Shield and sword…nope not a new role-playing game.
Not a new video game.
Not a new fantasy novel.
I’m pretty sure you knew what I was referencing as soon as you read the title. If you didn’t, think Ephesians…6…start around verse 11 and read through 18.
The armor of God (armour for those who prefer “proper English”). I don’t have enough space in this post to go over all the armor, or at least at any detail. Anyway, I want to focus on the shield and sword.
Why? You ask…or at least I’m assuming you’re asking.
I could give a flippant answer…because I want to. But since I’m not a flippant type of person, I’ll provide a better answer. When you think of the armor…what two pieces do you have to “stay active” with to use?
You put on the helmet, breastplate, belt, and sandals…and once on, they “stay there” unless you take them off. (This is an oversimplification, but for the sake of the point I want to make, we’re going to stay with it.)
The shield and the sword, once you equip yourself with them…can still be held at your side or some other position of ineffectiveness. The shield of faith…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…both of those can vary in our usage; they are given to us, but we may not wield them effectively.
The Sword – aka the Word of God. The Bible. Scripture. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that all scripture is “God-breathed”…God-given and is useful for teaching, training, reproof, and correction. We arm ourselves with the truth of His word, for defense and offense. In times of trial, the Spirit brings us comfort through the word…
Of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? [Psalm 27:1 ESV]
In times we need strength, His word provides…
Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works. My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! [Psalm 119:27-28 ESV]
His words assure us of His promises…
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, [2 Peter 1:3 ESV]
His word…the Sword. Armed with the knowledge:
He will never leave or forsake us.
Nothing can separate us from His love.
He is preparing a place for us.
He died for us.
He is our propitiation.
We are joint-heirs with Christ.
We can boldly enter into the throne room with confidence
…and so much, much more.
But how effective is your sword?
Have you sharpened it lately?
Have you read the word?
Have you studied it?
Have you put yourself in a position where others can teach you?
If you’re holding it at your side…not working on using it…what good is it to you?
Read, meditate on it, study with others. These are the things we do to “get trained up” in using what God gave us.
The same holds true of the shield of faith. The piece of the armor given to us to extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. How will it protect us if we’re not using it?
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. [Hebrews 4:14 ESV]
“Hold fast to our confession”, in other words, hold on to our faith. Faith that God, in all three persons, is who He said He is (was and is to come).
Satan’s attacks come at us to weaken our trust in God, to cause doubt, or for us to lose our focus on God. This often happens to us as a self-centered – aka control – temptation. We allow our trust in God to provide, our faith in God to be who He says He is…to weaken, to stumble, to take a back seat to ourselves, and our desire to control/fix the situation on our own.
We drop our shield. We forget about the gift God has given us (Ephesians 2:8-9). By lowering the shield, we lose our peace with God. Romans 5:1-5 tells us we have peace with God through our faith and that our faith gives us the strength to persevere.
God’s armor has a beautiful benefit…by learning to wield the sword, we grow in strength to keep the shield in place. As we gain and hold on to our faith, we gain strength to use the sword.
And God has provided an extra tool, the most important tool, to keeping our armor…all of it…in the best of conditions.
Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, [Ephesians 6:18 ESV]
Prayer…at all times. This keeps us where we need to be, abiding in Him…both hands on the Vine (John 15). We pray to understand. We pray our faith is strengthened. We pray to believe, even in our unbelief. And through our prayers, the Holy Spirit is there with us every step of the way, comforting, filling in the gaps when words fail us…helping us keep our sword arm up and our shield in place.