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Sermon #84 — Ephesians Sermons
Title: The Shield of Faith
Text: Ephesians 6:16
Subject: Faith Compared to a Shield
Date: Tuesday Evening — November 14, 2017
Readings: Lindsay Campbell and Allen Kibby
Like the Spartans of old, every child of God is born a warrior. It is our destiny to be assaulted. It is our duty to attack. We are constantly engaged in defensive warfare. Satan is a relentless foe, assaulting our souls day and night, sometimes openly, more often with great subtlety.
Š We are required to earnestly defend the faith that was once delivered to the saints.
Š We have to resist the wicked one.
Š We have to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Š And having done all, still we must stand.
But that man is a poor excuse for a soldier who only defends. The Church of God is the army of Christ. And that army is an offensive army, storming the gates of hell with the Gospel. The Christian, the believer, the child of God is a soldier who is on the march against the powers of darkness. Like David, he says, “I come against thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.” We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual, “mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.” Onward, my brethren, onward we must go, attacking the castles of darkness, pulling down their strongholds, and driving the Canaanites from the land. What does our Captain say? — “Go ye therefore into all the world and preach the gospel.”
We must never forget these facts. We must never be found sleeping. The watchmen on the walls of Zion, Gospel preachers, must never allow themselves the leisure of ease and rest. God’s servants must be vigilant and alert. And you who are Zion’s soldiers must never become indifferent about your responsibility in the place assigned to you the Captain of our salvation, the Lord Jesus. Therefore, God the Holy Ghost, by the Apostle Paul gives a rousing call to arms in Ephesians 6:10-20. Hear the rousing battle cry, by which our blessed Savior calls us to war.
(Ephesians 6:10-20) “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (11) Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (12) 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. (13) 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. (14) Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; (15) And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; (16) Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. (17) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (18) Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; (19) And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, (20) For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
In order to properly prepare us for our daily warfare, this valiant and well-experienced soldier tells us the various pieces of armor which we must use, and how to use them.
Š The Girdle of Truth
Š The Breastplate of Righteousness
Š The Shoes of Gospel Peace
And, in our text tonight (verse 16), we are exhorted to arm ourselves relentlessly with the shield of faith. That is my subject tonight. — “THE SHIELD OF FAITH.” — “Above all taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
Faith is the grace of graces. It stands here in the midst of her companions: truth, righteousness, peace, salvation, and revelation. It stands among them as the heart is in the midst of the body. It is like David when Samuel “anointed him in the midst of his brethren.” When Paul comes to speak of faith, he seems to lift its head above all its fellows, giving it pre-eminence. — “Above all, taking the shield of faith.”
Proposition: The grace of faith is like the shield of mighty men, by which mighty things are done, and by which the believer not only repels, but conquers the enemy.
Divisions: Let me raise and answer three questions about “the shield of faith” we are here commanded to take.
1. What is the faith which serves the believer as a shield?
2. Why does the apostles compare faith to a shield?
3. How is the shield of faith above the other pieces of our armor?
1st — Let me say something about faith itself. I want to answer this very important question — What is the faith which serves the believer as a shield? I will spend the greater part of my time with this question, and do so with good reason. We are living in a day when the souls of men are being deceived with many substitutes for “the faith of God’s elect.” Faith is more than a mere decision. It is more than a system of doctrine. It is more than a plan of salvation. What is the faith which is here commended to us? So what is this shield of faith?
Frequently, God himself, the Triune Jehovah, the great object of faith, is represented as a shield for his people. As our God is the object of our faith, he is a shield to our souls (Genesis 15:1).
(Genesis 15:1) “After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”
All the perfections of God, his power, faithfulness, truth, and immutability encompass the saints as a shield. By faith, we lay hold of God’s perfections to oppose the temptations of Satan.
As the love and favor of God are objects of faith, these are a shield for us as well. — “Thou Lord, wilt bless the righteous, with favor wilt thou compass him as with a shield” (Psalm 5:12; Proverbs 30:5; Psalm 84:11).
(Psalm 84:11) “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
The word “faith” sometimes represents the doctrine of the Gospel. It is the faith once delivered to the saints. And the Gospel of Christ, and the truths and promises of it are a shield to God’s children. The entire Word of God is a shield to us. — “Every word of God is pure; he is a shield to them that put their trust in him” (Proverbs 30:5). — Faith involves taking God at his Word.
And our Lord Jesus Christ, the One we trust, is the whole of our faith. We believe him. Yes, I believe in him, I lean upon him, I come to him; and all of that means I trust him. And it is Christ, the Christ of God, our blessed Savior, who is our Shield, our blessed Shield of Faith. — “The Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory” (Psalm 84:11).
Faith makes use of Christ as a shield. By faith we hold up the Person, blood, and righteousness of our Substitute against Satan’s accusations. Christ alone is our shield of protection and security from the wrath of God, divine justice, and eternal death.
Certainly, when we think of faith as a shield, we must not exclude these objects of faith. But in our text, Paul speaks of the grace of faith as the believer’s shield. This is what we call saving, or justifying faith. This is the grace which makes God’s saints a match for the devil. Those who truly have this God-given, God-wrought faith as their shield are as sure of victory, as if they were now sitting upon the triumphal chariot in glory. John wrote, “Ye have overcome the wicked one…This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 2:13; 5:4). — What is this faith, by which sinners receive God’s salvation and triumph over the wicked one?
Satan has raised up many counterfeits by which he deceives the souls of many. And when he cannot deceive with a counterfeit, he tries to bring us into despair with doubts.
Š There are many who have no other hope of heaven than a mere historical faith. That is they have received the historical facts of the Gospel and agree with them. But this is not true faith. This is the faith of devils. The devils believe the same facts as most religionists. — “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19). — Simon the Sorcerer — Ananias and Saphira)
Š Many take up a temporary faith under some influence of religion. But it is like seed on stony ground, received in a heart that is not prepared by Holy Spirit conviction; and it soon withers away.
Š Multitudes in our day are deceived by what we might call a miracle faith. They have either seen, or experienced some supernatural miracle, or at least think they have; and they believe, not upon the foundation of God’s truth, but upon the basis of the miracle. — Those Who Saw Our Lord’s Miracles — Those Who Ate the Loaves and Fish.
Š For another thing, I must say that saving faith is not a bare assent to the truths of the Gospel.
One of the greatest dangers of modern day fundamentalism is that of presenting men with the truths of the Gospel and persuading them to profess faith on the basis of their argument with those truths. They present men with “four spiritual laws,” “the plan of salvation,” or take them down “the Romans road,” and then tell them that they are born-again by agreeing with those truths. Often, the poor, bewildered sinner, too ignorant to know better, is told simply to repeat a prayer after the “soul winner.” Then he is told that he is saved. My soul rises with indignation against these butchers of souls!
It needs to be clearly understood that justifying faith is not assurance. When Satan cannot deceive the soul with a false faith, he tries to destroy the comfort of faith by telling us that unless we have assurance we do not have faith. Brethren, assurance is a great, comforting, and desirable gift of grace. But many dear saints do not have assurance. Assurance is not faith. It is the fruit of faith. John wrote to them that “believe on the name of the Son of God, that they might know that they had eternal life (1 John 5:13). The commandment is not, “Be assured that your sins are forgiven, and that you are God’s child.” The commandment is, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”
I trust that God the Holy Spirit will enable you to hear me, as briefly give you a biblical description of true faith. Faith is resting upon Christ crucified for the pardon of sin and everlasting life, upon the warrant of God’s own promise. Faith is looking to Christ. — Faith is seated in the heart. It is an act of the soul. — “If thou believest with all thine heart.” — “Thou shalt believe in thy heart.” — “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.”
The singular object of faith is Christ crucified. The only grounds of faith upon which we have hope of eternal life is the substitutionary work of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-3). The language of faith is, “I believe on Christ for the pardon of sin.” Faith believes that God is willing to pardon sin, and trusts him to do so by Christ. We see that Christ has made a suitable payment to divine justice. Our faith is not merely in Christ as the Son of God, but as the bleeding, dying, sin-atoning, risen, accepted Substitute who is the Son of God. There is no redemption, no pardon, no forgiveness without the shedding of blood. Therefore, we trust him “whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood” (Romans 3:25).
Faith is set forth by many things we call “acts of faith” in the Scriptures.
Š Faith is seeing Christ. — “This is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life” (John 6:40). It is simply looking to Christ Jesus the Substitute as the Author and Finisher of faith (Isaiah 45:22).
Š Faith is coming to Christ. — “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden” (Matthew 11:28).
Š Faith is fleeing to Christ. Sinners who are awakened to their danger flee to Christ for refuge.
Š Faith is simply throwing ourselves into the arms of Christ, and casting ourselves upon his mercy.
Š Faith is laying hold of Christ.
Š Faith is receiving Christ.
Š Faith is resting on Christ, keeping God’s Sabbath.
There are, according to the Scriptures, three things essential to saving faith.
Š Before any man will ever trust Christ, he must have a knowledge of him. — “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Man must know his need of Christ. And he must know Christ’s power to satisfy that need.
Š Then there must be an assent or agreement to God’s testimony concerning his Son.
Š Then, and only then, there is a trust, or confidence in Christ. This is the resignation and committing of the soul to Christ, trusting everything to his hands. Faith ventures on Christ. Faith is commitment to Christ (Luke 14:25-33; John 2:23-24).
“Come humble sinner, in whose breast
A thousand thoughts revolve;
Come with your guilt and fear oppressed,
And make this last resolve.
‘I'll go to Jesus, though my sins
Like mountains round me close;
I know His courts, I'll enter in,
Whatever may oppose.
Prostrate I'll lie before His throne,
And there my guilt confess;
I'll tell Him I'm a wretch undone
Without His sovereign grace."
I'll to the gracious King approach,
Whose scepter pardon gives;
Perhaps He may command my touch,
And then the suppliant lives!’
Perhaps He will admit my plea,
Perhaps will hear my prayer;
But if I perish, I will pray,
And perish only there.”
But if I die with mercy sought,
When I the King have tried,
This were to die, delightful thought,
As sinner never died!”
Faith a Shield
2nd — I ask — Why does the apostle here compare faith to a shield? A shield is a piece of armor which soldiers would carry with them into the battlefield when they are to engage the enemy. It defends them against the weapons of their foes. And faith is a necessary part of our armor in this world, our field of battle. All Christ’s soldiers must carry this shield into the field against their arch enemy the devil. Faith is a shield to defend us against sin, Satan, the lusts of the flesh, and the soul-assaulting allurements of the world. Let me give you just a few reasons why faith is compared to a shield.
Like a shield, faith protects every spiritual faculty of the believer. The helmet defends the head. The breastplate defends the breast. The shoes defend the feet. But, the shield defends all. — The shield of faith protects us against those temptations which Satan levels at the head. The deceiver tries to get us to doubt the truth of God, telling us that since we cannot understand them, they must not be so.
Š The Eternal Deity of Christ
Š The Trinity
Š Covenant Grace
Š The Virgin Birth
Š The Incarnation
Š Real Substitution
Š The Satisfaction of Christ
Š The New Nature of the Believer
Then faith is a shield to the believer. The child of God humbly resists Satan’s temptation, saying, “I will trust the Word of God, rather than my own reason. What I cannot comprehend, I will yet believe.”
Very often fiend of hell strives to hit the believer’s conscience with one of his fiery darts. He is a vicious and cruel enemy. He aims his assaults to wound and terrify the conscience of God’s children. He reminds us of the evil of our sin, the wickedness of our hearts, and the infirmities of our flesh. How he delights to disturb the peace of God’s saints. He raises Moses up and seeks to condemn in conscience those he can never condemn at the bar of God (Zechariah 3). But faith steps in like a shield and protects us from the malice of the old serpent. Faith responds to Satan’s accusations, “Christ died for sinners, the chiefest of sinners; and though I am a sinner, the worst sinner who ever lived, yet I am a sinner, and Christ died to secure mercy for sinners. I throw myself upon the arms of mercy.” Hear the Word of God. — “If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things” (1 John 3:20).
The devil never tires. When one assault fails, he comes at us from another side. He tries to ensnare the affections of our hearts, or to deaden our fervent love to Christ.
Š He will set the pleasures and profits of the world before us. “If you will but compromise a little, look what you can have,” he says. “If you will just leave off this point of conscience, look what you can gain.” If that does not work, he makes all the wealth, fame, and honor of the world most appealing; in order to turn our eyes away from Christ and the world to come.
But faith comes in as a shield round about us to protect us from this trial as well. Faith reveals the excellences, beauty, glory, grace, and love of Christ to our hearts. Faith makes us to see that in Christ we have all things and abound. And without Christ we would have nothing, though we possessed the world’s riches. Faith sets before us the riches and glory of the world to come. — “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Like a mighty shield, faith preserves the soldiers of Christ. In the midst of greatest dangers and hardest trials, the saints of God are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” We have all had reason to say, “I had fainted unless I had believed” (Psalm 27:13).
As a shield enables the soldier to do mighty things in battle, so faith enables God’s saints to do mighty things in their march to Zion (Hebrews 11).
Š Faith enabled Abel to worship God in the teeth of opposition.
Š Faith enabled Enoch to walk with God in a crooked and perverse generation.
Š Faith enabled Noah to obey God when all the world rebelled against him.
Š Faith enabled Abraham and Sarah to have a son in their old age.
Š Faith enabled Abraham to sacrifice everything to the will of God.
Š Faith enabled Moses to deny the pleasures of Egypt and to deliver Israel.
Š Faith kept the harlot Rahab from perishing.
Š Faith stopped the mouth of the lions for Daniel.
Š Faith preserved the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace.
True faith, the faith of God’s elect, shall be victorious. As the soldier’s shield is the key to his victory, so faith shall win for us the victory. — “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith!” The soldiers used to march victoriously, carrying their banner, their ensign, their coat of arms with them, for it was painted on their shield. Even so, we march, confident of victory, with the cross as our coast of arms emblazoned on our shield of faith.
Š With the cross, we march over our enemies.
Š With the cross, we march through the valley of the shadow of death.
Š With the cross, we march on to the laurels of Glory.
3rd — How is the shield of faith above the other pieces of our armor? — “Above all, taking the shield of faith.” — The shield was prized by the ancient foot soldiers more than any piece of armor. They counted it a greater shame to lose their shield than to lose the field in battle. They esteemed it an honor to die with their shield in their hand. Once it is reported as a young Spartan went off to war, his mother laid this charge upon him. — “See that you either bring your shield home with you, or that you are brought home on your shield.” She would rather see him dead, than come home having forsaken his shield.
Faith is above our other pieces of armor, because faith quenches all the fiery darts of the wicked one. The assaults and temptations of Satan are called fiery darts, because they come suddenly, swiftly, and in great numbers. They are like those poisonous darts which, if they even graze the skin, fill the body with fever. They are grieving and troublesome. They inflame the mind, exciting us to sin. They are like those arrows which are set on fire and shot into the city to burn it up. But faith quenches these fiery darts, by laying hold of the blood, righteousness, intercession, and dominion of Christ the Lord.
Faith is above the others, because faith in Christ tells us that everything we do for him is acceptable to our God. All that we do is tainted with sin. But faith pleads the merits of Christ, doing all for his sake, and God accepts our work according to our faith.
And faith strengthen all other graces.
Š When love is cold, faith enflames it with the love of Christ.
Š When strength fails us, faith lays hold of Christ’s strength.
Š When sin besets us, faith establishes us with the righteousness of Christ.
Š When we are doubtful, faith supports us with hope.
Š When we fall under the assaults of Satan, faith picks us up.
Š When we are despondent, faith restores our joy.
Š When we are despairing, faith assures us.
The shield of faith in Christ is a most excellent piece of armor. It is a precious and enduring gift of God. It is a bountiful fruit of the Spirit. Faith is sometimes hindered, but it is never entirely broken, or lost. Our Lord says, “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.”
Do you have this shield of faith? Do you have the faith of the operation of God?
Š This faith is submissive and obedient. True faith produces a heart love, heart submission, and heart obedience to Christ.
Š This faith is prayerful. Those who have this faith constantly feel their need of Christ; and they constantly seek him. They love Christ, and seek his communion.
Š This faith is complete. We do not simply trust Christ in spiritual matters; we trust him in every detail of life. — “The just shall live by his faith.”
If you have this shield of faith, if Christ is yours, then I admonish you to take it with you always.
Š This shield should be taken up every morning.
Š Carry it with you through the day.
Š Take it up at home, at work, in every detail of life.
Š Take it up when you lie down at night.
Š Take it up when you come to the house of God.
Š Take it with you to the hospital bed.
Š Take it with you to the house of mourning.
Š Take it with you everywhere, ever anticipating Christ’s appearance and his glory.
(Ephesians 6:10-16) “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (11) Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (12) 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. (13) 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. (14) Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; (15) And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; (16) Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
(Jude 1:20-21) “Ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, (21) Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”