We have looked at the role of truth, righteousness and peace. We now come to the shield of faith. In Paul’s description we wear truth, righteousness and peace. A shield we wield. Paul says,
16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Ephesians 6:16 (NKJV)
Most of us our not familiar with using a shield. Think a little differently then. Think of a baseball player out in the field or a goalie in a soccer net. The player needs to see the ball coming and stop or intercept it. In the same way the shield is used to stop or intercept an attack.
In the sports analogies, once the player has caught or stopped the ball they transition from defence to offense. The same is true in spiritual warfare. The shield is used to protect from attacks and is preparation to transition from defence to offence. This transition may move rapidly from defence to offence and back again. The important piece to know is that the shield is used for both protection and preparation
Now, to successfully stop or intercept a spiritual attack we need to recognize when we are experiencing one! I remember Rick Joyner describing feeling irritable for days. He then took a flight somewhere with Bob Jones and Bob commented that Rick had an arrow in the back of his neck and reached over and pulled it out. Rick said he felt immediate relief.
While most of us cannot see in the spirit realm the way Bob did, if we reflect back I suspect most of us could describe a time when we felt some sense of heaviness or oppression. This is the result of arrows (Paul calls them fiery darts). I have never had anyone remove one from my neck or back, I have however on a number of occasions felt a heaviness, oppression or irritability lift while worshipping.
If we are wise we recognize that when we are in a ‘heavy’ or ‘reactive’ mode, some darts have gotten past our shield. I have learned in those situations to do two things, reposition my shield and then worship in spite of how I feel. In fact I think worshipping is wisdom, it is raising my shield. It is an act that pushes back the enemy. After all, our shield is composed of faith!
An additional thought. While the focus of this series is on a few verses from Ephesians, the book and Paul’s main prayers in it in chapters 1 and 3, while they can be applied to an individual, are addressed to a corporate body. In Middle Eastern thinking in the first century the focus was on family, community and the body. In looking at the armour in our passage Paul was describing a Roman soldier who was part of a unit. The Roman army was the most feared fighting force of the day. What made them so effective was that when they moved forward in battle their shields interlocked to form a nearly impenetrable wall. If you are having trouble wielding your shield, stand with others in the body. If your arm is weighed down, find others who will stand with you and help to steady your shield. He designed us to borrow strength from one another and to stand together as a body.