The Whole Armor of God: Shoes and Shield (Ephesians Sermon 49 of 54)
September 04, 2016 | Andrew Davis
Faith, Temptation, Demons
Amen. Well, one of the greatest advantages in a battle is the ability to strike your enemy without him ever knowing that you were there, to be able to slip in at night through his defenses, to silently carry on covert operations to achieve your mission with silent, invisible, deadly precision, by stealth. That has always been a dream of warriors everywhere. The element of surprise, the element of stealth.
When my wife and I were missionaries in Japan, we had the opportunity to visit these spectacular ancient castles. You've perhaps seen pictures of them in various places. There are hundreds of them all over Japan, but we saw ones in Kitakyushu, we saw ones in Osaka, in Kobe. These impressive castles, built over 500 centuries ago, with steep sloping rock walls with their huge boulders, fitted together with amazing precision. Towering hundreds and hundreds of feet above the city, and we learned about a special class of warriors called the Shinobi Warriors, who are specially trained to scale those walls at night by stealth. And silently, secretly enter those castles while everyone slept, or to evade the sentries, slip in through windows. They study the arts of self. Techniques of silence in everything they did, these Shinobi Warriors, more commonly called, “ninja.” And these ninja warriors have a special skill at stealth.
I've been thinking about ninja. I don't want to be a ninja. Some of you would say, "I wish I could be a ninja. I'd love to be a ninja." But I want to have an image in your mind, if you would, just to think in your mind's eye. I want to take another image from antiquity and image given us by the author, John Bunyan, his famous work, The Holy War, in which he pictured the human soul like a walled city, or a fortress. And I want you to picture yourself, your soul, like that, but I also want you to picture the walls of your castle as though they are being scaled continually by these black, covered ninja warriors, wearing these special black suits, and black hoods, and with their faces sooted up with black soot. Slipping in, if they can, into your life. Slipping in through the cracks of your defenses into your minds to do you devastating damage.
Most Christians, as I've said for weeks now, are unaware of spiritual warfare moment by moment. We don't tend to think about it. We don't tend to think about the devil and his angels. And it seems like this text, this scripture is given to wake us up in the night. Imagine if those ninja were going up the walls and suddenly the whole area was flooded with light. A thousand, 10,000 torches suddenly lit. They'd be completely exposed and they would be helpless, unable to finish their dark mission. I want to shed the light of the word of God on what Satan is trying to do in your life, what he's trying to do in your soul, by means of these sermons. So, we are at war and we need to know that. Look again at verses 10 through 13. It says, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground. And after you've done everything, to stand."
I. The Basic Command: Stand Firm
Review: Spiritual Warfare
So, fundamental to understanding this warfare is for us to understand our enemy. We've been talking for several weeks about Satan, the devil and his angels. Satan rules an organized dark empire with spiritual beings under him, fallen angels, spiritual beings called in this text, “rulers, authorities, powers of this present darkness.” Spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Those are the names that Paul gives them. These words are plural, so they're multi-faceted, they're different created beings who do this damage to us. They're intelligent, they're organized, they're unspeakably wicked. They're hateful, murderous, treacherous, they hate all humanity, generally. Because all human beings are created in the image of God and they hate God. But they especially hate Christians. And the devil and his angels, the demons, constantly assault Christians all over the world with invisible weapons. Pulling us away from righteousness, away from holiness and towards sin all the time. These invisible powerful assaults are called temptations, or accusations, or doubts, that assault our souls, they're invisible. And Paul calls on us Christians to fight, to stand firm and fight. Ultimately, the power for success in this kind of warfare comes, not from us but from God, Almighty God, through the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. That's where our strength comes from. Because the devil's intellect soars vastly above ours.
The devil's intelligence, his experience far greater than ours. He's been tempting people in every generation for millennia. People far more difficult to cause to sin than any of us. He has tremendous experiences. Power for us as far as we're concerned, is immeasurable. Really have no idea how powerful he is. Vastly greater than our power. His memory and record keeping about our tendencies is impeccable. Knows our weaknesses, knows what will work against us. He is relentless. He left our Lord. When he tempted him, he left him until an opportune time. Don't know when that is but he's coming back, never leaves for long. And his goal is to destroy your soul. I don't know if he believes in the eternal security of the believer or not, but he'd like to pull you down to Hell, if he could. He would also like to destroy the fruitfulness of your life here on earth. He'd like to destroy your good works. We are his workmanship, God's workmanship, “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance, that we should walk in them.” He wants to be sure you do none of them on any given day, none of the good works that God's prepared for you to do. He hates the fruit of the Spirit, he does not want you characterized by the fruit of the Spirit. That's the goal.
God alone has the power to defeat him. You do not have that power and God will defeat him, and he will defeat him through us. We're told in James 4:7, "Submit yourselves then to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." Well, what could make the devil flee? I know what makes him flee, terror. And not terror of you or me. He's afraid of God. And he should be. But we, in this text, we have a vital responsibility. We're told that there are things we must do to be successful in this fight. God has left some things to us to do. God calls on us to prepare to fight, to stand firm in the fight, to be strong in the Lord, in his mighty power, the power of his might. If we do that, we will win. We will be victorious. But if we give way, we will live defeated lives. And honestly, many of you are living defeated lives spiritually, already. So, we have a responsibility here. Even though the power for victory is from God, not from us.
The Spiritual Armor
Today, we're going to look more at what it means to stand firm in this battle. We're going to talk more specifically, as we look at the footwear of the Christian soldier. And we're going to talk about the shield of faith, as well. We're going to talk about what it means to lift up the shield of faith. This brings us, again, for the second week in detail to the topic of the whole armor of God. The spiritual armor that God has crafted for us. We have this responsibility, this whole armor of God, we could think of it as the whole armor from God. It's armor that God has crafted. It's nothing we could make but it's something that he has made. And we have a responsibility here to put it on. Well, what does that mean? What does it mean to put on these elements?
I think what it means is to be mindful of doctrinal aspects of our salvation. That the words like “breastplate of righteousness, or belt of truth, or feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace.” We're going to talk about that. That these specific words call up doctrinal concepts that are related to our salvation. That we're to think about those aspects of our salvation, and do so with prayer, with a sense of dependence on God as we look upward. We're meditating on concepts, and we're lifting ourselves upward in prayer. How often do we have to do this? Once a day in the morning? No, that's not enough. There's a sense of continual need to come back to these, to know that we are constantly assaulted. And so, for us to go again to these elements is beneficial. So, whenever the evil day comes, whenever it might be that we're assaulted, we have to do this. That's what I think it means. Now, last week, we looked at two elements. The belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness. This morning, God willing, we'll look at the footwear of the Gospel of peace, and the shield of faith. God willing, next week we'll finish looking at the elements of the full armor of God, namely the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
Quick Review of Last Week
Now, last week, we talked about the belt of truth, we talked about how soldiers back then wore tunics that were long and flowing, in order to get ready for action. They had to gather these garments around themselves, and belt them close to themselves with a belt. Paul identifies this belt as the belt of truth, we're girded up around with truth. I said there's overlap in each of the elements of the full armor of God. Honestly, as we're going to get to it later, it's hard to make a distinction between the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit in its defensive posture. Swords block attacks by Satan. And so, there's going to be a tremendous overlap there, and I think there's overlap between, let's say, the sword of the Spirit and the belt of truth. But I think that we could helpfully look at it this way. It's the belt of the overarching truth of God as revealed in the Bible. The fact that the Bible is truth, God's word is truth. And especially, as it testifies to Jesus. So, the idea of unshakable, immutable truth, heaven and Earth will pass away, but God's word will never pass away. And how vital that is for us who live in a postmodern age, questioning metaphysical truths, think that there's no way we can know. To be strong and draw into our inner being the concept of truth because Satan's whole attack is an attack of lies.
That was last week, belt of truth. We also talked about the breastplate of righteousness, that radiant, shining beautiful piece of armor polished to a shine. A sense of the beauty of it, and how it goes on here and protects your vital organs. And it's strapped on and Paul uses the word righteousness, breastplate of righteousness, and how we dispense with any concept that that's your own righteousness. Satan would laugh at that. If you were to put that on and stand against him, you would shred it in an instant. But instead, it's a perfect righteousness, he can't shred. He tried. It's Christ's righteousness. One by momentary obedience of the Son to the Father. Moment by moment, for years and years, a perfect life lived under the Law of God. That's the righteousness of Christ. "I always do what pleases him," said Jesus. How beautiful is that? And then he has one for us, this imputed righteousness, and given it to us by faith and we just put it on.
You know what's beautiful about that? If you're a Christian in one sense, you don't have to put on the breastplate of righteousness, it's never moving. Satan can't kill you. How frustrating is that for Satan? I'm glad he's frustrated. He can't kill you. However, there's still an obligation, put on the breastplate of righteousness. So, it really matters that you know that you're perfectly righteous in Christ, it's very important. And not just so that you know it, but remember how I said that that's on your internal organs, your heart and your intestines, your gut. You need to feel that you're righteous. You need to have that assurance of salvation because it's so vulnerable, we're so vulnerable there. That was last week. If I'm not careful, I'm just going to preach last week's sermon, which I would love to do, but there are more elements that we need to look at. Let's look at two more elements now and let's start with the footwear of the Gospel.
II. The Footwear of the Gospel
Verses 14-15, "Stand firm, then, with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace." Now, I want to give you right away when it comes to footwear, two of lasting images here. One of standing firm and the other is making advance. And I'm going to say you need good traction for both of those. So, to some degree, we stand firm and we advance. Both of those things are going on, and I don't think it's actually that difficult for us to picture that. We need stability, so that we can move ahead, we need a good grip on the earth. A good grip under us, so that we can actually make the progress that we need to make. We are marching forward with strong stable feet to both stand in advance. Remember that we're always talking about these two infinite journeys and we will continue to keep them in front of us, because we're left on earth to make progress and these journeys. Having come to faith in Christ we are here for the purpose of glorifying God by making progress in the internal journey of holiness and the external journey of Gospel advance to lost people. That's why we're left here. Not one or the other. We're not preferring one over the other. Both of them are vital and interconnected.
Holiness: Standing Firm is the Vital Issue
Now, let's talk first about the aspect of holiness, standing firm in holiness. Standing firm is the vital issue. Falling, slipping, and falling, then, as a metaphor for defeat, spiritual defeat. It's for sin. We slip and fall. So, the Bible uses this image frequently. First Corinthians 10:12 says, "So, if you think you're standing firm, take heed," lest you what? Fall. So, there's a sense of standing versus falling. Falling then refers to sin. To stand firm then in the day of testing means to overcome all that Satan does to you. The onslaught that he does to get you to fall. And then when all of that's done, you're still standing in righteousness, in Christ. That's the image here. Footwear is essential for that.
Footwear is Essential in Hand to Hand Combat
Now, footwear was especially essential in ancient warfare. In our day and age, not so much. What do I mean by that? Well, the most powerful weapons that are available to the worldwide military right now are launched by the pushing of a button. Like ICBMs, Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles are launched by the pushing of a button, I guess the punching of codes and pushing. I don't think it much matters what your footwear is when you push those buttons, or you think about cruise missiles, or some of these drones. They're controlled with a joystick. I think if you're good at computer games, you could be an amazing warrior these days. You could be barefoot, you could be in sandals and you could do amazing damage. But back in Paul's day, it was not so.
Back in Paul's day, war was a brutal face-to-face affair. It was a brutal thing in which foot soldiers in an army were the most powerful force in that army, by far, actually. And battle is consistent, immense hand-to-hand struggles. Shield walls where soldiers are standing side, by side, by side, by side, by side with shields, and they're pushing against other shield walls. And there's a grunting and pushing like an NFL line of scrimmage. And then, once all that broke down, there was just simple hand-to-hand combat, you and your enemy. And for that kind of warfare, stability is everything. Honestly, if you're in hand-to-hand combat, each of you having a shield and a sword in hand, and you're pushing, and slashing, and stabbing at each other, if one of you slips and falls, and is down on the ground, they're almost certain to be instantly killed. You're completely vulnerable at that point, so you need that stability, and for that you had to have reliable footwear.
Now, these days, we have an astonishing variety of footwear for an amazing amazingly wide array of situations. Dress shoes, work shoes, leisure shoes. When I went on a mission trip to Nepal, we were supposed to be trekking. We went trekking through the Himalayan Mountains, and I bought some really expensive hiking boots. Do you want to hear a funny story? We got to this one rock slide, and all of these rocks had slid down and it was covered with fine mud, and for some reason someone said that we should take off our boots in order to cross. It was one of the worst mistakes I've ever made on the mission field. I'll never forget, I still to this day don't know why I took off my expensive boots, I paid $125 for those boots for such a time as that. And there they were around my neck as I went across this jagged river of rocks that cut my feet something fierce. Got to the other side, put my boots back on. What was I thinking? Someone tell me afterwards what I was thinking, because I still don't know. I never needed them the rest of the mission trip like I needed them that moment. Was I afraid they were going to get dirty? I don't have any idea what I was thinking. But I needed good footwear. A soldier's footwear, it's more important even than an athlete's.
Think about all the money that Nike and Reebok and others put into developing their shoes for playing basketball or cleats for baseball or soccer. Think of all of that. Listen, a soldier's need for good footwear is far greater than any athlete's. Soldiers' feet have to carry them over rugged terrain like we were on that mission trip, burning sands, just different terrain or even just hot asphalt, and the soldiers' feet need protection. If they become blistered or cut or wounded in some way, they're not going to be able to fight as well, or even be able to stand up. Think about pictures of Valley Forge, where Washington's army marched with the inadequate footwear and there's just a trail of blood in the snow from the soldiers' feet.
A Roman Soldier’s Footwear
Now a Roman soldier's footwear looked at the top like sandals, but they were really essentially like boots that were strapped up. They had a tough flexible leather base with studs of metal, nails, different things, and the footwear enabled the soldier to have two things. I want you to focus on these words, stability and mobility, both of those things, stability and mobility. Many of the barbarian armies that the Romans fought did not have good footwear, and frankly, if they had the Romans shoes were studded with metal and they're fighting barefoot enemies, they could have won by stomping to some degree, stomping right on their feet. And actually this gives an image of spiritual victory, frankly. I love this verse, listen to this, Romans 16:20, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." Isn't that powerful? How does he do that? Well, one way he does it is by Gospel advance. "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news." Isn't that a beautiful verse? So we're just crushing Satan by a steadfast marching of the Gospel advance. We'll get to more of that in a moment, but think of it this way. Joshua 10:24, after the defeat of I think seven Canaanite kings or there were three kings in particular, and he had the kings, the defeated Canaanite kings, lay down, and he had his commanders come and put their feet on the necks of those kings. Joshua 10:24 and he said, "In this way, God will crush all of your enemies under your feet." Well, Paul uses that image against Satan.
Spiritual Analogy: Four Key Concepts
The Gospel of Peace
So I want to give you four key concepts from this verse. “Feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace.” Four words we're going to look at. Gospel of peace, we're going to talk about that, preparation or readiness, I want to talk about that, and stability and mobility I've already given you, and I want to talk about that. So quickly, first, the Gospel of peace. Go to the end of that section, it says, "Feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace." The shoes are in some way the preparation that comes from the Gospel of peace. We'll get to preparation in a minute, but let's concentrate on the phrase Gospel of peace. The Gospel is the message of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Paul says, in Romans 1:16. "I'm not ashamed of the Gospel because it is powerful, it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes." So the idea of the Gospel is, is that of tremendous power, but it's called here, the “Gospel of peace,” and I think what that does is it zeroes in specifically on the fact that the Gospel brings peace with God. How powerful is that, how sweet is that. The Gospel takes former enemies, as all of us were. We were at one point at war with God and that changes everything so that Romans 5:1, "Having been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." You know what that means? It means that God who was our enemy is now at peace with us and will be through all eternity. The Gospel of peace means that God is your ally, he is your friend, he is your father, he is your king. You are now on the side of peace. I think it's beautiful too, that the Christian warrior brings a trail of peace behind him or her. Isn't that beautiful? Unlike the Roman legions that brought nothing but destruction and tyranny and death, what we bring is we bring peace to people who believe the message.
So, first and foremost, you as a warrior, you need to know that God's at peace with you. That's beautiful, isn't it? And not only that there's a status of peace between us and God, but also we can actually experience peacefulness in the Christian life. We can feel peaceful. Because it says in Philippians 4:6-7, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God, and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." How powerful is that in the midst of spiritual warfare? How much does Satan want to make you anxious, make you afraid, make you filled with doubts, filled with fears. So often Satan's work produces fear. Fear. I will never forget. I was called on to go preach in India. This is the strongest encounter I ever had, I think, with a sense of demonic oppression. I've had multiple stories, I shared some with some of the guys earlier this week, but this one sticks out in my mind. I was called to preach to a large assembly in Pune, India, and when I got there, to the grounds that day, the thing, the revival meeting, whatever, or the preaching time was set for 7:30 that night. But when I got there to the grounds, I saw chairs set up like it was Woodstock or something, it was like 5000-7000 chairs with a huge stage, and with projection screens, and big speakers, big black boxes, and a big banner, and my name under the big banner. I was like, "Oh my goodness, you got the wrong guy," and fear started to well up inside me. And when I climbed up on the stage that afternoon and looked out at all the empty chairs, and I was like I wanted to run and hide, I was looking inward and I was like, "Do I have the resources to speak to such a huge crowd?" And all afternoon, the fear just built and built and built and built.
Right around that time, it was the time of Diwali, which is a Hindu festival. They have a lot of festivals. But this is a big festival, lots of pagan worship going on in that city, and an ever escalating sense of fear inside my heart about preaching from Philippians 1-4, chapter 1 that night. And I'll never forget driving in that van to the grounds. It was about 6:45 and there were these big lights like it was a huge ball game, like it was the World Series or the Super Bowl or something like that. And just the fear was rising, and we came and I saw that they had filled all the seats and then some. I was thinking maybe just 100 people will show up, that'll be really good. We'll have a Bible study. The fear was in me. I really felt, I didn't say it, I think Jenny was with me and a couple from our church. I didn't say what was in my heart. I feel like I'm going to my own execution. And when I got in there, and they were spraying this fog to kill mosquitoes that carry Dengue fever. All of this. And this blue smoke just rose and hovered over the entire crowd, and I was like, demonic oppression, a cloud of demons. Almost wasn't far from the truth, but I guess I'd never realized how much they were focused on me right there and then to cause me to be afraid, just fear. And it reached a peak right before I went up to preach. And when I got up there and the translator was there, godly man, about 10 years older than me, he smiled at me and said, "Let's preach the word." Fear left. And I just preached Philippians chapter 1. It was gone. But that hovering feeling was a feeling of almost if I could see in the spiritual world, it was demonic oppression focused on fear.
How powerful would peace be at a moment like that, of knowing that God's at peace with me? I don't have to succeed, I just have to preach the word. Are you ever assaulted like that? Are you ever assaulted with fears and terrors and anxieties and no peace at all and restless and anxious? That's Satan's work. And isn't it beautiful to know that at times like that, God will fight for you, to know that not only is God at peace with you, but you actually, to some degree, don't have to do anything. All you have to do is stand firm and see the salvation that God works. How many times does that happen in the Old Testament? First, at the Red Sea crossing. You remember in Exodus 14, Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid." Satan's always going after fear, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. These Egyptians you see today, you'll never see them again. The Lord will fight for you, you need only to stand firm and to be still. That's all." Or again in the time of Jehoshaphat, when this overwhelming army came. 2 Chronicles 20, same message, "You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions, stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, oh Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged." The same message, stand firm in peace and watch God fight.
Secondly, preparation. What does preparation mean? The preparation of the Gospel of peace. Well, been talking about it, but now we're going to zero on the word preparation. Get ready for war. That's what it means. Get ready. Are you ready to fight? That's what preparedness means. Are you ready to have a mortal enemy? Are you ready to have someone who's coming after you and will never stop until he kills you? Are you ready for that? Are you ready to fight today? Don't imagine you're ever going to have any days off in this battle, ever. Preparation. Preparedness. Get your heart ready to fight. I talked about soldiers sleeping with their boots on. What that meant is that they're ready instantly to get up and fight. Well, Paul would say don't sleep. Just be vigilant. I'm not saying he never says, you never go to... Alright, don't do that. You're going to quote me and say, "Pastor, you told us never to sleep," don't do that. Go to sleep, alright. “The Lord grants sleep to those he loves.” But the point is preparation. Even if you were to some degree resting, you're still resting with your boots on, you're ready to fight. Preparation.
Remember how Peter and the other apostles were with Jesus in Gethsemane, and he had already predicted, Jesus had already predicted that that very night before the rooster crowed, he would deny him three times. Remember? And Jesus went to pray and he went to get himself ready to fight the greatest battle he would ever fight against Satan. And he was on the ground praying with sweat coming out like drops of blood. What was Peter doing? Sleeping. And Jesus went and woke him saying, "Are you sleeping? Could you not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, the body is weak, so get ready." Your entire outlook on life should be, "I'm ready for warfare, that God left us here to glorify God by advancing in holiness and advancing in evangelism and missions. That's why we're here. I'm ready for a fight." It's not going to be easy. So I would suggest that you begin every day getting ready for a fight, getting ready. Put on the whole armor of God, stand firm in the Lord, get ready for a fight.
Third word is stability. Stability. What do I mean by that? Well, four times Paul says stand. Look at it, verse 11, "Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." Verse 13, "Therefore put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything to stand." By the way, notice he says after you have done everything, after you are fully prepared, then stand. So, it's preparation. And then verse 14, "Stand firm then." So that's four times he's told us to stand, you need stability. What does it mean then to fall? It means to give into temptation, to slip and fall into sin. Psalm 73, the psalmist gives us an example of that. He says in Psalm 73, "Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet almost slipped, I nearly lost my foothold, for I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." So the psalmist said, “I almost slipped into envy and covetousness when I saw how rich the wicked are.” That's the image of slipping and falling. So conversely, we get Jude 24, "Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you blameless before His presence, blameless with great joy." So that's the image of stability.
And then finally, mobility. We need to be able to move, traction for mobility. Satan is going to try to outflank you. You're thinking he's always going to come from the same direction. No, he's not always going to come from the same direction, sometimes he's going to come from the front, sometimes from the side. I often think about Peter. Peter was ready to die at the hands of a burly Roman soldier, but he was not ready to answer a little slave girl at the door. And so Satan came in from the side, the ability to turn with mobility and face what Satan's going to do. Satan's going to try to flank you in reference to holiness. But then in reference to missions, you know we have miles to travel. We have a road to travel, even a physical road. The Great Commission says, "Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations." Acts 1:8 says, "You'll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you'll be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." So we've got miles to travel, even literal miles. We have got to be ready to move out. Ready to move out. And so the image I have here is of Satan's dark kingdom with powerful towering walls, and we are called to move out and take those walls, to scale them. Basically you're saying, "Pastor, we're the ninja?" I guess kind of. We're up over the walls. Jesus said, "I will build my Church and the gates of Hades will not prove stronger than it." So we have to go into the dark kingdom and rescue the perishing, and for that you need good footwear, you need mobility, you need to move out.
III. The Shield of Faith
What Was the Roman Shield?
Alright, verse 16, the shield of faith: "In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." So clearly, Paul has in mind the Roman scutum, four feet long, two-and-a-half feet wide, this was a big thing. This wasn't one of those little round things that you hold, like you're playing medieval-like knights and all that, little round thing. No, this was huge, covered from just below the base of the throat down to the shins, it's a big thing. And it was protection against bows and arrows, projectile weapons. Bows and arrows, a devastatingly effective weapon if you didn't have a shield. And the shield would have a powerful lining that could not be pierced with the arrow. And the arrows, they were constantly developing them, but one of the developments was to wrap it up with pitch-covered cloth and light it so that if it got in your leg, ordinarily it'd just be a leg, when you keep fighting, but if your tunic's on fire, you're a dead man. So it's devastatingly effective, these flaming arrows.
The Shield of Faith Described?
So what is this shield of faith? Well, he says in verse 16, I like the NIV best here on this one, “In addition to all this,” KJV says, "Above all," implying this is the most important thing. I don't think that's a good translation, it's just in addition to what I've already mentioned, now you're going to want to take the shield of faith. This is something that you, to some degree, pick up and hold. So what is the shield of faith? It's an impenetrable barrier, a wall of protection that you carry, that protects you from the projectiles that the enemy is shooting at you. Now, at the beginning of this worship time, Chase was talking about faith being the eyesight of the soul. That's huge here. The ability to see the invisible spiritual weapons that are coming at you, the arrows as they're flying at you, stealth technology. Nowadays, it's up in the air with F-22 jets. I was reading this article about F-22s versus F-15s. Who would win? F-22 every time, but it's an unfair fight, it's like who wins between the biggest, strongest, most powerful warrior on earth, who's never been defeated in a hand-to-hand combat and a sniper, who wins? Sniper. The guy has no chance. Why? Because the F-22 can fire its missiles without the other plane even knowing it was there. Even in the region, the missiles are already flying, it's gone, and then you're done. It's a stealth fighter. Satan is far worse. He fires his missiles, you don't even know, you didn't even know he was there. And you're depressed, you're discouraged, you're lustful, your covetous, you're angry, and you don't know why. Well, you've been hit with flaming arrows. We have invisible enemies, and the devil is able to fight us from his hiddenness and slaughter us in that way. So we have to understand what these flaming arrows are. What are they?
Remember, I said spiritual warfare has to do with ideas that produce feelings that together produce actions. That's what's going on in spiritual warfare. Satan is insinuating concepts in your mind, lies, making you feel things about those lies and then making you act sinfully. That's what he's doing. So what are these flaming arrows? I want to say three types, temptations, accusations, and doubts, those things in particular.
The Flaming Arrows of the Evil One
First temptations, flaming arrows. Oh yes, they're on fire. The temptations want to make your soul on fire, they want to set you on fire, they want to kindle a fire within you, a fire of evil desire. For example, sexual lust, like when David saw Bathsheba bathing he was struck with a flaming arrow. When Potiphar's wife seized Joseph by the arm, that was a flaming arrow coming his way that he was able to see, “how could I do this and sin against God,” he was seeing the invisible God at that moment. That's how you lift the shield of faith at that moment, you can see what's happening. It's like, "I will not do that. How could I sin." He also didn't forget Potiphar. “He's given me the charge over this whole place and everything except you because you're his wife. He didn't forget he was just, he saw clearly what was happening there.” The flaming arrow hit the shield of faith and was extinguished. He had no power over him. You think about the alluring temptress of Proverbs 7, who catches the young man by the arm and starts to pour honeyed words into his ear. "Come with me, my husband is gone, he won't get back for another month. I've got meat. I've perfumed my bed, everything is ready. Let's enjoy a night together." That's a flaming arrow. Inciting lust.
Or perhaps it's a flaming arrow of sinful anger, Satan is flaming your heart making you hot with rage, because you're so angry, you're so angry at this individual and you're going to say things and do things that you would never do. It's almost like you're drunk and then our heart clears and you said, "Why did I do that? What happened?" It's a flaming arrow. Makes you angry at your spouse or your child, or another church member, a total stranger on the road, or perhaps temptations like Psalm 73, like the Psalmist toward covetousness, got to have it. You see the ad. I remember sitting with my brother we were watching, it was a football game, watching a series of ads, one after the other, six in a row, it was half-time. And at the end of that, he just stared blankly ahead and said, "I want.” “What do you want?” “I don't know, I just want, I want stuff." Well, that's what the ads do, they make you want things? They're flaming arrows, they stimulate discontent and covetousness in your heart. You lift up the shield of faith to see all of these things as what they are, they're temptations. Along with that is the flaming arrow of accusation.
After having gotten you to sin, Satan then goes righteous on you and accuses you of the sin. He condemns you of guilt, he tells you you're disqualified from ministry, he lays you low with guilt and makes you weak, because the things he says are true, actually you did sin and the Law of God is against you. If it weren't for Christ, you would deserve Hell. But then you lift up the shield of faith and you say Romans 8, “who shall bring any charge against those whom God has justified. It is God who justifies, who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus who died, more than that, he was raised to life, is at the right hand of God is interceding for me.”
Or maybe the flaming arrow of doubt, like you did with Eve. In the garden of Eden. “Did God really say, this or that, did he really…” Is that really in the word, that doubt that comes in, that creeps in, false doctrines, flaming arrows of false teaching, the prosperity Gospel, the cults like Mormonism, and Jehovah's Witnesses. False religions like Buddhism, and Hinduism, and Islam. Atheistic philosophies, materialism, various things creep in and cause doubts. These are all flaming arrows. Isn't it wonderful to know that the shield of faith is impenetrable and effective. Look again at what it says, take up the shield of faith with which you are able, it is able to extinguish all of the flaming arrows of the evil one. How important is the word “all”? Imagine if it got 99% of them. Well, you're dead. And so, the shield of faith is 100% effective when lifted up. We're able then to see the moment for what it is. The flaming arrows coming toward you, and you can see what's happening, you know what Satan wants to do in your soul and you're able to lift up your faith, and see the moment, see it in eternity, see what it's going to look like on Judgment Day.
You're using the internet, you see a tempting site that you could click on, and you just see that moment in eternity. What is this going to look like on Judgment Day, by faith, you can see judgment day. “When you're going to have to give an account for every careless word you've ever spoken. Everything ever done in the body, whether good or bad, you can see it, feel like my job as a pastor make that moment just alive in your hearts.” That moment is coming, judgment days coming. Are you ready? And so by faith, you see that moment, and you lift up the shield of faith.
Repent and Believe the Gospel
So applications. Well, I've been making applications all the way through, but the first and greatest always is the same. If you're not a Christian, you can't fight, you're already in Satan's kingdom, you already in chains, you're in a dungeon. But God's Gospel is powerful, he can set you free. He can make the dungeon flame with light and you can see yourself as you really are, and you can see the chains of sin on your wrist and guilt and condemnation, and you can cry out to Jesus. The one who died on the cross for sinners like you and me, you can cry out to him, and you'll find like Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail, the chain just fall off you. The guilt is gone. You have become an adopted son or daughter of the living God, and the door just flies open, like it did for Peter and you just walk right through and you're out and you're free. And then you can begin your spiritual warfare against Satan. Then you can put on the full armor of God and fight because you'll need to, because finally, you're alive.
Christians, Get Ready
Finally, you're in Christ's kingdom. So come to Christ. And secondly, if you're already come to Christ, it was a day ago, a week ago, a decade ago, 50 years ago. Get ready to fight, get prepared to fight. Wake up, get up out of bed, be aware of what Satan has been doing to you for years. Don't let him do it anymore. Fight the good fight of faith, get up on your feet, get up on the Gospel of peace, put on the Gospel of peace on your feet and take up the shield of faith, see what Satan is doing. Get ready. You're in a siege right now. Mans soul, that's Bunyan analogy in holy war. You are besieged. The Ninja are crawling the walls, probably right now. Shed the light, see what they're doing and watch them just fall dead under your feet. This is the calling of God. He wants us to make progress in these two journeys. We're only going to do it by fighting, put on the full armor of God and fight. Close with me in prayer.
Father, we thank you for the time we've had today in your word. We thank you for the clarity that comes concerning spiritual warfare. God, I pray for my brothers and sisters, I pray that you give them strength, give them courage to fight. Give them the wisdom to be prepared, the preparation, the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace. Help us O Lord to move out, I pray that we would be willing to cross the street to talk to lost neighbors. I pray that we would put on the Gospel on our feet and cross the office to a cubicle to meet a new employee, and get to know him or her and be able hopefully at some point to share Christ. I pray that we as a church would be willing to send out more and more missionaries who go to unreached people groups. There are three billion people who live in almost 7,000 unreached people groups. Oh God, help us to be passionately aware of that and concerned about people who don't even know the name of Jesus and no one in their village, knows the name of Jesus. Oh God, help us to reach out to those that are unevangelized, unengaged, unreached give us a passion and God give us protection in the spiritual realms, help us to see what Satan is trying to do to us through sin. We pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen.