Ephesians 6:16, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.”
When the biblical authors wanted to convey a truth about God to His people, they had two basic choices. On the one hand, they could state their teaching plainly in propositions. Or, they could use metaphorical language to express the reality of His character. Both options have their advantages, but metaphors uniquely convey the fullness of the Lord’s character and what He has done for us. There is a difference, for instance, between saying that the Creator is our protector and asserting that He is our shield. Both statements indicate that God is our defender, but to call Him, our shield indicates vividly that He stands between our enemies and us to absorb the worst of their blows and keep us secure.
Scripture often refers to the Almighty as our shield (Gen. 15:1; Ps. 5:12; Prov. 30:5), and we must keep this in mind as we consider Paul’s call for us to take up the shield of faith (Eph. 6:16). Trusting in God — lifting the shield of faith — is to rest in Him as our protector, as the One who keeps the assaults of the Devil from destroying us. He does this for all of His people in an ultimate sense, guarding us that we might persevere in faith (Rom. 8:30). But the Lord also shields us from temptation as we look to Him daily to help us walk in holiness. When we remember to turn to Him in our hour of need, He will direct us faithfully on the right path and help us make decisions that will honor Him.
The shield that Paul’s metaphor would have brought to mind for his first-century audience was not a small disc but a large, body-length shield that a Roman soldier used to shelter his entire body. Soldiers would dampen these shields and otherwise prepare them to put out the flaming arrows and other missiles that were often launched at them from behind enemy lines. Our faith serves a similar purpose in our conflict with Satan, not because faith in itself is a substance that has magical sheltering properties but because it is the means by which we lay hold of God and all His promises. To take up the shield of faith is to rest in Christ Himself, who absorbed the blows of temptation and even demonic attack, finally emerging victorious (Luke 4:1–13; 22:3; 24:1–12). Turning to Him in faith daily is essential for us, as evil forces are too powerful for us to resist on our own (Eph. 6:11).
An essential part of turning to Christ in order to resist temptation and other assaults successfully is understanding and appreciating truly His loveliness. When we have a true grasp of His greatness, we will be more encouraged to look to Him in all things and to see the ugliness of sin. Take some time today to meditate on the loveliness of Christ, His glory, and the beauty of what He has done for us. Let this, in turn, move you to rest on Him in faith each day.