“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:14-16).
By the time the apostle Paul wrote the epistle to the Ephesians, he had spent up to five years in the presence of Roman soldiers. From Jerusalem to Caesarea to Rome, Paul—a prisoner of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:1; Philemon 1)—was near a Roman soldier daily.
Such familiarity was transformed into a powerful spiritual illustration in Ephesians 6 where the inspired apostle commands every Christian to take up the whole armor of God (v. 13) and then inventories the standard equipment issued to every member of Christ’s army (vv. 14-20). If attired as prescribed, the panoply of God ensures spiritual victory over the wicked one and his spiritual hosts.
Two different shields were employed by the Roman army. The smaller one was carried upon the arm and could be used by each soldier as he deemed most appropriate for his personal safety. The larger one was an oblong, movable door of protection. It is to this larger body shield the apostle Paul is referring.
When an enemy’s onslaught was intended to be an overwhelming barrage, these shields were planted in the ground and joined together so to provide a wall or phalanx of protection. Because of its height and width, every soldier which kept his body next to this shield would be unharmed by the fiery spears launched by the foe. To reach him, these flaming missiles had to first clear the shield. If they did not, the shield would serve as a buffer from danger. If these burning arrows cleared the shield, the trajectory necessary to do so would result in missing every soldier who was in intimate proximity to his shield.
It is our faith—our deep conviction, unshakable trust, and joyful obedience—that victoriously overcomes the world (1 John 5:4). Faith was Job’s impregnable shield when Satan unleashed the principalities and powers of darkness upon him (Job 13:15). Being faithful unto death was Jesus’ direct orders to his soldiers garrisoned in Smyrna near the synagogue of Satan and on the verge of being viciously attacked and tested by Satan (Revelation 2:9-10).
To be dressed for spiritual success you must above all things take the shield of faith and ever cling to it.