"In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one ...".
In Ephesians 6 Paul reminds us that we are engaged in spiritual warfare and that we need to put on the whole armor of God in order to stand firm against the enemy. This is not an abstract concept or doctrinal theory. Christians are engaged in a very real battle against a very real enemy.
Faith, or course, is at the very heart of the Christian life. Our relationship with God begins when we believe what he has done for us in Christ.
Romans 1.16-17: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Ephesians 2.8: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God."
John 3.16-18: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God."
But in this passage in Ephesians 6, Paul is addressing Christians who have already believed in Christ. He is not exhorting them to have faith in order to be saved; rather, he is exhorting them to use the shield of faith in order to be effective. What Paul is talking about here is applying faith strategically to those times when the enemy is attacking you. The shield of faith is applied belief. As I have written in past devotionals, and as I wrote yesterday, we could accurately call it "battlefield belief."
I think there is a big difference between "Sunday belief" and "battlefield belief." It is easy to believe and have faith on Sunday at a church service. Worship music that moves and inspires, a sermon that informs and motivates, people that love and encourage, opportunity to pray and reflect. It’s not hard to have faith in that environment.
Unfortunately, though certainly not intended, Sunday worship can also be an environment that nurtures a faith that is not prepared for the conflicts we encounter and battles we must fight in the real world. Because when the alarm goes off Monday morning, it's time to go to work. Back to the battlefield. Back into the arena where you must engage the enemy. It is not nearly as easy to believe at work as it was in the church service, and work is where/when it is necessary to wield the shield of faith. This is where you need battlefield belief.
As I wrote previously, the Christian faith is not for spectators. The Christian faith is for competitors. It is for warriors and fighters. Jesus does not call us to sit in the bleachers and watch. He does not call us to stand on the sideline and cheer. He does not call us to tweet, post, and pontificate from the pressbox. He sends us into the arena. He sends us to the front line of battle against the enemy. The moment you trusted in Christ you stepped into the arena of combat. And "Sunday belief" will not survive on the battlefield.
The shield of faith is belief applied specifically to the events you face in life and at work. It is faith that is focused, specific, and situational. It is not faith in general; rather, it is faith in the presence, power, and principles of the infinite-personal God. That means you know who God is, you know what his Word says, and as you encounter the attacks of the enemy ... you trust God and apply your faith specifically, strategically, and skillfully.
Whatever difficulties you have with people and issues at work, know that the underlying conflict is spiritual. Whatever disruptive feelings you have, whatever temptations you face, whatever doubt you experience, whatever fear/anxiety you feel, whatever anger you struggle with ... know that the underlying conflict is spiritual.
Be crystal clear what God's Word says about the situations you face, and respond in obedience. This is the shield of faith. This is faith that is applied. This is battlefield belief.
"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)