Ephesians 6:16-17 Temptations, Focus & the Sword
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
In today’s passage, Paul continues to teach the three pieces of the armor of God, which is the ability to resist temptations, keeping focus on the calling of life, and the capability to expose deception and destroy the works of the devil.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.
The shield of faith is the armor that gives the ability to flee from temptations; it refers to steadfastness and perseverance on the journey towards accomplishing the believer’s calling. The flaming darts of the evil one refers to temptations that appeals to the pride of life and lust of the flesh and comfort of life. The soldier who is equipped with the shield of faith will always view temptation as a threat and hindrance to his divine calling. He is adept in evading the allure of covetousness, sexual immorality and reprieve from the sufferings of the gospel. The shield of faith is acquired from the many discipline of God and the challenges of life. He is familiar with the devices of the devil and flees from temptations when he detects them.
And take the helmet of salvation.
The helmet of salvation is the armor that keeps the soldier focused on his victory; it represents the state of his soul that keeps him looking to the finishing line, which is salvation, the crown of glory, and the possession of the inheritance. Ephesians 1:13-14 describes salvation as the ultimate possession of our inheritance as sons. The helmet usually bears an insignia of victory and one who puts on the helmet of salvation always has before him the eternal glory of God as his life’s prime motivation. Thus, he is not easily distracted by the allure of wealth, comfort of life, power and fame.
And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The word of God and the Spirit is the basis of the whole armor of God, not just for the sword. However, of all the pieces of armor, the sword is the most versatile; it is really the only offensive element of the armor. Without the sword, the soldier becomes toothless; a sitting duck, and poses no threat to the enemy. Without it, the church becomes ineffective, not being able to advance against the kingdom of darkness. The sword works in cutting down deceptive arguments, and in destroying the works of darkness by exposing it. As believers keep their spirit attuned to God’s Spirit and being bold and ready to speak the word of truth, the church is primed to wield the sword of the Spirit to cut down the devil’s strongholds.
- The more you struggle and fight against temptations, the better you get at resisting them. Even though we may fail at times, the important thing is to put up a fight against temptations as if our lives depend on it. In the process of resisting various kinds of temptations, we develop and strengthen our shield of faith. The closer you get to accomplishing your goal, the greater the temptations you will be exposed to. The strategy of the devil is to trivialize sin and deceive you into thinking that it is a small and pragmatic act that matters little. He downplays the consequences of the act; he may even deceive you into thinking that sin is a necessary tradeoff. Once the act of sin is done, he intrudes into your mind; he robs you of your peace and joy and proceeds with the next series of temptation that involves heavier bondages.
- Believers should spend more time seeking the things of heaven, and ask God to reveal them. If we could see the things of heaven, we can keep our focus on the heavenly goal and strengthens the helmet of salvation. Jesus encourages his disciples by telling them about the many mansions in heaven (John 14). Hence, it is God’s desire to reveal to us the things of heaven. Paul prays that believers may see the riches of the glorious inheritance (Ephesians 1:18). God has since revealed the things of heaven to many men, women and children. And many have written about their experiences and their lives forever changed by it.
- Believers wield the sword of the Spirit by casting out the spirits of deception and by revealing the truths of God that leads to salvation. The process of opening eyes that are blind to the truth involves Spiritual power that casts out the spirits of blindness. It also requires the sinner to recognize the truth and turn away from his sinful lifestyle. Hence, a soldier who wields a sharp sword is equipped to cast out the evil spirits and reveal the truth that turns the sinner back to God.
- Are there certain kinds of temptations that you find more difficult to resist? What are the arguments the devil uses to tempt you? How do you plan to flee from these temptations?
- Spend some time before God and ask Him to reveal to you the glorious things of heaven that awaits believers.
Dear Lord, I have made a decision to cut off the sins that so often entrap me. I divorce them from my life and never to entertain their enticements at any time or circumstance. Reveal to me the glorious things of heaven so that I may celebrate it with greater clarity. I will play my part in leading people in my family and workplace to the truth. Help me wield the sword of the Spirit to expose deception and heal the wounded with Your truth. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.