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Faith Bible Church, NY
April 27, 1997
Spiritual Warfare, Part 12
The Helmet Of Salvation
We now come to the 5th piece of spiritual armor – the Helmet of Salvation. We have already covered the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace and the shield of faith. Each and every piece is important in our warfare against the spiritual forces of wickedness that surround us. While the battle is all around us and is at times very severe, we have nothing to fear as long as we use the provisions God has made for us. Make sure your armor is on!
The importance of the helmet is obvious to anyone who has ever seen film of soldiers in battle. It was important in the days when men fought with swords and spears, and it is still important today when men fight with rifles and bombs. The helmet protects your head. It keeps you from being knocked senseless when you the enemy gets by your other defenses and lands a blow.
In the ancient world of the Romans the helmet was generally made of leather, to which plates of metal were attached. It was extremely important as defense against the large broadswords used by the enemy. When someone is out to crush your skull or take your head off, you definitely want something that will at least cause the blow to deflect and leave you alive to continue fighting. And don’t think for a moment that Satan’s efforts against you are any less than that. He and his cohorts hate those who love and follow God and would like to destroy you. Is your armor on?
What is the helmet of salvation and what does it protect? This is not salvation itself because this is something that someone who is already saved puts on. Paul is addressing Christians here, and the equipment of God cannot be used by those who do not belong to Him. Paul himself gives a greater clarification in what he says in 1 Thessalonians 5:8.
In this passage Paul is talking about the coming of the day of the Lord and what it would be like (vs. 1-3). In verses 4-11 Paul seeks to assure the Thessalonians that they do not need to be afraid of the day of the Lord because it would not be coming against those who are sons of light, but rather against those who were of darkness – evil. Yet, in verse 8 he also warns them that they too need to be prepared. Paul says, But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him. 11 Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
Notice back in verse 8 that he calls the helmet here “the hope of salvation.” This is speaking of what is yet to come in terms of our salvation. And let me quickly remind you that Biblical hope is not a wish but a confident assurance of what the future holds. We have a confident assurance that our positional salvation in Christ, that we currently stand justified before God because Jesus Christ has paid the penalty of our sin in our place, will also be an actual reality in practice and placement in the future – there will be a day that we will no longer struggle against a sin nature and we will be with God in heaven for eternity. That hope is not only a great motivator, but also a rock on which I can stand firm in the midst of a very unstable world.
It is this hope for the future, this assurance of what I can expect to come, that keeps me from losing my bearing. It is the shield that protects my mind from losing a grasp on reality when Satan’s broadsword breaks through my other defenses and hit me upside the head. Let me give you an illustration of this from the Scriptures.
One of Satan’s great weapons against us is discouragement. If he can make us discouraged and despondent, then we will do nothing for the Lord. We will live in self pity and despair. We will become worthless to the cause of Christ’s kingdom.
There are lots things that can discourage us, and Satan knows how to use them all. He did so in the life of Job. The book of Job opens and we find that Job is extremely rich and has a very large family. He is greatly respected by everyone and he is very spiritual because he is making great efforts to keep his relationship with God right. If any of us were attacked in any of these areas, we could and probably would struggle with discouragement if not depression. Job was struck in all these areas and his health. How would we respond to all our own emotions as well as the comments others would make about us.
First, Job’s wealth is destroyed in just a few moments. In chapter 1:13-17 we find that Job loses all 500 of his yoke of oxen along with his 500 donkeys and all the servants watching them except the one that escaped to tell Job the bad news. So much for Job’s farming enterprise. If you cannot plow, you are not going to farm. Before this story is finished being told along comes another lone servant who has escaped a great tragedy when all 7,000 of Job’s sheep and their shepherds are all killed by fire that falls from heaven. Job’s wool and mutton business has been completely destroyed in a moment. While that servant is still telling the tale, here comes another servant, the lone bearer of bad tidings. Job’s trade and transportation organization is taken away when all 3,000 of his camels are stolen by the Chaldeans. In the course of just a few minutes, all of Job’s wealth is either destroyed or stolen with no way for him to get any of it back.
How would you react in such a situation? What would you do, what would you say if you just lost your job much lest found out at the same time your bank collapsed and your investment broker has embezzled all your savings and retirement has is now in South America. I think most of us would have a hard time with that. We would be crying out to God, “Why?” or “God, what are you doing?” That would be a strong challenge to our faith. A blow like that might get through the shield of faith put up by many people, but there are some that might still stand firm.
What about the next challenge to Job. Before the third servant is through talking a fourth servant rushes us and says, (vs. 18,19) “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died; and I alone have escaped to tell you.” How would you react? You get home from work and find your house destroyed by fire and family has perished inside. Or your husband takes your kids for ice cream as a special treat. A half hour later you answer the door to find a police officer standing there. There was an accident. They all died. How would you react? Would your shield of faith hold? Would your breastplate of righteousness stay on? Were your shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace holding firm to the ground?
Job’s reaction is recorded in 1:20-22, “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” 22 Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God. “
Now all these things are frightening enough by themselves, but it was not over for Job yet. In chapter 2 we find that Job’s health is stricken too. He is found by his friends covered with boils sitting in ashes scrapping himself with a potsherd. They could not even recognize him (2:12). Now you say to me, “Wait a minute Pastor, you’re scaring me.” Maybe, but put this is the perspective. As Job says in 3:25, these were the very things he feared that had come upon him. Is your armor on well enough to withstand the onslaught Satan will throw against you?
Job did not understand why all this had happened. He did not have the benefit of having the scenes in heaven revealed to him at this point. From his perspective all of this had come directly from the hand of God – even as he states in 2:10 when he responded to his wife’s suggestion that he “curse God and die.” “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
Even this was not the end of it. He was reduced to poverty. He lost his family. His health was destroyed and he was in great pain. His wife was no comfort. Job’s lament in chapter 3 reveals the torment he was under. The agony and misery are great, and now his three friends start in on him. They begin to accuse him – each in a different way, but all with the same basic point. Somehow Job, these tragedies that have come upon you are your fault. These men are not trying to be cruel. They genuinely want to help Job out of his situation and solve his problem. They are also very scared that if this could happen to righteous Job, then it could happen to them. They must find something wrong about Job to blame or they are in great danger.
But with friends like that, who needs enemies? Job’s misery continues to increase. His belt of truth is slipping. He is still after the truth, but he no longer is sure in some sense what is true. His breastplate of righteousness is now battered. He longs to know himself what he may have done or failed to do. He falters in pride and wants to contend with God. His feet are bare and he has no peace. He feels that God is against him. His shield of faith is battered and he is now struggling to lift it up. Satan’s broadsword has struck hard, but there is one piece of armor Satan has not been able to penetrate – the helmet of Salvation.
In Job’s greatest despair his helmet is still on and it controls his thinking. He does not understand. He cannot explain why. What God is doing is a complete mystery to him. Yet, Job holds fast to a hope for the future. A confident assurance about what will occur. In 19:25 Job proclaims, “And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. 26 Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; 27 Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes shall see and not another. My heart faints within me.” Job had already proclaimed earlier (13:15), “Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him.”
The helmet of salvation, our confident assurance in our eternal future with God, is what protects us when Satan has smashed through our other lines of defense. We can stand firm against our adversary even when the circumstances of our lives seem to be crumbling around us.
Turn over to Romans 5 and let’s see why we can have such a confident assurance in God and His promises. At this point in the book Paul has explained that everyone is a sinner who is deserving of eternal punishment. He has also explained how a person can be justified by faith in Jesus Christ, using Abraham as the example. Now in Chapter 5 he says, 5:1 Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. We can take great joy in the hope given to us by what God has done for us. But we can also be excited about what we would normally consider very negative. Look at verse 3 and following.
3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations. Stop there a minute. You immediately think Paul has lost his mind. Be excited and happy about our tribulations? Yet we can be when we have the helmet of salvation on.
3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath [of God] through Him. 10 For if while 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.
I will come back to the point made here about the practical benefits of tribulations in our lives, but what I want to stress at the moment is reason we have hope – a confident assurance for the future. It is because of the love of God! But wait, aren’t there times you do not feel like God loves you, like maybe He has forsaken and forgotten about you, that you have been abandoned to the troubles of this world and maybe even the persecution of those who are evil? Aren’t there times when you feel like the Asaph, who I mentioned last week, who in Psalm 73 expressed his confusion over his suffering for righteousness sake while the wicked prospered? If you have not felt that way then keep your eyes focused on the Lord so that you never do, but I certainly have felt that way and I think most everyone else here has too at one time or another – maybe even now.
How do you get back on track? How do you regain that sense of assurance? You have to go back to the cross because it is the absolute proof of God’s love for us. Jesus died in our place when we were sinners. When we were His enemies. When we cursed Him and fought against Him. His love is different from that of men, though we are to learn to love in this manner. When everything else is going wrong I come back to the cross and remember that God loves me. He has demonstrated it for all time and eternity and needs do nothing else to prove it.
Because of God’s love I have been saved. He has justified me through the blood of Jesus Christ shed in my place on that cross. I am reconciled to and now know that I will be saved from the wrath of God that will eventually come upon evil mankind.
When I feel despondent, that things are not going the way I want, that life is cruel and unfair, then I come back to the cross and am reminded that God still loves me. Hope is born anew within me. God loved me at my worst, He still loves me now. And because of hope I will continue on and develop a proven character by persevering through the current tribulations. My helmet, my hope of salvation, has protected me though battered about by life. Is your helmet on?
But I cannot stop here, the helmet of salvation also emboldens me to get into the battle because it brings me back to the purpose of my existence. If I did not have it as was always worried about losing my salvation, then I would quickly retreat into a hole so that the world could have no influence on me – and where I could have no influence on it. Without the helmet of salvation, I would always be in the defensive mode looking for a place to hide, a place to escape too. I would not be holding my ground, I would be retreating for the rear lines wanting someone else to do battle with the enemy.
It is a tragedy that there are branches of Christianity that deny this great truth – that I can be fully assured of my salvation. They deny it in the effort to keep people from false professions by which they claim to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and are trusting Him for salvation, yet they refuse to live for Him. Certainly there are many who have such false professions, but the solution to the problem is not to change the nature of salvation and try to remove the assurance of God’s promises.
That a person can be fully assured of the hope of salvation is easily proven. 1 John 5:10-13 is the classic passage. 10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the witness that God has borne concerning His Son. 11 And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life. You either have the Son or do not. If you have the Son, then He will change you – which is the point of 1 John. If you do not have the Son, you will remain in bondage and controlled by your sin nature.
I can be assured of my salvation and future hope of being with God for all eternity because it is not and never has been dependent on me. It is all the result of God’s grace by which He made me, who was dead in trespasses and sin, alive together with Christ. He made me a new creature and transferred my from Satan’s realm where I was a slave to sin, to the Kingdom of Christ where I am to be a slave of righteousness.
I do not have to worry about losing my salvation. I need not retreat in fear. I need to stand firm regardless of what my enemies throw against me. God is sovereign and He loves me. He proved it at calvary.
The helmet of salvation also brings me back to the fundamental truth that I am not here for my needs and my glory. I am here to serve God and bring Him glory. My goal in life is to persevere through tribulations so that my character can be proven, so that I can, as James 1 says, be mature and complete, lacking nothing. It is the helmet of salvation that forces me forward in living for Christ because as Paul says in Romans 12 it is only reasonable in light of the mercies of God extended to me that I present my body as a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to Him. I am to resist being conformed to this world but instead be transformed, be utterly and completely changed, by the renewing of my mind that I might prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Why are you here? Why do you exist? What is the point of your life? Without the helmet of salvation you not only run the risk of being cast about by every wind of doctrine, but also of having your faith being made a shipwreck. You will end up with Ecclesiastes’ conclusion that everything is vanity, an empty chasing after the wind. You will be in the camp of the modern existentialist who has concluded that “nothing really matters”. That would please Satan very much.
Is your helmet on? Is its chin strap fastened so it will not be shaken lose? Is your mind controlled by these fundamental truths? Are you living according to the purpose of both your existence and salvation?
If we have the helmet of salvation on, then I think the last two verse of Martin Luther’s great hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” is a fitting conclusion:
And tho this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us, We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us: The Prince of Darkness grim, We tremble not for him: His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure; One little world shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, No thanks to them abideth; The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him who with us sideth; Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also; The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still; His Kingdom is forever.
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