We continue to study battlefield training for the armor of God in our Spiritual Soldier series. In the last battlefield training we talked about the shoes of the gospel of peace. Now we will talk about the shield of faith.
When Paul looked at the Roman soldier’s shield he was probably looking at one of two kinds of shields Roman soldiers had. The first kind of shield was a ceremonial shield that was used mostly in triumph marches and official Roman celebrations and occasions.
The ceremonial shield was circular and only about 1-2 feet in diameter. It was decorated with the soldier’s awards and anything else that distinguished him from another soldier. But it was nothing like the everyday shield of the soldier.
Especially in battle Roman soldiers had a much larger and more effective shield. The Roman battle shield was about 2 feet x 4 feet and could shield his whole body. On each side it could interlock with another Roman shield.
Most Roman battle shields were wooden, covered with leather and soaked in water before the battle. The wet leather kept fiery darts from setting the shield on fire. Leather reinforced the wooden base of the shield.
These shields were ideal for the battlefield because they kept the soldier safe from fire and darts, as well as the slamming of swords against the shield. And one of the favorite maneuvers of the Roman army was to make a phalanx advance against the enemy.
A phalanx is where the interlocking shields became an impenetrable wall. There would be one straight line making an interlocking wall of shields followed by a wall that would protect their heads like an angled ceiling.
They would simply pick up these shields and start walking against the enemy. Anytime they needed to stop and make the impenetrable wall again they could. But there was just enough space for their smaller swords that we’ll discuss with the sword of the Spirit to stab the enemy through the wall of shields.
While providing a defense, the soldiers could march forward against the enemy under protection and still strike with their swords through their phalanx. It made them formidable foes on the battlefield, and almost impenetrable force that took the world by storm.
- It’s the every circumstance defense.
As Paul looks at the soldier’s shield he makes the observation that soldiers take their shield everywhere they go. They are never without this key element of defense. He says to take up the shield of faith “in all circumstances.”
You are never to be without your shield of faith. Faith is useful in every circumstance to stop the advances of the enemy against you. Faith opens our minds to what we see as impossible but God can easily do.
No matter what we face faith always goes before us and helps us advance against the enemy. Just as the Roman soldier was never without his shield we must never be without faith. We are people of faith and must always be ready to use it against the enemy and to advance in our trust in Jesus and His miraculous power.
Faith unlocks our ability to see what God can do when we cannot. We focus on God rather than our problems. Our mountain problem becomes much smaller when our faith sees our great God As He truly is, much bigger than our problems.
The more our faith swells against our problems and the enemy the more God’s Kingdom advances. And just as the phalanx of the Roman soldiers working together takes ground from the enemy so also when we join our faith together we are much stronger than when we’re by ourselves.
- It protects from fiery darts.
Enemies of the Romans, just like most armies of their time, covered arrows in pitch and lit them on fire before they launched them at their enemy. Even the Romans used these techniques. But there shields were drenched in water before the battle.
When a flaming arrow or dart came toward them even though they had a wooden shield the wet leather would stop the arrow in its tracks, extinguishing the fire when it hit the shield. This preparation of soaking their shields in water before the battle saved many lives.
In the same way, Paul wants us to understand that our faith prepares us for spiritual battles. Every attack of the enemy, every scheme and every fiery dart lobbed our way is extinguished by our faith in Christ.
Your faith is with you everywhere you go. If it weren’t, you would be vulnerable to the enemy. But your faith makes you able to stand against anything he throws at you. It could be an accusation, a scheme to take you down, temptation, and anything else he can surmise.
But when you stand in faith against the enemy no blow he attempts to land, no scheme he hatches, and no temptation has any chance of bringing you down. No matter how sharp his weapons of attack they will not prosper against you.
Your faith is a powerful defense against the enemy as you stand against him. Too many Christians do not strengthen their faith enough to handle the blows of the enemy. They are cut down on the battlefield, suffering even fatal attacks from fiery darts.
Grow your faith in Christ strong and powerful. Know His power and prepare your faith before the battle. Trust in the Lord and do not allow the devil to raise doubt or fear in you. Then you will be able to stand strong against the enemy and none of his schemes will affect you.
- It strengthens reliance upon God.
Faith is a powerful shield in your life. It teaches you reliance upon God. In the darkest hour you lean on His strength instead of your own. You give Him all the things you know you can’t handle.
Trials strengthen our faith and teach us to rely on Jesus alone. We don’t like trials but they are part of growing our faith in Jesus to do the impossible. The faster we learn to lean on Him the greater our faith will become.
We must realize there are many things in this world we cannot do on our own. Christianity is a faith in God, not ourselves. When we realize only God can do what is needed we turn to Him more quickly in times of trial.
We realize where our true strength lies in the strength of God’s power rather than our own. We call on Him when the battle becomes hard and the darkness seems to become darker. Faith trusts God to rescue us in our despair and danger.
It doesn’t look for other ways out. It doesn’t turn to the lie of enjoyment or peace temptations offer us. The shield of faith relies on God as our Shield. It seeks God’s solutions instead of our own. We know His power is true power, not our own.
You must take up the shield of faith in every circumstance because only God can win these battles. Don’t rely on anything else, not your own resources, not the promises of temptation nor the devil’s schemes. Put your full trust and faith in the One who can deliver you from the flaming arrows of the enemy.
Look to God alone with faith for your salvation and deliverance. Trust in Him and lien on His power. When you encounter demons and evil spirits they cannot stand against you. You are connected to the divine Warrior. As He fought for Israel He will fight for you. What are some other ways faith defends us in spiritual battle?
We have discussed and seen the power of the shield of faith for every Spiritual Soldier on the battlefield. Next we will look at the helmet of salvation and how important it is in protecting our minds.