Take Up The Shield of Faith
Topic: Spiritual Warfare Passage: Ephesians 6:10–6:16
Do you know that you are constantly under attack by the schemes of the devil? As you go about your day-to-day life, are you aware of the fact that there are dark forces at work, relentlessly laboring to see you fall? To deceive you. To destroy you. To get you to sin. To make you believe false things. To do anything possible to prevent you from walking in the joy of the Lord, and living for his kingdom? Do you realize that there is a spiritual battle taking place every moment of your life? I know this question may seem redundant, as it's been repeated in several messages so far in this series, but it must be stressed.
The devil delights in it when people are ignorant of this battle. It's easy for Satan to destroy people who don't realize they are engaged in a fight. I believe that the devil is successful at trampling over many Christians because of this. Many people come to Jesus under the notion that everything is going to be great and easy from now on. And in a sense, this is true. Jesus did all the work necessary to bring us to God, and we have peace through the finished work of Christ. There is no work that we need to do to add to what Jesus has done at the cross. When Jesus calls us to himself, he says in Matthew 11, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” So the Christian life is first and foremost a life of rest in the peace of knowing that we are right with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
But that does not mean we aren't engaged in a fight every day of the Christian life. And when people begin the Christian life with nobody telling them that they need to take up arms, then the devil can trample them so fast that they literally don't even realize it. The enemy deceives them. They fall into anxiety. They get nervous about whether or not God really loves them (as Josh discussed last week). They struggle in doubt. They still feel the crushing guilt of their sin, and feel like they must work to maintain God's favor. Their faith crumbles. They try to overcome their sin by their own power. Eventually, they just kind of give up. They grow cold. They sit down in front of the television, and give themselves over to a life of frivolity until the day they die. In other words, Satan tramples them on the battlefield of faith, and there they lay, wounded on the ground, bleeding out until the end of their lives. And all the while, they are completely oblivious that they were even in a fight to begin with.
God does not want us to be ignorant of this battle. He wants us to be fully aware, and he wants us to be ready to fight. He wants us to stand in the fight, not to be overrun. This is the reason for the armor of God:
Paul tells us this in verse 11: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”
Again, verse 13: “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”
And then he begins listing the armor of God in verse 14 with this phrase: “Stand therefore...”
God wants us, his church, to be warriors who stand in the fight – not those who lay down and get trampled by the enemy. In the strength of his might, we are to come to the field armed to the teeth, with the banner of the Lord Jesus raised high before us, with with him as our Captain, into a battle where we will not back down, and we will not be shaken. I think of Hebrews 10:39, which says “we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
You may have heard that Christianity is a peaceful religion. And that is true. We do not battle against flesh and blood. But on the spiritual battlefield against the schemes of the devil, we are to be violent people. From the moment we wake up each day, we must make a declaration of war against the sinful temptations that constantly knock on our hearts, and against the dark spiritual forces that wrestle against our souls. And we never take off our armor until the day we die.
William Gurnall, in his work “the Christian In Complete Armor”, says “The Christian's armour is made to be worn; no laying down, or putting off our armour, till we have done our warfare, and finished our course. Our armour and our garment of flesh go off together, then, indeed, will be no need of watch and ward; or helmet. Those military duties and field-graces shall be honourably discharged. In heaven we shall appear, not in armour, but in robes of glory. But here these are to be worn night and day; we must walk. work, and sleep in them, or else we are not true soldiers Of Christ.”
So I hope you know there is a battle. I hope you know that you are in it, and if you are to have any hope of standing in this battle, you will need to come equipped. And one of the things you're going to need is a shield. The shield of faith, which is what we're going to look at today.
Let's get the text in front of us again. We've already read verses 11 and 13. We know that Paul is telling us to put on the armor of God so that we might stand firm in the battle. Let's begin at verse 14: “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” - and then verse 16, which we will focus on today - “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.”
There are two things in verse 16 that I'd like to address right away, before we look closer at the shield itself. First, you need to recognize that the enemy is firing at you. There are arrows coming your way. Flaming arrows. You need to expect bombardment. During the first century, and for most of ancient history, it would have been very naive for an army to set foot on the battlefield giving no concern to the threat of enemy missile fire. You need to expect missile fire. It's coming. And so you need a shield.
Second, Paul places emphasis on the need for the shield in verse 16, saying “In all circumstances,” take up the shield of faith. The King James puts it more bluntly, saying “Above all.” Paul could have continued his list of armor pieces here in a single sentence, but he pauses to give us this emphasis. Why?
Is it because Paul is saying the shield is more important than the other pieces of armor? I don't think that's where he's going. Rather, I think he wants us to see three things.
First, I think he's emphasizing that the armor of God is utterly incomplete without the shield. The shield of faith is, in a sense, the piece that gives effectiveness to the other pieces of armor. A few sermons ago, when Reid was discussing the breastplate of righteousness, he asked the question, “how do we put on the breastplate of righteousness?” The answer – By believing the good news of the Gospel! He pointed out that you can be clothed by the righteousness of Christ, but unless you actively place your faith in that truth, you are left very open to despair, and Satan can easily attack you. Faith is the means by which we put on the whole armor of God. Therefore, I believe this is why Paul says, “above all,” take up the shield of faith. Apart from faith, one must question whether you are really putting on the armor of God at all, because the righteousness of Christ can only be put on through faith.
Second, I think Paul is saying that even though the other pieces of armor will protect you from the arrows of the enemy in an ultimate sense, you will be severely injured or ensnared if you do not take up the shield. Just because the breastplate will protect you from arrows doesn't mean it's wise for you to try to block arrows with your chest. You will find that this is not an effective way to do battle. A good soldier of Jesus Christ does not seek merely to survive the battle, but to fight well in it. An effective legion moves in formation with shields locked together so that they may bring the fight to the enemy. I would love to take more time to develop this point, but in the interest of time this morning, I'll leave it there.
Third, I think Paul is simply stressing the urgency of the need for the shield. He's saying, “I really want you to be aware that opposition is coming. You're going to set foot on the battlefield, and before you can even get into formation, there are going to be missiles coming your way.” He's saying, “Do not dare set foot on the battlefield without it!”
Most of us probably remember some of our American history, or 18th century history in general. Do you remember reading books, or watching movies where the British and the Colonial armies, or the French army would all line up nicely on a field, and take turns firing volleys at one another? It was this strange period in world history where western civilizations seemed to make war into some sort of gentleman's game. Well our enemy is nothing like that. He will relentlessly rain his arrows down upon you at every opportunity he gets. He cares nothing for the rules of war. His cruelty against you is so great that he will even fire arrows at you when his own men are engaged in hand-to-hand combat with you, for he cares nothing about his own troops. He will try to exploit every opening he has against you, with no regard for chivalry or sportsmanship. He will attack you in the night, when you lay down to rest. He will attack you in your waking moments before you even roll out of bed. He will attack you in the bathroom during your morning shower. He will ambush you on your way to work. At the sight of any perceived weakness, the enemy will strike. The apostle Paul knows this, and therefore he warns us, that we can never afford to ever be without a shield.
I want to pause and try to give some clarity to what we mean when we talk about the darts of the enemy. Many people talk about spiritual warfare in vague or ambiguous terms, and I'd like to try to give some picture of what we're actually talking about. When we talk about the darts of the enemy, I do not believe we are referring to direct attacks by Satan himself. I believe Satan is much more subtle than that. But I also want you to know he's weaker than that. Remember that Satan is not equal with God. He is not omnipresent – he can't be everywhere at once. He is not omnipotent – he does not have absolute power. I think it's important to remember this in order to clarify what sort of attacks we're talking about. Most of the darts of the enemy come by way of proxy. In other words, these arrows may ultimately trace back to Satan, but he's not necessarily the one holding the bow. Back in Ephesians 2, Paul refers to the devil as the “prince of the power of the air.” In other words, the devil is the highest, most influential power over the general mindset of worldly culture. He exercises power over the way worldly society is shaped by way of his schemes of deception.
So for example, men, let's say you are reading the news on CNN's website, and you see a link, “50 Hottest .” If you are tempted to click the link and entertain the sin of lust, I don't believe Satan is personally speaking in your ear “Click it. Click it.” Rather, Satan, through thousands of years of careful lies, beginning at the garden of Eden, has successfully set up a culture designed to exploit the sinful desires of the human heart. Another way to put it is this. I believe that Satan fires his arrows primarily not by wielding a bow and arrow himself, but rather by careful construction of siege engines that will fire his arrows for him. It's not Satan firing the arrow in that moment of temptation. Rather, it's an arrow belonging to him, being fired from a machine that he's been working on for a thousand years called the “the sexual revolution.” Through a long history of subtle deceptions, he has convinced the world that pornography is a good, natural, and beautiful thing. He's convinced the world that sex is not a holy gift from God to be enjoyed in the context of marriage, but rather that it's just a biological activity separated from any spiritual or moral realities. And in convincing the world of this, he has set up this “arrow machine” of sexual temptation that operates on its own power, raining down volley after volley of his arrows upon millions of men and women every day. Satan doesn't even have to be there to reload this machine, or to operate the trigger. This machine is self-operating. The world now keeps it operating for him. We have entire industries built around enticing people to engage in sexual immorality! It's a powerful machine. Satan has worked very hard on it. And now he simply sits back and smiles as his arrows rain down fire upon the souls of men.
I bring this up first to emphasize that Satan is not equal with God. Don't imagine Satan as having any sort of equality with Jesus. He is nothing compared to Christ. Jesus will slay him with a single word at the appointed time. But Satan is real. He has been a liar and a murderer from the beginning. He really does prowl around like a roaring lion. And as Revelation 12 says, he really does make war on the saints. He does have power (Revelation 13:2), but never in your mind should you ascribe to him god-like qualities. The Bible does not portray him this way. Yet I want this illustration to emphasize that his arrows are everywhere! We need our shields with us at all times.
While I don't believe that Satan very often wields a bow and arrow himself against individual hearts, I want to be clear that there is such a thing as personal spiritual warfare. While I believe some of the most persistent, blanket attacks of the enemy come from the kinds of arrow machines I just described, there is most certainly the kind of attack that is an aimed shot from the enemy at the hearts of individual believers. The Bible is clear that the devil has his angels. Demons, we call them. Revelation 12 paints a picture of war in heaven, between the archangel Michael, leading the angels of God in battle against Satan and his demons, resulting in Satan and his demons being cast down to the earth. Daniel chapter 10 gives a picture of the angels Michael and Gabriel fighting a battle against what seems to be described as a demon who is over the kingdom of Persia. Again, Jude 9 gives us a picture of Michael contending with Satan over the body of Moses. So God wants us to be aware that there really is a realm in which angels and demons operate. These aren't fairy-tales or metaphors. These are actual realities that affect us. Satan has demons in the world that he commands in his war against God, and one of the things they do is try to throw water on the faith of the saints.
One of the primary tools Satan uses to try to torment the saints is the weapon of accusation. Revelation 12 speaks of Satan as the accuser. And while Satan has no valid accusation against the people of God – those who have been washed by the blood of Jesus – he still makes attempt to torment them by bringing up the past.
Have you ever been going about your day, and all of the sudden a feeling of anxiety rushes over you as some memory of one of your past sins or failures comes to mind? Have you ever been having a conversation with someone and you are suddenly reminded of some past event where they hurt you, and even though you have long since forgiven the matter, for a brief moment you remember the pain you felt? I don't think the Bible leads us to believe these are random events. I don't think this is just your brain playing tricks on you. These are arrows that have been carefully aimed at your heart! The arrows I spoke of earlier come in random volleys that rain down on the world in general, but these kinds of arrows come from a marksman hiding in the trees, and he's after you, personally. Therefore, you need your shield to be ready! The enemy would love for you to begin stewing over your past sins. He would love for you to anxiously wonder if God has really forgiven you – or if he can really use you after that time when you really screwed up. The enemy knows that if he can keep you in constant introspection about your past sins and failures, you will be so crippled that you can't set your attention on loving other people! If he can get you to constantly question the truth of the Gospel – at least in your emotions – then you will not be a person who brings the life of the Gospel to others! He would love to see your heart infected with bitterness over past wounds! He wants to get your eyes off of the forgiveness and love of Christ, and cause bitterness to take root in your heart so he can enjoy watching the destruction that springs up! So again, you need a shield!
So we've established that our enemy fires arrows relentlessly – both in random volleys, and in personal attacks. We've established that we need a shield. Now I want to look at the shield of faith, itself. I want to look at it in three parts. First, I want to consider the question, “What is faith?” Second, what does it mean, then, to take up the shield of faith? And third, I want to close by discussing some brief applications.
What is faith?
To answer that question, we could go deep into a passage like Hebrews 11, but for our purposes this morning I would like to try and summarize by citing a definition of faith given by Martin Luther. “Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it."
Now, Martin Luther's definition of faith doesn't matter at all unless it's supported by the Scriptures. So let's have a look at one example in Scripture and see if we can agree with him.
Perhaps the greatest example of faith in the Bible is the faith of Abraham. Remember, in Genesis 12, God called Abraham to leave his father's house, to leave his home, and to get up and go to a place that God would show him. God said he would make Abraham into a great nation, and that all the peoples of the earth would be blessed through him. What did Abraham do? He believed God. He got up. And he followed!
He believed the promises of God, and acted upon them. He set his life on them! When God commanded Abraham to leave, Abraham had no idea where God was taking him. He had no idea how he would get there. But he trusted the promises of God, and therefore he set out. Paul says of Abraham in Romans 4 (KJV), that “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” That's a great outline of faith.
We are told in Genesis 15 that it was Abraham's faith that was counted to him as righteousness. This is so crucial to understanding the Gospel. Many people think that the Gospel didn't come along until the New Testament. But right here in Genesis, we see that it is by faith alone that men will be counted righteous before God. The apostle Paul refers back to this many times. In fact, the New Testament sets up Abraham's example as the gold standard for faith. Paul says in Galatians 3:29 that we who have put our faith in Jesus are the children of Abraham. His faith is the kind of faith that we are to emulate.
We see in Abraham a man so sure of God's promises that he was willing to risk anything to go forward and obey. When Abraham was told to sacrifice his son, Isaac, do you know why he was so ready to obey? Sometimes I look at that story and can't help but think that maybe Abraham should have at least double-checked with God. “What? You want me to do what with my son?” But he didn't. The Bible says Abraham arose the next morning and started preparing wood for the sacrifice. He did not question God at all. How can this be? In our human eyes, Abraham appears way too eager to kill his son. But Hebrews 11:19 explains Abraham's heart. It says Abraham “considered that God was able even to raise Isaac from the dead.” In other words, Abraham remembered and trusted God's promise that Isaac would be the son through whom God's promise to him would be fulfilled. He knew beyond any doubt that even if Isaac should be killed, God would raise him from the dead, because all the promises of God are sure. He did not waver in unbelief, but he fixed his eyes on the promise, resulting in a firm resolve to obey God no matter what.
Throughout his journeys, Abraham had many opportunities to go back home. He had acquired many riches, and could have settled down many times and made a nice, permanent home. But Hebrews 11:9-10 explains why Abraham didn't do this. “By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob . . . For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” Abraham lived his whole life looking forward to taking hold of what God had promised him, and he allowed nothing to sway him from that course.
That's the kind of faith we need to have for this battle we've been talking about. We need to be so persuaded that God will make good on his promises that we are willing to stand fast no matter what. And when we come to that kind of faith, we will find that it creates in us a resolve that cannot be overcome by anything. The kind of faith that Abraham had to sacrifice his son was an otherworldly kind of faith. And without the resolve that comes from that kind of faith, we will crumble in the heat of this battle. In the Old Testament, there was a time when enemies were coming against Judah. And the prophet Isaiah said to the King, “If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.” This word applies to us today, as well.
Now that we've seen in Abraham a picture of what faith is, and the sense of resolve that we see at work in the life of Abraham as a result of his faith, I think we begin to see why Paul talks about faith being like a shield. Faith is what gives us the unshakable resolve to follow after Christ no matter what doubts, anxieties, accusations or temptations might come against us. Actively trusting in the promises of God is what keeps us on course through the Christian life, being fully persuaded, like Abraham, that God will perform that which he has promised.
What does it mean to take up the shield of faith?
To take up the shield of faith is to actively fix our eyes on the promises of Christ, with absolute trust that God is for us, not against us.
Now I emphasize the word actively. One of the things that makes the shield different from other pieces of armor is that it is something you wield, not something you wear. A shield will do you no good if you don't actually bring it to bear. It is not something you just put on, and are thereby protected. You must use it! In this way, the shield is more like a weapon than a piece of armor. The belt, the breastplate, the helmet, and the shoes are all things we put on. The shield and the sword are things we take up and fight with. In fact, Paul calls them in 2 Corinthians 6 as “the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left.”
Another thing I want to emphasize in comparing the shield with the other pieces of armor is that the shield stops the missiles of the enemy outright. It extinguishes them. It puts them out. A shield is used to intercept an attack before it strikes the body. A breastplate and a helmet, however are designed to absorb attacks that do strike the body. Why is that distinction important? The goal of all the armor is to keep from getting killed, right? Well, yes. But I think there is an important distinction. When we are actively trusting in the promises of Christ, no missile of the enemy can get through to us. It doesn't even come close to threatening our body. However, if we let our guard down, we are sure to be hit with arrows of one kind or another. In these moments of failure, we can be certain that God is still with us, that the righteousness of Christ is still ours to protect us fully. But as good soldiers of Jesus, it is our desire to fight well, and not to fall prey to any of the devil's schemes. We want to stand in the battle and fight! Not just get repeatedly knocked down. As I said earlier, even if he's going to survive, a wise soldier does not try to block arrows with his chest.
What does it look like to take up the shield of faith against the arrows of the devil in every day life?
I'd like to look at some examples of how I think this looks in real life. And to do that, I want to assert that there are four types of arrows that the enemy throws at us. We'll call them arrows of Temptation, arrows of Accusation, arrows of Doubt, and arrows of Anxiety. And we're going to say that all of these arrows come from Satan's quiver, which we will call Deception, because all of these arrows come from the fact that Satan is a liar.
1. Temptation. This is an arrow designed to incline your heart toward sin. This is the oldest arrow in Satan's quiver – the one we saw at the garden of Eden, where the serpent lied to Eve, enticing her to reject the word of God, to count the pleasures of sin more desirable than the joy of walking with God. This arrow is designed to make the pleasures of sin look attractive, and pleasures of God to look small.
For examplle: Men, here you are sitting in your living room at night. The kids are asleep, your wife is busy. You're browsing the internet on your smart phone. You're probably skimming Facebook looking at cat pictures. But then you come across a link. It's not something you'd call blatant pornography, but something definitely sexual in nature. Immediately, there's something inside of you that begins to rationalize the thought of clicking this link. There's some desire springing up in you that's flirting with this thing that you know to be sinful. What do you do?
The man who fails to take up the shield of faith will click it, again, and again, and again! Like a fly being drawn to a bugzapper, he can't help himself! But the man who takes up the shield of faith intercepts the arrow immediately. He is firm in his faith knowing that real pleasure is in the presence of God, not in sexual immorality. He is looking forward to the prize of gaining Jesus, and so he is not thrown off course by the enticement of sin, which leads only to death. Men who take up the shield of faith reject the fleeting pleasures of sin, because their eyes and their affections are fixed upon the infinite pleasures that belong to them in Christ.
2. Accusation. This is the arrow designed to rub your sin in your face. Remember, the devil is called the accuser. He knows that the only thing that can bring a person to hell is unforgiven sin. Therefore, he is crafty in his use of this arrow. He knows that he has no valid accusation against the saints. All of our sins are washed away in Christ. But what if he disguises this arrow, as though it came from the quiver of God?
William Gurnall, again, made this observation. He said “[Satan] knows an arrow out of God's quiver wounds deep; and therefore, when he accuses, he comes in God's name. As suppose a child were conscious to himself of displeasing his father, and one that owes him a spite, to trouble him, should counterfeit a letter from his father, and cunningly convey it into the son's hand, who receives it as from his father. Therein he charges him with many heavy crimes, disowns him, and threatens he shall never come in his sight, or have penny portion from him.”
This is how crafty your enemy is. Have you ever felt as a believer that God was telling you that he's done with you? That your most recent failure was the last straw, that he was through giving you mercy, and would now subject you to the full weight of your sin? We must be able to see these arrows for what they are, and this calls for discernment! Because while God does discipline those he loves, and it may be that you do need to come to him in confession over specific sin, you must stand firm in his promise that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! Jesus said whoever comes to me, I will never cast out (John 6). We must raise the shield of faith and deflect these arrows by believing in the truth, or we will crumble when these arrows hit us.
3. Doubt. This is where the enemy tries to undermine God's truth. These arrows call into question the trustworthiness of the word of God, and seek to turn God's promises upside down.
One of the verses I think of most often in my life is Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” That's one of the most sweeping promises in all the Bible. All things. That's huge. That's saying that literally every thing in my life is being deliberately worked out by God for my good. Therefore, nothing that happens to me happens apart from God's sovereign design that will see to my ultimate good in the end. And if that's true, then I can live with a rock-solid joy in every circumstance, no matter what. This promise should be central to the heart of every believer.
But every now and then, the enemy hurls an arrow at that verse in my mind. When hard circumstances come up in life, the devil will try to exploit the situation to undermine the power of that promise. “See Jason, God isn't really in control of all things. If he were working all things for your good, then how do you explain this current situation?” The devil loves to try and use pain in our lives to get us to doubt what God has said. He tries to shake the most foundational truths of the Gospel in our hearts. Therefore even when we feel we have no strength, when the pain is most intense, and we can barely stand, we must take up the shield of faith to deflect the arrows of doubt. There is a saying, “Do not question in the dark what God has shown you in the light.” His word is sure. His promises are true. And he will uphold you in the darkest times of your life. David was a man who lived through many things that could have given him reason to doubt the promise of God, but he testifies in Psalm 119:140, “Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it.”
4. Anxiety. The enemy wants us to be anxious about the future. He wants us to constantly look to ourselves for the resources needed to get through today. And he wants us to worry about the resources we're going to need tomorrow.
I am sure that I am not alone when I say that I am prone to become very overwhelmed when I think about all the pressures and responsibilities of life. Sometimes it seems that every day brings a new set of problems, while the problems of yesterday have still not been handled. There are periods in life where it seems all that's happening is that we are getting more and more behind on things, with no end in sight. It's like we're playing UNO, and everyone keeps hitting us repeatedly with the Draw Four card.
In these moments, the devil wants to keep your eyes focused on your problems. He wants to keep your eyes off of Christ, at all costs. But you must deflect these arrows of anxiety by looking to the promises of God – the God who has called you to cast our cares upon him. The God who cares for you. To the Savior who tenderly calls us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Remember that Jesus has commanded us, “do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
But then also remember our memory text from last month in Lamentations 3: “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning;”
Since God has promised that his mercies are new every morning, we can rest easy knowing that tomorrow's mercy will be there for tomorrow's trouble. And that his mercies will always be enough, every day.
We take up the shield of faith against the arrows of anxiety by bringing all of our problems to the feet of Jesus, knowing that he will give us fresh manna from heaven, every morning, one day at a time.
So, no matter what kind of arrow the enemy throws at you, the way you deflect it is to place an active, deliberate faith in the promises of God.
1. Do not fear the arrows of the enemy.
Jesus has said that in this life we will have trouble. There will be an enemy who comes against us. But he has also promised that just as he overcame the world, so will we. He said in John 16, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” And in 1 John 5:8, the apostle John says that “everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” And then in verse 18: “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.”
There's a song we sing that echos the words of Isaiah 54:17 - “no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication from me, declares the LORD.”
So you have nothing to fear with the arrows of the enemy. You have only to place your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and stand fast.
2. Know your God.
You need to know your God in order to be able to stand fast in his promises. It should go without saying, but we must be people who are deeply rooted in the word of God. In Daniel 11:32, God speaks of the end-times, and how the enemy will lead many people astray by words of deception and flattery. But he promises “the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.”
3. Be a lover of God, and therefore, a lover of the promises of God.
It will do you no good to know the word of God, if you do not love what he has to say. When I talked about arrows of temptation, I alluded to using Psalm 16:11, which says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
If you don't have a taste for that kind of pleasure, then that promise is not going to be a boon for you in the moment of temptation. If what you value in life is sexual titillation and endless entertainment, then standing on the promises of God will not help you fight temptation.
James 1:14 says that a “person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” What causes us to sin is not the darts of temptation, but the desires of the heart that are aroused by temptation. It's never valid to say that “Satan made me sin.” The way you fight desire is with a stronger desire. So if you don't agree with the Psalmist when he says the steadfast love of God is better than life, then you won't be willing to deny yourself the lesser things of life in order to gain Christ.
So I urge you to taste and see that the Lord is good! And having tasted him, let your taste for sin fade to nothing, so that you will be able to take up the shield of faith and be victorious in the moment of temptation, because you will have found a better possession than what sin could ever offer you. You will have found the treasure in the field that is worth selling everything you own to obtain. Remember the example of Abraham, who left his old life behind, and went forth to gain Christ.
4. Do not grow faint in taking up the shield.
While you have nothing to fear in this battle, you still have to fight. While victory is sure, and it's already been won by Christ, you must still exert energy! Remember that the shield must be taken up. It must be brought to bear. It must be wielded as a weapon. Do not let your arm grow tired as you endure the missiles of the enemy. The Lord promises that he will strengthen you. And not only that, he promises that your fighting will come to an end. I'll close with 1 Peter 5:8-11, which gives us this instruction and comfort:
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”