Ephesians 6:17, “And take the helmet of salvation…”
What does this mean? What does it mean to take on the helmet of salvation? We often hear the phrase, quote it word for word, hear brief sermons on it, and some Christians every day imagine themselves literally putting on a helmet. But, what does it really mean to put on the helmet of salvation?
This brief statement seems to almost be an after thought on the part of Paul. He’s already listed quite important items of armor already, and has stated that the shield is most important. Then he says, “and”. Like it was an “oh and what is it I’m forgetting, hmmmm…. Let me think…. Oh, yes, “and take the helmet of salvation.” However, each piece is extremely important….and is a matter of life and death. In the life of the Roman soldier it was literally life and death. For the Christian it is a matter of the life and death of the soul.
In Greek the word for helmet means, “about the head” or “around the head.” For the Roman soldier the helmet was made of bronze and was exceedingly heavy. Because of its great weight, sponge was placed inside it so that it would be more comfortable on a soldier’s head. It fit very snuggly, and wrapped around to even cover the cheeks and jaw of the soldier. It was so strong and durable that not any form of weapon could penetrate it. When in battle it specifically protected the soldier against those wielding barbaric battle axes that could and would chop people’s heads off.
Not only was the Roman soldier’s helmet protective, it could be very ornate, depicting different engraved scenes, and could even be forged to look like an animal such as an elephant. Then, to top it all off, it sported a showy, colorful plume of feathers or horse’s hair. Therefore, not only was it a heavy, impenetrable source of protection, it was also quite a noticeable, unmissable showpiece!
Such is our salvation. Impenetrable and ornate. Rick Renner states, “Why would the Holy Spirit compare a piece of weaponry like this to salvation? Because your salvation is the most gorgeous, most intricate, most elaborate, most ornate gift God ever gave to you! Paul calls this marvelous gift “the helmet of salvation.” He likened salvation to these flamboyant helmets that were worn on the head where everyone would notice. By using this example, Paul is telling us something very important. When a person is confident of his salvation — and when he walks confidently in the powerful reality of all that salvation means for him — he is a noticeable individual!” (http://www.renner.org/salvation/the-helmet-of-salvation/).
But what does it mean to “take the helmet of salvation”? Does that mean we need to be saved every day? What are we to do with this fantastic helmet?
To begin with, we’re commanded to “take” it. The word for “take” in this particular instance in Greek means, “To accept an offer readily, to take to oneself what is presented,” to approve of it, embrace it. We are to eagerly take hold of the helmet of salvation and place it securely on our head, and prepare for hand-to-hand combat with the battle ax wielding enemy who wants to chop our heads off!
Furthermore, this is not just any helmet. This is the helmet of “salvation.” In the Greek the word is actually an adjective. So, a better way to put it would be, “And take on the saving/delivering helmet.”
So, number one, we accept eagerly the offer of Christ’s sacrificial salvation. And this salvation guarantees us daily power over sin and future power over eternal punishment and death. But, as for being “re-saved” spiritually every day, that is not what this is talking about here. As soon as one believes in Jesus, who He is and what He did in His death and resurrection, and tell others about this, we are saved and guaranteed eternal life (Romans 10).
However, there is a battle still in the arena of our souls, for we are in the process of being transformed through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) through the washing of the Word (Ephesians 5); from glory to glory He is changing our minds! (2 Corinthians 3). Indeed, though we are saved, we are still in the conflict. But, instead of us being slaves we are now the masters and more than conquerors through Christ (Romans 8:37), who is our Head, our Lord, our Salvation…indeed, Jesus is our helmet of Salvation. Without Him there is no salvation.
However, the devil wants to be your head. So, he sends thoughts to us, even dreams at night. This is a part of the tactic of his warfare. These thoughts can sometimes seem good, reasonable, logical, even compassionate, when in reality they do not align with Scripture (for example: a relative cohabiting with someone outside of marriage while claiming to be Christian and we want to be accepting so we explain it away; we lied, but we reason that it’s just a white lie; we know that what we said is true about our roommate and therefore it could not be gossip; this movie isn’t so bad even if it is filled with worldly concepts after all the actress is a Christian in real life; I’m overwhelmed and God isn’t speaking to me right now so I’ll figure something out on my own!; I’m not worrying, I just care!).
And then, there are the thoughts that we know drag us down and yet we get sucked in every time. The Bible calls these “anxious” thoughts (Philippians 4:6-7), but in Greek it means more than merely being anxious. It means “to be troubled, to care to the point of bringing disruption to the personality and mind”. It comes from a root word meaning “to part, to divide, separate into parts, or disunite.” Thus, these thoughts not only change our moods and affect our words and actions, but they also cause our minds to be disrupted by the enemy.
First Corinthians 2 says, we have the “mind of Christ.” Thus, Jesus is our Head, not Satan. (Ephesians 4: 15-16, 5:23, Colossians 1:18, and 2:19 state this). Having been “baptized into Christ” we have “put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27), and are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). Because we are saved through Him, and He is now our head, we are to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 – emphasis added is mine). In other words, we are to make every thought given us by the enemy a prisoner of war!
Are you depressed? Are you worried? Are you fearful? Are you dismissing habitual sins in Christians and reasoning that that is a loving thing to do? Are you dismissing your own sins by thinking they’re not that bad? Are you possibly even questioning whether or not you’re really saved? What are we thinking about? Are we focusing more on Satan’s word than God’s?
As Christians we have been given a gift that the world does not have and that the world cannot take away. Satan can manipulate the minds of the masses, for they’ve no armor to protect themselves from a battle of which they are completely ignorant. But Christians have been given a colorful, show-stopping, weighty, ornate helmet that the enemy cannot penetrate no matter how hard he tries!!! But, it’s no good unless we first of all realize that we are in a very real war. We’re not just thinking simple thoughts or dreaming simple dreams. Those thoughts and dreams can be weapons used against us to destroy us from the inside out. They can be the battle ax to take off our heads. And secondly, we must realize that our helmet is no good if we do not “receive it eagerly” it and put it on. After all, what good it is if we’re not wearing it? It’s not meant to sit and look pretty on the shelf like a trophy or remain all shiny and new in a box in the closet. It’s meant to be worn. We are not the slave of our thoughts. Through Christ and in His name, we are the master of our thoughts. God wants to guard our every thought with His peace, but He can’t do so until we are at rest in Christ who is our Head (Philippians 4:6-7).
So, let’s take on that helmet of salvation. Let’s every day acknowledge Christ’s Lordship and Headship in our minds. Let’s no longer allow our thoughts to trouble us to the point of altering our mood or our actions or our decisions, but rather, let’s take every thought a prisoner of war to the obedience of Christ who is our Salvation and our Head!