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When we become Christians, we are born onto a battlefield. Our choice is not whether we want to enter into a conflict; rather, war has already been declared against us. Our only choice is whether we want to be trampled by the enemy or learn to fight and win. At issue in this battle are the promises of God. Peter said that God has given us His precious and magnificent assurances and that through them we can become partakers of His divine nature (see 2 Pet. 1:4). God has given us promises that relate to every area of life. He has promised us abundant provision, healing and many other blessings.
The Battle Begins
God guarantees much to people who put their trust in Him. However, when we open our Bible and begin to claim these promises, we discover the battle[ When we say "I want to come into a new place in the Lord! I want to move forward to obtain the promises!" Satan-our enemy in this battle-will try to stop us. Satan's goal is to frighten and discourage us, to cause us to turn back and not press on. Often when we start moving forward, we also start seeing things go wrong in our lives. Sometimes Satan unleashes one great, overwhelming attack. For example, just when we begin to trust the Lord for our finances, an unexpected bill arrives in the mail. We open the envelope and almost faint! All of our faith washes down the drain. If it is not a bill, then it may be a prolonged illness or some other setback that impedes our progress. Sometimes a storm of adversity comes upon us. We start to take huge steps forward and walk closer to the Lord than ever before, when suddenly we are barraged by calamities. We figure that the attack must be spiritual, because what has slammed into us is far beyond a normal run of bad luck! A friend of Robert Heidler described these storms of adversity this way: "You can always tell when it is Satan, because he always overplays his hand." Such attacks may affect our health. When John Dickson left his career in the secular world to become a full-time worship leader in the church I attend (Glory of Zion Outreach), it seemed as if the enemy resisted him on every side. The day he came on staff, two of his kids came down with chicken pox, one developed pinkeye and his wife got sick! His family was in such turmoil that for two weeks, taking care of them took up all of his time. Just when John's family began to recover, his own back went out. He was flat on his back and gone for another two weeks. Sometimes a storm of adversity seems to blow hard on our finances. When pastor Robert Heidler began to shift Glory of Zion Outreach, a traditional Bible church, toward the new apostolic movement (emphasizing gifts and the biblical positions of authority, including apostles, prophets, etc.), adverse winds began to blow. We entered a phase when God was establishing some major new ministries through the church. In the midst of this crucial time, a wave of adversity crashed down upon Robert's family. First, their hot water heater sprang a leak and the flood of water ruined their carpet. They had to get the carpet and the hot water heater replaced. As they were working to get these accomplished, the alternator on their car went out and termites invaded their house. Then the thermostat in their car malfunctioned, causing it to overheat. The fuel pump was next to go down, leaving Robert and his family stranded. In a three-week period this storm of adversity not only consumed much of their time and attention, but it also resulted in more than $3,000 in repair bills. Talk about distracting, hindering forces!
The Enemy Who Attacks
Most Christians who try to advance along the path to which God has called them have experienced spiritual attacks. Satan comes with a storm of adversity to intimidate us and try to make us turn back. We will take a closer look at this in chapter 4, but let's become familiar with the diabolical schemes of the enemy from the start. The apostle Paul described spiritual warfare in the book of Ephesians: "Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one" (6:16, NIV). The people of Ephesus experienced the greatest revival the Church in that day had seen. How did Paul get believers to a place of faith to experience this? As described in the book of Ephesians, first he prayed that they would have resting upon them what I call a spirit of wisdom and revelation. He then helped reveal each believer's identity in Christ. He encouraged them to be rooted and grounded in love. He admonished them to put off all idolatry and to put on Christ. "To put on Christ" means not only to raise Him up as a model but also to invite His Holy Spirit to live within and work through us. Paul made this clear to the Christians of his day. The apostle also stressed the importance of the ascension, or government, (church leadership) gifts that would bring believers into a unity of faith. He then encouraged members of the Early Church to get all of their earthly affairs in order. He revealed that understanding proper alignment and authority was extremely important. There was a clear order and progression in what Paul taught. After laying out the initial steps, the apostle said, "Therefore put on the full armor of God" (Eph. 6:13, NIV). It was the shield that would quench every flaming arrow that would come against them-likewise, it is the shield that will protect us.
Roman Shields That Protect
As Paul saw the kind of attack Satan unleashed against God's people, he perceived that the spiritual warfare of Christians is analogous to the physical warfare of the Roman army.
As illustrated in the prologue of this book, in ancient warfare it was common for armies to use a storm of arrows to terrify their enemies. If we were soldiers and thousands of flaming arrows began to strike all around us, the number one thing in our mind would be, I've got to get out of here! Sometimes that is how we feel when Satan attacks us. The Roman army had a piece of armor that provided a solid defense against this kind of attack. In many cases it was the secret weapon that brought the army victory. This piece of armor was the battle shield. As I described in the prologue, this shield was not like the round metal discs we often see in movies. The Roman battle shield was a large rectangular defense of metal that covered the entire length of a man's body. Roman soldiers would line up shoulder to shoulder with their shields held in front of them and move across the battlefield like an armored tank. When the apostle Paul thought about our struggle against Satan, he realized that God has given us a shield like that. It is a shield of faith. When Paul described our shield, he used the word for the Roman battle shield. The word is thureos, and it means a door-shaped shield (the Greek word for door is thura). The thureos was a large rectangular shield about five feet high and three feet wide. It was also called a castle shield. In other words, it was a portable fortress. I found it interesting to study how this shield was made. The thureos was very large; therefore, if it had been made of solid wood or metal, it would have been difficult to carry. To construct a thureos the Romans began with a wooden framework. Over that framework they fastened seven layers of tough leather from the skin of a bull or a calf, until the shield was four or five inches thick, and then nailed them securely in place. As the soldiers got ready to go into battle, they dipped the shield in a nearby river to saturate it with water so it would not only stop an arrow, but it would also quench the fire?
Our Shield Who Is Named Jesus
As I studied the Roman shield, God began to give me a revelation. Just think about how this shield was constructed. The skin of a bull or calf was stretched out over a wooden frame. In the Old Testament, the animal required for a sin offering was a bull or a calf. The skin of the bull or calf is a symbol of a sacrifice for sin. A single layer of leather was not sufficient for the Roman shield to be effective. The shield maker built up seven layers of animal skin to provide the necessary protection. Seven is the number of perfection. This provides a picture of a perfect sacrifice. The perfect sacrifice was stretched out and nailed to a wooden framework. Its purpose was to take upon itself all of the arrows intended for the soldier.
Look at what this shield represents. God has provided a perfect sacrifice for sin through His Son, Jesus. This perfect sacrifice was stretched out and nailed to a wooden cross. His purpose was to receive upon Himself all the afflictions Satan intended for us! God wants us to know that He has given us a shield and His name is Jesust. Jesus came to be our shield. He came to take upon Himself every arrow that Satan intended for us.
Jesus took our guilt. God caused the guilt of us all to fall on His Son (see Isa. 53:6). Jesus took our guilt so that we can have His righteousness.
He took our infirmities. He bore our sicknesses and our weaknesses upon Himself so that we can be healed (see Isa. 53:4-5).
He took our poverty. "Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich" (2 Cor. 8:9, NIV). Jesus took our poverty so that we can have His abundance.
He took our curse. He became a curse for us, so that the blessing of Abraham would come on the Gentiles by faith (see Gal. 3:13-14). Jesus took the curse so that we can have the blessing.
When Jesus hung on the cross, He interposed Himself between us and our enemy. It was His will that all the evil Satan intends for us would come upon Him instead. We need to realize that when an arrow of the enemy strikes us, it is a violation of the will of God. Jesus wants those arrows to come on Him, so we do not have to bear them. Jesus came to be our shield, but we don't experience His protection unless we activate our shield by faith. In fact, this is true of everything Jesus did for us-without faith we cannot experience deliverance, restoration or anything else He wants for us. This is true of salvation. Think about this: How many people in the world did Jesus die for? All of them. How many people in the world already have salvation purchased for them? Everybody!
If someone exists for whom Jesus has not already purchased salvation, He would need to die again in order for that person to be saved. He's not going to do that because He does not need to. When Jesus went to the cross, He paid it all, for everyone. He has already purchased salvation for every person who has ever been born and everyone who ever will be born. There is a catch, however. Only those who exercise faith will actually obtain and experience what He has already purchased for them. In the same way, Jesus purchased protection for every believer. He hung on the cross as our shield to take all the arrows of the enemy upon Himself. But only when we have faith is our shield activated. To put it another way, only when we have faith do we experience the protection Jesus has already purchased for us. The remainder of this book is predicated on the assumption that we are believers in Christ, for without taking that first step of faith, we can never raise our shield of faith.
Our Shield Goes Up
How do we activate our shield of faith? We trigger it by standing on God's Word. As believers, we naturally should seek to do this in every area of life. As we learn to do this, we will see that when the battles come, we are ready. For example, we might come under attack financially. The flaming arrows of the enemy fall on every side. We become overwhelmed by our need. How do we lift up our shield and come under God's protection?
Promises That God Keeps
The first step: We need to know what God has promised. Too many Christians don't know God's promises. Some have been told it is God's will for us to live in poverty. If we believe that lack of provision is what God wants, then we will never have faith to overcome a financial setback. In fact, we will probably become irresponsible, which will make the problem worse rather than improve it. We need to know God's will. Where do we find God's will? It is revealed in the Bible. To bolster our trust in God for our finances, we can read passages that describe God's will for us to prosper. Psalm 23:1 is one of those verses. It reads, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." This verse is very clear. God says His standard is that we be short of nothing that we need. Everybody loves to recite Psalm 23. We sing about it, talk about it, utter it at funerals and put it on wall plaques. Psalm 23 makes us feel good when we read it, but there is not one Christian in a hundred who believes this promise is true-by "believe" I mean applying it in our life and expecting it to happen. A lot of Christians claim to believe the Bible but make silly comments such as "I don't believe in that prosperity stuff." What happened to Psalm 23? If God's Word says the Lord is our shepherd, then He is our shepherd and we will have no lack. Let's look at two other passages. Psalm 34:9 (NIV) promises us, "Those who fear him lack nothing." Psalm 84:11 (NIV) expands upon the promise: "The Lord God is a sun and shield; ... no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless." God wants us to know that He is our sun (our provider) and our shield (our protector). Because He is our sun and shield, He will not withhold any good thing from us. That's the promise of God's Word. If we walk with God and adhere to His standard, then His will for our lives is that we lack no good thing. Having enough is supposed to be the norm, not the miraculous exception. Yet many Christians live continually in poverty and need. Why is this? There are many reasons, but in too many cases it's because we are willing to live in poverty. What do we do when the mailman comes to our door to deliver a package and we realize that he has delivered it to the wrong address? We say, "I can't take that. It's not mine." Yet when Satan comes to our door to deliver poverty to us, what do we tend to say? "Oh yes, thank you. I'll take that!" That is not the right answer.
Excerpted from Restoring Your SHIELD of FAITH by CHUCK D. PIERCE ROBERT HEIDLER Copyright © 2004 by Chuck D. Pierce and Robert Heidler. Excerpted by permission.
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