“And take the helmet of salvation….” (Ephesians 6:17, NASB95)
As I think about this fifth piece of armor I think of the words “certain hope.” How fitting it is to link salvation and the protection of the head of the soldier. Without the helmet it was much easier to defeat the soldier. I quick swing of the sword or an unguarded arrow could quickly reach home and end his life. Looking to many pictures of what is known of the typical helmet of Paul’s time we see that the helmet not only protected the head, but it usually extended down in the back to protect the neck as well.
As much as people might have been entranced with the ideas of a Frankenstein or even a Herman Munster being created with a head sewn onto a body, the reality we all know is that without the head there is no life. And as humorous as some might think it to be to watch Young Frankenstein and see them use a brain labeled “AB NORMAL,” thinking it a name rather than a condition, the reality is that our brains in whatever state they are and with whatever challenges we (or our loved ones) face, are essential to life. The soldier knew the essential nature of protecting his head and all that it contained and meant. It is for that reason that when he went into battle he took his helmet with him firmly placed where it belonged.
Spiritually speaking, the “helmet of salvation” can protect us from despair, depression, and confusion. It can keep us from giving in or giving up. And the reason that it does is because we know that all is not lost. In 1 Thessalonians 5:8 we read, “But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8, NASB95) The reality is that we live in evil times, and because of that we need to be realistic about that truth. But, we need to be realistic in the sense that this truth does not supersede the greater truth of hope that we have knowing that our salvation is a done deal.
In Christ we are secure, and we have an eternal hope that cannot be defeated. We may live at times as if it were not the case, but the helmet is to remind us that this kind of thinking is nothing more than a lie of the evil one or one of those fiery darts that we take up the shield to defend against. At that moment we are to stop taking hits to our heads (our minds) and we are to begin taking those thoughts captive to the truth that we know in Jesus Christ as we read in 2 Corinthians 10:5. “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NASB95) In Colossians 2:8 we read, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8, NASB95)
We really are engaged in the battle for the mind, and protecting our minds with the truth of God’s Word and the assurance of our salvation and security is an essential part to being able to stand firm in the midst of spiritual attack. And as the battles wage on we are to be mindful that every day is just one day closer to seeing this hope of salvation fully realized. Being alert and sober means that being lax or even dozing is not to be an option. “Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.” (Romans 13:11, NASB95) Going back a few chapters in Romans, Paul wrote, “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” (Romans 8:24–25, NASB95) It is so much better to be prepared in advance by being constantly mindful of our great hope, but the encouragement of this verse is to remind us when the battle comes remember your hope and then eagerly wait for it. We may not see the answer to the problem right away, but we can know the hope of victory that is assured us in Christ. “For in hope we have been saved” and in hope we persevere. Standing firm dressed in Christ we will prevail.
We have a great hope. Because we are assured of salvation in Jesus Christ we live with the assurance to guard our minds that when we pass from these bodies we step into the perfect presence of our God. There is absolutely nothing any adversary can do to change this. The enemy cannot win. God wins and because of that we are to think soundly knowing that nothing can change this reality or shake our hope.
When attacked and we are tempted to doubt we rest behind the truth that God cannot lie. We trust what He has told us to be true. Just as the Roman soldier had his shield as his forward defense to extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one, so do we have the faith which God has given us in which to rest assured that we are truly His children, forgiven and fully accepted by Him and chosen by Him for His service. We are not a fluke.
We know this to be true because we have been made at peace with God by the blood of His Son. All of the sins against us have been forgiven and we have no remaining charges. Knowing that He is not after us to condemn us, but that He is for us we can go out into the world at peace knowing the peace that only comes from Him. His peace makes us to stand prepared when turmoil surrounds us, and it is only because we are at peace with Him that we truly do find quiet to rest in troubled times.
This is because it never depended on us. It depended on the righteousness of Christ put upon us because of God’s great love that sent His Son to pay for our sins and to cleanse us. This is the breastplate that guards our heart when we are tempted to question our worthiness, and it even humbles us when we become prideful. We are made righteous by God and there is nothing that can change God’s righteousness.
And we know all of this because God’s Word is true. His Son is the perfect embodiment of truth. He came into the world with truth and grace to be for us what we could not be. His Spirit spoke though men to convey that truth into writing so that even today we have it to firmly hold onto and to hide in our hearts. Everything we know hangs on God being truthful, and for that we can be extremely thankful.