Last time, we finished up the first three pieces or armor and now we will move into the last three pieces. Again, with these elements we see a difference in their use and what we are to do with them. The ones we are going to discuss, we must take hold or hold on to these. The others, we were to fasten or put on. This difference in verb action is going to help us understand the purpose of the armor and how we are to better defend ourselves. Let’s dig in.
Ephesians 6:16 says this, “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”. The first words we see are “In addition to all this,”. This is just showing that all of this armor in it’s pieces are connected. We can’t just use the first 3 pieces and forget about the others. In addition to the first ones, we must also use the other pieces to follow. This is a very important concept in understanding how the armor works. All the armor is connected in some way and one piece is just as important as the next.
After this, the item we see here is the shield of faith. Here, Paul lists a very specific purpose for the shield. The purpose is to, “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”. Let’s talk about a soldier’s shield for a moment. When we think of a shield today, we may think of Captain America’s round shield or a small shield that is similar in size and shape. The Roman soldier’s shield at this time, however, could not be more opposite. The shields at this time were as big as doors and squared off like a door. These shields covered the whole body of the soldier and were very thick made of wood and covered usually with some sort of fur or hide of animals. The shield was vital for a soldier. It was foolish to go into battle without one and they provided the first and sometimes the best defense in warfare. Let’s now talk about the spiritual implications.
When fighting off evil and resisting temptations and attacks of satan a shield would be nice, but what kind of shield works in a spiritual battle? A shield of faith. Our faith in Jesus Christ is the best defense against evil. Why? Because our faith in Christ will help us endure the trials and gets rid of any doubt satan may throw at us. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” The faith we have is an absolute confidence that no doubt can break. It is absolutely sure that whatever God promises will happen and our sureness of that is our faith. No matter what satan throws at us, no matter the trials we face, no matter the persecution, we know and have faith that God will deliver. He is our refuge and our faith is in Him which is our shield.
The shield also “extinguishes all the flaming arrows of the evil one”. The arrows described here could be any temptation, any trial, or persecution satan throws our way to get us off the path of righteousness and onto the path of destruction. Not only does our faith block the arrows but it also extinguishes them and puts out the fire. Often times, the arrow’s enemies would shoot would have fire at the end of the tips, so that even though they may have been blocked and not harmed anyone, the fiery tips would catch the wood of the shield on fire and thus doing more damage. The idea of our faith is that it would not only block the temptation or trial from piercing our faith and soul and destroying us, but it also completely puts out the fire on the arrow as well, stopping all doubt and fear. Our shield of faith is expressed as this impenetrable force that if held correctly and made correctly, nothing can hurt us. Our faith must be in Christ in order for us to defend against evil.
The next piece of the armor we see is the helmet of salvation. Ephesians 6:17 says, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” It seems to be that Paul pairs this helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit together. Could it be that the helmet is linked to the sword because the sword is the word of God and we hear the message of salvation from the Word of God? That could possibly be a link between these two. Let’s talk the helmet for a second. For a soldier, the helmet protected the most critical part of the body, the head. A strike to the head would mean a likely end for the soldier and so the helmet helped to protect that from happening. The same is true for Christians as we wear the helmet of salvation. Our salvation in Jesus Christ allows us to defend against satan’s biggest blows. It gives us the assurance to not let a striking blow take us out and keep us off the path to salvation. As we wear the helmet, as we live our lives confident in the eternal life we will receive, the evil that comes our way will not affect us permanently. This is not to say we won’t sin, or get knocked down. But it does mean our souls will not die and we will not meet our end because of the salvation we have in Jesus. We must also renew our minds as Romans 12:1-2 tells us to do. By renewing our minds, we can continually focus on God and His will. Our minds our the battlegrounds for satan and his army and they are always trying to get us to think a certain way, to act a certain way that we know is wrong but yet we do it anyway. By renewing our mind, we can recognize those specific battles and pray and let God help us fight the battle. In the end, we know that we who are in Christ, have sure salvation in Christ.
The last piece of armor we see is this sword of the Spirit. Paul even clarifies what this sword is and that is the word of God, the holy Scriptures. The sword aspect is interesting in and of itself. The sword is the only piece of the armor that is not a defensive object. All the other armor up to this point has been defensive elements that guard and protect us against the evil forces of sin and temptation. The sword is used for both defensive and offensive warfare. A Roman soldier’s sword was often double-edged and they took lots of training in learning how to use it. This is an interesting thought when talking about the word of God. Hebrews 4:12 describes God’s word as being a sword, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart”. The word of God is alive and active. It discerns or recognizes the thoughts and motives and desires of our hearts and exposes them to us. The word of God lets us know what we are really thinking by exposing our thoughts and feelings to us.
The word of God can help us defend against satan’s tactics much like Jesus did when he was tempted in the wilderness. But what about the offensive side of the Bible? How can we be offensive with the Bible? Well we use the word of God to tell other about Jesus and the salvation they can receive through him (another link to the helmet). It is not a forceful attack, but a gentle display of the Good News of Christ that can get them moving in the right direction and ultimately save their souls.
There was also lots of training that went into learning how to use a sword in battle. The more we read, study, and meditate on God’s word the more we “train” ourselves in a sense. The more familiar we are with the Bible, the more we are ready to defend against evil and tell others the gospel of Christ. Either way, spending more time in God’s Word, gives us the ability to use it when we need it. The Spirit is also linked to this sword, giving light to the fact that the Holy Spirit is with us and can speak to us through the Word.
All in all, the armor is made for one reason. That reason is “so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand”. Standing our ground and not giving in to evil is the whole reason we put on this “armor” as Christians. We also need to make sure that we have all of this spiritual armor on everyday. As we have seen in our study, if one piece of armor is missing or not on correctly, it affects the other pieces and they become useless. We must put on the full armor of God and we must use it to stand our ground when evil comes our way.