Faith without work is dead hope. Don’t believe me? Well let’s look at the bible. Ephesians 6 tells us to take up our shield of faith. Take up. Sounds like work to me. And faith is called our shield. Have you not seen the movie 300? The whole movie was based off hope. The Spartans were a fierce people in battle and the key to their survival was that each person’s shield also covered their neighbor from foot to shoulder. In the movie, the Spartans were forced into battle with an army much larger than themselves. So what did they do? They went to war and hoped they would last long enough for reinforcements to arrive. Well, I don’t mean to spoil the movie for anyone, but at the end, Leonidas, the king of the Spartans, got a little anxious, put down his shield to attack the enemy and died. Dead hope.
Now I admit that this is a severly simplified summary of the movie and it completely ignores the fact that the Spartans were betrayed and would have likely died anyway, but it serves my point so let’s just go with it. We are at war. Every morning we wake up, we step onto a spiritual battlefield (Eph. 6:12). How big is the opposing army? Well let’s go back to the bible. The bible says when Satan fell from heaven he took one third of the angels with him (Rev. 12:4-9). How many is one third of the angel population? A lot. Matthew 12:22 says the angels are innumerable. One-third of innumerable is a lot of soldiers. Do we really want to go to war unprepared?
Ephesians 6:14-17 describes the full armor that we are to wear: the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes prepared with the gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the spirit which is the Word of God. If you look at the armor, you will notice, as my pastor pointed out, that all of the armor is strapped on except the shield and the sword. This is consistent with the fact that faith and the Word are the things you have to continually work with to use effectively. Let me explain.
If you think about the armor, every item is going to require a little bit of work to put on, but once it’s on, it pretty much works on its own. This is also true in the spiritual world. You may have to work a bit, go to church, read some scripture, etcetera before you can put on the spirit of truth, righteousness, and peace. But once it’s on, it’s on! Your belt, breastplate, shoes, and helmet are strapped on and they aren’t going anywhere. They deflect enemy assualt just by being there.
The sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, is a little different. It is primarily an offensive weapon. You have to pick it up and use it to defend yourself. We wiill talk about this in a later post.
For now let’s focus on the shield of faith. Shields are interesting. They are primarily defensive. You can duck behind them or raise them to defend against an oncoming blow. But they can also be offensive. You can use them to push against your attacker or you can even swing them to offer some blows of your own. The problem with shields, good ones anyway, is that they are heavy. To use them effectively takes practice and training. Well the same thing is true of faith. The bible says we move from faith to faith (Rom. 1:17). So in the physical realm that looks like this:
You finally get tired of trying to fix all your problems yourself so you decide to give them to God. Through your faith and obedience, God shows up and shows out. Then when a bigger issue confronts you, you don’t panic because you remember God’s presence in your life and you believe He is able to handle anything that comes against you. That’s faith to faith.
Note now, that moving from faith to faith requires you to start somewhere first. I think I hear of faith most with faith healing. Someone gets sick, and their friends and family all want to comfort them by saying, “Just have faith and God will heal you.” Now I wonder, how in the world are they supposed to come up with this Herculean faith that God will heal their cancer, when they have never depended on God for anything before? On occasion, we do get that faith adrenaline rush, and we are able to believe in God to get us out of a tough situation without having a previous reference point. But in general, that’s the exception not the rule. Most of us need to practice exercising faith now, so that when our Goliath comes we are not afraid to pull out our slinghots and take him down (I Sam. 17).
So what does faith look like defensively? Well when the enemy comes along and you start thinking you’re not good enough to walk with God, then you pick up your shield of faith and remind yourself that there is no condemnation in Christ (Rom. 8:1) and He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion (Phil. 1:6). When the enemy rises up and tells you that your situation is hopeless, that you might as well give up; then pick up your faith and tell him that everything works out for the good of those who love Christ.
What does faith look like offensively? When the enemy steps in front of you and growls that your financial situation is hopeless, knock him out of the way, remember Malachi 3:10, and praise God with your tithe and offering. When God gives you a vision that the devil tells you will never come to pass, shove him down, stand over him, look him in the eye and tell him, “The devil is a lie, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! (Phil. 4:13)”
As always, I hope this message is a blessing to every reader.
As a sidenote, remember earlier I mentioned that the shields in 300 covered each person’s neighbor? Well faith works the same way. Sometimes, we have to use our faith to intercede for each other. Sometimes it is hard to believe in your own healing or your own deliverance, but being covered by the faith of praying saints can sustain you while your shield is down.
Remember live, love, laugh, and praise God!