Christ Lutheran Church of the Deaf
Silver Spring, Maryland

The Armor of God:  #5 - The Shield of Faith
Signed Version
Ephesians 6:10...
Finally, let the Lord make you strong.  Depend on His great power. Wear all of God's armor.  Then you can stand strong against the devil's terrible plans.

Our fight is not against people.  
We are fighting against
    many spiritual rulers,
    and many dark powers in this world.  
We are fighting against
    the evil forces in the spirit world.

So put on all of God's armor.  Evil days will come.
And after you did everything you can [finish], you will still stay standing.

So stand strong.  
[1] Wear the belt of truth around your waist.  
[2] Wear the chest protector of holy living.
[3] Wear on your feet shoes that will prepare you to tell the good news about peace.
[4] Also, pick up the shield of faith.  With that you can stop all of the flaming arrows of the devil.

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Long-ago, in Bible times, a soldier's shield looked-like what?

History tells us that Roman soldiers had two different kinds of shields.  One is small, and round.  Our ASL Sign for "shield" shows that kind.

But soldiers had another shield.  It was tall as a door.  They made that shield with wood, covered with leather.  That tall shield protected the soldier's full body.

In battle, enemies often shot-arrows with fire.  They put the arrow tip in tar, lit-the-fire, and shot-the-arrow.   Small round shields were not enough protection against those fire arrows.  Soldiers needed tall shields for protection. 

In our Ephesian's lesson, Paul uses that tall shield as a picture for FAITH.

Faith... meaning what?

First, we believe that God made the whole world, and God made each one of us. [see Hebrews 11:3]

Second, we believe that God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ to
    suffer on the cross,
    die for our sins,
    rise to life again,
    and will take us home to live with Him in heaven forever.  [see John 3:16]

Third, we believe that
    God loves us now,
    He is with us now,
    He is guiding and protecting us now,
    He always has a good plan for our lives now.  [see Romans 8:25-39]

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One time Martin Luther became very sick.  Later his body got healthy again, but his soul stayed deeply depressed.  Martin Luther sat all-day, looking at nothing, always feeling sad. Nothing helped him feel better.  Friends worried Martin Luther will stay stuck in his depression or maybe die.

Finally, one night Martin Luther's wife, Katharine, came into his office.  He notice she was dressed all in black, and she had a thick black veil covering her face.  Martin Luther was shocked.  He said, "Katharine! What's wrong?  Why are you dress for a funeral??"

Katharine said in a very sad voice, "Oh!  Terrible! Terrible!"

Martin:  "What!?"

Katharine (shaking her head): "God is dead."

Martin:  "?God is dead!?  What do you mean?  What are you talking about?"

Katharine:  "Are you DR. MARTIN LUTHER?  Are you my husband and my pastor?"

Martin (confused):  "Yes"

Katharine:  "During the past few weeks, your actions prove to me that God is dead.   If God is alive, you could use your great faith in Him to help you overcome your sadness and tired feelings."

Martin - quiet a long time, then said:  "You are right, Katharine.  Now please go change your clothes, and I will start work again."

Katharine:  "You will start working now?"

Martin:  "Yes, now."
(Paraphrased from: Kitty, My Rib, E. Jane Mall, 1959, 1984; Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO, pp. 78, 79 //
Click here for exact text.)

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Martin Luther, fought hard for the Christian faith in the Church.  But you can see sometimes he dropped his Shield of Faith.

Our lesson says that we must have this Shield of Faith to protect us from "all of the flaming arrows of the evil one."

Those "flaming arrows" that the devil sends to us can mean any  thoughts, any attitude that can defeat us.  Every temptation is a "flaming arrow." 

We all have weaknesses where we easily become tempted and fail.  And Satan knows where each one of us is weak.  And Satan knows which flaming arrow will penetrate (pierce) to our Christian character.

For some people here, strong temptation comes from porn on the Internet and cable TV, that pulls your attention so much, that you don't-want to resist.  Satan's flaming arrow means time that you are alone with your computer.

For some people here maybe have secret anger and continuing bitterness.   One person did something to hurt you, and remember that again, ...and again, ...and again.

For some people here, Satan hits you while you are driving on the expressway.  Someone moves-in-front-of-you, and you become angry, because "that part of the road belongs to me!"   Many Christians have a problem with road rage. 

Some people here maybe struggle against worry, discouragement, depression, and maybe thinking about suicide.  You are upset with God because God won't follow your plan.

Did I miss your weak area?  Did I miss your strong temptation?  If we look at the Ten Commandments, and go-down-the-list, we can see for each Commandment how our Enemy shoots-an-arrow against us, and leads us to sin.

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The Bible has a picture that shows how Satan works to fool us, drop our shield, so he can "kill" us with sin.

King DAVID had two nephews:  one name JOAB [invent name sign], and the other name AMASA [invent name sign].   Both were good soldiers.  David made Joab chief officer of Israel's army.  But Amasa later joined a revolt against David.  (David's son Absolom made Amasa his chief army officer - 2 Samuel 17:25.)

Later Amasa came back to David and supported him again.  David fired Joab and David made Amasa chief army officer.  (2 Samuel 19:13).  Joab now secretly hated his cousin Amasa.

One time Joab had a chance to meet his cousin.  So Joab pretended to act friendly to Amasa.   Joab said, "How are you, my brother?"

Joab acted like he wanted to give his cousin a family kiss (or hug).  Amasa did not see the dagger [long knife] that Joab had hidden.   While Joab hugged his cousin, he stabbed Amasa and killed him.  (2 Samuel 20:9-10)

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The way Joab acted to his cousin, the devil does the same to us.  The devil uses things that seem good to lead us into temptation, where we are most weak.  And same-as Amasa, we don't notice the devil's knife.

But God offers us armor for defense against temptation:  The Shield of Faith.

The New Testament book named Hebrews has much to say about faith.  Chapter 3 says that the opposite of faith is "UN-BELIEF."  Maybe we can sign that as "doubt" (with two bent fingers, as "I-doubt-it").  The Bible says that the reason we don't obey God is because we don't believe God. 
    We don't believe that God is with us when we sin.
    We don't believe that God knows what we are doing. 
    We don't believe that God Himself is holy. 
    We think God doesn't-care what we do.
    We forget that sin always causes more problems [consequences].

And when we don't believe God, the devil shoots-his-arrow.

The Bible says:  "Pick up the shield of faith.  With that you can stop all of the flaming arrows of the evil one."

A Sunday School teacher asked his class, "What is FAITH?"

One student answered:  "Faith means you believe something you know is not true."

No.  The Bible says:  "Faith means  being [knowing] sure of the things we hope for, and knowing that something is real no-matter if we do not see it." [Hebrews 11:1 NCV]

Faith means knowing something is true, when our only proof is God's promise, and history that shows God is good and He keeps His promises.

If life seems bad now, if things happen that destroy your hope,
stop and look-back.  Remember all God finished doing for you.
Think about many times God saved your life.
Think about many times God helped you through trouble.
Think about Jesus dying on the cross, accepting your punishment, because He loves you.
Think about how Jesus made possible your home with Him in heaven.

The Bible says in Romans chapter 8:
    God saved us, and we have hope...
    So what should we say about this? If God is with us, no one can defeat us.  God did not spare [hold-back] His own Son but gave Jesus for us all. Now with Jesus, God will surely give us all things.  Who can accuse the people God chooses? No one can, because God is the One who saves them.  Who can say God’s people are guilty? No one, because Christ Jesus died, and He also was raised from the dead, and now Jesus is on God’s right side, begging God for us.  Can anything separate us from the love Christ has for us? Can troubles or problems or sufferings or hunger or nakedness or danger or violent death?
    No.  In all these troubles we have full victory through God, because He showed His love for us.  Yes, I know for sure that not death, not life, not angels, not ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers,  nothing above us, nothing below us, not anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that we have in Christ Jesus our Lord.  [Romans 8:24-39]

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Martin Luther complained that the worst time for him happened during the night, when he tried to sleep.  During the night he remembered his many sins, failures, and guilt.  Martin Luther could easily become depressed, and the devil took-advantage, accusing him.  When that happened, Martin Luther picked-up his Shield of Faith to protect him from the devil's flaming arrows.  Luther wrote:
    When the devil comes during the night to bother me, I give him this answer: 
    "Devil, I must sleep now; for this is God’s command:  Work during  the day, sleep at night."

    If the devil does not stop bothering me, and keeps reminding me about my sins, I answer:
    "Dear devil, I hear your accusation  [blame/criticize].  But I have-done still more sins that are missing on your record.  Add them to your list...” 
   “If you [the devil] tell me that I a terrible, great sinner, you give me a sword that I can easily and quickly overcome [defeat] you.  Yes, with you own arrows I can kill and destroy you.  If you can tell me that I am a bad sinner, I can tell you that Christ died for sinners and He prays for us... You help me remember the salvation, and blessing I have in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Jesus willingly accepted all my sins, all my trouble, and all the suffering I deserve forever, Jesus took all my guilt and suffered the bitter death on the cross for me. 
    "Now Jesus is responsible for all my sins, not me.  You go bother Jesus.  You can blame and criticize Him.  Let me rest in peace."   (paraphrased from: What Luther Says, An Anthology, Ewald M. Plass, ed; 1959,  Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO, Vol 1 p. 403 //  Click here for exact text.)

"Pick up the shield of faith.  With that you can stop all of the flaming arrows of the evil one."  

Part 6 - The Helmet of Salvation

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