Faith for the Fire
Robert Wurtz II
“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16 ESV).
Our passage is familiar to most believers as part of Paul’s teaching on the whole armor of God. As with most well-traveled passages, the familiarity tends to rob us of the impact the verse can make in our life. My objective with this entry is to revisit the verse from a fresh perspective in a way that ignores the vain attempts (as we discover in the TDNT) to identify the particular style of shield that Paul is referring to. “Shield of faith” is a metaphor that transcends all known shields of that day or since. In other words, it is a supernatural shield that has no earthly counterpart.
Taking the shield of faith implies movement and a heading out for combat. The verb tense in the Greek for “take” is aorist active meaning “having taken up and are continuing to take up.” This is an ever-present consciousness that you are being fired upon by the enemy. Focus on the prefix fire in fired-upon. The enemy has afirethat he wants to get burning inside you. Keep this clear. It could be anger or some kind of lust. It can be any passion that seeks to control you. Passions are used of Satan to influence and control the behavior of people. The Saints are burning inwardly with God’s holy fire. It motivates them to behave like God. Satan is working furiously to change that fact.
Satan’s fire is not in a Saint, so he strategizes to get it burning in them. He needs a delivery vehicle (weapon) that will penetrate your exterior and inject his fire to the inside. Understand that this is the picture of a fiery dart. These are missiles fired at Saints to inject them with Satan’s hateful and destructive fire (if you will). He typically uses people to fire these darts, but occasionally shoots them himself as he did at Job.
When we wake up in the morning to start our day, we can rest assured that the enemy is on the prowl looking for a way to shoot us when our guard is down. The worst fiery darts are ones where we are lured into a situation with our guard down. We get ambushed and don’t see it coming. It happens all the time in the workplace, and it occasionally happens with professing believers. It could be anyone or anything. The enemy doesn’t care. All he cares about is engineering an outrageous situation that will accomplish his purpose.
The scriptures teach that the tongue is a fire and a world of iniquity. People will say things to you and about you to rile you. They will push all your buttons. Don’t succumb to it. Throw up the shield of faith. How do we do it? Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Be ready to compare what you are hearing or experiencing with God’s word and allow the Holy Spirit to supply you with a response. Remember that the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God. Anyone can react and lash out. The Saints are called to respond rightly to every situation and to make sure that what is happening to them (or what is said to them) doesn’t penetrate and ignite something ungodly in them.
When you and I deflect the fiery darts that people launch our way God is pleased, but the enemy is all the more riled. The more proficient we are with the shield of faith the angrier we will make those who want to influence or control us. Instead of reacting carnally to fiery arrows, we extinguish them. People will start to wonder, “How do you stay so calm during such a vicious attack?” Some will even suppose that we are indifferent to what has happened or what’s been said. We answer by saying we were ready for it. We got up this morning wondering whom the enemy will try to use to penetrate our defense with a fiery dart. We were vigilant. We were watchful and alert. The Holy Spirit enabled us supernaturally to extinguish the enemies fiery plans.
Satan and his demons know that if a fiery dart penetrates our defenses, and we start to burn internally with his alien flame, the Holy Spirit will eventually extinguish it. However, Satan is banking on a short-term victory with a lasting consequence for our testimony. He wants you or me to blow-up and behave out of character. Satan will light the midnight sky with fiery darts until we are deluged with outrageous situations. Most of the time he is banking on the fact that few people will know the details of what we are dealing with–they only see our behavior. Solution? We have a sure defense if we are willing to wake up every day ready for battle–knowing that we are a target of the enemy and potentially anyone around us can be used to launch a fiery dart (intentionally or unintentionally).