Part 5 of Prepare Now to Make a Difference
Temptation and discouragement do not have to stop us in our tracks. Our shield of faith can protect against any spiritual arrow the enemy wants to shoot at us.
Paul knew that the Roman soldiers were equipped for success in battle. The fact that he used their armor as an illustration says a great deal about what he believed our chances for victory are in spiritual battle. Today, we are looking at the fourth kind of spiritual armor from Ephesians 6.
In Today’s episode:
- What does a spiritual arrow from the enemy look like?
- How can we ‘Take up the Shield of Faith’ like Paul says to do?
- Why would the enemy want to target us?
- How our response to his attacks can be the preparation we need to go forward and do great things for God in the future.
- Hear missionaries talk about their strategic plans to take the Gospel to another land.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.
Illustration of the Roman soldier used by Paul in chapter 6
Paul spent lots of time around the Roman soldiers of his day. One time he had as many as 470 with him while he was being moved from one location to another (Acts [23:23])
Roman soldiers were very successful agains their enemies…
3 Reasons for Success
- Physical Training
Equipment ~ Shield
-size of a small door (2 ft by 4ft)
-thin strips of wood glued together and covered in canvas and leather
-in middle, a round knob made of iron; used to knock down the enemy
-shield weighed almost 22 pounds
-Endurance exercises including marching—have to travel about 20 miles in 5 hours, with all equipment on!
-Fighting exercises including practicing strategic ways to use shields/different formation
1 More item necessary for survival…
Soldiers on the battlefield, closing in on the enemy, approaching enemy fortress…
Critical moment that reveals whether the soldier has an attitude of trust in his leader.
- Their leader decides what formation to use
- Soldier could just try to protect himself…OR obey his leader and move into formation
- If there is going to be success, soldiers have to completely trust their leader
Not only must he trust the ability of the leader to make good decisions, but also the leader’s character!
-Trust that the leader was there to help, not secretly planning to hurt
-Trust that the leader has best intentions and planning for the army’s success.
Having this mindset of trusting the leader would have been critical, because if you really trusted him, you would naturally obey. You would take your shield, and move into the correct formation that the leader has decided to use.
Recognizing the Spiritual Arrows
There are spiritual attacks by our enemy, meant to target us in a particular way…keeping us from standing strong in the Lord.
Understanding about these arrows will help us know how to use the shield of faith.
4 Main Parts of an Arrow Analogy
The Nock: Reminds me of the timing of the shot. Enemy waits for just the right timing.
The Fletching: Reminds me of the topic or subject area Satan will use to keep arrow on target.
The Shaft: Reminds me of the actual deception; the goal of the enemy getting us to believe a lie about God.
The Arrowhead: There are different types of arrowheads for different situations. The arrowhead is what this weapon is all about. The other 3 parts work together to accomplish 1 goal: getting the arrowhead on target.
The arrowhead reminds me about:
the kind of wound Satan wants us to have.
And the best way to explain it is to show you what it looks like in action.
First, we have to take a close look at the day Satan shot his first arrow at humans, in Genesis 3
- Satan waits for the perfect timing (the nock). Eve seems to be near the tree with the forbidden fruit and it appears that God is not talking with them right now, like in the past. Satan waits for just the right time.
- The topic Satan uses to keep the deception on track (the fletching) is about whether or not the fruit will really hurt them.
- The lie (the shaft) —Satan told them that they would be like God. Eve begins too believe that God is not telling the truth
- The wound (the arrowhead) – ‘Satan wants her to believe that she cannot trust God”. He wants her to think that God is not protecting her from something bad, but instead, God is keeping her from something good!” Satan wants to wound her trust in God.
God knew the effects and nature of evil. This infection of evil was what God wanted to protect Adam and Eve from.
What Satan told Eve was partially true—she would know evil. But she would not know evil the way God did, without the contamination of evil.
She would know evil by experience, and be infected by it for life.
Satan wanted her to think God kept something good from her, but actually God was protecting her from something bad!
This is what the arrow is all about. The intention is to wound our trust in Who God is. God had seen evil in action. He knew what it could do. He saw evil consume the angel Lucifer. He saw it change the angels that followed Lucifer to rebellion. God wanted to protect Adam and Eve from this.
- Satan puts a new idea into her head
- “I can’t really trust God?”
- “God is keeping me from something good.”
This was the kind of wound Satan brought, a wound to Eve’s attitude of trust in Who God is.
When she believes God cannot be trusted, she looks at the tree in a different way. The arrow has worked: now, Eve thought the serpent was right… that God was not who she thought He was. He cannot be trusted.
Adam and Eve eat the fruit
Now, it become obvious that Satan’s arrow is a flaming arrow: And, just like fire, the flame spreads fast!
Back to Ephesians 6
If a Roman solider was hit by a flaming arrow, there would not only just be the initial wound of the arrow, but the fire would bring more damage that spreads.
The damage spread in Genesis 3, also.
- The physical intimacy between the first couple has changed (now they are wearing fig leaves)
- The relationship with God changed (now Adam is afraid and hiding from his Creator and Friend)
- The emotional intimacy between Adam and Eve has broken down (Adam blames his wife)
- Pain in childbearing
- Eve’s desire to rule over Adam
- Ground is cursed
- Work becomes harder
- Death comes
- Garden of Eden is no longer home
But perhaps the greatest demonstration of the fire spreading is this…in Genesis 4:8. Cain rises up to kill his own brother.
Just like fire spreads and does a great deal of damage—the enemy intends to do a lot of damage in our lives with his fiery arrows.
– damage to our relationships, damage to our integrity and purity, damage to our testimony for God.
It all began with Satan’s plan to deceive Eve about whether or not she could really trust God.
This is at the heart of the deception. This is the kind of arrowhead that Satan uses to inflict wounds on God’s children. He wants to wound our trust in who God is. Why?
Because Satan knows if we choose not to trust God, we will also not want to obey what God says.
And the whole idea of standing strong in the Lord and having a consistent life of victory over temptation and discouragement: Satan knows it will all be an unattainable dream, and never a reality—if only he can convince us to NOT trust God.
So, what could Eve have done and what can you and I do?
Learning from the example of the soldier and the shield
The soldier would need to trust in the ability and the character of his leader. He would need to trust that his leader is truly planning for victory.
Evidence that the soldier would trust in his leader would be:
1- he would go and get into formation
2- he would march forward in the formation
Eventally the group of soldiers would find themselves on the other side of the heat of the battle. Then they would be given orders to spread out again.
In the spiritual battle that we face, success will be found in trusting in Who God is – trusting in His character and His love, believing the best about Him and not the worst.
Examples of arrows and trusting:
2 types of arrows that our spiritual enemy shoots towards us:
1. An arrow of temptation
This arrowhead is about convincing me that God is not protecting me from something bad, but instead, He is keeping me from something good. Satan wants me to be convinced that I cannot really trust God.
The shield of faith is simple. Believe in WHO God is. That He truly is protecting you, that He truly has your best interest in mind.
Trusting in Who God is will help you and I to take the immediate action of turning away from the temptation – like the soldier had to take the immediate action to go where his leader said to go and get in the correct formation.
When the arrows were spotted in the sky, the leader would call out the formation to go and get into. Like the soldier, trust your leader and immediately do what you know that He would want you to do.
2. An arrow of discouragement, with the intention of getting us to become bitter against God.
Trust in Who God is – that He is our loving Father and He has promised to never leave us or forsake us – that He is working behind the scenes on our behalf, working all things out for good. Trusting in His character will help you and I to immediately move away from the temptation to become bitter against God and move to a place of contentment and resting in God.
If the Testudo formation was called out, the soldiers would get in formation and, at their leader’s command, begin marching forward. The arrows would be hitting their shields from above and they would continue forward. Eventually, they would find themselves on the otherside of the difficult part of the battle.
The shield formation for the soldiers can be compared to a Bible passage for us. After we take the immediate action of moving away from the temptation to sin, and moving away from the temptation to become bitter against God – we need to move to a Bible passage.
Ask God to give you some Bible passages that you can go to during these times. Find portions of Scripture that deal with the area that you are dealing with. Think on these verses. Obeying what the Scripture teaches would be similar to the idea of the soldiers marching forward in the formation.
Eventually, I believe you will find yourself on the otherside of the ‘heat of the battle’.
Having this mindset of “Trusting in Who God is” will help you to …
1. Immediately do what you know that God wants you to do
2. Believe what God has said in the Scripture
And, trusting in Who God is will also prepare us to go forward and do great things for God in the future.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
God has important things prepared for you to do!
Satan has seen so many people throughout history do great things for God. Many are recorded in Hebrews 11. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that he sends fiery darts our way.
Because these followers of God first trusted God in their personal lives, they had the confidence to trust God for greater things – that eventually became public!
When temptation or discouragement comes your way, trust in Who God is. Enjoy the victory that comes from using the shield of faith!
Interview with Kyle and Chelsea
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