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The Believer's Armor, Part 4: The Shield of Faith

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
October 18, 2021 4:00 am

The Believer's Armor, Part 4: The Shield of Faith

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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When the battle gets furious and the arrows start flying, he takes the shield of faith. Now what is it for? Verse 16. With which you shall be able to quench, not some, not most, but all the fiery darts of the wicked.

So I tell you, whatever it is, it'll do the job, right? Whatever the shield of faith is, it's enough. You might even say that this is the only piece of armor you need at all. To keep your family safe in the car, you drive cautiously.

When you're at home, you lock the doors. It's natural to do whatever it takes to protect your loved ones from harm. Well, it's also true that your Heavenly Father cares deeply for you and will protect you from spiritual harm. Today on Grace to You, you're going to learn how to use a piece of armor that can protect you against even Satan's fiercest attacks. It's called the shield of faith.

So how do you take hold of this shield and use it for all it's worth? Find out now as John MacArthur continues his inventory of the believer's armor. Now here we have the great text in the book of Ephesians that delineates for us the warfare of the Christian. Our manner of life in this world will be conflict. We are set against the enemy. But as we've been seeing from this passage, there's no reason for us to fear that.

There's no reason for us to get under the weather, as it were, to become fatalistic because the victory is ours. And to express that, I'd like you to look at Romans chapter 8 verse 31 for just a moment. Romans 8 31.

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own son but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

In other words, who could defeat us? Wouldn't God who gave us Christ give us any resource we needed to win the battle? And who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? Shall God that justifies?

In other words, who's going to hold anything against us? If God is the highest court and God says we're just, who is an accuser? Verse 34, who is he that condemns? Shall Christ that died, yea rather than is risen again? In other words, if he rose again for our justification, would he condemn us? The point is, if God is the highest court, if Christ is the greatest judge, and they have declared us just and righteous, who should condemn us? Who would possibly bring any accusation against us?

The answer obviously is no one. Verse 35, what shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword? As it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the day long, we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things, what things?

Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, killed all day long, accounted as sheep for the slaughter. In all these things we are super conquerors through him that loved us. And so I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth nor any other creation shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We are hyper conquerors, super conquerors. That is what Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 15, 57 when he said, thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. And in 2 Corinthians 2, 14 where he said, thanks be unto God who always causes us to triumph in Christ.

And what John meant in 1 John 5, 5 when he said, who is he that overcometh the world but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? We are overcomers. We are triumphing. We are victorious in Christ. And so you see, by very definition, Romans 8, 1 Corinthians 15, 2 Corinthians 2, 1 John 5, we are victors. We are invincible. We are super conquerors.

But that is speaking about the total picture, the positional picture, the ultimate war. The fact is, in order to win the battle every day, we have to come to Ephesians chapter 6 because there we appropriate the armor that God has made available. And in appropriating this armor, we can be super conquerors on a day-to-day basis. We can be more than conquerors. We can go beyond just winning the battle. We can take the spoil. We can go beyond just claiming victory.

We can inherit all the possessions of the vanquished foe. In 2 Chronicles chapter 20, Jehoshaphat leads Israel in a great celebration of victory, and I think it might fit our thoughts as an illustration. 2 Chronicles 20, 22, Israel is coming to battle, and that is spoken of in verse 22, When they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set an ambush against the children of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who were come against Judah, and they were smitten. For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them. And when they had made an end to the inhabitants of Seir, everyone helped to destroy each other. You know what the Lord did? He just let all the enemies kill each other off while Israel stood there and praised God.

They never even fired a shot. And when Judah came toward the watchtower in the wilderness and looked under the multitude, and behold, there were dead bodies fallen to the earth and none escaped. And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil from them, they found among them in abundance riches with the dead bodies and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves more than they could carry away. And they were three days in gathering the spoil.

It was so much. And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the Valley of Barakah, for there they blessed the Lord. Therefore the name of the same place was called the Valley of Barakah unto this day. And then they returned every man of Judah and Jerusalem and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them to go again to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. And they came to Jerusalem with saltaries and harps and trumpets unto the house of the Lord.

And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they had heard that the Lord fought against the enemies of Israel. Now here is a picture of super conquering. You don't even have to fight the battle to start with.

That's amazing. Secondly, when the battle is over, everyone on the enemy force is dead. Next, all of the spoil is yours undivided. And then they return to Jerusalem singing and praising God.

And ultimately, verse 30 says, God gave them rest from further battles. Super conquering. A foe absolutely obliterated, not one remaining.

Spoil totally collected, taking three days to garner. Returning with joy and never having fired a shot, never having engaged in a fight. The whole victory given by the Lord. Now that's a super conquering. And that's the way it is in the Christian life. God does all the fighting, gives us the victory, and lets us collect all the spoils and enter into his presence with joy.

That's a super conquering. That's the way God expects you to live your life day to day, with that kind of victorious living, with that kind of approach to life. Now in order to experience that positional reality and practical living, you must apply the armor of the Christian on a day to day basis. And that's why we're looking at Ephesians 6, 10 to 17.

How does a Christian make all of this available daily? How do we enter into the joy and rejoicing? How do we enter into this kind of an experience as they had in those times when Israel won the great victory? How do we know that same joy, that same exhilaration, that same blessedness of having the battle be fought by the Lord? How can we stand fully enriched by the spoils gained?

Well, the key is right here. Let's go back then to Ephesians 6 and find out. We see here six pieces of armor for the Christian.

As long as we have them on, we'll know the victory and the spoil that comes to super conquerors. First in verse 14, have your loins girded about with truthfulness. This we call the belt of truthfulness. And we've told you this means commitment. It means readiness. It means preparation. In other words, if we're going to fight Satan, if we're going into the war, we have to realize we have a formidable foe, we have a real enemy, and we've got to be ready. We have to gird up our loins, a symbol of preparation. We see it in many of the illustrations of Hebrew culture and history where they would gird up their loins to move on a journey.

And so a soldier must be ready for the fight, girding up his loins, preparing for battle. Secondly, verse 14 tells us of the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate of righteousness is that which indicates personal holiness, righteous living. And when sin enters our lives, we confess and repent and turn from it. And thus we keep a breastplate of righteousness covering our vital areas, covering our heart and our bowels as the Hebrew would see it.

The heart, the seat of the thoughts, and the bowels, the seat of the emotion. So that our thinking and feeling is guarded by holiness and righteousness. So as Christians, we are ready to fight. Everything is together.

We are totally and absolutely and 100% committed. Secondly, we are living a righteous, holy life. Third thing, we are to have on the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace. Our feet are to be covered with the gospel of peace.

I told you the Romans had boots or semi-boots, kind of a sandal affair that had a hobnail sticking out of the bottom, a series like cleats or spikes. And they would stand their ground firmly. And we see that the shoes that cause us to stand against Satan are really made of the gospel of peace. That is the good news that we're at peace with God. And he's on our side and we can stand in his resource. The same thing that allowed Peter to take a sword and start to fight the whole Roman army in the garden because he knew Jesus was beside him.

And if he got in trouble with a word, Jesus could knock them all over. And so as Christians, we stand our ground confident God is on our side. Now then, how do we win with Satan's army? How do we defeat his host of demons?

How do we stop the antagonism that attacks us from the kingdom of darkness? We do it by commitment. We do it by holiness. And we do it by confidence that God's power and resource is sufficient.

I want us to move on to the next piece of armor. And we're just going to talk about one, the shield of faith. Look at verse 16, the shield of faith. And above all, taking the shield of faith with which ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Now whatever the shield of faith is, folks, it is sufficient because it quenches all the fiery darts of the wicked one. That is a pretty broad statement.

It is sufficient for the total of the need. Now there are several kinds of shields used by different parts of the army in Roman times, depending upon the kind of thing you were doing and what you were involved in. Two stand out. The first is a rather small, round shield, sort of like a giant Frisbee, shaped in that kind of fashion and curled at the edges. It was strapped with two straps normally to the forearm, the left arm, of the soldier. It was to be very light so that it could be carried about when a soldier was a mobile foot soldier. And he would use it to parry the blows of hand-to-hand combat. And the right hand was a sword. And according to verse 17, the sword is a makaira, which is a Greek word meaning dagger. It's a short sword. And they would get into hand-to-hand combat, and the one hand would be this little sword they would be fighting with, and then the other would be that which they parried the blows of the opponent with, and that would be the shield.

That is not the word used here. The word used here is thureon, and it refers to a completely different shield. Thureon is a shield that was four and a half feet by two and a half feet. It was a great, big, thick plank of wood.

It was covered on the outside with metal and sometimes with even leather, very thick, so that when arrows were shot, fiery arrows, they would hit that metal and deflect, or they would hit the leather, and the leather would be oiled or treated so that they would extinguish the fiery pitch as it hit. But it was a massive piece of wood, really, four and a half by two and a half. And if you'll remember in those days, people were much smaller than they are today, even in the times of the history of England and Scotland. And we were there not long ago looking at some suits of armor.

And if you've ever been to the Tower of London, you see the same thing. You look at the armor that they wore, and you wonder who could have gotten in that, your junior high kids. They're so small, they were very small people.

And in the time of the Lord, as far as we know, it was the same situation. The people were very small, and a four and a half by two and a half foot shield would give you total protection. You just stick it on the ground and get behind it. That's what it was used for. It was designed for full protection. Now, when the Roman army would fight, usually this would be kind of the battle strategy. If it was a major battle, there would be a long line of these soldiers in the front of the troops with these shields. Behind would be all of the soldiers with arrows and swords and everything else. And as they moved along, they would come to the enemy. They would plant those shields side by side, creating a huge wall of protection. Behind that wall, the archers would send their arrows flying little by little, inching the wall closer and closer and finally entering into the hand-to-hand combat frequently.

But that's what would be happening. And the guys in the front would provide the line, the wall that really was the front line of the army. And it would shield those soldiers against the arrows that would fly. And of course, once the barrage of arrows came, those would be the guys who had the greatest protection. And it's true also that even in the troops behind, there would be those with these also to protect themselves. But you can imagine if you didn't have a shield like that and all of a sudden a barrage of arrows came from behind the enemy phalanx, you could never possibly fight them off. But you could get behind your shield and be protected. And so this is a double protection.

A double protection. Now listen to me. You'll notice it begins in verse 16 with the words, above all. It does not mean it's the most important. That is not the emphasis. It's not talking about the issue of importance.

That is not an issue dealt with in this section of the armor of the Christian. In fact, I told you before, there's nothing said here about which is most important. They're all essential and they even overlap. But he's saying on top of everything else, in addition to everything else, you have your belt, your breastplate, your shoes. Now in addition to that, above all that, and by the way, the above all refers not just to the shield but to the last three pieces of armor. Above all, it says, taking the shield of faith, and then verse 17, and take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. Now notice, and I'll show you a very important thought.

The above all introduces all three remaining elements. And there's even a distinction in the verbs to show there is a difference. You have, in verse 14, having as the verb, having your loins, having your feet, and having on the breastplate. And the idea of the verb, the having verb, is that this is something that is permanent. This is what you have on.

This is a permanent kind of thing, a long-range preparation. For example, there would be a lull in the battle, and in a lull in the battle, a soldier would go over and he would rest. But he would not take off his breastplate. He wouldn't take off his belt and his shoes.

That was just always there. He would have that on at all times. But when the battle got hot, verse 16, he would take his shield.

Verse 17, he would take his helmet and his sword. So the first three are long-range preparation. The second three are for immediate readiness. This is grasping that which really is necessary in the heat of the battle. Now, granted, if you have commitment, your belt is on, and you have absolute holiness in your life, your breastplate is on, and you have confidence in God's power, you're standing with your feet shot with the preparation of the gospel of peace, that would seem to be sufficient, and really it is.

It's just that the rest of this is kind of a double protection and is useful for when the battle really gets furious. Now, the rest of it you keep on all the time. A believer shouldn't have to get committed. I remember growing up and so many times going to conferences and they'd say, We're going to have a rededication. We want you all to rededicate your life.

I went to a school where they used to do that all the time. We'd have meetings month after month after month, somebody would come in and speak to the Christian students and call for a recommitment and a rededication and a reconsecration, and the same people would go through the same thing, always doing it. Well, the point is they were simply going back to the three basics.

They were going back to commitment, to righteousness, and to confidence in God's power, which is something they should have kept on all the time, you see. But when the arrows start flying in mass force, then you must have the shield of faith. Then you pull on the helmet of salvation, and then you grab the sword of the Spirit. It's kind of like watching a baseball player who sits on the bench, and when he goes to sit on the bench, he doesn't take his uniform off. His uniform stays on. He's got sliding pads on, probably got knee pads too. He's got his baseball spikes on. But when it comes time to bat, he puts a helmet on and he gets a bat in his hand.

Why? Because he has been prepared, but now he takes the weapons of his warfare in hand for the battle. You see it happen in a football game. The guy sits on the bench, off comes the helmet and so forth, and when he goes into the game, he pulls it on and takes off, and that's essentially the distinction that the apostle is showing here. There are some long-range elements of preparation and some for immediate readiness as the battle ensues.

And so on top of the first three, which are clamped, clasped, tied, sort of buckled, locked in place, immovable, come these three, which are grabbed by the hand for the immediacy of the battle. And it's a wonderful thing, beloved, to think about this. You know, God is in the business of doubly protecting his children. It would have been enough to have confidence in God's power with the right shoes, enough to have a breastplate of righteousness, enough to have a belt of commitment, and God gives us a double protection, which is so great, and it's like him. I was thinking of John 10, where it says that our lives are in Christ's hand, we are his sheep, and he has put us in the Father's hand, and nobody can take us out. So you have God and Christ both holding on to the believer, both securing the believer, hiding us together. And so this double sense of protection is not uncommon to God's way of thinking. And so the Christian soldier also has a double kind of protection from the enemy. When the battle gets furious and the arrows start flying, he takes the shield of faith. Now what is it for?

Verse 16. With which you shall be able to quench, that means to put out and extinguish, not some, not most, but all the fiery darts of the wicked. So I tell you, whatever it is, it'll do the job, right? Whatever the shield of faith is, it's enough. You might even say that this is the only piece of armor you need at all. That's how comprehensive it is.

But it's a double protection. All of the fiery darts are quenched. Now where do they come from? The end of verse 16 you see in the authorized, the wicked. The Greek is the wicked one, the wicked one who is Satan, the evil one, literally.

Poneros means the bad one, the vile one, the wretched one. Satan is firing and using his demons to fire all of these fiery darts, and we are quenching them by the shield of faith. Now, I want you to notice that the term the evil one, or the wicked one, or the bad one, reminds us that this battle is not against a philosophy, it's against a personal being, the evil one. In verse 11, the devil is mentioned. There's no question about this.

He is the source. We are not fighting an abstract, impersonal thing. We are fighting against the devil and his demons who are actively involved in an aggressive attack on the truth of God and the character of God and his people.

And so that's what Paul sees here. This thing quenches the fiery darts of the evil one. Now, we need to ask ourselves, what are the fiery darts?

What is it we're trying to stop? Well, in the battle of those days, the archers would get their arrows and they would put some material, some ball of cotton or something like that on the tip, and it would be soaked in pitch, which would burn rather slowly but rather hotly. And then they would have that dipped, and before they would shoot the arrow, they would light it, fire it, and when it hit its target, it would splatter the pitch and it would start little fires on the clothing of the soldier or whatever and burn him or burn up perhaps whatever target they had in view if it was made of wood. And so this was what was in Paul's mind. And with the deflection of a metal face on a shield or the leather that would extinguish these, there could be protection. Now, what are Satan's fiery darts?

Well, it's simple, isn't it? They're seducing temptations, that's all. He's simply referring to temptation. Satan fires shafts of impurity, shafts of selfishness, doubt, fear, disappointment, lust, greed, vanity, covetousness.

It all comes down to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. He literally bombards the believer with the arrows, the fiery darts of seductive temptation to elicit out of us ungodly, non-Christlike evil responses. And the only defense we have at this point, Paul, is the shield of faith. Because sometimes it just rains temptation. We live in a world where it really does.

It really does. All around us, we must have the shield of faith. Many key turning points in my life and my theological thinking have been shaped from this book. It's not the longest epistle Paul ever wrote, it's less than half the size of 1 Corinthians, and yet it covers everything from the believer's armor to the riches of life in Christ. Is it any wonder, John, that this book, Ephesians, has been referred to as the believer's bank?

Yeah, that's a great title for it. You know, the practical part of Ephesians, in one sense, doesn't start until chapter 4, when it says, therefore, this is how you are to walk and this is how you are to live. The first three chapters are perhaps the most rich, condensed understanding of foundational theology of the sovereignty of God in salvation and the essence of the gospel. Chapter 1 actually uses the word predestination.

Some people say, well, I don't believe in predestination. Well, you do if you read the book of Ephesians, because that's what's there, and it describes it. Chapter 1 basically goes through the entire redemptive purpose of God and keeps repeating, for his glory, for his glory, for the glory of his grace. So the heights of the opening chapter of Ephesians are almost unparalleled in any single chapter in the Bible. Maybe the closest thing to that would be Romans 8.

And then you go from there into the gospel and the magnificent statement in chapter 2 that we're saved by grace through faith, not of works lest any man should boast, and then that great statement on sanctification that we've been ordained for good works which God has predetermined we would walk in them. So, yeah, the book of Ephesians is rich beyond measure. This leads me to say, look, you need to know all the riches of Ephesians. And I don't know if you have done this in the past, but I've written commentaries on every book of the New Testament, including Ephesians. If you haven't any of those commentaries for your own, if you haven't ordered or purchased any of the commentaries, there's 33 volumes of them, a wonderful place to start would be with Ephesians.

And this is not just for pastors, not just for Sunday school teachers or Bible study leaders, but anyone who wants to know about the riches of grace that have been deposited in the believer's life. Start reading the commentary series with the book of Ephesians. The whole series is available, obviously, from Grace to You. You could order all of it if you wanted. But you could certainly start with one volume on Ephesians. That would be a great beginning.

And I think once you have experienced that, you'll want more. When you're not sure how to apply a particular verse, when you're teaching the Bible to your kids, when you just want to know God's Word with greater depth, the MacArthur New Testament Commentary can help. Pick up the Ephesians volume when you contact us today. Our toll-free number, 800-55-GRACE, and our website, Individual volumes of the MacArthur New Testament Commentary series are available for $19 each. Shipping is free. Again, to order, call toll-free, 800-55-GRACE, or visit our website, And keep in mind, you'll enjoy a significant discount if you purchase all 34 volumes at once. Again, to order either a single volume or the entire series, call 800-55-GRACE or shop online at

And this important reminder, if John's teaching has helped you better understand what it means to follow Christ, if these broadcasts have encouraged and equipped you to tell others the Gospel, or if someone you know has come to Christ because of grace to you, we'd love to hear your story. Email us at letters at Once more, that's letters at Or send your letter to Box 4000, Panorama City, California, 91412. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, encouraging you to be here tomorrow when John shows you how to fight off doubt and discouragement with the spiritual weapons God provides. Join us for another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-07 21:47:39 / 2023-08-07 21:59:09 / 12

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