The Whole Armor of God: Part 3

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 9
We have examined the subjective or inward state of soul, personally and relatively, in the previous parts of this armor of God. Now we come to that inward state which rests in unfeigned faith upon God Himself in His known character—what He is—which sustains in us perfect confidence in Him so that come what will, we know that nothing can separate us from His love. Things may seem adverse; we may have reached our wits' end, so to speak; still the heart that knows Him who cannot be but what He is, waits patiently for His time to show Himself strong in behalf of them that trust Him.
"Above all [this previous condition of soul), taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked [one)." What is here spoken of is not the faith of the sinner which first lays hold on Christ. We find that in the epistle to the Romans, and we may term it the no-working faith of a sinner: "To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." Chap. 4:5. Here in Ephesians we find the faith of a saint—the perfection of confidence in God known experimentally as One who is what He says He is. That confidence which as the heart grows in the deeper knowledge of Him, discovers more deeply the springs of evil within, yet finds its confidence in Him growing in proportion, so that the heart trusts and counts upon Him against itself. It can say, I cannot trust myself, and God cannot trust me, but I can count on Him and trust Him. It can say, Go with me, for I am stiffnecked and cannot but fail if left alone.
You find this "shield of faith" practically illustrated in Moses. God had said that the people were a stiffnecked people, and if He were to come into their midst He must consume them in a moment. Then Moses took the tent and pitched it outside the camp, and the Lord came down and spake with Moses face to face as a man speaks with his friend. Moses had found grace in the sight of the Lord, and his heart sought to find grace; he sought to learn the fullness of this grace. All the goodness of the Lord then passed before him; and his heart, bowed in the presence of the mercy of the Lord, made the very fact of their being a stiffnecked people the plea that His presence might go with them by the way. The very reason which the Lord gave in Exod. 33:55For the Lord had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee. (Exodus 33:5) for not coming into their midst lest He should consume them in a moment, Moses pleads in Exod. 34:99And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance. (Exodus 34:9) as the reason why He should go with them. "And he said, If now I have found grace in Thy sight, 0 Lord, let my Lord, I pray Thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for Thine inheritance." But he had found out meanwhile what God is in Himself, and in this consciousness he pleads for His presence on the ground of what He is, and seeks His company by the way, because they were a stiffnecked people! Oh, what confidence; what a plea to present to Him in the consciousness of the depths of such evil hearts! And it must be so, the more He is known, and the more we know ourselves.
See this confidence even before forgiveness is known, in the woman of the city who was a sinner (John 4:28, 2928The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, 29Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? (John 4:28‑29)). The very light which rendered her speechless as a convicted sinner in His presence, drew her heart to the One who, while
He searched the conscience, piercing and following in its turnings all the depths of sin and a nature at enmity with God, drew the heart to Him in love, so that she could count on Him, because of what He was, against all that His holiness had disclosed of her heart. In her case it was a sinner's confidence who had not yet been assured of His grace. How much greater must our confidence be in One whose grace is known, and who has set us without a spot in the presence of His holiness where the very light and holiness only increases the confidence of our hearts the more.
Satan may come in with his dark suggestions, but their power is gone because God is known. Thank God, we do know Him better than we know ourselves—not better than He knows us, but better than we know our own hearts. What a comfort to the heart, that He knew all—that He knows all! I can go to Him and tell Him all—the depths of evil, and the springs and motives which I find there, and find that I have Him for me against it all. Satan's fiery darts (I do not now wish to enter upon their full meaning as used of God for discipline of the soul under His hand) are quenched with the joyous and exulting note, God is for me! Silenced by this blessed condition of soul conveyed to us figuratively in this "shield of faith."
How much better it is to possess this blessed state of soul by having on the armor at all times, than to find its importance when wounded by some shaft of Satan. It is not the day of conflict which is the time to put it on, but when the heart is with God in the consciousness of His favor resting upon it. At the same time the deep consciousness that a watchful enemy is ever ready to take advantage of an unguarded moment, should such be allowed, and work defeat or wound the soldier of Christ.
Its deep importance is learned at times by failures and woundings of the soul. How much better, I repeat, it is to learn it in confiding peace with God—to use it in companionship with Him, rather than by exposing oneself with some portion of it wanting, to the assaults of Satan's power. Negatively we may learn its importance by slothfulness of soul with God; the heart thus becomes indifferent and cold. Positively we may learn it when the conscience is concerned and not at rest. Then the Spirit of God acts as the stern, unbending convicter of the conscience, making us feel the loss of that joy and happy communion with our God and Father, as known and enjoyed against the evil, by His pointing out the evil which has thus separated practically the soul from God. How frequently we find the former, or negative, side. The latter, or positive side, is more terrible to bear, because the soul has enjoyed the favor of God which is better than life, and has lost it through allowed evil. I speak, of course, of one whose acceptance as a sinner is complete, and who has known it in the soul's consciousness.
Thus this complete, perfect confidence in God, expressed in the shield of faith, follows all the previous inward condition of the soul conveyed to us in the loins girded with the truth—the breastplate of righteousness, and the feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.