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Part Ten

The Believer’s Armor and the Spiritual Battle

Ephesians 6:10-20

(Verse 16, “Taking The Shield Of Faith”)

Ephesians 6:16:

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” (Lit. “the wicked one”).

The term “above all” probably does not mean that this is the most important item in our armor. Each item is essential, as we are told to “Put on the whole armor of God.” Probably a rough modern para­phrase would be, “On top of all these things... .” Other transla­tions have it as “Withal” (meaning, besides, therewith) ASV; “In addition to all this” NIV; “Besides all these” Darby. (2)

We are told four times that our goal in this battle is to be able to stand (v 11; v 13 twice; v 14). With the application of this particular piece of armor we are also told of a specific area in which it helps us to stand; “wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” The shield helps us to stand by quenching Satan’s continuous barrage of fiery darts.

The term “the wicked” is literally “the wicked one.” We are not in battle with just some evil concepts but with an evil and clever personality, the Devil himself, and also with those whom he delegates (principalities, powers, rulers of darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness in high places, v.12).

The Shield

There were two major types of shields used by the Roman soldier of that era and locale. One was a small round shield, curled at the edges and strapped to the left forearm of the foot-soldier. It resembled a giant Frisbee. This shield was light and maneuverable and was used by a warrior during hand-to-hand combat to block the blows of his opponent. In his right hand he would then utilize the short two-edged sword mentioned in the next verse for offensive combat. This is not the shield referred to in verse 16.

The shield referred to in this passage was a large wooden plank about four and a half feet tall and two and a half feet wide. It frequently had a metal and leather covering on the front. This type of shield offered complete frontal protection from incoming arrows. The Greek word actually comes from a word meaning “a stone or other material used to cover a doorway.”

The combat strategy often employed was to advance with a wall of shield-bearers at the front line. Behind the shield-bearers were the soldiers with swords and arrows. The shield bearers were almost immune to the barrage of fiery arrows aimed at them as they inched their way toward the enemy. At an expedient time the soldiers with the swords and arrows would then engage in hand-to-hand combat with the enemy.

We as believers, are the object of Satan’s attack of fiery missiles. We need the protection and extinguishing effect of this type of shield. But why the shield of faith?


What is faith and what does God’s word say about it? In order to realize the importance of “the shield of faith,” let us consider the following four areas concerning faith.

1. The Definition of Faith

2. The Description of Faith

3. The Demonstration of Faith

4. The Development of Faith

The Definition of Faith

Heb. 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (The confident assurance, assured expectation of things hoped for.) “ These faithful ones of God mentioned in chapter eleven honored Him because their faith motivated them to action. The general theme of the chapter is summarized in verse six, “But without faith it is impossible to please God... .” See also Romans 14:23, “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” These two verses tell me at least two things. One, an unbeliever can do nothing to please God except to become a believer. This helps me to understand God’s viewpoint of Isaiah 64:6, “...all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags....”

These verses also convict me in my own spiritual pilgrimage. Col. 2:6,7, tells me, “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in the faith,...” II Cor 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (Also Gal. 3:3). Is my walk with God characterized by faithful obedience to God or by my own human wisdom? “It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful” (I Cor. 4:2).

The words “faith” and “believe” (noun and verb) both come from the same root word in the Greek. It means “to trust, to rely upon, to be fully persuaded.” The meaning of the word does not, in any way, include a requirement for good works, good intention, or sorrow for sin. Ephesians 2:8-10, tells us we are “saved by grace through faith... not of works....”  We are then reminded that God has prepared us that we should walk in good works (our everyday pattern of life).

The Description of Faith

Rom. 4:21. “And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” Chapter four of Romans begins by telling us of Abraham, a faithful man (Gal. 3:9). A dichotomy is explained of how that he could have been justified in man’s sight by his works (v2; Gen. 22; also James 2:21) and in God’s sight by his faith (v3, Gen. 15:6; also James 2:23). Then in verse 5, is presented the means of our justification before God; “But to him that worketh not but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” (Please note that this verse negates the common teaching that those who believe will necessarily do good works or they are not really justified).

Paul then reiterates and expands on the account recorded in Genesis of the promise to Abraham of the birth of a son and eventually, the coming Redeemer. The promise is given to him and Sarah that they would have a child in their advanced age. This would have been unlikely to happen as it naturally defies human logic and wisdom. But Abraham was “strong in faith, giving glory to God” (v.20). When faith is exercised in our life it gives glory to God.

And then in verse 21, comes our description of faith; “And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” Abraham simply believed that God would do what He said. He acted on God’s promises as if the results had already been seen.

Can we do the same? Why can we trust God for our eternal salvation, but we cannot seem to trust Him for a hamburger or our other everyday affairs? I been told that God can provide a hamburger for us because He owns “the cattle upon a thousand hills” (Ps. 50:10). My further study has enlightened me to the fact that He also owns the hills (Ps. 24:1). When it comes to our provision, we truly have an omni-competent God. Phil. 4:19 states to the believers who are sacrificially giving to the ministry, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Accepting and acting on this promise and others can save us much anxiety in our lives.

The Demonstration of Faith

One of many examples of faith given in the Bible is found in the book of Judges, chapters 6 and 7. Gideon was told by the LORD that he was to be the one to “save Israel from the hand of the Midianites” (6:14), whom had oppressed them severely due to Israel’s disobedience to God (6:1-7). He did not think himself to be a likely candidate for this assignment (6:15), but God told him, “Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.

After a few lapses in faith, Gideon believes God and decides to act on His Word. He assembles an army of 32,000 to go against the Midianite troops who were “like grasshoppers for multitude and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude” (7:12). That does not seem like fair odds to me.

Well, God did not think so either. He told Gideon that his army was too large (7:2). The glory for the victory was to go to God, not Gideon. That is our purpose as believers also, to glorify God. So he trimmed the army down to 10,000 (6:3). There were still too many soldiers (6:4). Gideon then pruned the number down to 300 serious soldiers (6:6). That was what God had in mind (6:7). Could it be that the Christian Church has about the same percentage of serious soldiers?

God then provided a battle plan. God’s strategies did not coincide with latest battle-tactics manual of B.C. 1250. Gideon’s men were to take a trumpet and an empty pitcher with a torch inside to the battle. Proper use of these non-conventional weapons would generate confusion to the enemy and cause them to destroy themselves.

Gideon went into battle with three hundred men and the Lord on his side. That constitutes a decisive majority. The tactics that God told him to use were unorthodox and, humanly speaking, ridiculous, but they worked. Gideon was faithful to God and therefore, was victorious for God. We can do the same. It is wisdom for us to choose to take God at His word, the only One who has never been untruthful or mistaken. Please prayerfully read the Bible account.

The Development of Faith

Rom. 10:17. “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” We see from this verse that there is a direct connection between faith and God’s word. From God’s word we can know Who should be the object of our faith and what we should believe. It would be useless to trust a powerless idol to do something it is unable to do. It would also be useless to trust an all-powerful God to do something that He said that He would not do. Faith is not the power. The power is in the object of our faith, God Himself.

How much faith is necessary for a person’s salvation? The answer is; any amount that constitutes faith. The amount is not the issue. The issue is whether a person has faith or not. It is not our faith that saves us, it is God’s grace. Our faith appropriates God’s grace. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8,9) This verse sets no requirement for the amount of faith or strength of faith required to have eternal life. I Pet. 1:4,5 tells us that believers have “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Notice that we are not kept saved by our faith or our power, but “by the power of God through faith...” We are “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (I Pet. 1:23).

But does the Bible speak of degrees of faith? It speaks of “little faith” and “great faith” but if the definition of faith is “a conviction that something is true” then the meaning of these verses may not be what some think..(3) We are to be trusting God after we are saved also. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith...” (Col. 2:6, 7) Paul told the Corinthian Church that he walked by “faith and not by sight” (II Cor. 5:7.

Jesus admonished those with “little faith” in the following verses: Matt. 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; Luke 12:28. He was obviously pleased with those commended in the following verses who exhibited “great faith:” Matt. 8:10; 15:28; Luke 7:9. The first New Testament martyr, Stephen, was “full of faith,” and God used him for His glory (Acts 6:8). Though we all are to be trusting God in our walk with Him, apparently God gives some the gift of faith which would manifest this quality in a special way for God’s glory (I Cor. 12:9). (4)

It seems that God not only wants to strengthen our faith through hearing His Word but also to grow through seeing God be faithful and then applying these lessons from the past events to a present crisis. In Matthew 16:8, Jesus admonishes the disciples for being of “little faith.” The reason that the disciples doubted (the opposite of faith), was that they had found themselves without food, hungry, and far from the local Burger King. After Jesus’ remark about their little faith, he advises them to remember that He had recently fed the five thousand and the four thousand and had had plenty left over both times. Wake up, guys. We are dealing with the all-powerful, all-loving God.

The other side of the same coin is; be careful about experiences. Experience is subjective and can be deceptive. We must remember that Satan is a master counterfeiter. His workers can do wonders also (Matt. 7:21-23). Experience can be a valuable teacher and encourager but our experience must always be judged by the Word of God, not the other way around.

Which leads us to the opening verse of this section, “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” It is difficult, if not impossible, to have a strong Biblical faith when one does not know the Word of God. One will not know the word of God until he is diligent in its study. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15). When viewed in the light of harsh reality, this knowledge is not absorbed by us through osmosis. A price must be paid, both in time and diligence, for this blessing.

The Fiery Darts of the Wicked

Of what would you suppose composes the “fiery darts of the wicked one?” If the defense is the “shield of faith” it is likely that we are talking of the opposite of faith; doubt and discouragement bred by unbelief. Both of these are effective tools in Satan’s arsenal. When we let these powers prevail in our mind, we are greatly weakened in the battle. The shield of faith is the effective counter-offense. “...Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom.  10:17).

Where does faith originate? It seems that it is God, our Creator, who gives us the ability to believe (Rom. 12:3). It is God’s Holy Spirit who convicts the world of the sin of unbelief (John 16:7,8). It is God’s Word that makes it clear what and in Whom we are to believe (I Tim. 3:16,17; John 3:16). But the decision of whether or not we believe and what we believe is a choice of our own will. This decision is made in our minds. The Bible is replete with exhortations for us to do or to believe the right thing.

Could it be that Satan gains or loses victories in our mind? Is the realm of our mind a major battleground? “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh; (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ...” (II Cor. 10:3-5). Please note in this description of the spiritual battle the reference to “imaginations” and “thought.” (Imagination = reasoning, reckoning, computation. Verb form used in Rom. 8:18). It is our responsibility to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” What we allow our selves to think upon comes out in our words and actions (Prov. 23:7). Bob Jones, Sr. is quoted as saying, “It is not sin when the birds fly over your head, but it is sin when you let them nest in your hair.”

Yes, there is a battle in and for our minds. Satan battles for the mind of the unsaved person in order to keep him from receiving the Gospel. “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of god, should shine unto them (II Cor. 2:3,4; also Matt. 13:19).

What about the believer? Satan is not powerful enough to make a born-again person become “unborn.” Our salvation is secure in Christ. What he can do is to influence us so that we will be unprofitable servants for God. In the Book of Romans Paul clearly establishes our justification by faith (3:20-28; 4:5; 5:1,8-11; 6:23; 8:1; 8:38,39; 10:4,13; 11:6). Then in light of all this blessing he tells us, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing or your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:1,2). According to this verse, one of the key prerequisites to finding God’s will is the achievement of the appropriate condition of our mind.

A brief synopsis of this verse:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren,” In light of what has been previously said, a pleading or an exhortation to believers.

By the mercies of God,” by means of His mercy or compassions.

That ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,” In contrast to the slain sacrifice of which the Jew was familiar, He wants us to live for Him. A sacrifice exercises no will of its own.

Holy, acceptable unto God,” We are more usable in His service as we live a holy life. This is well-pleasing to God.

Which is your reasonable service.” This is reasonable service because He bought us and we belong to Him  (I Cor. 6:19,20).

And be not conformed to this world:” Do not be fashioned after, in accordance with this age. The word “conformed” carries with it the sense of something transitory, changeable, or unstable. The word was used of a candlemaker forcing wax “through a mold” to adjust the shape of the wax to the shape of the mold. Do not be forced through the world’s mold. It will misshape us.

But be ye transformed,” In contrast to the negative, be ye transformed. This word is transliterated as “metamorphosis.” It implies a thorough change in form, such as we use in the changing of a caterpillar into a butterfly.

“By the renewing or your mind” The way we achieve this transformation is by the renewing (renew, to make different) of our mind (the seat of our perception and thinking).

That ye may prove” The end result of these actions are so that we may discover God’s will. (Prove: discover after examination or trial)

What is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” Do we believe that God’s will is really the best. If we think that God knows what He is talking about then we should act upon His Word by faith.

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober,...” (I Pet. 1:13)

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Tim. 1:7).

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of Peace shall be with you “(Phil. 4:5-7).

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isa. 26:3).


(2)  Note on “above all:” The phrase in the Greek is used 23 times in the Majority Text Greek New Testament which is the text used for the KJV and NKJV. There are some minor variations in several portions of the Critical Text, the one used for almost all English translations since the late 1800’s. A helpful way to find the intended meaning of an unclear word or phrase is to see how it is used in other passages. The passages are: Matt. 24:47; 27:45; Luke 2:20; 3:20; 4:25; 9:43; 10:19; 12:44; 13:17; 16:26; 24:45; Acts 2:17; 8:27; Romans 1:18; 2:9; II Cor. 1:4; 7:4; Eph. 6:16; Philp. 1:3; Col. 3:14; I Thess. 3:7, 9; Rev. 13:7. It is translated several different ways in the KJV but seems to refer to being “upon or above all things” in the sense of being all-encompassing, not in the sense of being superior.

(3) Please see “Should We Rethink our Idea of Degrees of Faith?” A noteworthy message on the subject presented at the 2004 Grace Evangelical Society” conference. As far as I know this is available only by purchasing the MP3 CD from or the paper, from this writer.

(4) Note on “Is faith a gift of God?” There is a portion of Calvinistic doctrine that teaches that some people are predetermined by God to believe and therefore, do not have a free will to trust in Christ. In other words, they will believe, whether they choose to or not. Some teachers of this persuasion use Eph. 2:8, 9 in an attempt to establish Biblical grounds for this teaching. The logic used is the claim that “It is the gift of God” refers to “faith” not the whole package of eternal life, such as other verses declare (Rom. 6:23). This rationale is stretching the context in the English translation and is unacceptable in the Greek. There must be gender agreement between the pronoun and its antecedent. The only pronoun in the verse is neuter and both “faith” and “grace” are feminine. “Gift” is neuter. (Rom. 6:23)

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