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Quenching Fiery Darts
By David A. DePra
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. (Eph 6:16)
The context of this verse is obviously spiritual warfare. The above verse reveals, not only much about how we are to deal with the enemy, but also the nature of his attacks.
What God Allows
The first thing we must see when we read a verse like this one from Ephesians is that God Himself allows the enemy access to us. Sure. Otherwise, there would not be a single verse in the Bible where Christians are told to RESIST the enemy. For if the enemy had no access there would be nothing TO resist. The fact that we are told to resist, and to stand, and to take up our, "shield of faith," tells us that it is part of God’s purpose for us that we be exposed to these attacks.
Now ask: Why would God allow the Devil access to us? Simple: So that we might RESIST him! That is the whole point. And of course, then to GROW IN FAITH because of it.
Imagine that you are someone who wants to lift weights so that you can become stronger. But you never actually exercise. What you do is sit around in your house simply bragging about how strong you are! Wouldn’t that be silly? The point is this: We can shout to high heaven about how we have the victory in Christ – and if we are in Christ – we would be right. His victory IS ours. But what good is His victory to us if it is merely on paper? If it is never lived? No. God wants us to LIVE in the victory of Jesus Christ over the enemy.
God allows the enemy access to us so that through our resistance of him, and standing against him, we might experience the victory of Jesus Christ worked out in us and through us. There is simply no other way it can be accomplished.
Once we see that God allows the enemy access to us for the purpose of giving us occasion to resist him, and thereby grow in victory, we begin to see just how much in charge God is of our lives. There is simply nothing that gets into our lives which God doesn’t allow for His purposes.
Read this passage from I Peter and note that the tone puts God fully in charge of the trial we are in:
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you. (1 Pet 5:6-10)
The introduction of this passage is that we are to humble ourselves UNDER GOD’S HAND. In short, everything else in the passage is describing the working of His hand – including our need to face the Devil. Peter tells us that under the mighty hand of God there are going to be times when we must resist the Devil. How are we to resist him? By humbling ourselves under God’s hand – and by doing the same thing Paul said to do in Ephesians: Resist in faith with the shield of faith.
Note also the phrase, "the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren." Sounds like God is behind these things to do something IN His people, doesn’t it? Sure. And also notice this phrase, "after you have suffered a while, God will….." Again – God is in charge.
Now, of course, all of this speaks of God’s intent and purpose. But it does not guarantee that we will obey. It is always possible to come under the wiles of the enemy. In the end, WE determine, not whether we will be tried, but how we will respond. There are two choices: Faith or unbelief.
The Shield of Faith
A shield is a defensive weapon, as are all of those mentioned in Ephesians 6. The reason for this is that we are not trying to win a victory. No. We are STANDING in a victory already won for us – and which the enemy is seeking to cast doubt upon. To put it another way, we are defending territory – not trying to win it.
All through this passage in Ephesians we see this. Note the continual exhortation to STAND and STAND AGAINST – against the attacks of the enemy.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness. (Eph 6:10-14)
Now, of course, this stand we are to take in the victory of Jesus is anything but passive. The best picture of it in the Bible is when Israel entered the Promised Land and began to take possession of it. That land was theirs through inheritance long before they were born. That was never in question – just as our salvation because of the finished victory of Jesus is never in question once we are in Christ. But they had to go into the land and actually begin LIVING there. So must we enter into the things of our salvation – into the experience of His victory – and live it out. But you know, there were enemies, indeed, giants, in the land. There are enemies in our land, too. And we must drive them out by standing!
Doesn’t that seem strange? How do you drive out the enemy by standing? Well, you couldn’t unless there was a victory already finished for you. But once you know and believe that the enemy is a defeated foe, and that you are merely taking possession of a conquered land, then your whole attitude of faith is one of standing in that victory, isn’t it? You are standing, even though you are moving!
Israel took possession of the land on the basis of a finished Truth: The land was given them by God. Nothing else mattered, because despite the enemy in the land, the end of the matter was certain. Thus, with every step they took – and I am speaking as if they actually did obey God – they were simply walking through a victory that was certain.
The fact is, there is no possibility that you and I will ever overcome what ails us as Christians until we get this one things settled: It is finished. We may not have taken possession of much that Christ has won, but until we understand that it is finished, we won’t even try, let alone succeed. Remember that Israel did not enter the rest the first time – because of unbelief. They looked at the enemy and believe their eyes and their fears rather than God. That ended any chance for that generation to experience what God had for them.
You will notice that the land never ceased to be theirs. Did you ever realize this? God never took the land away from Israel. No. Israel refused to enter by faith. This is the plight of many Christians today. The victory is all there for us. But we don’t believe it. What we believe is our failures and sins. It is therefore unbelief that keeps us out of what God has for us.
Of course, today some Christians have taken this great Truth about the finished work of Christ and tried to use it as a magic formula that will fend off sickness, financial trouble, or any other kind of trial. No. God doesn’t want us out of a trial. He wants us to overcome in the trial. God wants us to overcome is sin, unbelief, and all the power of the flesh. And He may use sickness, or any other trial, to put us in the position where we must face these enemies.
The way we experience the victory of Jesus is not merely by confessing it. No. We come to experience the victory of Jesus over the things of death by DYING. Only then, if we come to the Cross, can we be raised in victory by the power of His resurrection.
Faith and Unbelief
Ephesians says for us to take, "the shield of faith." This tells us the nature of the, "fiery darts," we are defending against. Surely those darts must come from the quiver of UNBELIEF. That is why FAITH is the defense.
Unbelief is when I don’t believe God; don’t trust Him. And the primary reason we don’t believe is usually NOT that we actually think God is a liar. No. What we do is allow OUR failures and sins to convince us that God could not possibly love us, or be faithful to us. This is unbelief because it is a denial of the very foundation of the Redemption itself: GRACE.
Here again we see why if we don’t believe IT IS FINISHED with regards to forgiveness for sin that we have no chance of victory. God has told us that in Christ all sin is taken away. Through unbelief we put our sin back between us and God. The only solution is therefore to go back to the finality of the Cross.
Notice how faith is likened to a SHIELD. A shield doesn’t allow the weapon of the enemy to get through to us! It stops it. This tells us that at some point we must refuse to allow things like unbelief, condemnation, fear, and false guilt to have a place in us – to, "get through" to us. In short, we fight off these things – not by fighting THEM – but BY BELIEVING GOD. It only makes sense that the sole weapon against NOT believing is to believe.
Some Christians seem to think that faith or unbelief are THINGS that, "happen to us." Almost like they are moods or emotions. No, although emotions can try to affect our faith, and can, if we let them. But in the final analysis, faith is a stand, a shield, a choice – a choice to believe God no matter what else might be happening.
Notice: If I believe the Truth about God no matter what might be lying to me about Him – my emotions, moods, or fears – then in the end, because I have taken a stand in the finished work of Jesus, I cannot lose. It may seem like I am losing during the trial, but the outcome of victory is assured. But because I have faced these darts of the enemy, and withstood them, they are now exposed for the lies they are. And because they are exposed, and practically defeated, they can never have the same power to move me again.
The SHIELD of faith is said to QUENCH the fiery darts of the enemy. Isn’t that strange? How does a shield quench fiery darts? Well, imagine if someone shot an flaming arrow at you and you raised a shield and stopped it. Even if the arrow stuck in your shield it would not get through to you. It would eventually burn itself out. It would be QUENCHED – rather than catch you on fire. The fire would not spread, would it? No.
The point is this: If we raise our shield of faith against the suggestions of the enemy, the fiery darts will not hit us, or begin to get into our system, and spread. If you have ever failed in this matter, you know what it means to let unbelief, condemnation, fear, and these fires of the enemy spread into your thinking, your emotions, your mind, and your spirit. It can be like a fire out of control. God tells us not to let things get that far. Stop it at the door with the shield of faith.
But again, if we don’t have it settled that IT IS FINISHED, we will not so much as have a shield of faith, or at least a very good one. As mentioned, a shield of faith is a defensive weapon – which demands we have something to defend. If we don’t really believe it is finished, or that we are forever forgiven, we won’t raise a shield of faith. We will be vulnerable.
That one phrase -- it is finished – constitutes the ground upon which virtually all spiritual warfare is fought. For if I believe that one Truth, I will possess more than merely a theological position. I will know that I belong to God Himself on the basis of the Redemption of His Son, and that everything else that is happening to me is governed by that relationship. But if I don’t believe, then anything is possible, for there is no victory yet one. Indeed, I must win it.
God has ordained that the enemy be allowed access to us. He is going to shoot the fiery darts of unbelief at us. Rather than tell us that He will spare us this warfare, God tells us how to respond: The shield of faith. Don’t let those doubts get through your faith, and catch you on fire with lies. Believe and keep believing. In the end, you will find God to be true every time.
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