God's Armor, Not Ours - Part 5 (Shield of Faith)

In Romans 6:16, Paul instructs the Christian to spiritually arm himself/herself with The Shield of Faith by saying, "In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." (NIV)

The King James Version of this verse states - "Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the firery darts of the wicked." A special note about the first part of the verse in the King James Version translation is that the phrase "Above all" in "Above all, taking the shield of faith..." according to the original Greek, epi pasin, describes position in battle and not importance in the line-up of armor pieces. "Faith is designed to be out in front where it can completely cover you in every situation of life!" (p.353, Renner)

I mention this special note because Mr. Renner brought up an excellent observation due to the phrase "Above all" - 

"Some have mistakenly thought that faith is more important than any other piece of spiritual weaponary. This cannot be! The loinbelt of truth - the Bible, the written Word of God - is the most important piece of weaponary we possess.

How do we know that the Word of God is more important than faith? Faith comes from the Word of God. How then could the shield of faith be more important than the loinbelt of truth, the Word of God? Let's not get the cart before the horse." (p.352, Renner)

Romans 10:17 states - "faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word about Christ." This Scripture creates a critical link between The Belt of Truth or Word of God (Bible) and the believer's faith represented by The Shield in the soldier's armor. Remember, there is a notch even for the shield to latch onto and rest in times of non-engagement. This is a clear depiction of the Christian's faith being attached to God's Word. 

The Roman soldier possessed two types of shields - one smaller, decorative shield for public ceremonies and parades called the aspis and the other well-known, larger shield called the thureos which referred to "a door that was wide in width and long in length" (p.347, Renner, Dressed To Kill)

One of the major points of these military or large battle shields was to cover the entire body in their protection. In the same manner, the Christian's faith finds full coverage in God's Word and His many promises. Romans 12:3 states -

"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you."

Mr. Renner elaborates - "How much faith has God given you? He has given you enough faith to make certain you are covered in life!" (p.348, Renner)

When the arrows of life start to fly - like doubt, depression, shame and insufficiency - remember your faith is strong, long-lasting and durable. Paul viewed these characteristics due to usually six layers of thick animal hide that was compactly woven together to form a steel-like Roman shield. God has granted you His shield of faith, remembering this is God's Armor, Not Ours.

However, part of this Shield of Faith is not only the basic, foundational beliefs Christians find in God's Word, but the Shield of Faith is also comprised of our personal testimonies of God's faithfulness. Without a test there is no testimony. Without a test and testimony, there is no need for a Shield of Faith. And there are plenty of tests in life along with developing moments for the Christian warrior.

The Roman shield was a piece of the armor that had to be tended to regularly for maintenance. Chinks and dings needed to be removed and the leather had to be oiled and watered to be kept fresh for the next encounter. 

One of the weapons that the Roman shield was defending against was one of three types of arrows that was commonly used - the thucydides. Ephesians 6:16 calls them "firery darts" but Paul likened them to this arrow because they possessed a combustible, explosive payload. These arrows were meant not only to do surface damage but to inflict additional damage around the soldier and in possible cracks in the shield.

So, as a preventative measure the shield was oiled to keep the hardness, stiffness and brittleness from setting in. Afterward, the shield was saturated in a tub of water to combat fire arrows and the like, giving life to the imagery of Ephesians 5:26 with the "washing by the word" and 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."

Some major encouragements here for the believer in Christ are three-fold:
  1. Maintain your faith, your shield of faith by allowing the Holy Spirit to anoint you or massage His presence and promises into your faith and life. 
  2. Maintain your faith, your shield of faith by saturating your faith or shield in His Word.
  3. Knowing your faith is based in His Word, the believer's shield of faith should now proceed him/her in battle or daily life.
There is just one additional crucial element to this piece - the Christian must decide to pick it up or activate his/her shield of faith. Mr. Renner states the idea like this - 

"Notice that Paul says, '...taking the shield of faith...." The word 'taking' is from the word analambano, which is a compound of the Greek words ana and lambano.

The word ana means up, back or again and the word lambano means to take up or to take in hand. When compounded together into one word, it means to take something up in hand or to pick something back up again.

This plainly means that our shield of faith can be picked up or it can be laid down. The choice is ours to make. Moreover, it reassures us that if we've laid down our faith at some point along the way - if we've gotten discouraged and stopped believing God to work in our lives - it is not too late for us to 'pick up' our shield and walk in faith again!" (p.353-354, Renner)

Even though there was an offensive element to the Roman shield with a big knob on the outside meant for punching the enemy in close-quarters-combat, the shield was mainly used for defense. Likewise, the believer's faith must act as the daily help in protecting the mind, emotions, and integrity of the Christian. This means the believer keeps their faith in front of them, keeps their shield maintained and healthy as he/she "takes up The Shield of Faith".