Shield of Faith

I need to tell you, friend, that this has been the hardest email in this series for me to write. Not because I had so little to say, but because I have so very much I want to share with you! Our shield of faith is deep, complex, and important, and I want to do it justice—and I also know that you don’t have hours to spend digging through it all with me. So I’m going to do the best I can with limited space and time, and I am going to really encourage you to spend time in the Battle Prep section this week (and know even that is just a fraction of what it could be). 

On that note, let’s dive right in.

“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” Ephesians 6:16 

The Roman army was no motley crew. They were, in fact, the most advanced army of their time, wearing the best armor and carrying the best equipment. The shields they carried weren’t flimsy trash-can-lid-sized medallions. Instead, these scutum, as they were called, were around 2.5’ x 4’. They were made of wood, then covered in canvas and leather. In other words, they were big, heavy (around 22 pounds), and strong. A crouching soldier could hide his entire body behind his shield. A row of soldiers marching in a tight formation with their shields in front of them would be almost unstoppable. 

This is the picture that Paul starts with. And then he tells us that our big, strong shields are made entirely of faith

So… what is it? 


Faith is a gift from God. 

As we have seen with the other pieces of armor, faith is not something God expects us to create on our own. This is a tricky concept, because faith is our belief/trust in God, so it really seems like something we have or create, doesn’t it? But the Bible tells us otherwise. In fact, earlier in this letter, Paul tells the Ephesians, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (2:8). Our very faith, Paul says, has been given to us by God. Which makes sense, because Paul doesn’t say we were weak before God saved us; instead, he says, “you were dead in your transgressions and sins” (2:1, emphasis added), and dead people can’t muster up faith. (Or anything else.) 


Faith is more than belief. 

We often equate those two words, but faith goes deeper. After all, James reminds us, “Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19). Clearly faith is more than belief. In fact, I think of it as belief + trust + action.

Priscilla Shirer says, “Faith is when you act like God is telling you the truth” (Armor of God, page 122). And I think that sums it up pretty perfectly. Belief + trust + action. 

But wait a second, you might be thinking. Now it sounds like faith is MY responsibility again. You said it was a gift from God! 

Yep, similar to righteousness, there is a “both and” aspect here. Faith is a gift from God. And faith does require action on our part. 

Think of it this way. Let’s say I gave you a brand-new car, beautifully wrapped (I’m not exactly sure how I wrapped an entire car, but just go with me here…) and freely given, and you accepted. But then you just let that car sit right where I left it, still wrapped up. Technically it’s still yours, I guess… but if you’re not using it—if you never even unwrap it—do you really have it? 

God gives us faith… but he doesn’t want it to just sit there in the box. He wants us to put it to work. He wants it to shield us from the fiery darts of the enemy. As James says, “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (2:18b, emphasis added). Here’s the bottom line: If following Jesus doesn’t affect the way we live, are we really following? 

And here’s the best news: a little bit goes a long way! “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20). Now, I’ve never seen an actual mountain move, but I have seen God accomplish mighty things through his people who were willing to take tiny steps in faith.


Faith is an invitation to partner with God. 

We’ve established that faith is putting our money where our mouth is—taking action from our belief and trust. But why? Why do we need an active faith? Why do we put on our armor and stand against the enemy? Is it so God can do great things, so he can win the war? No way! {{first_name}}, God has already won. He doesn’t need us. His calling on our lives, his invitation for us to partner with him, it’s not because he needs us. It’s because he loves us. 

God didn’t need Moses to strike the stone with his staff to make water pour out. He allowed Moses to be part of his miracle. 

The walls of Jericho didn’t fall because the Israelites walked around them. They were blessed with the opportunity to take part in God’s mighty work. 

Jesus didn’t need anyone to roll the stone away from Lazarus’s tomb. He invited people there to partner with him in the work he was already doing. 

God doesn’t need us to stand firm. He invites us to it so we can experience his mighty power at work. 

I can hardly make myself sit here and type this out, because just thinking about this makes me want to get up and move. I want to be part of whatever God is doing, and he invites me—and you—to it because he loves us, not because he needs us. 

Listen, I know this is a lot. I told you I had way too much to say, and this is only scratching the surface! It’s good stuff. This week I’m praying that God shows you how he wants you to partner with him as you live out your faith. But remember, it doesn’t have to be in big, flashy ways. God’s measure of success is not in the size of our accomplishments. Rather, remember the words of Paul: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering” (Romans 12:1, The Message). 

Will you do something for me? I would love to know how you are placing your everyday, ordinary life before God as an offering this week. Hit reply and tell me one way you are living out your faith this week, so I can better pray for you. 

See you next week, friend.

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Battle Prep 

With each piece of armor we cover, I’ll include some extra Bible passages for you to study and thoughts for you to think through, journal about, and/or discuss with others. 

As I mentioned earlier, we cannot plumb the depths of this idea in the short amount of time we have, but I am excited to dig a little deeper with you through the Scriptures. This week, I have broken our battle prep into three areas. Feel free to explore everything here or just pick the one that stands out to you and spend all of your time there. 

What is faith? 

Yes, faith is belief + trust + action. But belief that what? Trust in what? If I have faith that God will rescue me from my circumstances… what happens if he doesn’t? What if he chooses to walk with me through them instead? It is important that our faith is rooted in God and not in what we want him to do. So let’s look at what Scripture has to say about faith.

  • Hebrews 11
    • Write the definition of faith from verse 1 in your own words.
    • This chapter is often called the “Hall of Faith.” Make a list of the people named in this chapter and the verbs that follow their names. (Ex. “Abel offered”, “Enoch was taken up”, etc) Note which verbs are active (something the person did) and which are passive (something that happened to them). What does this tell you about faith?
    •   Why does the author finish the chapter talking about people who suffered torture and death? These descriptions don’t seem to fit the miraculous events the others lived out. How do we reconcile the tension?
    • In verses 13 and 39, the author tells us that the people mentioned didn’t actually “receive what was promised.” What does that mean? What promises had they not received? How did they die “in faith” (vs 13)? 
  • Exodus 14:31, 1 Samuel 12:24 
    •  Why is belief/faith linked with “fear of the Lord” in these verses?
    •   What follows faith in these verses? (Consider Exodus 15:1 and the second half of 1 Sam. 12:24.)
  •   Ephesians 2:8-10 
    •  What does it mean that faith is a gift of God? (Consider 1 John 4:19.)
    •   How do we “walk in good works” without crossing into legalism or trying to earn our salvation?
  •   1 Peter 1:3-9
    •   What exactly is our “living hope”?
    •   How is our faith tested? What is the outcome of our faith?

Faith at work 

We know that Jesus performed many miracles during his time on earth, but did you realize how often he linked his work to the faith of the people involved? Take a look at these examples in the book of Matthew… 

  • Matthew 9:1-8 
  • Matthew 9:20-22 
  • Matthew 9:27-29 
  • Matthew 14:28-33 
  • Matthew 15:21-28 


  • What role did faith play in the miracles Jesus performed? He wasn’t limited by the faith of the people involved, so why would he point back to that as he worked?
  • How would the gospels read differently if Jesus had performed the miracles first and then said something like, “Now that you have seen this, you can have faith”? (Consider John 20:24-29.) 

God as our shield 

Finally, let’s take another look at the piece of armor for this week: our shield. Here are just a few instances where the Bible points to God himself as our shield…

  • Genesis 15:1
  • Deuteronomy 33:29
  • Psalm 18:2
  • Psalm 28:7
  • Psalm 33:20
  • Proverbs 30:5 


  • What does it mean that God is our shield?
  • Paul was intimately acquainted with the Hebrew Scriptures. Why do you think he linked our faith to this piece of armor when he knew these same verses?

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