be, but in those circumstances you’re not.
No, this is trusting God and obeying him at all times. “Trust and obey there is no other way.” And that’s all the time.
ILL: King Asa of Judah in the Old Testament knew what it was like to trust God, even when times were tough.
God had promised the Israelites that if they would trust him and do his will, if they would trust and obey, God would protect them and bless them make their land fruitful and they would have victory over their enemies.
As you read the kings of Israel you come to understand that the Lord tested his people on this point constantly. Perhaps you’re going through a time even today you feel like you are pressed to trust God or not.
2 Chronicles 14 tells us that Zerah the Ethiopian came out against Judah with an army of 1 million men and 300 chariots. All drawn up in battle array, what a fearful sight! And Asa and his army from Judah drew up in battle formation against them.
Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.”
He recognized something: the battle is the Lord’s. He pleaded to the Lord for help based on God’s own glory.
And what do you think the Lord did? Does God leave his people? Would God leave you? Did God leave Asa? No we are told that the Lord routed the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah and the Ethiopians fled. The people of Judah pursued the Ethiopians and they were shattered before the Lord and before his army and they carried away much plunder.
ILL: But, you know, there were many kings in the Old Testament who did evil in the sight of the Lord. And we read through those stories in such rapid succession and how this King rose up and he did evil in the sight of the Lord and he died and his son replaced him who did evil in the sight of the Lord.
And they were idolaters and immoral and they didn’t trust the Lord and they disobeyed and God punished them.
And we think, [‘Pastor Jim voice!’] “you would think they would catch on? Duh! Just trust the Lord and do good and all those enemies won’t attack you and win! Why disobey, why do wrong! Just do right and follow the word of God.”
APP: oh, but we forget ourselves! How we ourselves also do the same thing. We don’t have …what if…oh, but if I could only have…grrrrrrhhhh…and we distrust God and we run away from Him and His word…. We faint in the day of adversity and so prove our strength to be small…just like the evil kings of Israel.
The kings of Israel turned to the other nations for help for they turned to idols to help their land to be fruitful, but we turn to other things too. We turn to the psychiatrists of this world, we cope and lose ourselves in food and drink, and we try to escape from difficulty for hours on end to the television or movies… and forget God when we have trials or temptations. And you escape in your own way and you still have your problems and trials and temptations with you.
No, purposefully trust God when the battle is fierce. Rest on Him, rely on Him. Pray, pray like Asa did when the battle is fierce. But prepare yourself as well.
Deepen your commitment to trusting him. And you do that by knowing him every day in His word and prayer so that when temptations come, you will know how to rely Him who has all the strength and know Him who has all the care for you…know Him and choose to trust Him to resist in the evil day.
TRANS: so what is the shield of faith? It means to purposefully trust God when you are tempted to sin… to purposefully trust God when you are tempted to sin… What if you trust God like this and you take up your shield? What will the shield do?
Let’s say you are going through a particular trial temptation right now and let’s say you choose to respond to this passage of Scripture. Let’s say you deepen your commitment to trusting Him by getting in his word and then temptation does come and you trust Him, what happens? What will the shield do?
B. What it does
look at Ephesians 6:16
Ephesians 6:16 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
The shield quenches the flaming arrows; you’ll resist in the evil day; you’ll resist temptation.
ILL: In ancient warfare, the arrows had an iron head on them which was designed to penetrate body armor. So, a shield would be nice to have! But even if the soldier successfully blocked the flaming arrow with his shield, the fire could light up the shield…and then the soldier would be forced to throw away his shield because it’s burning down.
If the shield did catch on fire and he threw it away, the soldier would be defenseless against the enemy in hand-to-hand combat when the swords were brought out.
So how did the Romans extinguish all the flaming arrows? They did so by specially treating the shield. They treated it with water or some other substance that would cause the fire arrows to go out; it would quench the fire, it would extinguish the flame.
So with the shield of faith, if you trust God and trust his word in the heat of battle, you will be victorious and you will extinguish all of the flaming arrows from the evil one.
Did you get that? If you take up the shield of faith like this you will be able to extinguish all of the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Not some of the arrows, not most of them, all of them will be extinguished. The shield of faith quenches all fire arrows. You will successfully escape all temptations if you trust God. Your depression, your anxieties, any help in your heart that you may need…. God has the solution for it; the answer is found in him and in his word, if you would but deepen your commitment to trusting Him every day.
Is there anything that your heart could go through that God and his word cannot solve? What else do you really need for happiness? Peace, are missing some peace? You’re just not happy…does Christ not have the answer? Christ and His word is sufficient! trust in your eternal commander.
Why does faith extinguish fire arrows? Why does faith rescue us from temptations? Because the nature of temptation is to steer you out side of God’s perfect will for you. The nature of every single temptation will have to do with whether or not God is enough for you.
ILL: It was the same way in the garden of Eden. We saw this this past Thursday night when we studied how to put off being afraid … The serpent comes and he tempts Adam and Eve and he tempts them saying …
Genesis 3:5 5 “… God knows that in the day you eat from [the knowledge of good and evil that] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
In other words … “God’s been withholding good things from you. You need to go outside of God to get what you want. God in his control over your life has not given you what you need. He’s either not good or not strong or not caring enough to help you.” This is Satan’s temptation! And that flavor will be in every single temptation.
You must trust God. He is good. He has shown that to you in your life and more importantly he has shown that to you in his word. He will meet the genuine needs of your life.
He will always forgive you when you ask, and no…. he is not always looking over your shoulder to catch you doing something wrong…. No, he is working out all things together for good for you, the Bible says.
He loves you personally; He told you so. And he wants to give you the grace that you so desperately need and he will always give it to you.
And it is him who is always good all the time, it is him who is in control of everything in your life. He is never far, he is a present help in time of trouble and he never changes and you can always trust him and his wise counsel for you.
He is the perfect friend and the help you need and he is actively working in your life for His own glory.
Have you trusted him? Have you made that first step and trusted him to save you from your sins for all of eternity? Do you have assurance of eternal life? He is good to give you that assurance as well.
C. How to take it up
So, you need to know how to take up this shield of faith.
To take it up means to deepen your commitment to trusting God. Are you getting pumped up this morning? Trust Him everyday! Tell Him so and show it by knowing Him in His word and prayer.
You must learn to trust God in all of your ways in your life. What does it mean to trust him in the kitchen, what is it mean to trust him with your spouse, what does it mean to trust him when your coworkers are after you, what does it mean to trust him when your siblings are rubbing you the wrong way…. Trust and obey.
How are you going to do that? You are going to do that by knowing him in his word. It starts today… you know him today in prayer and in his word. And if you do that, you will truly see him that he is good and great. And you will truly see him that he is gracious and present and he gives good gifts….
Ask Him to increase your trust in Him. And when temptations and trials come your way, pray to him, ask him for help; ask him for strength. He will make a way of escape so that you can endure it.
Though you have trials and struggles and heartache, the Lord is not restrained by many or by few. His help doesn’t depend on you; all of your weakness is actually strength for Him to work!… He is able to help you in time of need.
Like Asa, even though you look all around … I mean, it looks like there’s 1 million men around me and I’m all alone… And if you know your weakness like this and can confess that to him and you see the trials all around if you like Asa choose to rely and trust in God you will find help. And grow and grow in this. You can do this by his grace.
But it takes the day in and day out, work every day of knowing God and trusting him every day even in the small things. Trust Him every day by getting in His word…you can’t survive any day without Him. And you’ll go one day without getting in His word or prayer? Don’t you realize that there are a barrage of flaming arrows flying toward you every day?
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 6.16
Now, soldier, are you going to obey orders? You say, “Yeah I’m going through pretty hard time right now… or I am thinking of certain temptations that I’m going through right now and I just …you know, this sounds nice, but I really don’t think that anything would change. I feel like I will always struggle with this and I’m not going to get in His word more and try to understand it…”
So you’re not going to obey orders? There are no conscientious objectors in the Christian Army. Conscientious objector is one who refuses to go to war. If you refuse to obey orders in the Christian Army, you’ve really lost the battle. You are on the battle field whether you like it or not.
Alvin York was a US soldier who was tempted not to obey orders. Before WWI, He lived a life of drinking and fighting and then trusted Christ and renounced his former lifestyle. But he began to hold to pacifist doctrines. He wanted to reject military service. But three years after his conversion, World War I began. And Alvin York as required, registered for the draft, but he applied for conscientious objector status and even appealed after his first request was denied.
But he had arrived in France and began to believe God did want him to fight. He began to obey orders…During the night one night he and three other officers led 13 privates to infiltrate the German lines on a nighttime raid and to take out the machine guns.
The group worked their way behind German lines and overran the headquarters of a German unit, capturing a large group of German soldiers who were preparing a counter-attack against the U.S. troops.
After that, one of the machine guns opened fire and killed or wounded 9 of the 16 men. York didn’t even have time to take cover, he just stood his ground … he recalls the incident… “And those machine guns were spitting fire and cutting down the undergrowth all around me something awful. And the Germans were yelling orders. You never heard such a racket in all of your life. I didn’t have time to dodge behind a tree or dive into the brush… As soon as the machine guns opened fire on me, I began to exchange shots with them. There were over thirty of them in continuous action, and all I could do was touch the Germans off just as fast as I could. I was sharp shooting… I was giving them the best I had.”
On top of that, during that very assault, 6 Germans charged him with bayonets. He had fired all the rounds in his rifle, so he drew out his 45 colt automatic pistol and shot all the soldiers before they could reach him.
And when it was all over, York and just seven men marched back 132 German prisoners back to American lines.
York was awarded the Medal of Honor and received nearly 50 awards for bravery in the face of danger. He was one of the most decorated soldiers in WWI.
His Medal of Honor citation reads:
After his platoon suffered heavy casualties and 3 other noncommissioned officers had become casualties, … York assumed command. Fearlessly leading 7 men, he charged with great daring a machine gun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon. In this heroic feat the machine gun nest was taken, together with 4 officers and 128 men and several guns.
Now, what if he had received his conscientious objector status? What if he had not deepened his commitment? Perhaps many more men would’ve lost their lives. You too must obey orders; you must deepen your commitment to trusting God every day. If you fall into temptation and sin, you never fall in battle alone. We need you here! Your fellow soldiers in this assembly need you to get right with God and trust Him, even in the fiercest battles of your life. Trust your commander!
And know this, that every day as you battle, that the eternal victory is certain. Christ has broken that serpent’s head and you battle every day with the vanquished foe. So when you are in the middle of temptation know that Christ has died for you and for your sins and was raised again on your behalf.
And fight through, and fight on and rejoice in Christ the mighty conqueror. And if you fall in the battle, know that he heals all wound, he will touch up your damaged shield. And if you grow weary, know that he is near and desires to refresh you from the toil. Ask not to be lead into temptation, but always fight on, praying, “Lord deliver me from evil.”