Sabbath, August 18, 2018

Lesson 7 – Shield of Faith

“Satan watches his opportunity to seize the precious graces when we are unguarded, and we shall have a severe conflict with the powers of darkness to retain them, or to regain a heavenly grace if through lack of watchfulness we lose it. But … it is the privilege of Christians to obtain strength from God to hold every precious gift. Fervent and effectual prayer will be regarded in heaven. When the servants of Christ take the shield of faith for their defense, and the sword of the Spirit for war, there is danger in the enemy’s camp….
“Man has little power, and can accomplish but a small work at his very best…. God is omnipotent, and at every point where we need divine help and seek for it in sincerity, it will be given. God has pledged His word that His grace will be sufficient for you in your greatest necessity, in your sorest distress. Christ will be to you a present help if you will appropriate His grace.” –God’s Amazing Grace, pp. 33, 260.

The means of protection

1. What part of the armor is indispensable to be safe from the enemy’s darts and to advance against him?
Ephesians 6:16. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
Psalms 115:11; 119:114. 11Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield…. 114Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.
1 John 5:4. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

“The work of conquering evil is to be done through faith. Those who go into the battlefield will find that they must put on the whole armor of God. The shield of faith will be their defense and will enable them to be more than conquerors. Nothing else will avail but this–faith in the Lord of hosts, and obedience to His orders. Vast armies furnished with every other facility will avail nothing in the last great conflict. Without faith, an angel host could not help. Living faith alone will make them invincible and enable them to stand in the evil day, steadfast, unmovable, holding the beginning of their confidence firm unto the end.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 33.
“Faith in God’s word, prayerfully studied and practically applied, will be our shield from Satan’s power and will bring us off conquerors through the blood of Christ.” –My Life Today, p. 313.

The foundation of faith

2. What is the only foundation of true faith?
Psalms 18:2, 3; 31:2; 18:30. 2The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. 3I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies…. 2Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me…. 30As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.
Proverbs 30:5. Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

“As a shield from temptation and an inspiration to purity and truth, no other influence can equal the sense of God’s presence. ‘All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.’ He is ‘of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.’ Hebrews 4:13; Habakkuk 1:13. This thought was Joseph’s shield amidst the corruptions of Egypt. To the allurements of temptation his answer was steadfast: ‘How … can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ Genesis 39:9. Such a shield, faith, if cherished, will bring to every soul.” –Education, p. 255.

3. What is needed to avoid falling into the enemy’s traps?
2 Timothy 2:1. Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 6:10. Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
“Amidst the snares to which all are exposed, they need strong and trustworthy defenses on which to rely. Many in this corrupt age have so small a supply of the grace of God, that in many instances their defense is broken down by the first assault, and fierce temptations take them captives. The shield of grace can preserve all unconquered by the temptations of the enemy, though surrounded with the most corrupting influences. By firm principle, and unwavering trust in God, their virtue and nobleness of character can shine, and, although surrounded with evil, no taint need be left upon their virtue and integrity….
“The lessons contained in the words of Paul to Timothy are of the greatest importance to us today. He charges him to ‘be strong’–in his own wisdom? No, but ‘in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.’ He who would be a follower of Christ is not to rely upon his own capabilities, or to feel confident in himself. Neither is he to be dwarfed in his religious efforts, to shun responsibilities, and remain inefficient in the cause of God….
“If the Christian feels his weakness, his inability, by putting his trust in God, he will find the grace of Christ sufficient for every emergency.” –God’s Amazing Grace, pp. 33, 260.

Holding faith without wavering

4. What trusting attitude makes it possible for one to resist the devil’s seductions and drive him away?
Hebrews 10:23. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised).
1 Corinthians 16:13. Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
1 Peter 5:9, 10. 9Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 10But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

“That time will soon come, and we shall have to keep hold of the strong arm of Jehovah…. Our minds must be stayed upon God, and we must not fear the fear of the wicked, that is, fear what they fear, and reverence what they reverence, but be bold and valiant for the truth. Could our eyes be opened, we should see forms of evil angels around us, trying to invent some new way to annoy and destroy us. And we should also see angels of God guarding us from their power; for God’s watchful eye is ever over Israel for good, and He will protect and save His people, if they put their trust in Him. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.
“Said the angel, ‘Remember, thou art on the enchanted ground.’ I saw that we must watch and have on the whole armor and take the shield of faith, and then we shall be able to stand, and the fiery darts of the wicked cannot harm us.” –Early Writings, p. 60.

Looking to God for constant support

5. What keeps the enemy from seizing our shield?
Micah 7:7, 8, 10. 7Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. 8Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me…. 10Then she that is mine enemy shall see it , and shame shall cover her which said unto me, Where is the Lord thy God? mine eyes shall behold her: now shall she be trodden down as the mire of the streets.
Psalm 5:3, 8. 3My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up…. 8Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.

“I asked the angel why there was no more faith and power in Israel. He said, ‘Ye let go of the arm of the Lord too soon. Press your petitions to the throne, and hold on by strong faith. The promises are sure. Believe ye receive the things ye ask for, and ye shall have them.’ I was then pointed to Elijah. He was subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly. His faith endured the trial. Seven times he prayed before the Lord, and at last the cloud was seen. I saw that we had doubted the sure promises, and wounded the Saviour by our lack of faith. Said the angel, ‘Gird the armor about thee, and above all take the shield of faith; for that will guard the heart, the very life, from the fiery darts of the wicked.’ If the enemy can lead the desponding to take their eyes off from Jesus, and look to themselves, and dwell upon their own unworthiness, instead of dwelling upon the worthiness of Jesus, His love, His merits, and His great mercy, he will get away their shield of faith and gain his object; they will be exposed to his fiery temptations. The weak should therefore look to Jesus, and believe in Him; they then exercise faith.” –Early Writings, p. 73.

6. At every moment and in all circumstances, who is the Christian’s protection and strength? What does the Lord ask of His people?
Psalm 89:13-18. 13Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand. 14Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face. 15Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance. 16In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted. 17For thou art the glory of their strength: and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted. 18For the Lord is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our king.
Proverbs 2:1, 7. 1My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;… 7He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.

“God has blessed His commandment-keeping people and all the opposition and falsehoods that may be brought against them will only strengthen those who stand firm in defense of the faith once delivered to the saints. But if those who profess to be the depositaries of God’s law become transgressors of that law, His protecting care will be withdrawn, and many will fall through perverseness and licentiousness. Then we shall indeed be unable to stand before our enemies. But if His people remain separate and distinct from the world, as a nation that do righteousness, God will be their defense, and no weapons formed against them shall prosper.
“In view of the dangers of this time shall not we, as God’s commandment-keeping people, put away from among us all sin, all iniquity, all perverseness? Shall not the women professing the truth keep strict guard over themselves, lest the least encouragement be given to unwarrantable familiarity? They may close many a door of temptation if they will observe at all times strict reserve and propriety of deportment. Let men find an example in the life of Joseph and stand firm in principle, however strongly tempted. We want to be strong men and women for the right…. But there are those who go into temptation like a fool to the correction of stocks…. They unnerve themselves, are weakened in moral power, and shame and confusion are the result.” –(Testimony Treasures, vol. 2, p. 243) Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 601, 602.

Following the divine example

7. What made it possible for Jesus to be His people’s shield?
Hebrews 12:2, 3. 2Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

“If we would be saved at last we must all learn the lesson of penitence and faith at the foot of the cross. Christ suffered humiliation to save us from everlasting disgrace. He consented to have scorn, mockery, and abuse fall upon Him in order to shield us. It was our transgression that gathered the veil of darkness about His divine soul and extorted the cry from Him, as of one smitten and forsaken of God. He bore our sorrows; He was put to grief for our sins. He made Himself an offering for sin, that we might be justified before God through Him. Everything noble and generous in man will respond to the contemplation of Christ upon the cross.” –(Testimony Treasures, vol. 1, p. 515) Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 374.

For additional study
“… It is the privilege of Christians to obtain strength from God to hold every precious gift. Fervent and effectual prayer will be regarded in heaven. When the servants of Christ take the shield of faith for their defense, and the sword of the Spirit for war, there is danger in the enemy’s camp, and something must be done. Persecution and reproach only wait for those who are endowed with power from on high to call them into action. When the truth in its simplicity and strength prevails among believers, and is brought to bear against the spirit of the world, it will be evident that there is no concord between Christ and Belial. The disciples of Christ must be living examples of the life and spirit of their Master.” –(Testimony Treasures, vol. 1, p. 159) Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 407, 408.
“The soldier of Christ must meet many forms of temptation, and resist and overcome them. The fiercer the conflict, the greater the supply of grace to meet the need of the soul…. The true Christian will understand what it means to pass through severe conflicts and trying experiences; but he will steadily increase in the grace of Christ to meet successfully the enemy of his soul…. The darkness will press upon his soul at times; but the true light will shine, the bright beams of the Sun of righteousness will dispel the gloom; and … through the grace of Christ he will be enabled to be a faithful witness of the things which he has heard from the inspired messenger of God…. By thus communicating truth to others, the worker for Christ obtains a clearer view of the abundant provisions made for all, of the sufficiency of the grace of Christ for every time of conflict, sorrow, and trial.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 260.