Shield and Sword

The laundry. Where all unwanted items in our house seem to end up.

The latest item awaiting adoption in my laundry is a shield of armour. Left over from a theatre production perhaps? Upon quizzing the only theatrical member of our family I’m told “I’m going to use it for a kids church lesson and I didn’t want it in my room.” Okay then, sure. Let it take up space in the laundry instead! (sigh).

But aaah, the Shield of Faith. Part of every kid’s ministry program at some point! Using a visual to represent the spiritual armour which God has provided to believers.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil…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. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…

Eph 6:11-18 NKJV

There’s a scene in The Gladiator where the protaganist Maximus is without his weapon and has been forced to the ground with only his shield to protect him from the relentless blows of his opponent. The crowd knows it won’t be long before the enemy wears Maximus down and then delivers the deadly strike. But Maximus suddenly rolls and grasps the sword that is laying in the dust. Now the enemy is the one in trouble!

I wonder how often as we struggle with everything that seems to be coming against us- life stresses, fear, anxieties, that God is actually pointing to the bible laying untouched and saying “When are you going to pick up that sword and start wielding it?”

You see, it’s fine to say we have faith, but faith without any action is like a car without any fuel. We aren’t going to go very far. If we truly want to see victory in our life in a particular area, then we need to take up the only offensive weapon in God’s armour…the sword! Our sword is the Word of God. We’re to read it. Soak it in. Let it become part of us. Apply it. Pray it. Live it. To be a doer of the word and not a hearer only.

I love God’s Word. But it can be easy to forget that scripture is a powerful weapon to use in reply to the enemy’s fiery darts. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer back in March, it felt as if my feet had been knocked out from under me. The shock, the disbelief…the only mental and emotional capacity I had was to cry “Lord, help!” I felt I was being pummeled and all I could do was curl up in the foetal position clinging to Jesus to shield me and comfort me.

But we don’t stay there forever.

A week after the shock of diagnosis my husband and I went to our church family and told them what was going on. I was prayed for and anointed with oil. Some beautiful people prayed for me that morning. Stood with me. I don’t recall everything they prayed, but one of the things that I do recall is somebody saying “Don’t cower! Get in the arena and fight! Declare God’s Word!” Over coming weeks I began to do that, and the feeling of being under attack was replaced with a confidence that God already had the victory.

Before Jesus began His public ministry He was tempted in the wilderness by the devil. Each time, Jesus replied with scripture. “It is written….” and eventually the devil left Him alone.

If Jesus used scripture to resist the devil then how much more do we need to do so? The devil won’t come in person to attack and tempt, as he did to the Son of God, but he does attack our minds. Our minds are the battleground for access to our soul and spirit.

Yet God has provided us with every piece of spiritual armour we need. The belt of truth. The breastplate of righteousness. The gospel of peace. The shield of faith. The helmet of salvation. The sword of the spirit.

Yesterday I spent hours with an unhealthy train of thought that just kept popping up in my mind as I did stuff around the house. It was one of those “what if” kind of thoughts. No matter how many times I dismissed it, or distracted myself, it kept popping back. After a while I realised I was under fire and I needed to extinguish those fiery darts. So I went on the offensive. I prayed and quoted scripture against the circumstances the negative thought was raising in my mind’s eye.

Part of my prayer was “Lord please help me stop thinking these things!” But that would be kind of like laying on the ground expecting the shield to protect me and doing nothing to help myself. God loves when we apply our faith. Faith goes hand in hand with action. The shield and the sword need to be used together. We become like that gladiator…pushing back the enemy with the sword of God’s Word while faith acts as our shield!

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking I’m a little crazy. That’s okay. I’m writing from my own personal experience. All I know is that God’s Word is true. It’s called the Living Word because it accomplishes what God sends it forth to do. It’s activated by faith.

If you’re in some kind of battle and it’s been a long time since you picked up your “sword”, I’d encourage you to go back to it. Ask God to speak to your heart as you read. You could be surprised. 🙂

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