Today I want to look at the remaining pieces of our armor…The shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit. And, a secret weapon we have in this battle. Well, it’s not so secret, but it is not used often enough, nor at the right times.
Now a Roman soldier had two different types of shields that he would use. The 1st was a smaller shield, about 2 feet in diameter which was strapped to the arm and was used in close combat. The shield Paul is referring to, however, was a much larger shield, about 2-1/2 feet wide and 4-1/2 tall. It was made of wood and covered with leather. What happened during times of combat was that the enemy forces would launch a great barrage of arrows toward their enemy soldiers. Often these arrows were wrapped in pieces of cloth and soaked in pitch. The tips would then be set on fire and the arrows would then be shot at the enemy. These flaming missiles could inflict serious damage on unprotected troops. The Roman soldier would stand behind these large shields to protect themselves from these flaming arrows. The leather covering on the shield was also often soaked with water.
The “shield of faith” is a shield of trust. We are told to walk by faith, putting our trust in the Lord; believing in God to take care of our every need. Having faith that no matter what happens to us, God will be there to help us through. By using the shield of faith we are able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of Satan. When we are attacked with doubts, worry, discouragement, temptations, guilt and shame; when Satan fires his flaming arrows at our church, our families, our jobs, and all the other arrows launched at us, we are able to stand behind our faith and trust in God believing in God and his ability to protect us and having confidence in his Word.
Our 5th piece of armor is the helmet of salvation. The helmet of a soldier protected his head. Even today, the helmet is a vital part of a soldier’s armor. No soldier in his right mind would go into battle without his helmet. The helmet gives the soldier a certain amount of confidence. Much like the helmet of a football player! The helmet of salvation protects our minds from the attacks of our enemy. I would say it is the most important piece of armor. I could play football without kneepads and thigh pads and shoulder pads, but I would not play without a helmet. In fact, if you have ever seen teams in practice, they wear their helmets.
But we also have an offensive weapon in our armor, what Paul calls the sword of the spirit or the Word of God. The sword that the Roman soldier used was a short 18 inch sword that was razor sharp on both sides. It was used both offensively and defensively and it was deadly. Our sword is the Word of God. The Greek translation that is used here for Word is “hray-may”, and it means to utter, to pronounce or speak. It means the actual saying or speaking of the Word of God. Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Jesus used this spiritual weapon when he was tempted by Satan in the desert. Each time Satan attempted to deliver a blow, Jesus blocked the attack with the word of God, quoting scripture. In every encounter, He went on the offensive speaking the word of God. When Satan comes at you again and again and again, follow Jesus’ example. In Matthew 4:10 and 11 Jesus said “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” Then the devil left him. “
Using a sword is something that takes time and practice. A soldier must practice using his sword. He must practice the defensive and offensive moves to defeat his enemy. In order to use our sword, we must also practice and use it. That means being in the word every day; memorizing God’s Word. Knowing and understanding the Bible. By becoming familiar with the Word of God, you are storing away spiritual weapons for the Spirit to use. He will bring to your mind those passages which apply to the situation you are facing. Your mind will be trained to think like God thinks when certain circumstances present themselves.
The other weapon we have in our war, our secret weapon in our battle is “praying in the Spirit.” In the NIV translation Paul says: “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Paul tells us to pray, pray, and pray, and then pray some more. It is said that all of hell trembles when we pray. I could go into another whole message about prayer, but we’ll save that for another time. Prayer is our Life-line between the frontlines and the tactical room.
Once again, there are some very important words we need to really grab hold of in order for this scripture to mean anything in our lives; “Put on” and the “full” armor. We need it all. Without any one piece, we are vulnerable. And, we are the ones who put it on; we are the ones who need to do it; God won’t just put it on us! He provides it, He lays it all out before us, but we put it on.