in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Ephesians 6:16 (NASB)
In old times the shield was prized by a soldier above all other pieces of armor. He counted it a greater shame to lose his shield than to lose the battle; and therefore he would not part with it even when he was under the very foot of the enemy, but esteemed it an honor to die with his shield in his hand. It was the charge which one mother laid upon her son going into war: “Either bring your shield home with you or be brought home upon your shield.” She would rather have seen her son dead with his shield than alive without it.
The apostle further attached another noble effect to faith. We are commanded to take the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and so on, but it is not specified what each one of them could do. Yet when the apostle spoke of faith he ascribed the whole victory to it. This quenches “all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Ephesians 6:16). And why is this true? Are the other graces useless, and does faith do everything? If so, why must the Christian arm himself with more than this one piece?
I answer that every piece has its vital use in the Christian’s warfare. No one part can be spared in the day of battle. But the reason that no single effect is attributed to each of these, but that all is ascribed to faith, is to let us know that these graces– their power and our benefit from them– must operate in conjunction with faith.
Plainly it is the design of God’s Spirit to give faith the precedence among all those graces entrusted to our keeping. But be careful not to become indifferent or careless in your dealings with the other graces just because you are more excited about getting and keeping this one. Could we warn a soldier to beware of a wound at his heart but forget to guard his head? Truly, we would deserve cracked crowns to cure us of such foolishness.