The shield of faith
Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. - Ephesians 6: 16
The shield of faith not only defends our whole body but also our armour. It keeps the darts of the enemy away from the head, chest, waist, arms and legs. No wonder the Bible says we should have it 'above all'.
The shield of faith has a very specific function, which the Bible makes abundantly clear: quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Not some of them but all of them.
None of the other pieces of weapon mentioned so far are exalted as highly as the shield.
The shield moves with the attack. A skilled soldier can use the shield to hold back the darts of the enemy no matter the direction they come from. When the shield is down the other weapons are exposed.
What is the shield of faith?
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:4 KJV
Faith is what the Holy Spirit dropped into our hearts when we received the Lord Jesus Christ as our saviour. Faith is what allows us to call God our father (Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6)
Faith is of God. Jesus said if you had faith as a mustard seed you would be able to speak to a mountain and it would move (Matthew 17:20). Faith is the confidence and assurance we have in the crucified and risen Christ. Faith is lifting our eyes up to God and relying on the greater on in us to see us through. As the writer of the book of Hebrews puts it.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. Hebrews 11:1-2 NKJV
Take a study of the different characters mentioned in Hebrews 11. Not all of them looked a roaring success from the world's point of view. In fact, as you get to the latter part of the chapter you will discover some of them suffered cruel persecutions. However they never lost their confidence in the Lord whom they served. They were persuaded of the victory they had in Christ.
Faith is what God has given us to receive from Him. Determination alone will never get you to heaven. Only faith will. You can pray from now till tomorrow but see no answers to your prayer if you have not the faith to receive it.
Zacharias and Elizabeth were both righteous people (Luke 1:6). Yet Zacharias did not have the faith to believe the word of God sent by an angel (Luke 1:11-19).
Having all the other pieces of armour without faith will not bring us into the promises of God.
How to get and increase our faith
1. Keep a firm grip on the source - 1 Peter 1:23 - 25
"having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the LORD endures forever. Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you." 1 Peter 1:23-25 NKJV
The Word of God, which we heard, produced our faith in the first place. This Word of God will also preserve us and keep us in the faith. The word breeds prayer and praying increases our faith. Never allow anything to take the place of God's Word in your life for it is the source of your faith. The mystery of faith is hidden in the Word. It does something in your heart that your mind and intellect is not always aware of.
2. Keep a pure conscience - 1 Timothy 1:5
"Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,"1 Timothy 1:5 NKJV
If faith is the treasure, then our conscience is the bag that holds it. The Holy Spirit within us makes our conscience alert to the promptings of God. If your conscience condemns you for doing something then stop it. Sin and faith do not go together. Sin will only allow holes in the bag that is supposed to be holding faith.
A good conscience will lead you to live right before God. A clear conscience before God is vital if our faith is to develop.
3. Exercise your faith
We do this by telling people about our faith (2 Timothy 1:6-8), by doing good works, i.e. praying for the sick, and attending Christian gatherings (Hebrews 10: 24-25), listening to people share their testimonies and insights from His Word (2 Peter 1:13) and by pondering and studying the life of other men and women of faith (2 Peter 3:1-2).
4. Take heed of your weakness - 1 Timothy 4:1
satan will attempt to use your known weakness to his advantage. He approached Jesus after forty days of fasting. He thought he could use Jesus hunger to his advantage.
If you have been set free from a drinking problem (alcohol), then don't spend your time around wine. You will only be tempted back in again. It you are the curious type then give no time at all to reading strange doctrines or exploring the teachings of evil. Many Christian have been seduced out of the faith by satan's tricks, lured into all kinds of traps by the evil one who has taken advantage of their weakness. You know yours. Guide against it.
How to use the shield of faith
1. By holding God to His promise - 2 Peter 1: 3-4
God's precious promises have been given to us.
Use them to fulfil His will. Search them out in the scriptures. Believe them for the circumstances you are in. Read them out aloud and silently. Speak them to your circumstances. Hold unto them until they become a reality in your life. Use them to establish the will of God for the people and lives around you.
2. By being fervent in prayer - James 5: 15-17
Pray expecting God to answer. Pray until you see the answer. You would do no less if you were praying with faith. God's word will establish God's will in your heart. Prayer will fulfil that will on the earth. Jesus said we should pray for God's will on earth as it is in heaven. Let your prayer life reflect your faith.
3. Live the life of faith - Acts 17:28
Live your life as if it depends on God. Let your character, life style and expectations be governed by your faith in God. Faith is not something we do and say in church only. If you believe in God you will tell others about it. Share your Christian life style with your family. Pray and study the word together as a family.