"In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one..." — Ephesians 6:16
What is the shield of faith? And why is Paul telling us to take it up? When Paul tells us to put on the full armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-20, he concludes this teaching by bringing attention to certain pieces of armor, including the shield of faith.
When you think of a shield, what do you picture? Maybe Captain America’s circular shield of red, white, and blue? Maybe you're thinking of a pointed shield from the renaissance era. And while these shields serve a similar role, that isn’t quite the kind of shield that Paul’s audience would be picturing.
Upon reading Paul's words, the believers in the church at Ephesus would immediately have pictured the shield of a Roman soldier, which was huge—large as a door in your home and painted with identifying marks to indicate the soldier's loyalty. The Roman shield of the time, called a scutum, had two purposes: push back the enemy and protect the body from attack. When a unit of soldiers stood together with their shields up, they basically created a nearly impenetrable enclosure wherever they positioned them. This was especially important when arrows were raining down. These shields, often made of wood, could even be covered in water as protection from flaming arrows.
Now that we can picture the kind of shield Paul is talking about, what does this have to do with faith? Let’s look at Hebrews 11:1 for a definition of faith: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." 2 Corinthians 5:7 reminds us that we ought to "walk by faith, not by sight." One of the greatest gifts we have received from God is faith.
Faith is a secret power that protects our hearts from the encroaching darkness. Our faith is a shield because it serves as a defense against Satan and his lies. The strength of our faith is our first line of defense when the enemy attacks. Our faith is our safe space when it feels like the sky is on fire. Our faith is our assurance that God is on our side (Romans 8:1; Romans 8:31). Our shield of faith identifies us as soldiers of the One True God, the Commander of the Lord’s army. (See Joshua 5:14.)
Without our faith, it's easy for Satan to taunt us with doubts, worries, and deceptions. When we rest in the truth of our faith in the Lord, those fiery darts fall on the ground and fizzle (Romans 5:1-2).
"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith." —1 John 5:4
God’s victory is guaranteed, and we are His army (Ephesians 6:12). Our salvation is secure, for we are His children (John 1:12). Even in dark days, when it doesn’t feel like anything good can come again, God’s triumph is certain. Having that shield of faith at the ready is a light and a constant reminder that this battle has already been won—we just need to get to the other side.
One of the greatest gifts we have received from God is our faith. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Our shield of faith is the secret protection we carry with us each day (Ephesians 6:16). Our faith carries the promises of God and the truth of our salvation on its face. Our faith shields us from Satan's whispered lies, reminding us that God's truth stands and does not change. Having a shield of faith at the ready is a light and a constant reminder that this battle has already been won by our God—we just need to get to the other side.
Heidi Joelle spends her days staring at paperwork and making sure it is where it is supposed to be, how it is supposed to be, when it is supposed to be. And then she comes home and makes sure the porky little dog isn't eating a trashcan. Between these two events, she tries to learn and see as much of the world around her as possible.