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.
Paul tells us here that faith should be seen as a means of protection from the darts of the evil one, so the faith exists to act like a shield. But the flaming darts of the evil one are not just to damage and discourage us as you might think, but they are also sent our way to distract and deceive us. The flaming darts of the evil one can come through persecution, but they can also come through material blessings. It takes faith in God to trust him in times of discouraging darkness, but it also takes faith to believe in him during distracting delight in the things of the world. Satan uses both to cause us to drop our shield. The way we strengthen our faith (or to keep with the metaphor) our are to keep our shield raised is through the Word of God and prayer. These are the means that God gave us to produce faith. Paul says in Romans that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. When we hear (or read) our Bibles prayerfully, seeking the Spirit to open our eyes to the wonders of the Word, pointing us to Christ, we increase our faith, not faith in faith, but faith in the object of our affection – The Lord Jesus Christ. So persevere against the flaming darts of the evil one by keeping in the Word and seeking the help of the Spirit of God.