January 21, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:14-17 (NIV)
After putting on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the shoes of the gospel of peace, we are to “take up the shield of faith, with which [we] can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16). These flaming arrows represent whatever Satan and his minions are able to “shoot” at us in order to wound us.
The imagery used here might seem odd to us. We would readily imagine a shield blocking flaming arrows but not quenching them. The seemingly peculiar language of this verse would have made sense in its original context, however. Roman soldiers used large shields covered in leather. Since their shields were vulnerable to flaming arrows, the soldiers would often wet their shields before battle. Thus the shields would actually quench the flames of the arrows.
How does faith extinguish demonic attack? If the particular demonic attack is doubt, then faith will obviously and effectively quench it. But more is intended here. The Greek phrasing behind “shield of faith” could also be translated “shield of the faith.” What protects us from Satan’s assault is not only our personal trust in God but also the core of Christian belief. When we are being harassed by the enemy, we hang on tight to what we believe.
Of course, it will help greatly if we know what we believe. Theology isn’t just for professional theologians and learned pastors. Rather, it’s for all Christians. We all need to use the mind God has given us to understand him more deeply and truly. We need to know God’s plan for the world and how we fit into this plan.
One of the main ways we grow in our theological understanding is through careful, consistent study of Scripture. If you’re a regular reader of Life for Leaders, I expect you are committed to this very thing. But let me encourage you to make use of other available resources. Join an adult Bible study at your church. Read a classic Christian book. Or take advantage of the diverse resources in the Fuller Leadership Platform, such the De Pree Center’s “Faithful Work in a Challenging World.” The more you strengthen your grasp of the Christian faith, the more you’ll be protected from the “flaming arrows” that come your way.
Something to Think About:
What helps you to have faith in God in times of doubt or struggle?
What helps you to grow in your understanding of the Christian faith?
Something to Do:
Talk with your small group or with a Christian friend about something you might do together to help you grow in your theological understanding. Then do it!
Gracious God, thank you for helping us when the “flaming arrows” approach. Thanks for strengthening our trust in you. Thanks for teaching us so that we might know you better.
Help us, Lord, to grow in our knowledge of you. May we be intentional and faithful in our study of your Word. May we learn from others, whether we are present with them or whether we’re reading what they have written.
At this time, I want especially to pray for [someone you know] whose faith is being tested. Help them to think clearly and deeply. Make your presence known to them. Draw them near and hold them tight, Lord. Amen.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
Why Does Scripture Matter?
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.