The fourth piece of spiritual armor in Ephesians 6 is the shield of faith. And with a few thoughts about this shield, we end our series on faith. Ephesians 6:16 reads, “in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one.”
The Greek “thurion” was an oblong Roman shield 4ft. long and 2 ½ feet wide. It was constructed of wood with 2 layers of leather glued on it together and bound together with iron above and below.
It was designed to cover the whole person in a slightly bent position. When soldiers would fight side-by-side these shields would form an impenetrable wall from oncoming arrows or from the jabs of enemy foot soldiers.
In warfare in those days arrows were occasionally dipped in tar or pitch and then ignited and shot by the thousands to rain down on enemy troops. These were not the poisonous arrows as some have thought but real flaming, dart-like arrows.
A direct hit on a soldier could be damaging even with his other pieces of armor on. But with the timely use of his shield, dozens of these little arrows could be rendered harmless, because when the flaming arrow hit the shield, the arrow would be embedded in the leather and wood, and become severely blunted, and then harmlessly extinguished. In fact, at times, Romans soldiers would even soak their shields in water just before battle if such arrows were expected from the enemy.
Obviously the shield was another important piece of armor. Notice Paul says that ‘in addition to all’ take up the shield of faith. He means, “Do not neglect to pick up the shield! Your previous armor is not complete without it.”
What is this shield for the Christian? Faith! How many of the enemy’s schemes would be foiled if we but exercised our faith more decisively? The shield is faith in the promises of God.
No Christian can be successful apart from the daily exercise of faith. Satan will not leave you alone just because you have on the other pieces of armor. If one scheme will not work he will try, try again. He will search for some weakness in the church circling around the shields to find someone not covered and then order the barrage of arrows to rain down darts of discouragement and arrows of doubt.
There are many flaming arrows, but notice v. 16 says the shield “will extinguish them all.” Faith puts out the darts of confusion when things seem to hit you all at once in life and you get tired and worn down. Faith puts out the missiles of doubt when God does not seem to answer your prayers right away. Faith puts out the arrow of fear flung to lodge deep within you when a family member falls gravely ill and you feel helpless and betrayed by God.
When you come out on the other side of a spiritual battle, you appreciate the shield of faith more. Faith becomes a valued defense. How many of the enemy’s schemes would be foiled in our minds if we but exercised our faith more decisively? The shield is faith in the objective promises of God – in Holy Scripture. Satan and his subordinates shoot arrows like: God does not love you! God has forgotten all about you.
The shield of faith recalls the promise of God. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” “If God is for us who is against us?” Rom 8:31
Demonic suggestions convey: Your life is not amounting to anything! You might as well quit.” the shield of faith gets lifted and that dart is extinguished in the promise, Your toil in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Cor 15:58
No Christian can be successful apart from the daily exercise of faith. Satan won’t leave you alone just because you have on the other pieces of armor. If one scheme won’t work he will try, try again. He will search for some weakness in the church circling around the shields to find someone not covered and then order the barrage of arrows to come and rain down darts of discouragement and flaming arrows of doubt.