I assume that none of us are under any delusions – this armor is figurative, not literal. I have known pastors who asked their membership to pretend to put on each piece. Together they pulled down the helmet of salvation and strapped on the breastplate of righteousness. The intention was to make every realize that despite being figurative, this is figurative of something real. I have heard of churches where the membership was told to put on the Christian armor as they were getting dressed in the morning. It was an effort to make people realize that they are in a spiritual battle every day of their lives.
But since this is allegorical, it tends to make interpretation a bit difficult. As I tried to point out that the preparation of the gospel could be interpreted different ways. I think that it is preparation for evangelism, which necessitates a knowledge of the gospel intellectually, not just being in a state of salvation. And this helmet of salvation involves similar interpretational problems. Isn’t this letter being addressed to people who were already children of God? Paul is not exhorting his readers to trust Christ for salvation.
No Roman soldier would think of going into battle without a helmet to cover his head. At that time this helmet was probably a cap made of leather onto which metal plates had been fastened. A few helmets were made of solid metal – cast in the form of a head-covering, but that was most likely too expensive for the common soldier. But whatever the external form, its purpose was the same – to protect a soldier’s head from the blows of a sword, mace or hammer.
Just as Roman commanders provided their soldiers with head protection, God has provided believers with the helmet of salvation. But why is Paul telling the Christian to put on the helmet of salvation, if he has already been saved? And why is he putting this salvation over his head and not the place of which we generally think when it comes to salvation – the heart? Isn’t it because even believers can be vulnerable to Satanic intellectual attack? What if we apply this piece of armor to the protection of our Christian assurance? Can Satan steal away the Christian’s joy? Can’t he rob him of the confidence of salvation? Am I convinced that I can stand against the wiles of the devil. Can I withstand in the evil day? With the sword of the Spirit in my hand, I need to be aggressive, but what of the enemy’s counter-attack against the doctrine of salvation – scripture – or maybe it’s something more general in life?
No Roman soldier would think of heading into battle without the helmet his commander had given him for protection against the hammer of the enemy. And neither should we think of advancing into battle against Satan and his wicked forces without putting on the helmet which is provided in our salvation. We need to lay claim to all which God has provided for us in order to be invincible in the day of attack.
In the work of the Lord – in our daily lives – we need a sound mind, as well as a pure heart.
Since a helmet is a head covering, we might think of the helmet of salvation as protection for the Christian’s thought life. And our thought life often determines whether we experience victory or defeat. “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.”
How important is troop morale? How important is a confidence of victory and confidence in the Lord?
Unless we are certain – based upon the Word – that we can defeat the enemy in our lives, we are sure to go down in a blaze of shame. So when the Bible commands us to take the helmet of salvation, it is commanding us to apply God’s promises concerning our position in Christ and victory in Christ.
We know by experience that there is power in positive thinking – and defeat in negative thinking. How many times have you awoken with a grumpy attitude and it colored and defeated everything you did that day? How many times, like the little engine that could, have you convinced yourself that you could get some difficult thing done and it was done? Haven’t we been commanded to be “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might?” Are not we told to put on the full armor of God with a view to victory?
In Philippians 4:13 Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” That is an indisputable fact. It is not just motivational hype. No conditions are attached to it. Paul did not say, “Sometimes I can do all things,” or, “I may be able to do all things.” He made the positive affirmation, “I CAN do all things through Christ.”
The child of God is expected to believe what God has promised. And it is not just a matter of the heart – we need to convince our heads – our minds. If the Almighty God is convinced of victory, what right do I have to picture defeat – even on a small or local level. If Elohim has promised victory, isn’t it unbelief for me to to think otherwise? Look at Paul march fearlessly into the fray. He could do so because he was wearing the helmet of salvation. Even when he was wounded, as was the case in Lystra, there was still no doubt about the Lord’s victory Paul was not personally invincible, but he knew he was invincible because of God’s provision for him. He knew nothing of a gospel which could save for eternity but was inadequate for daily life.
In John 16:11, Christ Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will “convince the world of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” If you agree that God’s judgment has already been pronounced on Satan, and that he is a defeated foe, then you are putting on the helmet of salvation. But if you feel that your adversary is invincible, if you are convinced that the enemy who has ambushed you cannot be beaten, then you are defeated. That defeat took place in your mind – which should have been protected by God’s helmet.
James 4:7 tells us, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” If you doubt that scripture, then you are well along the path to defeat. But if you count that a true word from God, then you are on your way to victory. The word “resist” means “to stand against,” and is the same word used here in Ephesians 6:13 where we are told to “withstand in the evil day.” James says that if you, as a child of God, firmly stand your ground because your feet are shod with the boots provided in the gospel, and if you refuse to be moved before the enemy’s attacks, then Satan will turn and run.
We have been led to believe that Satan is brave and difficult to defeat. He has deceived us into thinking that he is absolutely fearless. Satan is, in fact, a coward when it comes to the Lord. And he must come against US with deception, hiding behind a cloak of secrecy. Because of his cowardice, he tries to overwhelm us with fear just as a lion uses his roar to terrorize his prey. But if a Christian takes a stand against the Evil One, that firm stand will cause him to turn tail and run. That is what James meant when he wrote, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
On what grounds can we withstand the Evil One? Remember – we have no strength, no might, no power in ourselves. But when we accept God’s gifts of grace and protection, realizing that Satan is a coward, that he: will flee from the one who is determined to withstand him, our helmet of salvation is doing its job. When we accept and apply the helmet of God’s salvation, we are ready for anyone. This enables us to defeat Satan’s attacks and it causes the enemy to retreat.
The mind, of course, is the seat of the thought process.
It is not the throne of faith, but it has the role of advisor in the exercise of faith. II Timothy 1:7 says – “God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love, and of a sound mind.” From where does our spirit of fear or our anticipation of defeat come? It is certainly not from the Lord, unless we are thinking about doing something against His will. And it is not out of faith; faith doesn’t look in that direction. No, that expectation or spirit of fear comes from an ungoverned or unsound mind.
In Philippians 4:6 Paul wrote something else concerning the believer’s mind: “Be careful for nothing,” or more literally, “Be anxious for nothing” – “Stop your worrying.” What is the antidote to worry? The apostle tells us. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” When our General gives the command, “Forward march,” should we advance in fear? Not at all. Why not? Because as we march into combat, we can by prayer and supplication, lay hold of God’s promises and commit our way to the Lord. This trust expresses itself in prayer. The result of which Paul described in verse 7: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
As Christian soldiers who have been summoned into battle, we can go with faith, confidence and trust. Assuming we’ve put on the helmet of salvation, God stands sentry over minds so that we are delivered from fear and discouragement, and from even the thought that we may be overthrown in battle. When we enter the battle prayerfully, trusting in the promises of God and resting on the certainty of victory, we will find that even those intrusive thoughts of defeat will be kept out because the peace of God, which passes all understand, stands guard over our hearts and minds.
Satan makes sure that our thought life is a part of his battle strategy.
It’s because that is a place where we are especially vulnerable. We should be concerned about our thought life generally. But Paul was concerned about it in relation to the spiritual warfare we face. In II Corinthians 10:5 he wrote about “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” These arguments and high things exalted against God include thoughts we might entertain about the possibility of defeat. As we march into battle, we are not another step closer to defeat, but to victory.
We cannot underestimate the importance of our thought life as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. The abilities of the mind defy description. The mind can be here one moment, then the next be hundreds of miles away. It can be occupied with one thing at one moment then be completely occupied with something else the next moment. The mind can be focused on the Lord Jesus Christ then diverted to that which is entirely displeasing to God. Think back on your prayer life, if you need proof.
Unless we bring every thought into subjection to Christ, we will be defeated. In effect, taking up the helmet of salvation means applying all that salvation provides. If you do not have the helmet of salvation your mind is not brought into subjection to the Lord Jesus, leaving it vulnerable to attack. We must continually sit in judgment over our thought lives, lest we open the door to defeat by not believing God’s promises, or by letting our minds dwell on things that are abominable to God. “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.”
When you are not consciously directing your attention toward God, where does your mind wander? What are the first thoughts running through your mind when you wake up in the morning, or when you are too sleepy to focus your attention? What occupies your thoughts in those last moments before you drop off lo sleep? Do you commit your mind to the Lord’s keeping?
May God enable us to lay hold of His promise of victory in the gospel so that our every thought may become obedient to Christ. In this way the peace of God will garrison our hearts and minds. We will be confident of victory in the Lord Jesus Christ.