Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Armor of God: The Shield of Faith

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will REJOICE and be glad in it. Every morning when I wake up, I remind myself, that it really is MY CHOICE to REJOICE! When we make that choice, it turns our focus upward to the God who blesses us with all blessings! We truly are a blessed people.

I have had a few people recently share with me about the battles that they are facing in their lives. I have a cousin with whom I communicate regularly via email that is going through some personal struggles with her children, her health, and the health of her mother. As I was reading her latest email to me the other day, I felt the Holy Spirit prick my heart to spend a few days teaching on the WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD. So, I would like to talk with you about this all important truth from God's Word.

The Apostle Paul discussed the need for the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-13 NKJV: "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. "

If we want to live for God, spiritual forces of evil will oppose us in "spiritual warfare." God gives us the whole armor of God for protection and survival. It enables us to reach our maximum endurance on the "spiritual battlefield" without becoming a casualty. We'll need to both wear the armor of God and know how to use it if we hope to be victorious.

The first piece of armor we take up is the shield of faith. The shield of faith quenches or extinguishes all of the fiery darts from the enemy. Consider these scriptures that reference 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 NKJV

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV

To best understand what "faith" means, let's consider these definitions:

1. The Greek word for faith in the above verses is Pistis, which means: "Conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with it" (The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon for Strong's #4102)

2. Hebrews 11:1 provides further insight on the meaning of faith: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV)

Putting these definitions together in practical terms, faith in God is:

  • Trusting in God's Word as truth
  • Trusting that God will provide for our needs
  • Trusting that God will protect us from the evil one
  • Believing that God is with us and lives in us, even though we may not see him
  • Believing that Christ's sacrifice paid the penalty for our sin, reconciling us to God
  • Believing that through faith we have Christ's authority over evil powers

In our human weakness, we may find it difficult to fully trust and believe God in the above ways. Since God is the author, "perfecter" and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), we can and should ask him for the completion of our faith. For example, Jesus told the man whose son had an evil spirit:

"Everything is possible for him who believes." 24Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" 25When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again." Mark 9:23-25 NIV

Just as the father asked Jesus for help in overcoming unbelief, we too can ask Jesus to help us overcome our doubt. As a result our shield of faith will operate at its maximum strength.

When we believe in something, our belief gives it power to manifest in our lives. Jesus said, "Everything is possible for him who believes" (Mark 9:23 NIV). Do you believe that? We must take care that we are believing God's word and not the devil's lies. If we believe the devil's lies, we're putting faith into them and opening a door for the devil to influence us. This is "negative faith," and irony of it is that we give it power through our own belief in the lies.

Our faith must be based on the truth of the word of God. Any other source is neither reliable nor trustworthy. The devil's primary tactic against our faith is to persuade us to believe lies so that our faith is not founded on truth. Once we believe lies, our shield of faith is basically deactivated, giving the enemy access to us.

I used to love to watch Star Trek. As a fan of the show, I love the analogy of a starship's electromagnetic shield and our faith. When the starship's shields were at 100%, the enemy torpedoes were unable to damage the ship. If the ship lost power, the shields failed and the torpedoes were free to wreak havoc on the disabled ship. When we start believing lies, our shield's power source is damaged, allowing the enemy's fiery darts to hit us.

The devil often entices people into sexual sin with the lie that God's plan for sex isn't sufficient and/or isn't worth the wait for marriage. He offers attractive counterfeits through prostitution, pornography, homosexuality, chat rooms, phone sex, fornication, etc. in attempt to persuade us to make our own sexual provision instead of trusting God for it. This "shift of faith" away from God weakens our shield of faith. As a result, we open ourselves up for further deception and destruction from the enemy.

How the shield quenches the fiery darts: Here is a possible explanation: The fiery darts (i.e. temptations) seek to inflame our sinful desires (lust of flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life) by stirring up our thoughts of fulfilling those desires. If our faith is operating effectively, the enemy's temptations will not be able to inflame sinful desires in us, because we don't believe the lies behind them.

Actions to put up an effective shield: There are several things we can do to ensure that the proper operation of our shield of faith. They hinge upon the principle that we believe God and therefore speak what we believe (2 Corinthians 4:13-14). Our spoken words of faith set the shield into place. (I will go into deeper detail with this when we discuss the Sword of the Spirit)

  • Reaffirm your faith in God each day, as you extend the shield of faith over yourself and your family: This can be a simple statement such as: "Lord God, I believe that you are God and that there is no other God but you. I believe that you are Lord of heaven and earth and the creator of all things. I trust in you for my provision, protection and life today. I take up the shield of faith today and believe that quenches every fiery dart of the enemy."
  • Maintain daily intake of God's word in your quiet time.
  • Use God's word to destroy the incoming lies
    (John 8:31-32) behind the temptations you face
  • Ask God to strengthen and perfect your faith in any area that it is weak: "Heavenly Father, I believe that with you nothing is impossible. I believe, Lord, but please help me overcome any unbelief I have, especially in the areas of ___________(list as appropriate for you). I receive your perfection of my faith right now, in Jesus' name! Thank you, Father, Amen."

I hope and pray that you will take the time, right now, to pick up your SHIELD OF FAITH! I love you guys, and pray that you have a Faith-filled day today! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "Through the Bible in a year" reading: January 30, 2008 Numbers 5:1-10:10

This week's Memory Verse: Psalm 19:14

(KJVR) Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

(MSG) These are the words in my mouth; these are what I chew on and pray. Accept them when I place them on the morning altar, O God, my Altar-Rock, God, Priest-of-My-Altar.

TOMORROW'S BLOG: The Helmet of Salvation


Anonymous said...

Pastor Rusty, this is a great tool and is very helpful to those who cannot attend your services weekly! Thank you for this tool in your ministry! What a blessing! Susan Garrington*