Every word of God is tested and refined [like silver]; He is a shield to those who trust and take refuge in Him.
Though relatively few of us have experienced war, all of us are under attack from a wide range of enemies. Envy, lust, and greed attack our hearts and tell us that God isn’t enough to make us happy. Possessions, sex, and prestige, they insist, are more important than God’s purposes. Friends and family turn against us, betray our trust, stab us in the back, or just walk away, leaving us alone, and abandoned. Our culture shouts that no matter how much we have, it’s never enough. And the enemy of our souls lies to us, telling us that God doesn’t care, that He can’t help us, and that we’re on our own.
In the fight against all enemies, God is our shield. He protects us by giving insight from His Word so we can fight and win every battle. To be sure, warfare isn’t clean and neat. Sometimes we get dirty, and occasionally we get hurt. But God’s Word reminds us of His love and strength, and it gives us truth about God’s purposes, our motives, and the destructive ways the world, our sinful flesh, and the devil are trying to bring us down.
When we fail to read Gods Word and gain its wisdom, we are vulnerable, and attacks can devastate us. Read and study, grasp the truths of God, and trust Him in the midst of the battle.
It’s not what you know; it’s what you use that makes a difference.
When we read Ephesians 6, Paul’s analogy of putting on armor, we find that most of it with the exception of the “Sword of the Spirit” is strictly defensive. Even the “Sword” itself is defensive as well as offensive. What this passage says to us is that from the moment we receive Christ as our Savior, we engage in spiritual warfare. Let’s read the words of Ephesians 6:
“In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might. Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious]. So stand firm and hold your ground, having tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), and having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news]. Above all, lift up the [protective] shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.”
Paul tells us that we are engaged in a spiritual war rather than one with other humans: “for we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities.” Yet far too many Christians see their battles as though they are natural and in doing so often find themselves defeated. Satan uses the strategy of diversion. He shows us one thing- the person or situation- while he is attacking on another front or many times on a multitude of fronts at the same time. We need a shield of faith to surround us on every side. We need help to identify the real source of trouble.
Paul tells us to cover our minds with the helmet of salvation- the transforming power of the saving grace of God that changes our perceptions about ourselves and others.
He tells us to protect our vulnerable places with the girdle of truth. All of us have vulnerabilities, places where we struggle, where we fail, where the devil and others attack us. We can’t respond to those things with feelings or our knowledges or understandings, we must speak to them with truth and that truth can only come only from the Word of God.
Paul tells us then that the shield of God is raised up by faith. Faith speaks to our challenges, our doubts, our fears, our needs when we let the Word of God speak first.
The power of Ephesians 6 is that it tells us that it is God who provides the armor. Did you get that? We don’t have to build or create our armor. God provides it. All we have to do is put it on. So we pick up the Word of God and wrap our lives with it and let it guard our hearts and souls. We pick up the breastplate of righteousness, accepting the fact that Christ’s blood has cleansed us from all unrighteousness. Let the righteousness of God clothe your life, control your motives, and direct your steps. Learn to ask yourself, “Is this right according to the Word of God?” We then strap on our shoes of the “preparation of the gospel of peace.” We hold to the peace that passes all understanding in ever situation. We may never understand life or what it brings but our peace is not contingent on what we see or what we feel but our peace comes from being held securely by God. We can stand against the enemy with perfect peace because we stand in the strength of God. So learn to stand in the strength of the peace of God rather than your wisdom or ability. We pick up our shield of faith so we can “quench the fiery darts of the enemy.” I don’t think for most of us that a day goes by without the devil hurling some fear, worry, anxiety, or things that push our button. So we hunker down behind our shield- the presence of God and the Word of God and let that deflect the darts of the evil one. We clothe our minds with the helmet of salvation- the knowledge that we are the children of God under the watchful eye and covering care of His hands- so that our identity as His children removes all condemnation. We put our thoughts under the control of His Spirit and let the Word provide us with proper thought so that we don’t let our minds stray down destructive paths. We pick up the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God and make it the source of all thinking and action. We find our marching orders through prayer as we listen to the instructions of God. And in all things we trust in God to be our shield. We can do that because He and His Word have been tested over and over and both have stood the test of time. Whatever else we know, we know that we can trust God as our shield and refuge. You can too!
Dr. John Thompson