Author’s Note: This study comes from realizing the need for this in my own life. In one journal entry I wrote, “I’m so used to being wounded (by negative thoughts in particular) that it never even cross my mind to lift up my shield of faith and protect myself…God, teach me how to effectively use my shield of faith. I know You’ve given me one, now let’s see what it can do!” I think most everyone can relate. But besides needing to learn to use my shield, I also realized that there were strongholds of negative thoughts that I had to take a stand against; to reject and eject them from my heart and mind. I don’t say that it was easy, but it’s worth it. That being said, I pray that everyone will read this with an open heart to the voice of the Spirit of God… because even if you already know this stuff, we can all always use a reminder of these things.
Wielding the Shield and Sword
Ephesians 6: 16-17 - “Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one…and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. ”
Taking Up the Shield of Faith and the Sword of the Spirit
The shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit; unlike all the rest of the armor of God, which is put on and then simply worn, the sword and shield must be wielded – they must be used – or they do us no good. So then, we must know when and how to use them, but before we can do that, we must know what they are. This passage of Scripture clearly indicates that “the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God” – not the printed pages or even the words simply spoken but it must be God’s Word claimed, believed, and applied to our lives by us through the Holy Spirit (for it is His sword). This is when it becomes for us, “alive and active, sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12)”.
As for the shield of faith; its very name suggests its nature – its source. Scripture says, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17)” and also, “He (The Lord) is a shield for all who take refuge in Him (Psalm 18:30)”.. So then, the shield of faith is faith in God based on the Word of God. It is trusting in and counting on Him according to His character and promises as revealed in His Word. When we trust in God and bring our requests to Him (Philippians 4:6) knowing that He hears and answers us (1 John 5:14-15), not only does God Himself act as our shield, but He “surrounds us with His shield of love” and “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard (our) hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)”.
Know Your Battlefield
Now that we know our armor, our defense, our weapons… how do we use them? First we must recognize the battlefield – it is our minds. That which is under attack is our hearts, our souls, our purpose, our very lives; but it all starts in the battlefield of our minds. It is there that the enemy strikes with blows of doubt and despair, with fiery darts of fear and hatred. It is in our minds that the enemy establishes his strongholds from which he can bombard and wound our hearts – to undermine our faith, steal our joy and peace, and destroy our dreams and passions. The mind is the gateway to the heart which is “the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23) and so to guard our heart we must put up defenses in our minds.
We should always be careful what we allow into our minds through our eyes and ears. These days, there is so much trash out there just waiting to invade your mind – and once it’s in, it’s in. You can’t expect to effectively guard your heart and mind if you just let anything in. Besides what we hear and see, the enemy is adept at feeding in negative thoughts into our minds and making us think that they come from ourselves and thus getting us to think whatever he wants us to think. We must never allow any and all thoughts to just roam around unchecked and we must never simply accept or embrace every thought that’s in our minds – for once we have accepted and embraced the thoughts and lies of the enemy, we have allowed him to set up a stronghold in our minds giving him practically unhindered access to wound our hearts. This is why Scripture says, “Do not conform to the ways of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2)”.
Knowing what should and shouldn’t stay in our minds is easy. Scripture says, “whatever does not come from faith is sin (Romans 14:23)”. Any thought in our minds that is not based on faith is of “the world, the flesh, and the devil”. Regardless of what the thought is or where it comes from, if it is not of faith it has no business staying in our minds and influencing our lives. All things (thoughts, actions, ect.) that are of faith are God-exalting and inspiring to ourselves and others. Anything that is not of faith exalts itself against God and His Word and brings discouragement, despair, and defilement on us and everyone around us. So what are we to think about? Again, Scripture says, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)”. Thus, whatever is not; don’t.
We primarily defend our minds by rejecting any thought that is not of God and of faith, but if we have already let these things in and allowed the enemy to gain a stronghold in us, we are not without hope. Scripture says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)” and “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2nd Corinthians 10:3-5)”. Ask God to help you look inside yourself and identify the places where the enemy has a stronghold and has you believing his lies. Then, with the help of His Holy Spirit, reject and eject those lies and fill yourself up with the truth of God’s Word.
So then, the sword is used to tear down strongholds, the shield is used to prevent strongholds. The sword is used to drive Satan out, the shield is used to keep him out. Wield the shield of faith together with the sword of the Spirit by claiming and proclaiming the promises and faithfulness of God - all of this comes from knowing, embracing, and applying God’s Word. Therefore, you must first have saving faith or you cannot have the sword of the Spirit or the shield of faith or any other piece of armor. Without that armor, you are completely defenseless to the attacks of the enemy and cannot stand against him. You must accept the gift of God’s grace in the shed blood of Jesus Christ through faith and trust in Him – relying on His mercy and grace alone according to the promise of His Word to bring forgiveness and cleansing. The character and Word of God are everything – let them be your firm foundation, your shield of faith, your hope, confidence, and joy.
Point to Ponder: Have you placed your faith and trust in Jesus as the Son of God and the only sacrifice for your sins, bringing forgiveness and new life in Him? If not, you remain the property of the devil and he can do with you what he likes and you have little hope of resisting him. If you have put your faith in Jesus, how well do you know His Word to you? How can you claim His promises and follow His ways if you don’t know them? Decide right now to reject all the lies of the enemy and hide in your heart all that God has said.
Let’s pray: “Our Father in heaven, thank You for the sacrifice of Your one and only Son whose blood washes away all our sins. We confess our sins to You knowing that You are faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Right now we are no longer in the kingdom of darkness but we have been transferred into the Kingdom of Your Son (Colossians 1:13). We thank You for the measure of faith that You have given us (Romans 12:3) that we may receive forgiveness and new life through that faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) and that we may begin to believe and receive Your promises (Mark 11:24). Lord, we know that the enemy has lied to us all of our lives. Right now, we ask You to show us the lies that we have believed and allowed to become strongholds in our minds. By faith we reject these lies from the enemy and eject them from our minds and hearts. In place of these lies we choose to believe all the truths of Your Word, especially the greatest truth of all – that You love us unconditionally and more than we can imagine. Holy Spirit, wield Your Sword, the Word of God, and help us to tear down those strongholds. Help us to eject the enemy and never let him back in. Teach us how to use our shield of faith – knowing and trusting Your Word, following and relying on You that You also might be our shield (Psalm 18:30). And now, even if we don’t feel the difference, we thank You for hearing us and answering us (1 John 5:14-15) according to the promise of Your Word as we submit ourselves to You and then resist the devil that he may flee from us (James 4:7). Let Your peace and joy and love rule our thoughts and fill our hearts as we live for You by the power of Your Holy Spirit who lives in us. We pray these things in the Name of Jesus and for the sake of His glory. Amen.”