If we are good Christians (read: people who do our best to emulate Christ in every way, not people who merely go to Church every Sunday), we are people that the enemy is mortally afraid of because he knows that we can cause his kingdom irreparable harm. Consequently, he will rain down arrows upon us without ceasing; flaming arrows that will burn us if they hit and bring us down. There is only one thing that can keep us entirely safe. It is the mighty shield; the Shield of Faith.
The Old Testament is littered with stories of men who carried powerful shields of faith. Here is a mention of some of them in the letter written to the Hebrews.
And without faith, it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this, he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11:6-8)
The Shield of Faith these men wielded was awesome as they believed and trusted in promises that God made, even at times when every bit of “common sense” dictated that they were impossible to fulfill. We are all required to wield shields of faith in the manner that they did.
God gives us this shield when we are baptized in Christ. It is given to us gratis, not because we have done anything to merit it or deserve it, but as a gift.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8)
But once given, we have to use it. A shield does nothing by itself. If left in a corner it will simply lie there collecting dust while we get shot at and burned down. Most of us who are born Christians do just that; keep our faith to one side.
It is not enough to simply hold it in the hand either. While it might deflect some of the arrows shot at us, a well-aimed one will have us up in flames. To be fully effective, a shield has to be used to block every arrow that is fired our way. This is an active task, requiring the effort of making choices all the time.
When the enemy shoots arrows at our mind, for instance, tempting us to question the promises of the gospel, it is faith that defends us; a faith that asserts that God does not lie and that every word He speaks is the truth. When he shoots arrows at our heart, tempting us with the desires of the world, once again it is only faith that can save us; a faith that reminds us that the eternal happiness that awaits us is worth sacrificing the temporal pleasures of this life. When he shoots arrows at our feet, tempting us to walk on slippery paths that lead to destruction, yet again it is faith that comes to the rescue; a faith that affirms that the only “way” is Jesus.
While the Helmet of Salvation will protect our mind, the Breastplate of Righteousness will protect our hearts, and the Gospel Shoes will protect our feet, the defenses themselves are protected by the additional defense of faith. Consequently, anyone who wears the Armor of God properly and carries a strong Shield of Faith becomes practically invulnerable to the attack of the enemy, whose burning arrows then begin to have a power akin to lighted match sticks. We can extinguish them easier than we would blow out the candles on a birthday cake!
Obtaining a faith that is this strong, however, requires a lot of effort. Faith has to be strengthened on a gradual basis, and this doesn’t happen in a controlled environment. It mostly happens right out in the battlefield where we are required to use the Shield of Faith time and time again. God often protects us in the early stages, but as our “shield control” gets better, he leaves us to fend for ourselves. This can be a very trying time, as I learned from painful experience, but by the end of it, the shield practically becomes an extension of our arm and warding off the arrows becomes almost automatic.
We should, therefore, practice wielding the shield. The easiest way to do so is by making statements of faith whenever the arrows start flying, all expressed with declarations that begin with credos: I believe that God’s will for me will be done in my life. I believe that God is looking after me and watching over me at all times. I believe that there is no power on earth that can touch me as long as I remain faithful to God. I believe that God does not lie; that he will keep each and every promise that he has made to me. I believe that I have eternal life. I believe that I am no longer a slave to sin. I believe ....