The Armor of God: Part 6 - The Helmet of Salvation
by Aneel Aranha
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Ephesians 6:11-18)
Continued from Part 5: The Shield of Faith
In a war, soldiers get injured. At times, the injuries can be severe. But while a soldier might survive a broken arm or a few fractured ribs, an injured head can debilitate his movements. A particularly hard blow to the head can immobilize him.
The helmet worn by Roman soldiers was made of metal and designed to protect the head, face and neck without blocking vision. Centurions and other officers wore crests on their helmets, so that their men could see them and follow them into battle.
The head covers our minds, and as we saw in the introduction to this series, our minds are the battlefield where war rages. This is what the enemy attacks most ferociously. It becomes essential, therefore, that we don protective headgear to safeguard our mind. God prescribes the Helmet of Salvation.
But what is the Helmet of Salvation? Paul, who uses one of the most brilliant metaphors to be found in literature to describe the Armor of God, gives us a clue in another letter, this one to the Thessalonians.
But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on ... the hope of salvation as a helmet.
(1 Thessalonians 5:8)
The Helmet of Salvation is the hope of salvation; the hope of salvation from Hell, and more importantly, salvation from sin.
The importance of hope can be seen in our daily lives. A working man will put all his energies into his job in the hope that his efforts will be noticed and result in material and other rewards. Should he lose his job, it is the hope that he will get a better one that will sustain him. Take away his hope of gaining profitable employment and you would have effectively incapacitated him. He will sit at home and despair. Take away his hope in life, itself, and you would have destroyed him completely.
When looked on as part of our armor, hope takes on greater meaning. The Greek word elpis, from which the word hope derives, literally translates as "confident expectation" and is a far more descriptive and accurate definition of the helmet that safeguards our minds. The confident expectation we are required to have is of the day when Jesus Christ will come again, fulfilling all the promises made in the gospel. On this day the work that he began in us when we were born again will be completed. On this day we will secure eternal life.
... a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time (Titus 1:2-3)
It is the hope of this eternal life that can protect our mind from the relentless assaults upon it by the enemy. A Christian who has this hope will not get confused with the fleeting pleasures of sin. Nor will he trade his salvation for the temporary lusts of the world. He won't worry or be anxious about life's many problems either. When the enemy shoots arrows of despair, doubt or temptation at his head, he will not succumb, because hope will secure his defenses.
There is hardly a day — nay, an hour — that goes by without the enemy whispering his insidious blandishments into my ear, asking me why I sacrifice the pleasures of life that are there for the taking. His exhortations are always played to the accompanying tune of half-truths. "You are human," he murmurs in the seductive way only the utterly corrupt can. "God understands you are weak. Even if you fall, he will forgive you. After all he loves you so much. So why do you try so hard to be good?" At times, especially in weaker moments, the temptation to buy into his lies is enormous. What stops me from giving in is knowing that what he offers is short lived, whereas what God promises is for all eternity, and my hope is that if I cling to his promise, I will attain it.
Hope develops the same way faith develops, and like the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation grows stronger with use. The clearer the understanding we have of God's word, the more we believe in God's promises, and consequently, the greater our hope in his ability to fulfill those promises. And when the helment of salvation becomes very strong, we can anchor our very soul to it.
Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Hebrews 6:17-19)
May the Spirit be with you.
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Copyright © 2004 Aneel Aranha. All rights reserved. Pictures and text (partly) for 'The Helmet' from Ancient Rome by Simon James (Eyewitness Books). All rights reserved.