The next piece of armor Paul mentions in Ephesians 6 is the Shield of Faith. Once again, we will turn to the Roman soldiers of his time to learn more about what the shield meant back then.
A Roman soldier’s shield was a full-body shield, designed to protect the soldier from harm and even protect the other soldiers as well. The turtle, or testudo formation, is just one example of how the Romans used their shields to make sieges and field battles just that much more impossible for their opponents.
In the Testudo formation, the soldiers in the front would put their shields side by side in front of them.Then those behind them would lift their’s above their head, creating a man-made turtle shell. This formation was often used in sieges to get near a gate (or any other object of interest, i.e. a hole in the wall, etc.) without the flaming arrows, rocks, spears, javelins, or other such objects impairing their ability to take the position.
Other similar formations were used in field combat, but I think you get the idea. (See this Wikipedia article for more info on Roman formations.) Roman shields were very effective in both offensive and defensive maneuvers.
“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:16
What does faith protect us from? Doubt, for one thing. If you have faith something exists, you can’t also doubt its existence. As the writer of Hebrews put it:
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 NIV
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV
So you see, without faith the rest of the armor of God would be useless to you. If you don’t believe God exists and that he sent his son to die for our sins and rise again on the third day, then why are you fighting for him? Without the shield of faith, you would have no use for the other pieces of armor (the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of readiness, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit).
I would like to note once again that no one is perfect. Everyone has doubts at one time or another. I know I have. But our faith in God helps us overcome those doubts. Even Gideon, Moses, Esther, Abraham, David, and so many others doubted God at some point in their lives. And yet, they had faith in him and did what he asked of them. And through them, he saved countless lives in a way far beyond what they ever imagined. And though he may never ask you to do what he asked of them, these are different times.
How will you use your shield?
Read more in this series: