Ephesians 6 v 17a
Please read 1 Samuel 17 v 1-37
So far in our thinking about the pieces of Spiritual Armour provided for us by our great Captain the Lord Jesus Christ, we have:
a Belt of truth enabling us to counter the lies of the devil;
the Breastplate of righteousness, enabling us to be covered and justified in our relationship with God;
the Shoes of the Gospel of peace which help us to stand firm as Christians in the truths of our salvation;
– and last time we thought about the Shield of faith – that wonderful defensive piece of equipment providing us with a means of warding off the vicious attacks of the devil that come in his fiery darts – trials, temptations and other dangerous assaults.
Our equipment is very comprehensive and is a precious gift to each one of us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. The illustrations of the pieces of armour are so helpful to us in the spiritual warfare that we know that we are in.
This morning we come to the fifth piece of armour. In fact, pieces numbers 5 and 6 are mentioned in the one verse – verse 17 of Ephesians 6 –
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
We are interested this morning in the first of those two – the Helmet of salvation.
This week on the news there was mention made of two notable sportsmen receiving awards at Buckingham palace. They were interviewed and asked for their reaction to receiving their honours and both were thrilled – it was a once in a lifetime experience for them. They were presented with their OBE’s by the Prince of Wales who gave the special medals in presentation boxes with great warmness and interest. There was a degree of emotion and joy in the giving –and there was supreme gladness and a feeling of a once in a lifetime experience on the part of the two recipients. There was no half-heartedness in the occasion – and I am sure that it would have been the same for all of the other people who were honoured on Friday.
Why am I telling you this?
Because it is the nature of the receiving of these awards that is communicated in the verb in verse 17 TAKE.
Take the helmet and take the sword.
1. Taking the Helmet.
Up until now in verse 13 and 16 we had the English word “take” in v 13
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God,
and in verse 16
Above all, taking the shield of faith.
However this is a different TAKE in verse 17. In verses 13 and 16 it was “take up, take to yourself, grab hold because you NEED it!”.
But here it is to RECEIVE HEARTILY AND GLADLY. It is to receive something as given with a grateful heart and an element of emotion – like the folks getting their knighthoods and awards.
The verb DECHOMAI is used 48 times in the New Testament and some examples will show us this heartiness connection – to receive gladly.
Matthew 10:40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
The Lord Jesus Christ here tells the disciples of the way that people should receive the message of the Kingdom – because that message is about HIM – they receive ME in the message.
Luke 8:13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
In the Parable of the sower the Lord explains that the seed falling on rocky ground initially receive the gospel message with great enthusiasm and appear to be progressing in faith – until the sun baked trials come.
Then in the parable of the unjust steward the Lord uses the word take or receive with positive regard to describe the steward’s desire to be cared for by his master’s debtors.
Luke 16:4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
Furthermore when he advises the debtors to alter their bills he uses the same word – eagerly take your bill and amend it to record less of a debt.
Luke 16:6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
The word is used again in Acts referring to the reception of the Gospel message by the people of Berea -
Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
And the same can be said of the reception of the truth by the Thessalonians, eagerly and earnestly and heartily –
1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
So TAKE with eagerness the helmet of salvation is the Apostle’s direction in this verse.
Paul must have had a reason for changing this emphasis in the word Take. It appears that he wishes us to know about this helmet of salvation. So what does it mean? What are we as Christians to know about this fifth piece of defensive armour, the helmet?
2. The Helmet.
Firstly let us consider a physical helmet. A helmet is designed to protect the head, which is always a vulnerable part of the human being especially in battle. If the enemy can hit the head and knock us unconscious or even fatally wound us, then all the armour of the rest of the body is useless.
In Bible times a helmet was a cap made of thick leather or metal fitted to the head. We read earlier of Goliath’s helmet in 1 Samuel 17 v 5 – a helmet of brass. In Albert Barnes commentary on Ephesians there is a picture showing the variety of helmets worn by warriors. And who of us have not at some time seen suits of armour in museums or country houses, which include a helmet?
There are all kinds of helmets in our modern society today. Building workers on building sites are required to wear what are called HARD HATS – strong protective head coverings because of the dangers from falling items – a hard hat SAVES the life of the bricklayer or site manager should an accident happen.
Similarly cyclists and motorcyclists wear a helmet – it is called a CRASH HELMET. Why is it called that? Why not a cycling helmet or motor bike helmet? It is presumably to give protection to the head should a crash occur – for many a crash helmet has been a lifesaver.
Then mountaineers and those involved in other sports have helmets – again to protect them from injuries arising from the dangers that go with the sport – the helmet can save the head from harm.
Whatever the helmet is, then, it is that which saves and keeps safe, protecting the head from a fatal blow or disabling injury. The Greek word for helmet is PERI KEPHALE – 2 words – ‘around’ and ‘head’.
Understanding the illustration of the helmet is one thing – but what does it mean? Why does Paul use this figure of the helmet and connect it with the word SALVATION?
3. The Helmet of Salvation.
First we need to establish that when salvation is used here it does not refer to the way that we OBTAIN salvation. Paul addresses those who are already saved, believers in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, His death, His resurrection, his bearing away of their sins, his forgiveness and healing of the soul.
We can perhaps get an inkling of the truth of this from another military illustration. The elite Parachute Regiment of the British Army has a distinctive headdress – the famous Red Beret. A soldier joining the Regiment will only be presented with his beret when he has passed a series of very tough tests and qualified as a Para. His beret, which is worn with pride, is an indication that the soldier belongs fully to the Regiment and has a right to wear it. Only true Paras have a beret – and only true soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ have a helmet – although there is a difference in the illustration – the Christian did and does not have to pass a fitness test to join God’s army – it was His commander in chief, the Lord Jesus Christ who passed those tests on his behalf. He has passed God’s fitness test – the cross, the tomb paying for His people’s sins.
If then the helmet is not about OBTAINING salvation, what does it mean?
Let us consider the enemy once more and think about his activities. Satan seeks to destroy the believer’s ASSURANCE of salvation and to do that he uses the weapons of DOUBT and DISCOURAGEMENT. This fact is clear from the other two bible texts that comment on Ephesians 6 v 17 –
Isaiah 59 v 17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head;
This prophecy speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ who, as we have just remarked, passed the test for our salvation. But then we read in 1 Thessalonians 5 v 8
But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
Now this is a very interesting phrase – ‘the HOPE of salvation’. So often we use the word hope as a conditional thought – of ‘may’ or ‘may not’. But when the Bible uses the word hope there is a glorious certainty in it. Here we have the certainty of salvation. It is true that the devil can seriously damage our feelings about our salvation with his fiery darts of doubt. But if we are truly born again, if we are genuinely converted then our salvation is eternally protected and we need never fear losing it! We must be aware of the fact that Satan wants to curse us with doubts – he wants to discourage us with uncertainties – to accuse us of infidelity and failure and suggest that we have disqualified ourselves to wear the helmet! But every believer can be strong by believing God’s promises of eternal salvation that are all there in the scripture. Let us think about some of these verses of God’s word that are exceeding great and precious promises.
John 6 v 37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
John 10 v 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
Romans 5 v 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
Romans 8 v 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Philippians 1 v 6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
The Bible the Word of God tells us this morning that our eternal security, our eternal salvation is a FACT! The helmet of salvation reminds us of the realities of Christ’s work – the facts of faith.
But the helmet also indicates ASSURANCE – which is a FEELING that comes to the obedient Christian.
1 Peter 1 v 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Facts and Feelings. Our salvation is a present experience of the Lord’s deliverance – we wear the helmet as we fight the devil and resist him. We need to remember that the devil wants to attack our minds. We have to have minds that are controlled by the Lord God – that is what the helmet is for. Christianity is a thinking faith. Too many Christians think that the mind is not important – but our minds play an important role in our growth and service. If the Lord God controls your mind, then Satan cannot lead you astray. If you do not discipline your mind to think God’s thoughts - if you do not study the Bible and become well acquainted with its doctrines – then expect to be led away very easily. The Bible instructs us to
“grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3 v 18)
“and be taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:” (Ephesians 4 v 21).
The helmet protects us from Satan’s lies which can come raining down on us like blows from a cudgel or club. He accuses us; he sneers at us; he comes with his impure suggestions; he pours scorn on God, His Son, His word and His people. And we need the helmet to protect our heads, containing our minds, from being influenced and discouraged.
We once supported a man and his wife who were missionaries to Pakistan. They were a lovely Christian couple who seemed valiant for the Lord in everything. Certainly they faced fierce opposition from the Moslem community, but we prayed along with others that they would be kept in their work. Then we heard a dreadful thing. The man had to come home from the mission field because his wife had left him. If that were not a tragedy enough, she had left him for a Moslem man and had decided to convert to Islam! Can you believe it? We found it hard too. What went wrong? How could this happen? It was a question of the mind. The Helmet of Salvation was not being worn by this lady and Satan gained a foothold of doubt and lies into her mind – and she believed him. Who knows whether the church that she came from had even fitted her with the helmet of salvation, through the careful teaching and preaching of the Bible and Biblical truth. This is the desperate result of a soul who does not have the helmet to protect the mind!
Now this is not to suggest that people do not think! Indeed people are capable of brilliant thinking – but can still be open to the subtle and terrible influence of Satan’s rulers of darkness. John Philips says that apart from God’s salvation man cannot reach correct conclusions about psychological, social, philosophical and spiritual things. He can send men to the moon and build space stations. He can split atoms and build viruses from a genetic code. He can communicate with the other side of the world in an instant. But sin impairs man’s thinking about God and other people. Satan is in the business of keeping mankind in bondage and blindness in both relationships.
Unbelieving men and women today deliberately choose not to take notice of God’s revelation preferring to depend on human reasoning. Satan’s deceptions appeal to the unregenerate mind – you may be thinking such things this morning – you are thinking that this is a load of twaddle – religion makes no sense to you. Your way of thinking is much more sensible, you say.
The theory of evolution is far more plausible to you than special creation by God the creator.
Humanism is more attractive than holiness.
A lifestyle that demands your works designed to please God seems more logical than trusting in a poor carpenter who died on a cross 2000 years ago.
Psychology seems more reasonable than salvation.
My friends Satan never gives up his attacks on the thought processes of the human mind.
And if you are not a Christian this morning then your mind is open to every kind of influence that the world and the devil want to throw at your head.
But the Christian has a helmet – a Helmet of Salvation! A Christian thinks salvation thoughts. We will use the Salvation doctrines of the Bible, indeed the whole of the Bible, to test all of our thoughts.
For instance there may be a good film on the TV one night, or a certain book that we think would be good to read. But before we translate that thought into action, we should test it with the helmet of salvation. How does the test work?
We would ask, “Will watching that film or reading that book be consistent with a holy life and with becoming more like the Lord Jesus Christ? Would the philosophies presented to my mind win God’s approval? Could I share the plot with the Lord Jesus as I pray to Him about it or would I be ashamed? Is there murder, drunkenness, violence, bad language in it? Would I be able happily to tell the Lord about it after I have watched it or read it?”
This, my friends, is helmet activity and it should be going on all day and every day – that is why we have been given the helmet in the first place!
Because our minds are vulnerable they must be protected by God’s salvation. The more we wear the helmet, the more we will think about the things of God, we will fill our minds and memories with God’s word, and we will begin to dwell on the enormous cost of our salvation – the life blood of the Son of God our Lord Jesus Christ. The more we wear the helmet the more we will be protected against Satan’s lies. Are we ready to be such people? When doubts and fears arise in our minds will we overcome them with the helmet and dwell on the thoughts of our salvation – that are sure and unchangeable? May it be so for us all.
A final word. Satan too has a helmet for unbelievers. It is the Helmet of Scepticism. With this helmet on the unbelieving person can say to the Christian, “You don’t really believe all that stuff about Jesus Christ, the cross, forgiveness and hell do you? People gave up believing in that decades ago. I don’t want to be controlled by an Old Book – I want to run my own life and enjoy doing my own thing.”
My friend the Helmet of Scepticism will keep you very safe in this world. It will suit you because most other people around have one. They too can successfully resist the suggestions of preachers like me and your Christian friends who seem to be so concerned for you.
But it is the next world that you need to worry about. Perhaps you should remove your Helmet of Scepticism for just a moment and hear this.
Acts 17:31 Because God hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
Your helmet will not protect you at the judgement. You will not then be able to refuse to hear what God says. But today you can. So believe that you are a sinner – repent of your sins – plead with God for mercy – and trust God’s Son the Lord Jesus Christ to save you – for all eternity!