The Whole Armor of God -- Part 5
I’ve been writing over the last few weeks about the spiritual armor Paul wrote about in Ephesians 6. Many times, Christians will reference this armor or make mention of it in sermons or lessons. The question is, “Do you really understand the importance of spiritual armor in your life today?”
Go back and start this series of blogs from the beginning for a better understanding of your spiritual armor and how it is applicable to your life today.
In this installment of the Spiritual Armor blog, I will be writing about the piece of armor called the Helmet of Salvation.
Remember your salvation and God’s faithfulness.
Paul tells us, “Take up … the helmet of salvation” (Ephesians 6:17). The helmet is used to guard our heads, the center of our thinking. Paul is telling us to let the truth about our salvation and God’s faithfulness in our lives permeate our minds.
There’s a simple way you can put on the helmet of salvation each day. You can do this by telling yourself every morning: In Christ, there is nothing I could do to make God love me more; nothing I have done that makes God love me less.
The Roman helmet, like helmets today, protected the head from the attacks of the enemy. There is some evidence to suggest that the Romans had special ceremonial helmets used in parades that denoted rank and standing.
What is salvation?
Salvation basically means to be saved or delivered from something (see Exodus 14:13 and Micah 7:6-8). In the New Testament, salvation is generally used to refer to deliverance from the eternal death penalty of sin and deliverance into God's Kingdom.
What is the penalty of your sin, and how can you be saved from that penalty?
Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 5:8-10 - But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
John 3:16-17 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
1 Timothy 2:3-4 - For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Every human being has thought and behaved in ways that are abominable to God. Thoughts or actions that are contrary to God’s will for our lives or that are in opposition to the values and standards found in God’s Word (the Bible) are called sin. Our sin breaks God's laws that have been designed for our good. Sin is so vile to God that it requires the death penalty. God's justice requires that penalty be paid in full. God's loving mercy provided the most incredible substitute for our sin. Jesus Christ, our Creator, was willing to die in our place! To be saved, we need a Savior.
How do we receive salvation?
Acts 2:38 - Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Ephesians 2:8-9 - For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
It is important to understand that salvation cannot be earned. It is a gift from God and not something we can obtain through the right actions, thus obligating God to give it to us because of our good deeds. Repentance (turning from our sins and seeking God's forgiveness and help to obey His laws), faith, accepting Christ's sacrifice, and coming to the knowledge of the truth are all steps in accepting the free gift. In no way do these efforts make up for our sins that caused the death of our Creator and Savior!
Salvation can also describe the ongoing conversion process. Paul also calls this being "transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2). This involves having God's laws written in our minds and meditating on them so we can better follow them (Hebrews 10:16; Psalm 119:97-99). As we saw in the previous blog on the breastplate of righteousness, God expects us to obey His commandments.
Matthew 10:22 - And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
Our ultimate salvation depends on whether or not we choose to endure to the end.
What does salvation have to do with a helmet?
1 Thessalonians 5:8-11 - But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
We can receive tremendous hope and comfort by focusing on the incredible sacrifice Christ gave to save us and the amazing Kingdom that is the goal of our salvation. This hope works like a helmet to protect our minds from the discouragement and despair in this world.
John 17:15-16 - I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
Christians have been called out of this world. Though we remain in it, we are not of it and remain separate from it. Our way of living and even of thinking should differ from the world's. We are to develop the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5), and as we have seen, that means having God's laws written on our hearts and minds so we can remember to always obey God.
1 Peter 5:8-9 - Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
Our enemy hates that we have chosen this path and will stop at nothing to destroy us because of it. Just as the helmet protects the vital but vulnerable head from otherwise fatal blows, the hope of salvation can protect our thoughts from our enemy's attacks and temptations to disobey God.
Matthew 13:22 - Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
Without the helmet of salvation, we will be unprotected from the "cares of this world" that bombard our thoughts and feelings. Imagine not knowing what the future ultimately holds. The worries and problems produced by living in this world would overwhelm us!
Psalm 27:1 - The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
With the helmet securely fastened, we can have the same confidence that Paul did that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). We understand that it doesn't matter what happens to us now. No matter what trials we face, we know that at the end of it all awaits God's Kingdom and an eternity of His perfect reign—and what could be better than that?
How do I keep the helmet secure?
The roman soldier would keep his helmet secure by use of straps, much like bike helmets or football helmets are kept secure by chin straps today. Since this is a spiritual helmet, how can we keep it secure?
Psalm 3:8 - Salvation belongs to the Lord. Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah.
To keep the helmet of salvation secure, you need to remember that salvation comes from God, and that God is on your side. If you commit to fully follow and obey Him, it is impossible for you to lose your battle or your salvation.
Revelation 21:1-4 - Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."
This is the salvation for which we are fighting —to enter this glorious Kingdom of our God! Never lose sight of this! God’s coming Kingdom, with its worldwide peace and prosperity, makes any price we might have to pay in this life worth paying. No matter what comes your way, no matter how vicious the attacks your enemy lands on you, know that as long as you remain with God, you are moving slowly but unstoppably toward an eternal victory.
2 Timothy 4:6-8 - For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Paul valued his salvation highly and as a result, he diligently fought the good fight of faith. As the end of his life drew near, he was able to say with complete confidence that he would receive the crown. When Paul participates with all the other believers who have died in faith in the resurrection, he will trade in his soldier's helmet for a far more glorious, imperishable and eternal crown of righteousness—the crown of a victorious soldier of Christ. You can be assured of victory as well so long as you — like Paul — faithfully follow God and His commandments from your heart and mind.
Philippians 2:12 says to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." We are each individually responsible for whether we choose to accept the invitation into God's Kingdom and then to stay on the path of obedience with His help.
A good checklist for progress is Paul's description of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Ask yourself these questions and consider your responses:
· How well am I expressing godly love? (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
· Is my outlook on life characterized by joy or pessimism?
· Am I a peacemaker or a troublemaker?
· Am I patient—even in stressful situations?
· Do I express kindness to others through willing acts of service?
· What kind of media do I allow into my life? Does the entertainment I enjoy live up to God's standards?
· Do I stick with my commitments, even when they become difficult to keep?
· Is my approach to settling disagreements to verbally assault the other person, or do I handle things gently and with respect?
· Am I able to put what needs to be done before what I want to do?
What areas did you find yourself strongest in?
In what areas are you weakest?
How can you improve?
Take time to research your weakest trait and design a plan for self-improvement in that area. Don't overlook prayer as the most important step!