- The Shoes Of The Gospel (verse 15)
- The Shield Of Faith (verse 16)
Now let me welcome you to the Bible Reading this evening here in the Iron Hall, it's good to see you all with us. There are some visitors with us - several visitors in fact - and we're very glad to see you all with us this evening. Thank you for making the effort to come under the sound of the word of God, and we trust that the Lord will bless you for coming.
Ephesians chapter 6, and we'll take time to read from verse 10 again to get the whole of the passage of Paul's thoughts. We're looking at the second pair of pieces of armour that Paul has outlined, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Verse 10: "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand".
As we study this passage of scripture week after week, it becomes greater and greater - the universal truths that we can draw from it. We could take a series - as many of you will already know - out of this little sub-series. For many weeks we could dwell on these thoughts, but we want to get from them the main themes that Paul has laid for us in this little book of Ephesians. We've been looking at the Christian warrior's armour, what God has given to us - and it is called the armour of God rightly so, because it is God's armour - it's not something that we have of ourselves, it is not something that we conjure up or make by any of our works of faith. This is God's supernatural armour, it is the gift of God given to us.
One author has said regarding this chapter: 'If, for 60 seconds, we could see the size and the ranks of our enemy: General Satan, his cosmocrats, their lieutenants and foot soldiers - we would forever reject reliance on conventional methods, and would flee to God's armoury for instruction and for outfitting'. We see in verse 12, if we really believe it, that 'we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places' - we must then adorn ourselves with God's armour, nothing else will do. We must put on the armour of God!
As we study in these pieces of armour, we find that all of them correspond to the armour that the Lord Jesus Christ wore when He was upon the earth. In fact we looked last week at the book of Isaiah and saw that the armour that we are looking at here in Ephesians 6 is the armour that God Himself - omnipotent God - adorned Himself with. So He's not asking us to put on some second-rate Christian experience only for humans, but God Almighty is giving us His own armour, the armour that the Lord Jesus Christ wore, the armour that is victorious and has already been proved here in the sinful environment in which we live.
Last week we saw that we ought to be fitted out with the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness. It's important to be truthful - the way to be truthful, we learnt, is to uphold the truth of God, and the Lord Jesus tells us that: 'Thy word is truth'. But we saw that that girdle of truth held up the rest of the armour, it bound it together. We also saw that the sword was attached to the belt of truth, and therefore we concluded that it wasn't just holding doctrine in our heads, but it was a life of truth, a life of transparency, a life of blamelessness, that should adorn the Gospel. Not just holding the truth but, as this great epistle teaches us, to walk in the truth, to have a life that testifies and witnesses of trustworthiness, faithfulness to the word of God and to the principles that are laid down.
We then looked at the breastplate of righteousness. We saw that that righteousness is the righteousness imputed by faith by the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, as the book of Romans teaches us, the righteousness of God specifically. Because our sins were imputed on Him at Calvary, His righteousness by faith in Him through grace is imputed to us in conversion. But we also see that there was another side to that: our lives must therefore adorn that righteousness of Christ in a practical righteousness - it's not good enough to say, like some were saying to Paul and in the church of Rome: 'Shall we sin that grace may abound?'. There must be a life, there must be a pattern of footsteps and - as the word of God says - conversation that lends itself to godliness, and testifies that the righteousness of Christ is living in my life.
It's amazing that, right throughout all these pieces of armour, the word of God is through it all. In fact, I believe that that is the whole testimony of these pieces of armour: the word of God, the word of God, the word of God, and then obedience to the word of God in every facet of our lives. And we're beginning to get the idea that the armour covers us from the tip of our head to the tip of our toe, so that the devil has no foothold with us, so there's no gaps, so that we are not left naked - and the way to be like that is to adorn ourselves with the word of God. So, tonight we look at the next two pieces of God's armour that He gives us. There's the shoes of the gospel - the gospel of peace specifically - and then there is the shield of faith.
Verse 15: 'And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace' - the shoes of the gospel. You will recall that last week we were looking at how Paul is under house arrest in Rome, he's probably chained to a Roman soldier and so he is looking at an illustration of what a soldier is like, specifically a Roman soldier. At this point, after looking at the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness, he casts his eye down to the feet of this Roman soldier. He sees a pair of sandals, on the sole of those sandals there are hobnails. Like spikes on a pair of golf shoes, or studs on a pair of football boots, they are there for a purpose: that the Roman soldier may have a footing in his battle, that he may be able to dig his heels in hard and not be moved. These shoes are sturdy shoes, leather shoes. They also have these prongs in them so that whenever the Roman soldier, perhaps, stands on a trap - a sharp trap laid by the enemy - it'll not stop him marching forward. These are soldier's shoes!
Now when we talk about sandals we conjure into our mind flip-flops, perhaps, that we take on our Mediterranean holidays, that flip on and flip off. But that's not what Paul is talking about here, these aren't 'Moses sandals', these are sturdy boots for war. On the bottom of them there is hard leather, and these studs and spikes - and then there are two pieces of leather, two straps, and they are wound around the leg right up to the very ball of the lower leg - tight! So that this soldier is able to move, so he's able to stand strongly without worrying about his footwear.
There are two thoughts, I believe, that Paul the apostle is bringing to us through the shoes of the gospel of peace. The first is very simple, and you've probably thought of it already: these shoes are for standing in. They are for standing firm, as the passage has told us in the introduction: that we are to stand, and when we have done all, to stand - to stand and remain standing! When the smoke of the battle has died down - and we have stood at the beginning - that when everything disappears and you can begin to see again, you're still standing in the same victorious position. We have been learning that that position is the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ. To stand in His victory, to stand on what He has won, the ground that He has given us by the blood of the cross - we are to stand in it, and having done all, to stand.
The second point that he has, I believe, is also the suggestion that the soldier was ready for battle. It is the preparation of the gospel of peace. He has readiness to go forth with his message, whatever it may be, or with his warfare - and even go into invasion of enemy territory. Paul knew what he was talking about it. If you were to turn with me to Romans chapter 1, if you wish, verse 16 you will find that Paul knew both of these things in his life. He knew what it was to stand firm upon the victory ground of Christ, and he also knew what it was to go forward and to be prepared to take the Gospel wherever God led him. Romans 1 and verse 16: 'For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth' - I am not ashamed! It doesn't matter that it's foolishness to the Greeks and a stumbling block to the Jew, I am not ashamed, I will not be moved from off that ground, I am digging my heels in firm, I am standing. But in the same chapter you have verses 14 and 15, he says that he is ready to publish it: 'I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also' - a standing and also a readiness.
Now let's look, first of all, at this standing. Standing in the battle - we can stand in the battle and be at peace! Now I want you to see the seeming contradictions - or I'd rather call it 'spiritual paradoxes' - that you find so much throughout scripture. This Roman soldier, the picture Paul is painting, is standing in the bloodiest, smokiest battle that you can imagine - yet he is standing in shoes of peace! We can stand in a battle and be at peace, that's what Paul is saying. When we stand in the finished work of Christ, no matter what assails us, no matter what the devil can throw at us, no matter what comes from within our fleshly heart and what attracts - 'magnetism' from the world around us - we can be at peace! That's remarkable. In fact Romans 5 and verse 1 testifies of that in our salvation, that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 'Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God'. We have entered into it, through the finished work, in the process of salvation and we have been granted peace with God. Then what flows from that is the peace of God that passeth all understanding, and then we are meant to be at peace one with the other - isn't that right? As Colossians says, when we let the word of God dwell in our hearts richly, that is what will happen. We will know the peace of God that passeth all understanding, and we will be at peace with those around us: our brethren and sisters in Christ.
When that happens, when we are at peace with God, when we are at peace with ourselves, and when we are at peace with one another, James chapter  and verses 1 to 7 says that is the way the devil is defeated. You remember in that passage, James chapter , that he says: 'Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you'. That is in the context of peace with God, peace with yourself, and peace with one another - that is the victory that we have in the Lord Jesus, standing in these shoes. Now my question to you is: are you standing? Are you standing at this moment in the peace of God's gospel? It's very easy to answer, all you have to do is look into your heart and see if it's a storm of absolute chaos, or is it at peace? Someone has said that the heart is like the referee of the human being, when the whistle is blowing your peace is lost, the rules have been broken and there's a lack of peace now - but do you know that? Do you know that calm stillness of a child of God? Are you walking according to the gospel victory that the Lord Jesus Christ has given to us? You might say you're saved - and that's great that you're saved! - but there's another step, and it's walking in the victory of the Lord Jesus, it's knowing the peace of God through victory. It's what the poet said:
Blessed assurance in my soul.
On the stormy sea,
Jesus speaks to me,
And the billows cease to roll'.
I've said in the last couple weeks that I believe that the devil - to put it bluntly - has a lot of believers over a barrel. I believe that one of his schemes - and remember last week, one of his mischievous devices and methods and wiles - are restless spirits in the life of God's children. Restlessness, anxiety, fear - and believers, by this, have allowed Satan to bind them with anxieties and troubles. But if you learn to stand in the gospel of peace, that goes - it must go! You remember Israel's fearful enemy, Pharaoh, in the book of Exodus. You remember that he - just like Satan for us - was bent upon their destruction. But the night the angel of death appeared over Egypt, the Israelites, where were they? They were in their homes, shut doors, blood on the lintel on the doorpost - they were under the blood of the lamb! And when you're under the blood of the Lamb there's no need for restlessness! When God has promised: 'When I see the blood I will pass over you', when He tells you that there's protection under the blood, and if you're saved and standing in the victory of Christ, that is the peace of Passover! God has said, as He said to them: 'And thus shall ye eat it, with your loins girded and shoes on your feet'. Shoes of peace!
Wasn't it Isaiah said: 'Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee' - and we always forget to finish quoting that verse: 'because he trusteth in Him'. Trust, that's what it is. Standing, standing and refusing to be moved! Now, I believe the parallel to the book of Ephesians, and indeed the book of Hebrews, in the Old Testament is the book of Joshua. There's a mistaken notion that goes about Christendom and it's because of two reasons specifically. First of all: hymnology, and also Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress' - which I will not even attempt to criticise, but I do believe that he was wrong in this aspect. Many believers see Canaan, the promised land, as heaven - and many also see the Jordan as being our crossing over death to heaven as a believer. But, you see, if you look in the book of Joshua you find that for the Israelites, the children of God, that the battle only began when they got into Canaan. It was only when they entered the promised land that they had to put their battle armour on, and start fighting a very bloody fight and clearing the land of all the Canaanites, the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and all the rest of them!
In the Old Testament, to put it briefly - and we haven't got time to go into it - but typically speaking, the Red Sea represents the death of our Lord Jesus Christ and His resurrection. And you can see that by the fact that once the Israelites were crossing the Red Sea, and they got to the other side, the enemy began to chase them - and God sent His Spirit which closed those waters and all the Egyptians drowned. What did it say? 'All the Egyptians drowned' - all of their enemies were destroyed in an instant, they had no more enemies! They were free now to walk towards the promised land, although they went through the wilderness - and the wilderness in our Christian lives, to put it typically, represents the temptation. It represents, once we are saved, how the devil throws everything at us - and it's very difficult to be a babe in the Lord Jesus Christ, it's difficult to get to grips at times with the things that we have to learn, and the repentance, and the life, daily crucifying the flesh and daily carrying the cross of our Lord Jesus. But eventually what is meant to happen, just like the children of Israel, we cross the Red Sea through the cross of the Lord Jesus who died and rose again for us, we enter into those very early teething stages of Christian life, but eventually we ought to come to the Jordan.
I believe the Jordan represents our spiritual death, and our spiritual resurrection with the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that Canaan is the land of spiritual blessing, I believe it is the promised land of Christian maturity that we are all to strive to - and because of that, it is the very place that the enemy takes on the greatest battle because he wants to forfeit us from the blessing that God would have for us in His promises. The blessings are ours! Ephesians 1 tells us, our key verse, we are blessed - we are, past tense, 'we are blessed with all blessings in heavenly places in Christ'. But the second half of this book, as we all know now, is telling us to enter into the blessings that are ours - and we have got this mentality in evangelicalism and fundamentalism today, that: 'If the blessings are ours, I have them!' - no!
Turn to Joshua, so that we can lay this down. Joshua chapter 1, now this is a famous passage of Scripture, Joshua chapter 1 and we read from verse 2. God says: 'Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel' - listen - 'Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses'. Now there's a promise, the word of God: 'From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Therefore be strong'. Now, what we do is: we stop at verse 5, and say: 'Well, God has given us this, He's given to us! What do I need to be strong for?'. I mean the Israelites could have said, couldn't they: 'Well, if You've given us this land, Lord, why do we have to fight for it?' - isn't that right? But He says: 'Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them' - you're going to have to fight, you're going to have to divide the land - 'Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest'. Then verse 9: 'Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest'. Verse 18: 'Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage'.
Do you see the parallel? God says: 'That land is yours' - He'd been saying it since the promise of the land to Abraham, but they still had to appropriate their promises. That's the book of Hebrews, to me at least, you've got to go in, God has no pleasure in him that turns back, but you've got to take that step of faith. But the tragedy is for many, we can be saved and still in the wilderness of temptation, still grappling with the childish things, but we have to start to put away those childish things and become men - and quit you like men! We've got to begin to cross the Jordan that is uncrossed, and there is a lot of fruit there, there's a lot of corn that hasn't been touched for years. They were on Canaan land -don't forget that, they were stepping unto the land - but their job was to begin to appropriate these things. What was theirs, they had to claim it, they had to defeat Satan's attempts to deprive them of what was theirs, they had to go forward! And that is what Satan wants to do to every believer today, that is his battle strategy: to deprive us of what is ours! And we can't let him! The Lord Jesus died that we might have it, and it is by grace through faith that we can get it - and we're sitting here tonight, and whatever it is that we don't have, we can appropriate it now by faith!
Oh, it's wonderful. Josephus tells us of a Roman soldier on one occasion, who tried to run and he fell over and he fell on his back onto the stone ground, and he was despatched from the Roman army. You can't run in Roman soldier's shoes, they're not for running, they're for standing - and there is also this thought: they're not for running away. When a Roman soldier saw that there was an enemy that was very large, he had to fight to the death because the shoes he was wearing couldn't take him away! Now, we don't have to fight to the death and be worried about whether we'll win or not, the shoes of the gospel of peace can't run away because the Lord Jesus Christ who bought them with His blood can't be defeated! That's the thought.
But it's not just the security that we have in the Lord Jesus and His blessings, but as I said earlier, the second point is: Paul wants us to prepare for service in the gospel. Not just steadfastness, but swiftness in witnessing - that's the idea in the preparation, verse 15: 'the preparation of the gospel of peace'. It suggests promptness, a readiness. The Spanish translation says this: 'Having your feet shod with a joyful readiness to propagate the gospel of peace' - a joyful readiness to preach the Gospel! Isn't that what we need? There are millions around our world - millions, now - who have never heard, never heard. Isn't it the 10/40 window (I hope I've got the numbers right), no-one has ever heard, the centre of the planet, one of the largest scales in the whole of geography, and people haven't heard. The 21st century, the age of the website, the age of human cloning, and people haven't heard the gospel. Paul wants us to have a readiness to take that gospel. Satan wants to blind them, but he wants us - God - to take them and unbind then. And as we preach the gospel, is that not what we are doing? We are preaching deliverance to the captives, the recovery of sight to the blind, setting at liberty them that are bruised. Paul quotes Isaiah and Nahum talking about this in Romans 10:15: 'How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!' - and what the word of God is saying is that the feet that are beautiful in the eyes of God, are the feet that take the Gospel, that walk with the Gospel to those that need to hear it. That is the two inseparable things about the gospel of peace: you've got to preach it, but you've also got to walk by it! Those things are never divorced in Scripture, theory and life are never apart, the two must be inseparable - mouthing the gospel and manifesting it.
These shoes, as you've probably gathered, aren't dancing shoes for your pleasure. They're not carpet slippers for you, in your old age, to sit with your feet up by the fire and relax - but these are fighting shoes. As Peter said: '[We are to] be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear' - being ready at all times. Like those eating the Passover, they were eating with their shoes on ready to go - and there's an interesting statement in Deuteronomy 29:5, to those very people God said: 'I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot'. These weren't Dr Martin's - but they went forty years ago, and the shoes that they wore going out were the same shoes that they had on. That is the gospel that we have, praise God it hasn't changed! Praise God it hasn't worn old - no matter what modernists and liberalists tell us today - it is the same gospel, it has the same power, because it points back to the same cross and the same Christ. We can go with it, we can be assured that if we are standing in the same gospel shoes that the apostles stood in, and that the Lord Jesus Christ procured, we can be sure that it will never grow old! The burning sands of the desert of temptation - it will last the journey. The sharp stones, and traps of the enemy, and adversity, won't wear them out!
Paul is saying that the sign of a Christian - and if you're a Christian tonight, the sign that you are one must be: a readiness to move, and eager to go and preach the gospel, the way of peace. Always ready at every opportunity to share it with those who have never heard. Now I want to make a little digression for a moment, because I believe that we are missing something in this passage that we so often look at in our Christian lives. I asked the question: why would a soldier be armed to the teeth, and be carrying with him a message of peace? It seems strange, doesn't it: how a Roman soldier, the state-of-the-art in military of the day, and in technology, could be carrying a gospel of peace to anyone? Of course, we've already looked in a sense that while the battle is raging outside, with regard to the Christian we can be at peace inside. It doesn't matter what the devil is throwing at us, that peace in the stern of our boat can be very very quiet.
But I believe that there's something more, I believe there's something connected with the evangelistic commission - and we tend to believe today that it's enough just to preach the gospel and leave the rest to God, and I don't subscribe to that theology. I do subscribe to the theology that salvation is of the Lord, but I also believe that God in His sovereign will has ordained that we be the means of preaching that gospel. I believe that here we have, in the armour of God, a method whereby we as the children of God are able, with the armour of God, to disarm in some measure the enemy! I believe that that's the purpose of this armour: that we, as we go forth with the gospel, are covered with God's armour so that we can, in a measure, defeat the devil - so that when we fire the gospel arrows that we have, that they will have a clear, clean entrance.
I believe that this is how we can preach the gospel and signs follow. I wonder have we lost, somewhere along the way - I don't know when - but have we lost the art of spiritual warfare? We've done the old pendulum again, haven't we? The charismatics go nuts, so we forget all about it! Isn't that right? But what that the Lord, our Lord, say? He said in Mark 3:27: 'No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house'. Of course, people object: 'Oh, but He did that at the cross. He bound him at the cross'. Yes, He did! But what are we saying? We have to appropriate that victory! We have to take the devil on, face-to-face, upon the victory of the Lord Jesus Christ at the cross - and that is the beginning of walking and standing in these shoes of the gospel of peace. Surely it's our job as foot soldiers to appropriate the victory face-to-face in the battle, and to spoil Satan's kingdoms? Are we not told by Paul that we are labourers together with God? And if, as he says, God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, are we not told Christ is in us? And if God was in Christ reconciling the world, is Christ not in us doing the same?
Is that not why Paul told the Christians in Rome in chapter 16:20: 'The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly' - and the God of peace did that because the Soldier was wearing the shoes of the gospel of peace. You see, when we relax in our tents we're in trouble. When we feel safe, we're not following the beautiful feet of the Lord Jesus Christ on the mountains, bearing good tidings and publishing peace - but what we need to do is come to a position tonight by faith, whereby we say like that great hymn:
'Take my feet and let them be,
Swift and beautiful for Thee'.
Are you ready? Are you prepared, right now, to go wherever God tells you, to do whatever God asks you to do?
'Ready to go, ready to stay,
Ready my place to fill.
Ready for service, lowly or great,
Ready to do His will'.
That's what it is. But then secondly we have the shield of faith, verse 16, let's spend a few moments on this. 'Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one'. So, you have the shoes of the gospel and now you have the shield of faith. The question is: do most believers believe Satan is out to destroy them? Now, come on, this is important! Do you really believe Satan is out to destroy you? I know believers, and you talk to them, and you would think Satan didn't exist! But if he does exist, and you believe he exists, he exists to destroy you! That is his purpose - and if that is the case we need all of the armour of God to withstand, we need to cover every inch of us with the armour of God. Here we have the shield, next week we'll look at the sword of the spirit - and the shield and the sword go together, because our faith is attacked when the devil attacks the word of God. The shield of faith protects [against] the devil's attacks upon the word of God.
Paul says, verse 16: 'Above all' - above all! That literally means 'in addition to' - and I believe what he is meaning here is, we've already had the breastplate of righteousness, the girdle of truth, and we've just had the shoes on our feet, and he is saying: 'All those first three parts of the armour, that shield is above them'. In other words it's in front of them, it protects what you have already put on. Those other three things will be very weak if you don't have a shield. A breastplate will do you no good, or a belt, or shoes, if the enemy can penetrate your defence. So you need this shield of faith above all, it covers the rest of the armour already on. And of course the shield, in the battle, was literally put above all things - many a time you see a picture of all the Roman soldiers coming together in a square or a rectangle, and putting the shields over their head - that's what it was used for in its very nature.
But the miraculous thing about this shield is this: it's not just above all, but it is able to quench all - and that is a good enough reason for it being above all, isn't it? All the fiery darts of the devil - there's no exceptions, there's no Exocet missiles that can get past this shield of faith! It protects the child of God, it is a shield. Now, the word for 'shield' here is not the little round shield that you often see, that's commonly called in the word of God 'a buckler' - but literally the Greek says: 'a door-shield' - a door-shield. It is what it says: this was an oblong shield about two and a half feet wide, and four feet high. Massive, heavily armoured, it was a warrior's shield! It literally means 'taking the great shield of your faith that it may quench the fiery darts of the devil'.
Now, what were these fiery darts? Well, these were one of the most advanced weapons of the day, the most dangerous weapon, perhaps, in ancient warfare. It was a dart that was tipped with pitch, it was set alight and it was fired at the enemy. Dangerous if it gets into you, and past your defences! But the point was this: you have this big two and a half foot wide and four foot [tall] shield able to quench it! This shield was made of two layers of laminated wood stuck together with glue, and over that laminated wood there was a linen cloth, and over the linen cloth there was a leather hide, and at the top and the bottom they were galvanised with iron, and there was an iron crest put on the front of it. That's the kind of shield we're talking about - two and a half feet wide and four feet long. Once the darts penetrated that shield and stuck into the shield, they were immediately extinguished naturally. The history books tell us that after the Siege of Deracium (sp?) one man called Sceeva (sp?) counted no less than 220 darts on his shield! Two hundred and twenty that he had been protected from by this great shield!
What Paul is saying here is that these fiery darts, or literally these missiles, of the evil one - it doesn't matter how many he has, and let me tell you he has thousands of ways to set you aflame with destruction. And the problem with our bodies is: we are easily set aflame. We don't have to leave it all to the devil, for the Lord said: 'Out of the heart proceed adulteries, fornications, lies, murders, hatreds' - isn't that right? So when the fire comes, and if it penetrated and got past, somehow, this shield - if we weren't using it - and it hit us, we would go up in flames because we're very flammable, very sinful. But what a thought, what a thought indeed, that although these darts may be set on fire of hell, we've got God's shield. God's shield!
Now, his darts take many forms. They take filthy thoughts, sexual lust, business compromise, pride, worry, unbelief, jealousy, covetousness, and often they enter into our minds with accusing lies - the accuser, that's what he is - throwing lies, and telling us things about ourselves that aren't true, blasphemous thoughts at times even when we're on our knees in prayer, perversities that we think or contemplate, hate towards others, doubts, and burning desires that we want to fulfil! He shoots so much at us, doesn't he? There's times that we don't extinguish those darts right away, isn't that right? They catch light, they get into a bigger fire and that's harder to put out.
But my friends, if we would only realise what this shield of faith is - and as we have another five minutes left, let's look at what this shield of faith is, because people think it's working up, like I said before as one man said to me, some people think faith is standing in front of the mirror and saying - when you've got the chickenpox: 'I don't have the chickenpox, I don't have the chickenpox, I don't have the chickenpox'. Convincing yourself of something that's not true, and in a spiritual realm saying: 'God is going to give me that house, I have to believe that'. There are those who testify this, charismatics - they tell you that if you imagine the things, and dream about the things in your mind, God will give you the things. Now, that is not what faith is - what is this shield of faith? It's only mentioned here in the New Testament scripture, so we have to go into the Old Testament to get an understanding of it. It's a metaphorical term, I believe. I shield in the Old Testament always generally represents the person of Almighty God. It represents His protecting care.
The first mention about a shield in the Bible is in relation to Abraham. You remember, in Genesis chapter 14, there is the battle of the patriarchs - and the patriarchs, the fathers in the Old Testament, are struggling against unbelieving kings. Remember the kings that attacked, the King of Sodom and his allies, and Abraham had to come with all his men to defeat them. After he defeats them in battle, Genesis 15 verse 1: 'The word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward'. He saying: 'I'm able, I'm able for all the kings, I'm able for all your enemies. And the struggle that you've just seen in chapter 14, Abram, if you were frightened going into the battle, Abram, don't be afraid because God is your shield and you need not fear a man, or a demon, or a devil, or hell, or anything!'.
The second mention is of Moses in his song of praise for God's majesty and excellency, in Deuteronomy 33 and verse 27 to 29 - I wish we had time to read it, but you know that passage: 'Underneath, underneath are the everlasting arms'. And then God reveals himself to Moses as his shield of protection, the shield of his people. Now, that's what the faith is here: it is a firm confidence in the Lord, in who He is! It's not us working up a faith, it's a firm standing in the Lord and what the Lord has said! And when temptations burn, and circumstances are adverse, when doubts assail our minds and heart, when shipwreck threatens our spiritual lives - if faith would look up to God, and just say: 'I believe God!', that's it! It's not 'I believe', it's 'I believe God'. It's not the faith once delivered to the saints in Jude, I don't believe that's what is meant here. It's not the system of doctrine and belief, but as Harry Ironside says: 'It's not so much what you believe, but how you believe' - how you appropriate, in your living, what God has granted to you. It is confidence in God, it's nothing mystical - that's not what faith is. Romans 10:17: 'Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God' - that's what faith is!
Standing on the promises of Christ my King through eternal ages - that's what faith is! To stand on God's character, and what God has said - and you can defeat everything with that. You can defeat the world: is the world causing you a problem tonight? Is it? Its temptations, its sins, perhaps its opposition as you try to reach people for the lost? Listen: this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. That's the victory, and John goes on to say in that same chapter, 1 John 5 verse 18: 'And that wicked one toucheth him not' - he can't touch you! What a statement.
Isn't it amazing that he says this about the shield of faith: 'ye shall be able to quench the fiery darts' - all of them - 'of the devil'. You're able - it doesn't say you might be able, or you may be able if you get to this standard - you are able, certainty. But there's a condition, a condition: take hold of it! I believe, today more than ever, that our sovereign eternal God is there, but we need to take hold of Him by faith, and that's why this is a shield of faith. Incidentally, these shields were made in such a way that they could link together, and interlock with all the other soldiers - and I believe this: that the greatest barrier to Satanic opposition and the work of the kingdom of darkness here, is the church of Jesus Christ when they link together by faith. The people that know their God shall be strong and do exploits!
Are you prepared? Are you standing where you ought to be in this battle? Listen, this thrills me: we have everything we need, everything, but - if I can say it - like the carrot dangling in front of the donkey, we haven't appropriated it. Let's finish on this note, as we go into the battle:
'We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender.
We go not forth alone against the foe.
Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender.
We rest on Thee and in Thy name we go'.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the thirtieth tape in his Ephesians series, titled "The Holy War Part 3: The Christian Warrior's Armour" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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