Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Eph. 6:16d “Wherewith ye shall be able to quench. . .”
The huge shield protected soldiers from some of the most feared and destructive weapons in ancient warfare–flaming projectiles. The metal tips of arrows and darts, often tightly wrapped with cloth doused in pitch, were ignited and made red hot before being discharged. The shield caught these fiery missiles and quenched their flames, causing them to fizzle harmlessly. The shield stopped the flying fire before it could ignite a blaze in the soldier’s very flesh.
Please note an important truth. The shield had to be up before the fire-ball was launched. This reminds us again, as believers our preparation must be done in advance. In spiritual warfare, a Christian must be proactive rather than reactive.
Believers, let’s take charge of our lives. Quit living with a crisis mentality, letting Satan play us like a violin. Instead of waiting for temptations to knock us over, to waylay us unawares–rather than always seeking to recover and living with a bunker mentality–under the Holy Spirit’s leadership, through continuous sweet communion with Jesus, let us, not Satan, call the shots and control our own lives.
Eph. 6:16e “. . .all. . .”
This small, yet encompassing, word comforts and warns. The comfort is, we are justified in our confidence that in any given conflict we can win. We are given power to quench “all,” not only some or many, of Satan’s darts. Enter every skirmish from the premise of victory. Expect, with God’s empowering, to win.
The warning is, Paul obviously assumed the “fiery darts” would not only come, but also arrive in abundance. Health and wealth theology is an illusion. Temptations, trials, troubles, tragedies–“all” are the lot of all Christians all the time.
When we are spiritually unprepared, when our shield is down, many things are used of Satan to burn themselves into our lives. Envy, jealousy, lust, and covetousness can engulf us in flames, as can selfishness, pride, and vanity. When we are off guard, people’s ugly words, rejection, criticism, and persecution can set us ablaze with destructive flames. Beware illness, worry, doubts, miseries in our own personal lives, plus the disappointment of life not turning out the way we planned. Being obsessed with any of these things too long can spark an inferno within us.
Satan the fiend also loves to stoke us into a conflagration by using the pain and suffering we see in those we love. If we allow it, these can torture our flesh and fill our spiritual veins with burning fever seven times hotter than anything else.
When writhing through hours of anguish over such things–and we do agonize over them, for we are Christians, not robots or Stoics–only one thing can keep us straight and pure, the uplifted shield of faith. We must be leaning hard on Jesus in advance, or Satan will often use things in our lives to cause us to crash and burn.
Eph. 6:16f “. . .the fiery. . .”
Satan’s projectiles, “set on fire of Hell” (James 3:6), have the ability to wound deep in the flesh and to set one’s very soul on fire. “A fiery dart would be dangerous according to the surface upon which it should chance to fall” (Moore, in BI).
In “the shield of faith,” a flaming arrow of temptation is harmless, but in the heart, it is deadly. If our shield of faith is up and ready, Satan’s flaming missiles do not hurt us, but if we allow them to land in our very bosoms, they enflame all too available kindling in our old natures. Never underestimate our own depravity. We all have places within us which need only a spark to burst into flames, creating a thick foul smoke which darkens the inner man. The human mind “is like an ancient castle; it has secret passages and Satan unfortunately holds the key to every door” (Powell). Keep the quenching shield of faith up at all times. Do not play with fire. The tiniest flame can ignite a roaring fire inside the infernal furnace within us all.
Eph. 6:16g “. . .darts. . .”
This is a perfect word to describe Satan’s temptations, especially the thoughts he plants in us. “Darts” denotes suddenness and violence lethally combined. Suddenly, temptations enter our mind without warning, invisible till bolting through the gray matter. Violently they come; if unstopped, they can do more damage in moments than can be undone in months or years.
Walking leisurely along, we suddenly step on a violent spiritual land-mine. Instantaneously, exploding out of Hell itself, a hailstorm of fiery darts hits us and confounds us by their sheer number and unexpectedness. Notions dart into the mind. Imagination explodes with vivid, realistic scenes. Blasphemies blossom. Old curse words and long-forgotten dirty jokes start up suddenly in the mind.
The detonation occurs so quickly that we have to be instantly on our guard. We must intercept the shrapnel while it is flying and flitting, before it lands. We need the ability to apply God’s power quickly, yea immediately and instantaneously. This can be done only by maintaining in advance constant communion with Jesus.
Eph. 6:16h “. . .of the wicked.”
More literally, “the wicked one.” The reference is to Satan, a personal, evil, sadistic archer. The “fiery darts” of temptation do not fly at random. They are intentionally aimed directly at Christians. The world may scoff at the idea of a personal devil, but never let a believer doubt. Our enemy is not an abstract principle, but rather a real person who uses saints as his targets.
Our opposition is orchestrated and manipulated. One living, thinking entity is hatching diabolical strategies against us. Not willing to perish alone, Satan wants to drag everyone else down with him. He schemes to destroy us, our churches, our marriages, our families, our children. “The wicked one” is cunning, cruel, and stronger than believers, but impotent when he comes up against our God-given “shield of faith.” Saints, under God, take charge of your life. Be prepared always.