“THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD”
The Shield of Faith
What does “Above All” mean?
Some have made the mistake in thinking that faith is the most important piece of spiritual weaponry. This simply isn’t the case. The “loin belt of truth,” the written Word, the Bible, is the most important piece of weaponry we have.
How do we know that the Word of God is more important then faith? Faith comes from the Word of God! How, then, could the “Shield of Faith” be more important then the “Loin belt of Truth,” the Word of God? Let’s not get the cart before the horse! Yet Paul does say, “Above all, taking the shield of faith…”
What does the phrase, “Above all” mean?
The phrase “Above all” is taken from the Greek phrase epi pasin (e-pi and pa-sin). The word epi means “over.” The word pasin “all” or can be translated “everything.” Rather then saying that the Shield of Faith is more important then other pieces of the armor, the phrase epi pasin (“above all”) describes a position over the other pieces of armor. Its best described, as being “out in front” of all. Or can be described as “covering everything.”
This tells us that our Faith should be “out in front” and “covering all.” Faith was never meant to be held at our side or to be timidly held behind our backs. Faith is meant to be “out in front” where it can cover the believer.
Therefore, the phrase “above all” whole-heartily tells us that the Shield of Faith is meant to completely cover and protect us from harm. Especially when we are going forward to take new ground for the kingdom of God. It is a defensive weapon that is “out in front” of all the other armor. The phrase “above all” describes position not importance.
When our Shield of Faith is out in front, in covering position it is doing what God intended it to do for us! This is why Paul continues to say, “above all, taking the Shield of Faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
Notice Paul says, “…taking the Shield of Faith…” the word “taking” is from the word analambano (a-na-lam-ba-no), which is compound of the Greek word ana (a-na) and lambano (lam-ba-no).
The word ana means “up, back, or again” and the word lambano means, “to take up, or take in hand.” When combined together this means to take up or take into hand or pick something back up again. This means our Shield of Faith can be either picked up or laid down. The choice is ours to make. Moreover, if someone has laid down their faith at some point along their way in life, and if he has stopped believing God to work in his life, it’s not too late for him to “pick that faith up again.”
No Roman soldier would have gone to battle without his shield. His shield was not optional! His shield was his guarantee that he would be guarded against deadly bombardments. Without the protection of that shield in front of him, there was absolutely nothing between him and the enemy. The soldier knew that if he went into battle without his shield he was walking into his own destruction.
Many believers have sadly fallen into the belief that they can live a successful Christian life without giving attention to development of their own faith. To believe in this manner is utterly foolish. It was for this cause that Paul told Timothy, “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.” (1 Tim. 1:19)
When the believer “puts away faith”, he or she will be guaranteed spiritual shipwreck. By ignoring and casting away the significance of their faith, some of our brothers and sisters in the Lord, have chosen a course that will ultimately leave them exposed to the strikes of the enemy.
Some have criticized others for making faith too strong an emphasis in recent years. When you understand the importance of faith and its ramifications in our lives both physically and spiritually, then you can understand why it’s impossible to over emphasize the need for a life of faith.
Paul continues, “above all, taking the Shield of Faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
The word “wherewith” is better translated, “by which” the phrase “shall be able” is taken from the word dunamis (du-na-mis), which denotes “explosive power or dynamic power.” It is where we get the word “dynamite.”
This phrase would be better translated, “… by the use of this shield you will have explosive and dynamic power.”
What we see here is that when we have the shield of faith, and when that Shield of Faith is anointed by the Holy Spirit and saturated with the word of God, it positions you to move in power, “explosive and dynamic power.”
Peter declares we, “… are kept by the power of God through faith…” (1 Peter 1:4,5)
There is an unseen connection between the power of God and the operation of faith in your life. With the two of these at work in your life, hand in hand, they build a wall of defense that is impenetrable to tactics of the enemy. In other words, with the power of God and faith coming together in your life they become a shield to you. When you have these two elements working together in your life, you become fortified, invulnerable, and armed to the teeth! Power and faith will equip you spiritually to hold an unmovable position against the enemy without taking any serious blows!
When the power of God and faith are operative in your life, you are like a tank; you have the ability to move your position forward without taking any losses.
This doesn’t mean that the devil isn’t going to try and stop you, because he is going to try! This is why Paul says, “… that ye may stand against the fiery darts of the enemy.”
You might ask, “What are the fiery darts of the enemy?”
The Greek word used to describe these particular “darts” is a very specific word of warfare that is also very historical. “Thucydides, the ancient Greek writer, used the same identical Greek expression to depict especially terrible “arrows that are equipped to carry fire.”
Three types of arrows were used by the military of New Testament times. First were plain arrows, similar to arrows that are shot from bows today. Next, there were arrows that were dipped in tar and set on fire, and then shot through the air. Last, there were arrows that contained combustible fluids that burst into flames upon contact.
The arrows in Eph. 6:16 are called “fiery darts.” Because Paul’s word usage is identical to that of Thucydides, we know exactly what kind of arrows he had in mind.
Paul is thinking of arrows that carry fire! Specifically, he is picturing those arrows that were made from long, slender pieces of cane, and were filled with combustible fluids, which exploded on contact.
These arrows were the worst type of arrows of that day. Looking at them you’d really think they weren’t very dangerous at all. You couldn’t see that they were filled with combustible fluids. Only after impact, and after the fire had begun, would one know for certain that these arrows had been equipped with the potential of a fiery disaster.
These arrows were not used in normal combat situations. Regular arrows were used then. These fire-bearing arrows were reserved to inflict damage on fortified positions and encampments.
If an army had fortified its positions so that the enemy could not break in, the enemy would revert to these fiery arrows!
One by one these arrows would be set on end and filled with the deadly mixture and then capped made to look like the less harmless arrow. Since the enemy could not personally break into the encampment and personally destroy the army, they took these arrows – which were disguised to look like harmless arrows – and shot them over walls into the army’s position. Because these arrows looked harmless, those inside the encampment usually made the fatal mistake of ignoring them. Until…
Troops were shocked and taken off guard when these arrows hit inside of the walls and burst into raging flames. Once taken off guard, the enemy would continue to shoot one arrow after another into the encampment each arrow carrying the same deadly capabilities. One might say these were the bombs of the ancient world! It is this very picture that Paul has in mind when he says “above all, taking the Shield of Faith, wherewith ye shall be able to stand against the fiery darts of the wicked.”
This is the kind of arrow that the enemy wants to send your way. When he doesn’t have an easy way into your life he may try a more round about approach to come against you.
He may shoot a fiery dart right into your emotions. When they hit, it has the potential to bring out the vilest of emotions and passions.
When the flaming arrow from the enemy hits its target – in this case your emotions – it can throw them into rage, anger, anxiety, unbelief, worry, and so forth. These flaming arrows come to do something vile and horrendous to your mind and emotions. They come to hit you and enrage you like a fire out of control.
Have you ever been hit by an arrow from the enemy? Many believers are hit by the enemy’s arrows everyday, because they are not walking with their shield of faith where it belongs. If your Shield of Faith is anointed by the spirit and saturated with the water of the Word, it would keep those arrows from getting through. The “Shield of Faith” must be “ out front” so it will completely “cover” your life and protect you from those fiery darts.
The devil and his hosts are never your real problem! The Lord Jesus Christ spoiled them through his death and resurrection!
The reason you continue to be controlled by habits, hang-ups, and hassling problems is first and foremost because you have not made the decision to submit your flesh and mind to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.
If your “Shield of Faith” were properly anointed by the Holy Spirit, and saturated in the Word of God, these fiery darts would be extinguished on impact!
The fact that these arrows have been effective in bringing you to rage, anger, anxiety, unbelief, worry, and so forth, is evidence that YOU have failed somewhere along the way! It is apparent that YOU failed to deal with wrong attitudes and thoughts in your mind; thus, YOU allowed an open door through which these arrows could pass. If you were living in the presence of God on a daily basis, the Holy Spirit’s anointing would have been upon your life! The absence of the Spirits oil on your life has caused your faith to become stiff and brittle. The reason those arrows broke through your “Shield of Faith” is because you didn’t do what was necessary to keep your faith supple and pliable.
Likewise, if you had given the Word of God a place of priority in your daily life, your Shield of Faith would be so saturated with the “water of the Word”. That Word – saturated shield would have instantly extinguished those arrows. Human nature loves to shift the blame for failure to someone else. Truth of the matter is the God has given us all we need to stand against the wiles of the devil. If we have been wounded, WE are responsible. We must assume responsibility for this failure and stop shifting the blame to someone else.
It is very important that you live in the presence of God, give the Word of God a place in your life daily, and live the crucified life.
By dealing with the unseen areas of your life and mind, (which may only be known to you, God and the devil) you are making sure there are no open doors through which arrows may pass to pierce through your emotions, and thus, through you into a fit of raging carnality!
God has provided you a way to avoid being hit by these fiery darts. Paul said, “there hath no temptation taking you, but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13)
The Shield of Faith is your way of escape from the fiery darts of the adversary. When your faith is out in front covering all, it quenches every temptation, every fire bearing arrow that the enemy sends your way. When you carry your Shield of Faith those arrows loose their power and fall to the ground. Thus you escape.