“…above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” – Ephesians 6:16
According to this verse, the shield of faith is the most important component of the armor of God. Why is that?
Part of the significance of this allegorical object is historical—pertaining to the meaning of the shield—and part of it is spiritual—pertaining to the significance of faith.
A Historical Look at Shields
Shields have existed for thousands of years. Although their shapes, designs, and makeups are constantly changing, the basic concept and usage remains the same—to protect. For great warlords, their shields were ornately carved to depict certain things. For example, Achilles’ shield in the Iliad shows the heavens, earth, sea, two noble cities, a king’s estate, fallow fields, a thriving vineyard, a herd of longhorn cattle, and a dancing circle. These all have great significance in the Iliad, which I won’t bother going into. Basically, these would tell of great feats that the warriors had accomplished; they were essentially equivalent to military badges. When in battle, you would judge who was easier to kill by the makeup of their shield and/or whether it was a simple, undecorated shield or if it was that of a warlord.
A Spiritual Look at Shields
In this spiritual battle, the devil employs the same tactics that warriors do; he fights everyone, but specifically targets those with weak shields, who are more susceptible to losing a conflict. Do not misunderstand me; he violently attacks many people, but he is not entirely stupid—he knows which ones of us are weaker in our faith. It has been said that “defense is the greatest offense”, which is especially true as it relates to spiritual warfare.
From this verse, one could ascertain—and I would not try to disprove them—that faith is not actually the real shield. From other verses, particularly in Psalms, the Lord is called “our shield”. Even more often, he is called our “strong tower”, “defense”, and “fortress”. Following this train of thought just a few miles further, it can be reasonably inferred that God is our shield, but His protection comes when we put our faith in Him.
Going back to the illustration from the Iliad, Hephaestus was the one who gave Achilles the shield. This is how it was with most shields; they were gifts. Likewise, God’s protection is a gift from Him to us—we did not earn it. One thing that many people seem to forget is that true faith is not man-centered; it is God-centered. Perhaps you argue that we are the ones having faith, but this is a misguided notion; God enables us to trust in Him. Everything about faith is caused by God; He causes us to have faith in Him.
The last point that I want to make is this:
Faith is the most essential component to achieving victory on the spiritual battlefield.
No matter how heavily armed and armored a person is, they are considered an “easy target” without their shield; a shield is the best form of defense. Likewise, without faith we are an “easy target”. The devil knows this and will attack us where we are weak.
So, to recap:
True faith is not man-centered; it is God-centered
Faith is the most essential component to achieving victory on the spiritual battlefield