Monday, September 19, 2011

Shield of Faith...

Week 38:
Ephesians 6:16  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
This particular passage is tucked away amongst the pieces of the Armor of God.  For weeks, this particular piece, the shield of faith, stood out to me.  A couple of things come to mind here.

First, why is faith so important for extinguishing “all the flaming arrows of the evil one”?  What is it about faith that gives me the power to protect myself from these arrows?  Why not the breastplate of righteousness that protects my heart?  Why not the Helmet of salvation which protects my mind and saves me?  Why not the sword of the Spirit which is His word that gives me ammunition?  Why the shield of faith?  This lead me to a passage in 2 Peter that I call a list of character traits all Christians should posses.  Notice what is listed first.
2 Pete 1:5-9  5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  8For if you posses these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
In fact, it is listed as if one already has faith and faith is origin or starting place for all of these other character traits.  I would even go a step further and say that without faith, it is hard to posses the rest of these.  When you look at the list of character traits, you see things that can help you in the battle against evil.  But still…why faith?
Without faith in God and His existence and His grace through Jesus, we have hollow character traits to stand on.  If we do not have faith in God, then the evil one can get his lies into our belief system.  Our faith in Him is what the evil one wants to shake.  The devil attacked Jesus’ faith both during his 40 days of fasting and in the garden.  If the evil one can get to the heart of our faith, he knows he has won.  So, we must stand firm in our faith first and foremost.
Another observation about this passage is the part of the passage that says, “…extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”.  Notice it does not say “some”, or just “arrows”, or “that might come”.  It is stated as a fact.  The arrows from the evil one will come and they will be flaming.  This faith gives us the ability “extinguish” the flaming arrows.  This also could mean that the arrows will land.  Wounds will occur.  But the shield of faith extinguishes them.  My faith in God gives me the strength and ability to do that.
So, remember, that faith is the basis from which other traits are empowered. 
1.      Do you agree that faith is the basis of which all other traits are empowered?  Why or why not?
2.      Have you ever put other character traits and pieces of armor ahead of faith? 
3.      Which traits were these?
4.      Spend some time in prayer this week asking God for guidance in understanding faith at a deeper level.  Watch closely to see how that surfaces for you.


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