Paul informs his readers that the function of the shield of faith is to prevent the fiery darts or arrows of the evil one from wounding the Christian. The image of fiery darts tells that they are rapid in speed, painful when felt, and that they can come in large numbers. They were designed to cause panic.
What are some of the darts that the devil sends? Many answers can be given, but here are some. Blasphemous thoughts, often when engaged in a devotional activity. Distracting thoughts can be sent at such times as well. Immoral images can be sent by him. While these types of dart cause distress and fear, eventually a Christian learns that such ideas are from Satan.
There are other darts that the devil may be more successful with, and this can occur at a personal level with regard to both a believer’s strong and weak points. Each believer has both kinds of points, and they are not the same in every believer. Peter fell because he was, at the time, marked by the weak point of self-sufficiency. We are not surprised when we are tempted with our weak points, and we wisely pay attention to them. Yet the Bible points out that some believers failed in areas where one would not have expected it to happen. Righteous Noah was found in an inebriated state, compassionate David was cruel, trusting Abraham was marked by fear. The reality is that we have to be ready with our shield of faith at all times, expecting the devil’s arrows to come from all directions, even from different directions at the same time.
The only piece of armour that deals with such attacks is faith in God or faith in Christ. When the believer is under assault he or she can turn the eyes of their soul towards their Commander and focus on his power, his love, his ability to help each of his soldiers whenever they are attacked. Remember what Paul has in mind is not faith in faith, the idea that if I can make my expectation stronger, then the darts will be deflected. It is not even faith in my graces that is in view. Rather it is always a fresh turning to our Commander for his help.