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How Do We Get the Armor of God's Shield of Faith?

The shield of faith sounds important, but does it work differently than we think? Here's what the New Testament really tells us about the shield of faith.

Contributing Writer
Sep 01, 2022
How Do We Get the Armor of God's Shield of Faith?

What is the shield of faith, and how do we hold it?

I’ve read the verses all my life about this shield. I’ve often imagined it as a small, round, wooden object I would need to constantly maneuver to deflect the incoming arrows from the evil one.

Sounds exhausting, right? To make matters worse, I’m not very coordinated, and sometimes there is a barrage of arrows. I was certain my ineptitude was letting those darts past my guard, and I felt I was letting God down.

How would I ever get the hang of wielding this shield?

Then, one day when I watched my favorite television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, God updated my image of the shield of faith. During an alien attack against the starship Enterprise, the captain called for “Shields up!”

This wasn’t some small, round shield each officer had to shift against incoming lasers. No. This invisible force field surrounded the entire ship to deflect all incoming projectiles. The science is hazy, of course. It’s a fictional universe where shields have something to do with gravitons and shield grids.

The physics isn’t my point. The show started me thinking that God’s shield of faith would certainly be more comprehensive than the inadequate object I’m picturing. Maybe I wasn’t having a crisis of faith. Maybe I simply needed to expand my imagination to include the truth that God’s protection is complete. I can believe that He is before me, behind me, and all around me to guard against the enemy. I am one of many believers when my faith wavers, an army of Jesus-followers can form a shield grid in my defense.

Is it time to upgrade your shield of faith and trust God to defend you against all evil? Consider that as you read what God’s Word has to tell us about this shield.

Where Does the Bible Mention the Shield of Faith?

The Apostle Paul wrote about the shield of faith as part of the armor of God every believer is to access daily. Here are Paul’s words in the context of the passage in Ephesians 6:10-18 ESV:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 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.  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.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 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.”

Paul includes the shield in a full set of spiritual armor to defend believers against warfare that is “not of this world.” Christians should keep their eyes on what is unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18), including Satan’s work and attacks.

It’s important to consider that Paul was a well-educated, sophisticated man. He didn’t frighten easily, as evidenced by his numerous travels and the situations he’s survived (including being shipwrecked three times). He ministered in a place and time where Christians were arrested, imprisoned, and martyred. Despite material threats, the enemy about which Paul spends his time preaching is one we can’t see with our naked eye.

The shield of faith is the equipment God has provided to protect us from Satan’s “fiery darts.” And yes, it’s unseen, but that doesn’t make it any less real or effective.

What Kind of Shield Was Paul Talking About?

Soldiers and battles were commonplace in Paul’s day. Shields varied depending on the people, nation, or tribe. Of course, a shield needed to be sturdy enough to defend against arrows or blades. However, it also needed to be light enough to be maneuverable.

Typically, shields were fashioned of wood and even sometimes of reeds woven into a wicker rectangle covered with animal hide. These were lighter than metal (but when metal came along, it obviously offered greater protection).

Romans were famous for the large rectangular metal shields they carried. A troop of soldiers could stand together and “lock” shields to form a greater barrier (called a “turtle formation”) for a forward assault. The Greeks before them carried shields of bronze. Bronze and metal were great developments against fiery arrows since wood and wicker would have been susceptible. Paul was likely referencing these shields in his passage. He’s suggesting we have a shield of faith that covers us and provides complete protection.

Of course, humanity has made even greater improvements on the shield. We can imagine force fields that rise around us on command. Faith isn’t made of wood, wicker, bronze, or metal. It’s a characteristic developed within us—a gift from God.

What Kind of Faith Was Paul Talking about?

Paul uses the Greek word pistis for faith here, according to Strong’s Concordance (G4102). The essence of pistis is a strong assurance, conviction, or persuasion of the truth of something, believing with confidence or trust.

Throughout the New Testament, faith is described as a quality every believer must have (faith in Christ as Savior and Redeemer), something required to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus chided the disciples for having little faith (Matthew 8:26). Peter exhorts us to increase in faith, along with other qualities (2 Peter 1:5-9). Hence, faith seems to be like a muscle that can be strengthened as it is exercised. Peter also encourages believers to add knowledge to their faith. Faith isn’t about blind belief. Our faith has historical context—written documentation for much of what we believe occurred in both Testaments. Our faith also has countless Christians who came before us, testifying to the truth.

Faith is also a spiritual gift that the Holy Spirit gives for building up the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:9). Some have greater faith than others, but we aren’t to judge one another (Romans 14:1-4).

The faith Paul is talking about, a faith shielding against Satan’s fiery darts, is available to every follower of Jesus Christ. It is about having a strong assurance in the person and work of Jesus. This faith is primarily informed by God’s Word (which is the sword within our armor). So, reading, memorizing, studying, and applying God’s Word is one way we activate this shield.

A strong defense requires having verses ready to apply to these “fiery arrows” (lies, half-lies, and deceptive thoughts aimed at causing us to doubt, become discouraged, or lose heart). The words are our sword, and faith in the One who wrote them (the Holy Spirit) is our shield. When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, He answered Satan’s temptation with God’s Word, His ready shield and sword of defense.

Does Everyone Have a Shield of Faith?

Each of us has varying “degrees” of faith—some Christians have greater faith than others for various reasons, so we needn’t worry. God has placed us in a family of believers. We benefit from one another’s faith. Groups of Christians (two or three believing friends, a local congregation, or the global Christian community) can form shield grids (sort of like the Enterprise) to guard individuals or entire groups from the flaming arrows of evil.

We all experience times of faith being tested—times of fear or doubt. In those times, we can lean on our brothers and sisters in Christ to form a shield of faith around us. We don’t have to be victims of evil. Jesus secured our victory on the cross and in the resurrection. We pick up our shield or activate our “shield grid,” and we’re covered.

From ancient times into a future we can only imagine, God has us covered. Have faith in Him. Pick up that shield. You’re safe in Him.

For Further Reading:

What Is the Full Armor of God?

What Is the Belt of Truth in the Armor of God?

What Is the Gospel of Peace in the Armor of God?

What Is the Helmet of Salvation in the Armor of God?

How Do We Use the Sword of the Spirit in the Armor of God?

Photo Credit: Getty Images/ManuelVelasco

Lori Stanley RoeleveldLori Stanley Roeleveld is a blogger, speaker, coach, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books including Running from a Crazy Man and The Art of Hard Conversations. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

This article is part of our Christian Terms catalog, exploring words and phrases of Christian theology and history. Here are some of our most popular articles covering Christian terms to help your journey of knowledge and faith:

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