EPHESIANS 6:17a-b(part 1)
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Eph. 6:17a “And take the helmet of salvation,. . .”
Soldiers wore helmets for defensive purposes, to protect the head, and for psychological purposes, to strike terror into the enemy. Brass was hard enough to ward off most blows and could be polished to dazzle the foe with brightness. Helmets were often engraved with emblems and slogans to intimidate the enemy, and adorned with plumes, large, conspicuous, showy feathers, for dramatic effect.
Christians, too, have a “helmet” to wear. It is called “the helmet of salvation.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, Paul tells us to put on “for a helmet, the hope of salvation.” Christian “hope” refers always to future events certain to happen, never to matters of doubt. Thus, the “helmet of salvation” is the confidence we have that our ultimate deliverance is never in doubt. Death or Christ’s return shall–no doubt about it–ultimately release us from the presence of sin. Heaven is no hunch, everlasting life no guess, resurrection no maybe, the end of sorrow and sin no perhaps.
Without this hope we are easily discouraged, and can not long keep our heads above water. Hope reminds us our present struggles, however severe, last not forever. In the end we shall be victorious. “We are not in a race we can lose” (MacArthur). Satan cannot destroy us. No matter what he does, our salvation is secure.
This bedrock assurance of salvation anchors our soul (HB 6:19), and buoys our confidence. My heart breaks for Christians who have doubts and uncertainties about their salvation. I wish we all realized saints are saved “to the uttermost” (HB 7:25). We do not have to wait till death to know for sure we are saved (1 J 5:13).
Without this confidence, we are helmet-less, susceptible to Satanic assaults. As we lose sight of our ultimate salvation, Satan attacks, using our own tiredness and discouragement against us. Christians are often tempted to wonder, “What’s the use? Even when I win a battle, it merely ends to begin another.” We often become so bogged down over individual conflicts that we lose sight of the big picture.
Satan makes our exasperation worse by having us look at the lost around us. We often seem to be no better off than they are. The Psalmist (PS 73) had a serious struggle with his own faith for this very reason. He watched the wicked be strong in life and die peaceful deaths. Though proud and violent, they enjoyed plenty and prospered. He was about to lose his hope, about to give up and quit, “Until I went into the sanctuary of God: then understood I their end” (PS 73:17). It is good to dwell not only on their end, but on ours, also. Theirs is an eternity without God, whereas ours is an eternity with God. Keep this thought uppermost in our minds.
Being obsessed with the relentless warfare raging within us, and the seeming prosperity of the wicked, can make us feel like giving up and quitting. When we cease focusing on hope, and begin to despair, we are in serious danger.
Our Master, knowing hopelessness would ever tempt us, told the parable of the persistent widow, reminding us we “ought always to pray, and not to faint” (LK 18:1). Paul warned of this malady, “Let us not be weary in well doing” (GL 6:9).
We cannot lose. We wear the exact helmet God wears (Isaiah 59:17), one which has been given to us by the Savior’s own nail-scarred hand. Put on “the helmet of salvation,” stand tall with confidence, and enter the fray with all your might.
Some morning we will don “the helmet of salvation,” but that evening when we reach up to take it off it will have turned into a crown. When the noise of battle is over, and we have laid aside “the helmet of salvation,” may we be able to say with Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2 TM 4:28).
Don’t you want a huge crown to offer Jesus on that Day? I fear many of us have cause to be ashamed of our “helmet of salvation.” They are too pretty, not battle-scarred enough. What a puny crown such ones will receive to offer Jesus.
Wearing “the helmet of salvation,” fight with gusto. Let plumes be torn off, dents be plenty, and scars be deep. The head that wears it will be unharmed, and the crown which replaces it shall be a trophy worthy to lay at Jesus’ feet. Strive for a huge crown, one with many stars. We will try it on to see how it feels to wear a crown rather than a battle helmet, but then we shall remove it and cast it at Jesus’ feet (RV 4:10), for He is the One who earned it for us, and He alone is worthy.
Eph. 6:17b (part 1) “. . .and the sword. . .”
In a scabbard attached to the belt, Romans soldiers kept a sword. Always at hand, ready to use, the sword was the principal weapon of hand-to-hand combat.
Believers have a “sword” to wield, “the Word of God.” Jesus, the living Word of God who came by incarnation, continues to be revealed in the Bible, the written Word which came by inspiration. We take up “the sword,” the Bible, an armory housing in itself thousands of daggers, each powerful and sharp as a razor.
Use of the word “sword” implies a user who has the skill to thrust at a certain point with accuracy and ability. Every great swordsman knows his weapon and practices endless hours with it. Similarly, the Christian must through hours of preparation become able to retrieve his weapon and wield it with facility and ease.
Meet every temptation with a “Thus saith the Lord.” Bible-arguments are our most powerful safeguards against temptation. “Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee” (PS 119:11). Our heart must be a sheath which stores weapons, and from which appropriate daggers can be drawn instantaneously.
Having fallen and about to be dealt a death blow by Apollyon, Bunyan’s Christian stretched out his hand and from “the sword” fetched for his dagger the words of Micah (7:8), “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise.” At this Apollyon fell back. Christian, his confidence rising, cried out, “In all things, we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (RM 8:37). With that, Apollyon spread his Dragon-wings and flew away in terror.
The Bible is a wonderful weapon. Its very effectiveness is one reason we have trouble reading it regularly. The devil will do anything to undermine our study of God’s Word. Do not let Him accomplish this objective.