The verses in Ephesians chapter 6 dealing with the Armor of God make for some of the best scripture from which to pull both sermon notes and interactive lessons for kids. The example Paul uses here is brilliant. The Christian is in a spiritual battle so Paul uses the outfit of a soldier to make his point. As with all scripture, though, it is important we understand how to apply the lesson to our life. I will reprint a portion of Paul’s writings on the subject below but it may be helpful to read the entire passage of Ephesians 6: 10 – 20.
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints Ephesians 6: 14 – 18 [ESV]
I want to focus on the two most critical items of warfare mentioned here, the best defensive and the best offensive weapon. The shield of faith, the top defensive weapon, is mentioned here as allowing the Christian to put out all the flaming darts which Satan throws our way. The shields used by soldiers in Paul’s day usually had a wooden structure inside and were covered on the front by leather and on the back by a thin metal plate. They were designed to stop swords and knifes at close range and arrows (flaming or otherwise) from longer ranges. They were also designed so that when soldiers stood side by side, the shields created a nearly impenetrable force.
Our faith in the promises of God do the same for us. God has not promised me perfect health or unending wealth but He has promised that He will never leave or forsake me, that Jesus paid my full debt on the cross and I am forgiven and saved. Jesus promised that He came to give me life most abundant and that He will come back claim His own and take us with Him. Satan primarily tires to shoot flaming darts of doubt at us about those very promises. Satan’s biggest lie is that God does not have my best interest at heart and following God’s rules are going to limit the value and enjoyment of my life. R.C. Sproul put it this way “The fundamental deception of Satan is the lie that obedience can never bring happiness”.
Satan will also try to put doubt about our salvation in our heads and have us question whether God is really in control or not. The best weapon against such attacks is that we understand and have full faith in God’s promises. Once we believe God’s promises and have full faith in His steadfastness and the perfection of His track record, the flaming darts just fizzle out. And as a single shield of faith will often prove insufficient for our defense against such a crafty opponent, we should do as the soldiers in the Roman Empire and line up side by side with other Christian soldiers, drawing from and complementing each other’s faith (yes, the preacher just told you to go to church and attend some type of Bible study).
Finally, in all of the items of warfare listed by Paul, only one was an offensive weapon, the sword of the Spirt which is the word of God (which is the Bible). Faith is awesome and prayer is awesome but the word of God as captured in the Holy Bible is how we go on the attack against the enemy. And staying familiar with what is recorded in the Bible will obviously strengthen our faith. And the more we are certain that our faith-based defenses will hold up in battle, the more confident we are to go on the offensive attack.
So what is the lesson Paul intended for us to take from these passages? Simple. That we are to read the Bible to remind ourselves of the promises and steadfast track record of God Almighty and actively use our growing faith in those promises to counter any doubts Satan flings at as about the value of continuing on in the disciplined walk of a Christian life.
Andy’s book, Clear Vision: How The Bible Teaches Us To View The World, can be purchased here.