By Joy Haney
Ephesians 6:16 says, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Christians many times flip this verse off their tongue like an old familiar saying, but when it comes to putting it into practice, they are not aware of how to do it.
First of all, what is a shield’? It is a broad piece of defensive armor, consisting of a frame of metal, and carried on the arm or held in the hand by a handle. It is a protection against something. It is used to ward off, to defend, or to cover from danger. It is important to the offense, because when the warrior moves forward, the shield protects him from the enemy. The New Testament, which was written in Greek, refers to Grecian armor. The Greeks used both round and oval shields which were heavy and almost covered the body. The shield in modern warfare is the armor-plate covering installed around a gun to protect the gun’s crew from enemy fire.
Christians are protected by God’s impartation of faith to them. The thing to remember is that the devil does not have the power to obliterate; he only has his painful irritating darts. He cannot win against you unless you let him. The devil may have his darts, but Christians have a sword. Those darts might have fire in them, and one might get by the shield, and it will burn, hurt, inflame, and cause one to scream with pain, but “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (I Peter 4:12-13).
Rejoice, because if you were not linked up with God, the devil would not be bothering you so much, and not only for that reason, but rejoice because you are going to win. It may look like the devil is winning, but with God there is always another move.
In the early part of the last century an artist, who was also a great chess player, painted a picture of a chess game. The players consisted of a young man and Satan. The young man was playing the white pieces, while the devil had the black. The reason for the game was that if the young man won he would be free of the power of evil, but if the devil won the man was to be his slave forever.
The artist believed in the supreme power of evil and presented the devil as victor. In the picture the young man’s hand hovered over his rook, his face paled with amazement–there was no hope. The devil won. For years the picture hung in an art gallery. Finally one day a chess player started to doubt the picture. He studied the picture and became convinced that there was but one chess player upon the earth who could give him assurance that the artist of this picture was not right in his conception of the winner. The chess player was the aged Paul Morphy, a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana. Morphy was a supreme master of chess in his day, an undefeated champion.
Morphy stood before the picture five minutes, ten minutes, twenty minutes, thirty minutes. He was all concentration; he lifted and lowered his hands, as in imagination, he made and eliminated moves. Suddenly, his hand paused, his eyes burned with the vision of an unthought-of combination. Suddenly, he shouted, “Young man, make that move. That’s the move.”
To the amazement of all, the old master, the chess authority, had discovered a combination that the creating artist had not considered. The young man defeated the devil after all. The end result is what counts in chess as well as with the battle over the evil one. Winning is what it is all about. There has to be a battle or a challenge before there can be a victory. Shields are not needed at tea parties, only on battlefields.
When you sign up to be in the army of the Lord, you enlist into the battle of all time. The General hands out the equipment and the shield is one of the major pieces of equipment, for without it you are dead, but with it you win. Faith in God never loses. It is guaranteed victory.
Faith is tried and developed through hardship, disappointment, disillusionment, conflict, frustration, and failure. If you never had a problem, how could you see God’s miraculous power at work? Faith is developed through exercise. Faith is not gained by looking at beautiful stained glass windows and padded pews. When your back is up against the wall, you need something more than nice-sounding phrases. Faith is the vision of the heart. It sees God in the dark, as in the day.
Abraham, already mentioned in this book, was a man of faith. What was it that set him apart from other men? First of all, when God spoke to him in Genesis 12, Abraham obeyed Him without question, and then built an altar. The second time God appeared to him in chapter 13, and told him that his seed would be as the dust of the earth, he built another altar. The third time God appeared to him, he said to Abraham these powerful words: “…Fear not, Abram; I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Genesis 15:1).
Notice after the Lord had told him his seed would also be as the stars of the heaven and the sands of the sea, verse 6 says, “And he believed in the Lord….” When faith is present in God, and man believes everything God says, then God draws near to man and connects with his faith and becomes a shield of faith to the believer. Faith is not hard when God is a part of it.
The reason God could trust Abraham was because he always obeyed, no matter what. God appeared to Abraham again in chapter 17. That is when he laughed in his heart, because he was 99 years old. Then the Lord appeared to him in chapter 18, and after communing with the angels as well, he and the Lord communed about the destruction of Sodom. But before He talked with Abraham about the city, He made a statement to the two angels that gave a clue as to why God trusted Abraham so much. The Lord said, “For I know him, that he will command his children, and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment…” (Genesis 18:19). The Lord knew him and had confidence in him that he would obey Him fully with his whole heart.
The Lord had one more test for Abraham to see if he would obey blindly as he had done before. His first test was to see if he would give up family, home, lands, prestige, riches, just everything! Then God asked him to give up his son on an altar of sacrifice. He passed the second test, for when Isaac was on the altar, Abraham drew back the knife to plunge it into the heart of his only son. The angel of the Lord called and said, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know, that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me” (Genesis 22:12).
The clue to the close relationship between God and Abraham and all the blessings was obedience. “And in thy seed shall all thy nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Genesis 22:18). Abraham had such a close relationship with God, as well as several encounters with angels, that it was a natural way to live. It was his lifestyle. So when he called his eldest servant to go get a wife for Isaac, he thought nothing about taking authority and telling him that the angel of the Lord would go before him when the servant questioned about whether the woman would return with him. Abraham said, “The Lord God of heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land;” (Note: Abraham was so used to believing that he did not doubt this either.) “This same God that spoke these things will send his angel before thee…” (Genesis 24:7).
The shield of faith held in the believer’s hand cannot be seen. When you get dressed in the morning and put your shoes on, you can see, touch, and smell them. But you cannot see, touch, or smell faith. You think, “If I could just see this shield, pick it up and put it down, and know that it is there–how much easier it would be.” No, then it would be harder; you would be limiting yourself, because the spirit world is so much greater than the touchable world. Faith is very invisible, but very tangible. It believes without question, performs without hesitation, and is sup-ported by all of heaven. The shield of faith is not decorative, but is used in pushing back hell, doubt, and disease.
Somehow Christians must have their eyes opened to the fact of how powerful God and His resources are. He has all power. He Himself is enough, but He gives even more than Himself. He gives to His children the Word, Spirit, the power of His Blood, His Name, His abiding Presence, and the help of His angelic host. These angels are present in the heavens, and by the side of the believer, or wherever God sends them.
If you have difficulty believing that angels are ready to help you, then you will have difficulty believing in God, for He uses them constantly to do His bidding. Only the sad you see, do not believe in the angels. `For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit…” (Acts 23:8).
Angels are referred to often in the scripture, and one of their purposes is given in. Hebrews.
But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels (Hebrews 1:14; 12:22).
The whole thing boils down to this: Why should we be afraid to step out by faith, when we have so much power on our side?
When Peter was put in prison, the people did not despair, they prayed. “Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him” (Acts 12:5). The church had the shield of faith and they were pushing back hell with it. While the church warred in the spirit, Peter slept.
“And behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands” (Acts 12:7). Peter did not even realize it was an angel. He thought it was a vision. Some-times we have heavenly visitations, and we are like Peter–unaware. He finally recognized it for what it was. “And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and bath delivered me out of the hand of Herod…” (Acts 12:11).
The prayer and faith of the church connected with the power of God became Peter’s shield. He protected him from the enemy’s scheme. The shield is not just a piece of metal you hold in your hand. No! It cannot be separated from God. It is God’s weaponry He gives you. He expects us to lean upon Him and fuse our faith with His power and have signs, wonders, and miracles.
This article “Shield Of Faith” written by Joy Haney is excerpted from her book Great Faith.