“And take the helmet of salvation”… (Ephesians 6:17)
The next piece of armor we are told to don is the “helmet of salvation”. In 1st Thessalonians 5:8 Paul wrote: “But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put … as a helmet, the hope of salvation.” The word “hope” in the Bible does not mean wishful thinking, but the opposite – an absolute certainty, or a blessed assurance. That is because Biblical hope is based upon the unchanging and unending reality of the Word of God. One aspect of our helmet, then, must be the absolute, unshakeable certainty of our eternal destiny. We must know, beyond all doubt, that we belong to Christ and are eternally saved and secure in Him. Jesus Himself gives us this assurance: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:27,28) This certainty of a coming salvation for believers includes the excited expectancy of the physical manifestation and visible consummation of Christ’s victory over our enemies upon His literal return to earth, but it’s also more immediate than that.
This “blessed hope” should not merely reflect a desire to escape the trials and difficulties of this life, but also needs to be rooted in a passionate longing to be like Jesus. If we desire to be holy and complete in Him, then this hope is not just for the future. We can apply it NOW, if we “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14). Colossians 1:27 tells us that it is “Christ in (us)” which is this “hope of glory”. And according to Strong’s Bible Concordance the word “salvation” used in Ephesians 6:17 and 1st Thessalonians 5:8 in describing our helmet is derived from a Greek word meaning “a deliverer, i.e. God or Christ”. Again the word proclaims that Jesus is our protection; HE is each and every piece of armor that we need!
Why do we need a helmet? Just as our physical brains need protection from the impact of objects that can cause damage or death, so too our minds need a protective covering from harmful and destructive thoughts. The Greek word for helmet comes from two words meaning “encirclement” of the “head”; and the word for head implies the part of the body that is most readily seized or taken hold of – literally and figuratively! In other words, our head is one of our most vulnerable areas because, just as the proper functioning of the brain is vital to our physical existence, so too a healthy thought-life is essential to our spiritual well-being.
Exposure to the minds of others, whether through one-on-one interaction or mass media, etc., works to shape and mold our ideas, choices, desires, and emotions. Also, those “fiery darts of the wicked one” come in the form of thoughts and attack our minds. If we are not protected by our helmet, those destructive thoughts will much more readily penetrate and ‘stick’, and our struggle to remove them will be all the more difficult. 1st John 5:19 tells us that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one”, so the ideas, concepts, and attitudes of the world will defile our minds.
How do we protect our minds from ungodly influences? “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” is the exhortation of Colossians 3:2. And Philippians 4:8 lists the type of things on which our minds should dwell. We are to choose the subject matter we focus on for Proverbs 23:7 warns that as a man “thinks within himself, so he is.”
Salvation is impossible without knowledge of the truth, but just knowing the truth does not ensure salvation. It must be believed and acted upon. So we wear our salvation by living (giving evidence through our actions) what we believe; as Paul exhorts in Philippians 2:12: “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. How? By knowing and believing verse 13: “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” It always comes back to putting our faith in the truth that God is in control. Ephesians 1:13 says: “after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise”.
Truth / belt, gospel / shoes, salvation / helmet, believed (faith) / shield, sealed (when we became righteous in Him) / breastplate – they are all interconnected, and each spiritual concept helps define the others. Each piece of the armor is dependent upon the others because they all interact; and they are all JESUS!