A Christian's absolute faith in God can stop and extinguish the flaming arrows that Satan the devil shoots at us.
I don't know how many of you growing up had a pet turtle – anybody here have a pet turtle? Some turtle lovers or people who enjoy turtles! You know many turtles today are on the endangered list, actually there are hundreds of turtles and types of turtle. When you look at those who are on the list of endangered turtles, you have the Green turtle, the Hawksbill turtle, the Loggerhead turtle and the Olive Ridley turtle. The Olive Ridley turtle was apparently good for eating, hundreds of thousands of them were killed and they've almost been decimated. Many of you have heard, I'm sure of the Pig Nose turtle or the Green Sea turtle, the Alligator snapping turtle, the Leatherback turtle, the Red-Eared Slider Turtle; these are all different types and the common Musk Turtle, also called Stinkpot! He's called Stinkpot because he's able to release a musky odor if attacked that tries to drive off the prey who's trying to attack him. Then you have the Big Headed Turtle where the head's almost bigger than the body and so you have all of these varieties of turtles.
Now when you think of a turtle you normally think of a hard shell animal but there are a number of turtles that are soft shelled and they don't have the traditional hard shell. How many of you have ever heard of the Roman Turtle? Some of you may be familiar with the Roman turtle, Roman turtle is what I'd like to talk about today and hopefully you will become a little more acquainted with this particular turtle.
I'd like for you in your mind to try to picture what a Roman turtle looks like – you have any concept, any idea of what this turtle would look like? As you're trying to picture that, picture the apostle Paul in jail. Let's go over to Acts 28:16 Acts 28:16And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.
American King James Version× and we'll take a look here at the apostle Paul.
Acts 28:16 Acts 28:16And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.
American King James Version× – Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoner to the captain of the guard but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him.
V. 30 – Paul dwelt two whole years in a rented house and received all who came to him.
But while he was there for two years he had a guard who was there to guard him, they didn't want him running off or doing something of that nature. He wrote several letters while he was there, these have been known as the prison epistles. One of those letters was the book of Ephesians. So with that in mind, let's turn to Ephesians 6:11 Ephesians 6:11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
American King James Version× where the apostle Paul talks about:
Ephesians 6:11 Ephesians 6:11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
American King James Version× – Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
V. 13 – Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you maybe able to withstand in the evil day and having done all, to stand. So it's important to be able to have this armor on if you're going to stand, withstand Satan the devil.
So daily for two years the apostle Paul had a guard who watched him, who observed him and I'm sure that they shifted, they had two or three shifts of guards coming in who were there to protect him but also to make sure he didn't escape. Although the commentaries will tell you that Paul's description of Godly armor here in Ephesians 6 is based upon the armor worn by the Roman soldiers. Now what does all of this have to do with the Roman turtle? Well what you'll find is that the Roman soldiers were trained to fight well and to defend themselves. They were one of the greatest fighting machines ever assembled. If the enemy shot arrows at them, they would use their shields to surround their bodies and to protect themselves and this became known as the turtle. It was a turtle in appearance; it resembled the hard shell of a turtle or of a tortoise.
The Roman army was one of the best armies in history, they created a massive empire as we know, over Europe, north Africa, Asia Minor, over the then civilized world. They were brilliant technicians. If they got charged they would normally break into two lines, one behind the other and the first line would, when the other enemy got closer, would throw their spears. Now the spears were made so that the shaft would break, once it hit, the shaft would break so that they couldn't pick the spear up and throw it back at them - that was the idea behind it. Then they would grab their sword and as the enemy kept charging, the second line would throw their spear and do the same thing and by the time they got through throwing the volley of spears, they had their swords out, they had pretty well knocked a big hole in the charging enemy.
They also carried a short sword – now most armies, the soldier carried, if he was right handed, he carried his sword on his left side, he would pull the sword out. Well they carried a shield on the left so they carried their sword on the right and they didn't have to cross their body, they could just yank that sword out very quickly to jab with and so that was another difference. They also used the wedge in fighting. Have you ever seen the teeth on a saw? Comes together in a wedge and then you have another wedge, set of teeth over here – well when they were attacking another army they would have these wedges that would drive into the army and what they would do is to drive the troops between the wedges. So if the army got in between the wedges, they could be attacked from both sides because now they were between two sides so you had to watch your back or your front or your side because you were being attacked from both ways. So they had developed warfare to a great degree. They were also famous for what we know today as the Roman turtle. Now the Roman turtle is not a turtle as I was talking about, but they were a rectangular formation. Now if the enemy shot arrows at them, which they were wont to do back at that time, the men in the front would put their shields up front, the men on the sides would put the shields out to the side and those in the middle would hold the shields over their head and so it looked like a turtle and they would march and literally, none of the arrows would touch them because their shields were close together or overlapping and if it hit the front it would just bounce off or stick to the shields and if somebody did get hit, the next person would step up. It was a varying type formation. They could march up to a fort in that formation and not one of them would get hurt. People could even pour oil on them or hot water and it would have minimal damage to them. If a defender was going to try to fight with them they couldn't do it from long range, they would have to actually engage them, they would have to come out and engage them because of this formation. Now even though it wasn't the best formation to fight out of, they could still put all of these shields up and still jab out of the sides and fight when anyone attacked them. Now I want you to notice verse 16 here in Ephesians 3, we're told this:
Ephesians 3:16 Ephesians 3:16That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
American King James Version× – Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
So the shield of faith would protect us from the fiery darts of Satan the devil. So why do we need the shield of faith as he's describing here, the armor that we are supposed to put on?
Number one is because of protection, the shield would protect the soldier from being hurt so the protection, the Roman turtle protected them, it gave the advantage to the soldier in that particular formation. As I said, the enemy would have to come out and engage you because they couldn't hurt you from a distance. The word translated "shield" here is a word in the Greek language that is translated shield only in this spot in the New Testament. If you'll read in the commentaries, you'll find that there were various sizes of shields but in the context here, most of the commentators will tell you that this is a large shield, which according to ancient historians, gave protection to the whole body. The word designates the shield of a heavy infantry man, it was 4 feet tall, 2.5 feet wide, normally it was as thick as the hand and it was made of two layers of wood that were laminated or put together, covered with canvas, covered then with leather and occasionally covered with canvas on the outside. It was soaked in water, if they felt the enemy was going to shoot arrows at them, what they would do is get their arrows, tie some type of flammable material, dip it in pitch, light it and you may have ten thousand archers standing behind a hill somewhere and they're out here and they shoot straight up in the air and these arrows come down and if you can imagine ten thousand arrows coming down on top of an army, if you don't have some type of protection, it would just absolutely mow the army down. If you've seen the recent movie Robin Hood that has come out, or you might remember the movie Braveheart, there are two scenes, one in Robin Hood and one in Braveheart where you see this type of warfare taking place. The first thing that they would do is to shoot the arrows and if they weakened them, then they would send the Calvary through and then finally the troops would land. So what you find is that once they would shoot these arrows, soaked with pitch and fire, if their shields were soaked with water and one of the arrows would hit it, then it would put it out and so it protected them, as it says here, notice again:
V. 16 – Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all of the fiery darts of the wicked one.
So this shield of faith that God gives to us is able to quench the darts, the arrows that Satan the devil fires in our direction. You'll find that this can be translated as dart; generally we think of a dart, you know we play darts and you throw darts, but this is talking more of missiles or arrows, this type of thing. The end of the arrows, as I described, had a burning material dipped in pitch and it could set a person on fire. If one of these hit you, went through your armor and you're burning, guess what? Your armor comes off, you pull this off, you become distracted and you become easy prey to the enemy. There was one type of arrow that had a head that was three foot long on it and this was fire not just by your normal pull but by catapult and it could easily go through a man, go through his shield, go through his armor, go through his body and even pierce someone else and so these type of missiles were shot.
The idea of the picture that we see here is that a Christian's absolute faith in God can stop and extinguish the flaming arrows that Satan the devil shoots at us. What are some of the fiery darts that Satan shoots at us? Let's go over to Matthew 21:21 Matthew 21:21Jesus answered and said to them, Truly I say to you, If you have faith, and doubt not, you shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if you shall say to this mountain, Be you removed, and be you cast into the sea; it shall be done.
American King James Version× and let's notice that Satan the devil is always trying to get through our defenses, trying to destroy us.
Matthew 21:21 Matthew 21:21Jesus answered and said to them, Truly I say to you, If you have faith, and doubt not, you shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if you shall say to this mountain, Be you removed, and be you cast into the sea; it shall be done.
American King James Version× – Jesus answered and said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what is done to this fig tree, but you shall say to the mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea' and it will be done. And whatever thing you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive."
So the first dart that Satan the devil throws at Christians is to create doubt in our mind, he tries to get us to doubt God, to doubt His promises, to doubt His word, to doubt that God will do what He said He will do. The Greek word here, in this particular case, is diakrino, the word means to judge between two, thus a divided judgment or a wavering, a doubt being places. Doubt simply means to be at variance with oneself, to be hesitant. Maybe I should, maybe I shouldn't, you have doubts, you don't know, you hesitate, is it right, is it wrong and you have doubt created in your mind. Well Satan the devil tries to undermine God's Church, God's people by placing doubt there. Back up to chapter 14 in Matthew, verse 22 – we're familiar with this story about Christ walking on the water. You might remember Christ had been preaching, He sent the disciples across the lake, told them to get in the boat, go to the other side, He would disperse with the multitude. He then went up into the mountain to pray, later on you'll find that He came to them. Verse 24 says:
Matthew 14:24-26 Matthew 14:24-26  But the ship was now in the middle of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.
 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
American King James Version× – The boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It's a ghost!" So they didn't know what this was…and they cried out with fear.
V. 27 – But immediately Jesus spoke to them saying, "Be of good cheer, it is I, do not be afraid." And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to You on the water." Now it's interesting how that's put – command me to come to You on the water, you know, if it's really You.
V. 29-30 – So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat he walked on the water to go to Jesus…so he was looking at Christ, Christ was walking on the water, he steps out of the boat, he's walking on the water, everything is going great, but…and always when you see a "but" there comes a problem! But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid and beginning to sink he cried out and said, "Lord, save me." And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"
Why did you doubt? You see, Peter doubted and sank. Many times when a trial and a test or a problem comes along we're confronted with, we begin to look at the physical circumstances, we begin to look at the around, we begin to lose trust and confidence in God. Faith has a component in it called trust, trusting God. I believe I've used the example before here, and it's only an example of the wheelbarrow and trust, about supposedly a man who was a tightrope walker, walking across his tightrope, between two canyons. He'd walked it ten years, never fallen, pushed a wheelbarrow across, pushed it back, everybody had faith that he could do it – trust is getting in the wheelbarrow, see that puts a different spin on it. Trust is placing ourselves in God's hands and if God says to do something, if God says, this is the way, walk you in it, that we have absolute confidence and trust in God. That is how we eliminate the doubts, by our faith in God. In 2 Timothy 1:7 2 Timothy 1:7For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
American King James Version× we find another fiery dart that Satan hurls at God's people.
2 Timothy 1:7 2 Timothy 1:7For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
American King James Version× – God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Fear is another dart that Satan will throw at us. What happened to Israel when they came to the Red Sea? They were afraid; Pharaoh's army was behind them, mountains on both sides, sea in front of them, what were they going to do? Moses said, you stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. Well there are times when you and I meet our Red Sea and there's nothing that we can do – we're absolutely in a place where we trust God or we bail out – we have to put our confidence, our trust, our reliance, in God. The disciples were afraid of the storm before Jesus calmed the winds. Peter lacked faith, people are afraid of authority and power of the spirit world and of all kinds of things. And yet God tells us that we are to fear Him. Let's go to the book of Deuteronomy 1:21 Deuteronomy 1:21Behold, the LORD your God has set the land before you: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of your fathers has said to you; fear not, neither be discouraged.
American King James Version×, we'll pick up the story here.
Deut. 1:21 – "Look, the Lord your God (Moses talking to the people before they were to go into the Promised Land) has the land before you; go up and possess it as the Lord God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not be afraid or discouraged."
So don't be discouraged, don't be afraid, just do it. Didn't God say that He would bring you into the Promised Land?
V. 22 – "And every one of you came to me saying, 'Let us send men before us (so they sent spies in)…The plan pleased me well so I took twelve of your men, one from each tribe…they departed and came back with the report.
V. 26 – "Nevertheless you would not go up but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God; and you complained in your tents."
Now notice, they lacked faith – the men came back and said, why the cities are walled up to the heavens, there are giants there, how are we going to conquer these people? I want you to notice, the people complained in their tents. We don't have tents today, we have houses and I don't think times have changed any, we all at times have complained, they griped, they complained, they grumbled, they talked among themselves and so they didn't go up. Now in Verse 28 they said:
V. 28 – "Where can we go? Our brethren have discouraged our hearts...so I want you to notice, they were discouraged by the reports that came…the people are greater and taller than we, the cities are great and fortified unto heaven; moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakim there."
Now brethren, there are times that you and I are faced with giants also and we have to realize that God has to fight against those giants. Stop and think about it from this perspective: We worship the great God of the universe, we worship God Almighty, He's the one who created everything, sustains everything, He's all powerful, all mighty. Are giants human beings who tend to be taller than us a problem for that God? Our cities that have walls around them, is that something too great for God to handle? Or an army - is that something that God can't squash? If God says the earth and all the human beings on it are like a drop in a bucket and that we're all like the small dust on the scales, God Almighty is not worried about us, God wants us to learn to put our trust in Him, our confidence in Him and He will take care of those. So they were told:
V. 29 – "I said to you, 'Do not be terrified or afraid of them…the same thing can be said of us, that we are not to be terrified or afraid…the Lord your God who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all that He did for you in Egypt before your eyes."
So God, as the bible says, if God is for us, who can be against us? If God is there fighting for us then we don't have to worry. So you find that fear can be one of those fiery darts where we begin to be afraid, we're afraid to step out, we're afraid to do what God says. Now we read back here in verse 28 another fiery dart, let's go back and read the first part of this verse again.
V. 28 – "Where can we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our hearts…"
Discouragement is another dart that Satan the devil uses against God's people. He gets us discouraged and when you become discouraged you want to give up, you want to quit, you want to throw the towel in. I want you to notice also that we can personally discourage other people by what we say. We can be negative and we can discourage people or we can be positive, the bible talks about edifying or encouraging, building up. And you and I need to build up and encourage each other. So we can discourage others around us. Numbers 21:4 Numbers 21:4And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
American King James Version× also mentions a principle here.
Numbers 21:4 Numbers 21:4And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
American King James Version× – Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way.
So you and I can be discouraged on the way toward God's kingdom. It's not a quick race; we're in the long haul. If it's a 100 yard dash and God called you and zip, you've given all-out effort and it's over, that would be one thing, but if you're in the Church for five years, ten years, twenty years, fifty years, seventy years, whatever it might be, that we have to continue to be faithful, obedient and not become discouraged on the way. We can become discouraged over our trials and our tests and this is what the Israelites did, it's easy to happen to all of us. Satan will plant discouraging thoughts, He will plant thoughts that we feel hopeless or wrong thoughts in our minds and so these are some of the darts that he throws at us. But again, the shield of faith does what? It quenches those fiery darts.
Another fiery dart, you could probably enumerate any number but giving you some overall categories, another fiery dart is temptations. Satan is very good in shooting temptations at us. Satan tempts us to disobey; God tests us to strengthen us and to see what our character is made out of. I want you to notice the definition of the Greek word here that is used for temptation in the New Testament, one of them, there are two basic words but one of them can either be translated "to tempt" or "to try." So how do you know which way it should be? Well you'll find the definition, again this is from Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, it says: "to try a man's fidelity, integrity, virtue and constancy."
God will try our fidelity and integrity and constancy. It can also be an enticement to sin. Now does God ever entice us to sin? And the answer is no – Satan entices man to sin, that's what a temptation is, it is to get you to sin, whether arising from the desire or from the outward circumstance. It can be an internal temptation to sin; it can be an outward temptation that might come. Then you find it can be sent by God and serving to test or prove one's character, faith and holiness. God will test our character to see if we're strong, if we can endure, if we have the faith, He will challenge us. But you find Satan the devil will try to entice us to sin. So Satan is the one who tempts man into disobedience and going in the wrong way.
As I mentioned to start with, these fiery arrows or darts or missiles could be very deadly. There was an arrow, and I described this to a certain extent earlier, used by Saguntines, a missile weapon that had a shaft of fur, round in all points except at the end where it was square. It had an iron head three feet long that could totally pierce through any armor, this would be today like a tank – you can shoot through any armor. It caused a great deal of fear when they used this because it would just absolutely plow right through a shield and go right through the armor. When they shot these arrows or these missiles up in the air, or they launched this by a catapult, the fact that it was flying through the air would catch the whole arrow on fire so it starts out as a small flame but as it's going along, it begins to burn because the wind rushing by it and the oxygen, it becomes very combustible and when it hits, then everything that it hits, they try to get rid of it and again, it would weaken an army. He would try to throw down his armor, his shield, get rid of it and it would expose him. Well let's go over to Ephesians 4:27 Ephesians 4:27Neither give place to the devil.
American King James Version× and we're told this:
So you and I are to never give Satan place or an opportunity or room to get at us. The shield was given to help protect any vulnerable part of the body. Brethren, our trust in God's word, on God's promises, protects us from the temptation of any kind of sin, because we know that if God says something that it's right, you don't have to doubt it, we know it. Sin comes when the victim falls to Satan's lies and promises of pleasure, dwelling in sin and the pleasures of sin. So temptations are likened to the flaming arrows shot by the enemies. And again, how did the shield quench the fiery darts? I already explained to a certain extent, the Romans had this shield, it was rectangular, it was made out of wood, it was big enough, 2.5 feet to cover them, 4 feet for them to stand behind. Basically you saw their feet and that was about it and the leather would be let's say watered down with water, the canvas would be soaked with water, they would close ranks, they would put the shields up in front, over the head, out to the sides and when an arrow, a flaming arrow hit it would virtually quench anything that came at them. Water was the key, it wasn't just the shield itself, without the water the shields would catch on fire. Now in John 7:37 John 7:37In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink.
American King James Version× we find that the holy spirit is compared to water. Christ, on the last day, the great day of the Feast, you find out:
John 7:37 John 7:37In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink.
American King James Version× - …Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." But this He spoke concerning the spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive for the holy spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
So our minds must be covered and saturated and filled with the spirit of God to help protect us and just like the shield and the leather and the canvas had to be soaked in the water, so our minds must be soaked with God's spirit. Water, as we also know in the bible is compared to the Word of God, both analogies are used. Back in Ephesians 5:26 Ephesians 5:26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
American King James Version× we find here about Christ and the Church.
Ephesians 5:26 Ephesians 5:26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
American King James Version× – That He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of the water by the word.
So the word of God washes us, cleans us up, cleans our attitude, gives us the right perspective, the right approach, shows us the right way, God's standards that we should live by. And you might remember, in Romans 10:17 Romans 10:17So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
American King James Version×, I'll just refer to that – Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. So you and I can have more faith by studying God's word. Sometimes we wonder why our faith ebbs and flows and we're weak at some times, maybe stronger at others, well a lot of it has to do with, of course how much we pray but it also has to do with how much we study because through the word of God we receive power, we receive strength.
When our minds are focused and filled with examples in the bible, the promises of God, the word of God, it helps to cast out doubts, it helps to cast out fear, it gives us the strength to resist the temptations that come our way. Without the shield, the individual Christian is very vulnerable, just as the Roman soldier was vulnerable, so we can become vulnerable to the darts of Satan the devil. And one day, one of those darts will get through and when it does we could be mortally wounded, we could be hurt and it might take us awhile to come back from that.
Let me quote again from the IVP commentary about the armor – or the army collectively I should say. It says, "After the Roman legions closed ranks, the front row holding the shields forward, those behind them holding shields above them, they were virtually invulnerable to any attack from flaming arrows." Isn't that what we're looking for, that we would become invulnerable? Doesn't that teach us a lesson also, that we must stand together or separately we die? We have a soldier out here, he's got his shield, OK, he can protect his front but what about the arrows coming down on his head? He sticks his shield over his head, he gets impaled in the front, somebody attacks him from the rear, somebody comes at the sides, by yourself you have some protection, but the greatest protection comes when we stand together. We have to stand together or we will die separately. Collectively we can be strong; we can help to encourage one another. You know this is one reason why we come to Sabbath services also, we come here, we close ranks, we encourage one another, we help one another. We're there for each other, we must stand together united in the right way. You know Israel was sometimes united in the wrong way against Moses, they discouraged one another, we should be here to encourage. Unity must be based on God's spirit and word and not on our own human perceptions, pet peeves or complaints. We're either going to build each other up or tear each other down.
So we become strong when we work and stay together. Faith is the key, the shield of faith. In 1 John 5:4 1 John 5:4For whatever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.
American King James Version×, reading from the NIV translation, it says:
1 John 5:4 1 John 5:4For whatever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.
American King James Version× – For everyone born of God overcomes the world and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.
So how do we overcome this world, this society around us is through our faith. We are in a battle for our spiritual lives constantly, there's a constant struggle going on, the enemy is out to destroy us, they don't quit – Satan doesn't go off and take a holiday, he's after us, he's out to destroy us. You and I though, want the victory and God promises us the victory if we do what He tells us. The Romans conquered the civilized world by their techniques. Let's notice in 1 Timothy I, Paul in writing to Timothy, beginning in verse 18 uses this analogy, we as Christian have to fight, that we have battles we have to wage. In verse 18:
1 Timothy 1:18 1 Timothy 1:18This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on you, that you by them might war a good warfare;
American King James Version× – This charge I commit to you son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you that by them you may wage the good warfare.
So we have to wage a good warfare, but how? Well having faith, that's how and a good conscience. A good conscience comes from obeying, striving to do what God says, repenting when we fail.
V. 19 - …which some have rejected concerning the faith, have suffered shipwreck. If you and I don't have faith we will suffer shipwreck. Over in chapter 6, same book, verse 12:
1 Timothy 6:12 1 Timothy 6:12Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto you are also called, and have professed a good profession before many witnesses.
American King James Version× – Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life…grab it…to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
So we are in a battle, we have to be ready for that battle. We won't make the kingdom of God without faith, we must have faith. In Hebrews 10:37 Hebrews 10:37For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
American King James Version×, the writer of Hebrews certainly understood this.
Hebrews 10:37 Hebrews 10:37For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
American King James Version× – "For yet a little while and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith. But if anyone draws back…you start out on this way of life, you start out walking, fighting the good battle or fight and you draw back, retreat and you go back…My soul has no pleasure in him."
V. 38 – But we are not of those who draw back to perdition…or to destruction…but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. We have faith, confidence, we believe. Now in Chapter 11:1 actually just going right on with the same theme:
Hebrews 11:1 Hebrews 11:1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
American King James Version× – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
So you and I have to live by faith and you'll notice he gives the definition here of faith – faith is and then it uses the word substance. The word substance here in the Greek is hypostasis and it means literally, to stand under or to support. To stand under something or to support it. Faith is the foundation that gives the believer confidence to stand. What do we stand on? We stand on faith, that's the foundation, that's the confidence we have. It could be translated confidence, trust or assurance. So we have the confidence, the assurance, this is our foundation.
Second word that describes faith – says it's the evidence and I want you to notice, it says "the evidence of things not seen." The word for evidence here can be translated and it means conviction. You and I have an inward conviction that enables us to believe in things not seen, to believe that God will perform what He has promised. You can't see laws, you can't see gravity, you can't see centrifugal force, the laws of inertia, but they're there, we know that they exist because they exert an influence on us. You may not be able to see God, He lives in a different dimension but God has revealed Himself in this dimension through design, through His power, many different ways to let man know that He does exist. You and I can't see angels, we don't see God, we haven't seen the throne of God, we haven't seen the New Jerusalem yet but those things are coming and we have confidence in them, we can see them, we have that conviction, that's what faith is. Faith is confidence in God, faith is obeying before we see the results, faith is believing in God's ability to produce and to accomplish.
Now look at the other side of faith – God's side. If we don't have faith, what are we saying? We're saying we don't trust God, we don't think He's strong enough, powerful enough to be able to do what He says, we doubt His character, we doubt His power. I want you to notice what Vincent says in this quote taken from Westward's Study of the Greek New Testament has to say about this: "The key is furnished here as seeing Him who is invisible." That you and I see God, we don't actually see Him, He is invisible. Notice verse 27, talking about Moses:
Hebrews 11:27 Hebrews 11:27By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
American King James Version× – By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.
And so he trusted God. Faith apprehends as a real fact what is not revealed to the senses; it rests on that fact, acts upon it and is upheld by it in the face of all that seems to contradict it. Faith is real seeing, it's seeing things as they really are. You'll find that there are so many today who are agnostic or don't believe in God or atheist and they think that because of the five senses, that they can smell, see, taste, touch and so on that that's all that there is to them, that's reality. There is another reality that they know nothing about, that God has revealed to His servants, to His children and faith gives us the ability to really see and to understand. There is a dimension that the five senses cannot see, feel, taste, touch, but it is real and it's more real than the physical world. It is the spirit world that is inhabited by millions of angels, life on a different plane and level and power and authority. In Verse 4-5 we find that Abel offered up to God a more excellent sacrifice, Enoch walked with God, so we find as we go through this chapter (11) that faith affects how you live your daily life, it leads to obedience, it leads a person to step out and do what God says and as Verse 6 says: "Without faith it is impossible to please God…"
We go through life many times trying to please others, trying to please human beings when it's God that we must strive with all of our might to please and as verse 7 says: "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not seen…." God said it's going to happen, 120 years from now there will be a flood, you build an ark. He didn't see the rain, it hadn't come yet, had to wait 120 years but it came, but he built the ark. At the end time God says, look, these end time prophecies are going to take place, God is going to punish the peoples of Israel unless they repent. The book of Revelation is a real book; it contains prophecies, many of them for our day today and they will happen, they will take place. We have to have the same faith. Faith prepares us for the future; it prepares us also for our reward. We know the future is coming; the kingdom of God is around the corner. With all of that in mind, lets back up to Ephesians 6:10 Ephesians 6:10Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
American King James Version×again.
Ephesians 6:10 Ephesians 6:10Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
American King James Version× – Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
So our strength then comes from God, that's where it flows from and we have to tap into that power. We're told, put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. So it takes the whole armor, everything, to stand against Satan's wiles, his scheming.
V. 12 – We do not wrestle with flesh and blood…see other human beings are not our enemies…but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places.
V. 13 – Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day and having done all, to stand.
When the battle is over, you need to be standing, you've fought the battle and you're still standing, you're alive and you are heading toward God's kingdom, it takes the whole armor. In Verse 14 it begins to describe this armor and then Verse 16:
V. 16 – Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all of the fiery darts of the wicked one.
OK, you've got your feet shod, you've got armor on, you've got a helmet on, you've got all of this but not every square inch of your body is covered, that's why you have this shield of faith. Archers anciently could stand a long way off and shoot arrows at an army. I haven't done that much archery but I have a bow, I have hunted with a bow and arrow and I used to have a longbow, I have one of these compound bows now, they used to have a longbow, about six feet long. You could take that thing and hold it up and I just did this, to try it, easily would shoot 150 yards, just up and down. I could consistently hit a 75 yard target, so they could be 200 yards away or more, they could be behind a hill, behind a little knoll and you not even know that they're there and all at once, thousands of arrows go up and go down. What that means is that you must always have your shield ready, you can't ever be out thinking, well, nobody is around, I don't have to worry, no – when that happens, that's exactly when the fiery darts come at you so you have to have your shield ready.
The fiery darts, the temptations, the trials, the stumbling blocks, the doubts and fears, discouragement, they will come our way at almost any moment, we never know when something will happen. But the promise is there that faith will quench those fiery darts. Faith is a key, so we must overcome to be in the kingdom of God. Faith is a foundation on which we grow and overcome so we need to grow and overcome and constantly have that faith. So brethren, whatever you do, don't forget the Roman Turtle!