The Shield of Faith is part of the armor of God, but Paul, in Timothy, shows us a new connection between the shield of faith and the conscience.
“Timothy, my dear child, I am placing before you a charge for the mission ahead. It is in total agreement with the prophecies once spoken over you. Here it is: with God’s message stirring and directing you, fight the good fight, armed with faith and a good conscience. Some have tried to silence their consciences, wrecking their lives and ruining their faiths.” 1 Timothy 1:18-19 The Voice
Maintaining faith and a good conscience is a battle. Everything around us wants to steal those two things from us. The world and our enemy hate our faith and want our consciences corrupted. In times of trouble, people run to the churches they have mocked, dust off their Bibles, and try to pray to a God they hope will go away the minute things get better. Then, they go back to hating us for our faith.
No matter how strong you are or how long you have been a Christian, temptations abound. They start out as small things. One white lie. One dollar from the till at work. Just one peek at pornography. The alcoholic who decides they can take just one drink.
The Problem With Sin
The problem with sin is that it feels good at the time. There is some reward that appeals to lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, or the boastful pride of life (1 John 2:16). We convince ourselves that there is nothing wrong because, at first, disobeying is easier and more satisfying than obedience. But then, the passage of time reveals the truth. Sin has a kickback and it hurts. It does great damage. The shininess wears off and the new girlfriend turns out not to love you like your wife did before you cheated on her. Sin is based on trickery and lies.
“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” Hebrews 11:24-25 NIV
We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. For some, there is an ability to come back to faith, repent and change their lives. For others, the addictive lure of sin is too much. They choose not to come back. Others, feel so unworthy that they don’t believe God would ever accept them. I’m not trying to paint a hopeless picture. I’m telling you that there is a way back but it is our choice.
God Uses Flawed People
From the beginning to the end of the Bible there are flawed, sinful people used by God to fulfill His will. Moses was a liar and David was an adulterer. Solomon was the wisest man on earth, yet he had a weakness for women – not just his wives. Peter lost his temper and cut off a guard’s ear, then lied about knowing Jesus. Paul was a murderer. Yet, each one of them found their way out of sin and into God’s will. They were no better than us and so – if they can, we can.
How Can We Remain in Truth?
Paul is laying out the facts for Timothy – life is a battle. We can be seduced into believing a different doctrine than what was taught by the leaders of the first church. How can we remain in the truth?
First – With God’s message stirring and directing you.
What are the words you are living by? Remember yesterday when we talked about the convictions and foundational beliefs we need to establish? We have them as guides. The Bible should also guide us. Read the Gospels if you are questioning how to live as a Christian. In addition, other Christians should be setting an example of faithfulness for us, ready to help and encourage us if we stumble.
Being ‘stirred’ by God is not a one-time happening. This is precisely why we need to be in the Word, in prayer, and in worship every single day, If you are in one of those desert times in your life, then be all the more faithful to go to church and surround yourself with the words of life and truth. At some point, the fire will come back and there will be streams in the desert again. Just remain faithful. Remember – faith is:
- the ASSURANCE of things you have hoped for
- the EVIDENCE of the realities you have never seen
You can’t see faith, assurance, evidence, or God. Yet, you know God is there. If He is, then the rest is there also. People have faith in what they can’t see every day of their lives. I can’t see the oxygen I breathe in each day nor can I see gravity. I can’t see the air currents which keep the airplane flying, and I can’t see the African continent, but I believe it is there. Yet, I have faith that the oxygen is there, that gravity is working, that airplanes fly and that the African continent is a real thing. I believe in love even though I can’t see it. The same for hate, joy and all the other emotions. I feel their results in my life but I can’t see them. Even when you see the look on my face, it may not reveal what is truly inside of me.
The same for faith. I have been a Christian for a very long time and I feel the effects and results of faith in my life. Sometimes I am stirred up – other times, not so much. But, I know that faith is real regardless of how I feel about it at the moment. Being ‘stirred’ has nothing to do with your emotions or feelings. You are ‘stirred’ by God’s message. Sometimes we feel excited, sometimes thoughtful, but at all times, we know that God’s message is what stirs us, propels us, to continue forward in His path. Even when we feel lost, God is still directing us.
Second – Fight the Good Fight with the Shield of Faith
What is the Good Fight? Here is an excerpt from a blog by Rick Renner:
“Many believers have the misconception that walking by faith means they should be able to effortlessly glide all the way to God’s destination for their lives with no hiccups or struggles along the way. But the Bible teaches quite the opposite in First Timothy 6:12. In that verse, the apostle Paul wrote, “Fight the good faith of faith….” According to this verse, the path of faith often requires a fight to see it through to completion.
The word “fight” is the Greek word agonidzo, which refers to a struggle, a fight, great exertion, or effort. It is where we get the word agony — a word often used in the New Testament to convey the ideas of anguish, pain, distress, and conflict. The word agonidzo itself comes from the word agon, which is the word that depicted the athletic conflicts and competitions that were so famous in the ancient world. It frequently pictured wrestlers in a wrestling match, with each wrestler struggling with all his might to overcome his opponent in an effort to hurl him to the ground in a fight to the finish.”
Jesus Said Trouble Would Come
When we accept Christ as our Savior, we are promised that ‘in this world, we will have trouble.’
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV
Jesus also says, He has overcome the world. He gave us the Holy Spirit as our companion, teacher, and guide. We have the armor of God, including the shield of faith. We have the Word of God and the knowledge that the world and the devil are at war with us. But, we are not to fear. We are to stand. This life in Christ is a struggle, a fight, great exertion, and effort. It is a fight to the finish! We aren’t to go around looking for the devil or for trouble. Instead, we are to keep our focus on Christ and when a battle comes, turn to Him. We must know that this life is a battle.
Third – Be Armed With Faith
Since this is a battle, God has given us armor. Not a metal suit to put on every day. Something much better. Armor that defeats the forces of wickedness in the heavenly realms.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. n addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:10-18 NIV
The Shield of Faith
One piece of that armor is the Shield of Faith. At one time, shields were huge, heavy things. The army could gather together, hold their shields above and around them, and the entire group could be protected from the flaming arrows the enemy was shooting at them, Some were made of wood and later, made of metal. Others were smaller and the soldier could easily move them around to protect various areas of his body, pointing them in the direction the arrows were coming from.
We have the shield of faith. As I just said, faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of the realities we can’t see. It is real, Faith isn’t just an idea, a concept, a nice thought. It is a very real and living force in our lives.
The Work of Faith
- “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
- “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV
- “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:22-24 NIV
- “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV
- “Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:21-22 NIV
Hebrews 11 is the Hall of Fame of Faith and tells what was accomplished by faith:
- The universe was formed.
- Abel was commended as righteous.
- Enoch did not experience death.
- We please God.
- Noah became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
- Abraham made his home in the promised land, and looked forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
- Sarah bore a child in her old age.
- Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son,
- Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau.
- Jacob blessed each of Joseph’s sons.
- Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.
- Moses’ parents hid him for three months.
- Moses regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.
- Israel passed through the Red Sea on dry land.
- The walls of Jericho fell.
- By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
- “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” Hebrews 11:32-32 NIV
- “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:39-40
Fourth – A Good Conscience
I won’t go into detail about your conscience since we have already looked at from many sides. The main point here is that a good, clean, pure conscience is a weapon against temptation, weakness, and attacks by the world. It is also an active, living force in our lives. However, we must continue to feed it with the Word and by allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us every moment of every day. If we feed it good food, it will protect us from harm, whether self-inflicted, or by the world, or by the enemy.
What Paul told Timothy, applies for all time. “with God’s message stirring and directing you, fight the good fight, armed with faith and a good conscience. Some have tried to silence their consciences, wrecking their lives and ruining their faiths.” It is an exhortation in living to please God and a warning regarding our conscience and faith. We can maintain them or ruin them.
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**We use verses from different Bible translations.
To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit our Scripture Citations.
1 – 24 Day Challenge – Renewing Your Mind and Conscience
2 – Living By the Golden Rule
3 – Being Falsely Accused
4 – A Personal Testimony of Salvation
5 – Knowing Right From Wrong
6 – What is the Power of the Holy Spirit?
7 – Submitting to Authority
8 – What is a Weak Conscience?
9 – Living a Life Worthy of the Gospel
10 – Speaking The Truth at All Times
11 – Purity of Heart and Mind
12 – 12 Steps to Overcoming Guilt and Shame
13 – Living With Integrity
14 – The Goal of Unselfish Love