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Ephesians 6:10-18 (ESV):

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 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, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Paul resorts to the use of figurative language to describe the spiritual warfare that every Christian has to face against the dark forces of the devil. In particular, verse 16 talks about the flaming darts of the evil one. What did Paul mean by that? And how can faith be an effective shield against those darts?

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The darts

A dart is a weapon designed to injury, disable, or kill. Satan attacks through temptation; he seeks to lure people off the strait and narrow, or better yet, prevent them from finding it. If we accept the reality of free will (I do), we must acknowledge that Satan cannot force us to sin; he must tempt and deceive instead.

The darts of the evil one have often been described as temptations and I believe this interpretation is correct; it is through temptation that Satan can bring about spiritual injury and spiritual death. Flaming darts are even worse, because a flaming dart doesn't just do damage on impact, but its effects continue to spread afterwards. Like a sleazy salesman, Satan wishes to entrap people in ways that lead to long-term "customers".

I've shared thoughts elsewhere regarding the diabolical power of addiction and why Satan uses it. This truly is a fiery dart -- whether it's sexual deviance, substance abuse, etc, just once will hurt, because, like the tiny dart that sets fire to a massive structure, the inferno of negative effects will spread far beyond one time and place.

The armor

While several pieces of the armor are assigned to protect specific parts of the body, the shield is mobile and can be used for defense anywhere. Faith provides a shield against temptation because it provides a reason to say no to sin.

We can imagine the following conversation:

  • Satan: do this, you'll really enjoy it
  • Faithful person: No, God is offering me something even better
  • Satan: you can see what I'm offering you here and now, but you can't see what God is offering
  • Faithful person: That's irrelevant; God has promised me something and given me reason to trust Him. I trust God.

It is our faith that gives us the reason to say no to the short-term thrills in order to pursue something eternally more transcendent and worthwhile. The tradeoff to say yes to God and no to Satan is entirely rational -- if we trust God.

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  • Great video. Thanks
    – Al Brown
    Sep 15 at 19:12
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The fiery darts are references to deception

“Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows (darts), and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!”” ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭26:18-19‬ ‭

We see what the antidote of these darts are

“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:16‬ ‭

And this is quickly followed by

“and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:17‬ ‭

The assurance of salvation protected by a helmet which we can understand protects our thinking, our mind and the Sword of the Spirit which is an offensive weapon that should come out of our mouths countering deception as Jesus exemplified during the temptation in the wilderness.

The arrows/darts are means of deception, they are fiery, giving an illusion of light or truth but that light engulfs a piercing spike asking you to doubt what God has said

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭

“And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭4:3‬ ‭

Therefore decide what you will believe is true

“I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” ‭‭John‬ ‭12:46‬ ‭

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