Life can be a very uncertain affair, and Satan plays on this to make us look for things to trust—things we can see or control. But the big question in life is: are we going to trust our Maker and Redeemer? We need faith. We need to take it up and use it like a shield (Ephesians 6:16).
There’s an urgency about trusting God like this and Paul gives us the reason—Satan is attacking. The unbelief of the world has a way of seeping into us. We start forgetting the unseen world that God is revealing.
The shield Paul is referring to is a large, made of wood, covered with leather and, if necessary, soaked in water. Arrows intended to start fires would be extinguished on impact. In other words, faith is very effective!
In practical terms, having a shield of faith is having God himself as protection (Genesis 15:1; Psalm 33:20; 91:4). Many have found that God is like a shield—‘a very present help in time of trouble’.
Faith like this is not a feeling. It is the confidence the Holy Spirit works in us when we hear God’s word (Romans 10:17). So, let’s see what Paul tells us in this letter of Ephesians.
First, faith is all about Jesus Christ (1:15).
Everything God has done to bless us is done through Jesus (1:3-14). If we forget him and focus on ourselves, we lose the sense of our high calling as God’s holy, forgiven and beloved people.
All the hard work of coming to God has been done by Christ—including saving us by his death. And Christ is called ‘the Beloved’. That’s what the Father calls his Son on two occasions (Mark 1:11; 9:7). And now we are accepted in him. We are loved too.
If we keep looking at him rather than ourselves, Satan can’t get anywhere. He can’t offer redemption when things go wrong. He can’t promise a future of which we can be sure. He has nothing to offer! Not anything that’s permanent or satisfying—or real! His fiery arrows fizzle.
Faith is knowing Christ has gone into action for us. It is enjoying all his blessings.
Second, faith is certainly not about us.
Having faith in Jesus Christ is a decision to make and an action to take. But it’s not something we do alone. We’re not saying, ‘Look at me!’ We’re saying, Look at him!’
We’ve had enough of trusting ourselves. It resulted in some nasty behaviour and states of mind. We deserved God’s anger and got mercy. We were dead and came alive to God. We were nobody and now sit with Christ next to God (2:1-10).
And this is just the beginning! God has done all this so he can show us the full extent of his kindness in the world to come.
Those who forget this are in trouble. Those who think they deserve this are dreaming. But we who know he is gracious are counting on it.
Third, faith is coming to God, confidently (3:12).
Paul tells us not to be discouraged by the difficulties we have to face. We need to go to God and pour our hearts out to him.
In fact, we can be bolder coming to God that we can be in coming to anyone else. He’s given us more reason to trust him than any human can do. People around us may make us feel unwelcome or threatened or inferior. But God makes us welcome.
Fourth, faith is very personal (3:14-17).
Can we trust God with our very selves? Faith includes thinking and deciding but, in the end, it’s an affection that submits to the one we have found can be trusted and loved.
Paul asks for the Holy Spirit to inwardly strengthen us. It takes real people to love—not self-made phantoms.
What God does to save us, and the reconciliation he offers to all nations, leaves us out of our depth. But we need to swim! Trusting in Jesus Christ has taken us to God himself. And God has come to us—into us.
Keep reading God’s promises, and keep asking to grow in understanding until faith grows warm!
We all need to say what Mary says, ‘May your word to me be fulfilled’ (Luke 1:38). That’s how Jesus comes to be born. And it’s how we live by faith.
Satan can’t get near this (1 Peter 5:9). He can’t give anything to someone who is already contented!