For a soldier in battle, the two most vulnerable places in need of protection are the heart and the head.
No self-respecting soldier goes into battle in full armour, but without a helmet! So now Paul tells us to "Take up the helmet of salvation"
We've already seen how God's enemy Satan tries to attack our minds and thoughts. In a similar way to the shield of faith, we can expect our helmet is needed to protect our minds.
But why call it the helmet of salvation? – what is it about the salvation we have been given, that protects our minds in battle?
The word 'salvation' speaks of rescue and deliverance, and as Christians we often talk about being 'saved', but what are we saved from?
The Bible teaches us that, through Jesus, God has rescued us from slavery to sin, the sin for which we deserve death and separation from God. When we are 'saved', we are brought from death to life, and into a relationship with the living God.
We are saved from sin and saved from death and the punishment our sins deserve. Now, nothing can separate me from God and I need not fear death or judgement any longer.
But Satan’s firey arrows are aimed at undermining that confidence - he wants us to fill us with fear again, he wants us to doubt God. He is desperate to draw us away from God and into sin again.
So how does the helmet of salvation help us? Do we just that we need to remember we are saved and therefore sin has no hold over us. That sounds easy enough - but in reality, it’s not that straight forward, is it? We look back and question. Remembering isn't always enough.
The helmet of salvation does more than provide us with a current status report, it also gives us hope in a better future.
Paul (the writer of Ephesians) elaborates on his thoughts in another of his letters:
"But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him."
1 Thessalonians 5:8
Salvation gives us hope! One of the Puritan writers put it this way:
“Hope is a supernatural grace of God, whereby the believer, through Christ, expects and waits for all those good things of the promise which at present
he hath not received, or not fully.”
William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour
It's a bit like using satnav.
We programme in our destination and on the journey, wherever we go, our decisions, our turns to the right or the left, and every traffic jam are navigated towards our end-point.
Our end is glory... heaven! Our salvation is taking us to the new heavens and new earth where there will be no more crying or mourning or pain - so our troubles today take on a new perspective. For Paul, he could call the worst of suffering – persecution to the point of death “light and momentary”. This world is passing away, its troubles are temporary. Tomorrow, this day will be the past and we will be one day nearer to Jesus return. All the things we lose sleep over, all the concerns we have about the future, every regret, sin and failure, our weaknesses and all of the anxieties which fill our mind will be gone.
Our ultimate salvation and Jesus' return is our future.
We look forward in hope, to our Saviour’s return
- and that changes everything!
Keeping hold of our destination orientates our today. Wearing our helmet of salvation, we can hold our head up in the battle and look ahead to where we are going, with hope.
William Gurnall describes the promise of our coming salvation as:
"God’s love letter to his church, in which he opens his heart and tells her all he means to do for her.
Faith opens it and embraces it,
hope is the longing expectation for the husband to turn up."
It's good to spend time thinking about what that day will be like when Jesus 'turns up'. It's a glorious and joy-filled future that awaits us! The Old Testament describes it like this:
"In that day they will say, ‘Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.’...
my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail...
The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God."
[Isaiah 25:9, 51:6, 52:10]
A day of rejoicing, gladness, justice that lasts forever, unfailing permanent goodness that reaches every nation and seen by all - to the ends of the earth! Awesome!
But what does it look like to hold onto that hope today?
The Hope of salvation makes us strong:
"those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." [Isaiah 40:31]
it holds us secure:
"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." [Hebrews 6:19]
Helps us to resist sin:
"...it teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ" [Titus 2:11-13]
and makes us bold, and not afraid:
"...we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame" [Romans 5: 3-5]
Hope grows our faith and trust in God
"For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have,
we wait for it patiently."[Romans 8:24-25]
Warren Wiersbe* says that wearing the helmet of salvation, means we ‘think like a Christian’ – that means being wholehearted about who we are and to whom we belong – not divided. There’s no middle ground – either we are on the Lord’s (winning) side or we are not.
Just like Joshua and Caleb when they were sent into the promised land. Ten of the twelve spies were intimidated by what was around them – they became fearful and distracted by what they saw. Only Jacob and Caleb had their eyes fixed on the hope God had held before them of entering into the promised land. They took God at his word and trusted him.
Or like the boy David, who was able to face Goliath because he believed that God the battle was God’s and not his own. He spoke with great confidence that God would rescue him – as he had promised to do.
God has given us a glorious glimpse of the final salvation
that is to come to give us hope for the future.
So we can wear the helmet of salvation and be bold, not afraid.
Right now all of us are dealing with a 'new normal' filled with uncertainty and questions. Satan would love to use this situation to make us question God and doubt him. But if we know the Lord Jesus, we are saved and we will be saved, so we have a certain hope that our future too is secure. Jesus will return.
So we are not distracted by the troubles of today. Instead we look forward and upward, patiently waiting for the riches that await us in Jesus when he returns to rescue us. With this destination in view, we face each battle with renewed strength and souls that are anchored and secure in the hope of salvation.
All Bible quotations taken from New International Version (c) 2011
*Warren W. Wiersbe, Stand - Putting on the full Armour of God