No soldier in any era of history would think of going into battle without a covering for his head. For the Roman soldier this “helmet” was usually a cap made of leather, with metal plates attached. Or some later helmets were actually made of metal cast in the shape of a skull. But whatever the external form of the helmet, the purpose was the same: to protect the skull from the blows of the broadsword. The broadsword was designed specifically as a weapon against the head. It was usually three to four feet long with a long handle which the soldier could grip in both hands. The main way in which it was used was to raise it high above the head and bring it down on the head of the enemy with the intent of crushing or splitting the skull.
Therefore the roman soldier wore a helmet to protect against this frequently used weapon. Just as the Roman soldier was provided protection for his head, so is the Christian soldier. Let’s think first about the identification of the helmet of salvation – what does it symbolize? At first reading we would assume that this is a reference to the salvation that we have in Christ. And certainly that is true in a general sense; our salvation protects us against anything that Satan might try to do to us. But we are still vulnerable to Satan in a very unique sense: the way in which we use our heads.
A great area of weakness that Satan loves to exploit is the thought life of the believer. And unless we make use of the thought patterns that are established in the scripture, we leave our head unprotected. Therefore the helmet of salvation represents the assurance that believers can have of our security and our strength because of our salvation. We have been forgiven of all sin, we are eternally secure, and Satan has already been judged and sentenced. Solomon said in Proverbs 23:7
As a man thinks in his heart so is he.
Before any commander can lead his troops into battle, he must build up their morale. And the same thing is true of the Christian soldier. Unless the believer is confident, because of the promises of Scripture, that Satan can be defeated, he is certain to go down in defeat. So when Ephesians 6:17 commands us to put on the helmet of salvation it is telling us to receive from the Word of God the promises of God concerning our position in Christ and our victory in Him. It is only as we appropriate these promises of victory that we can expect to “stand in the evil day.” If you are a spiritual coward and afraid to face the adversary because you are sure that he will overwhelm you, you can expect to be defeated. But it is not necessary to be that way. If you have the helmet of salvation this means that you are assured from the word of God that victory is certain. If you know that your adversary’s weapons and ammunition are inferior to your weapons given by God, you do not fear him. And this is what the Apostle has in mind when he exhorts the Ephesians to put on the helmet of salvation.
Another aspect of the helmet of salvation is its inherent power. In Philippians 4:13 the Apostle flatly states “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Now Paul didn’t think that he himself was invincible, but he knew that he was invincible because of God’s provision for him in the gospel. Paul didn’t preach a gospel which could save for eternity, but was inadequate for daily life. The gospel that he preached was sufficient not only for eternal life, but also for daily needs as well. And if you and I count on the fact that we can, in fact, do all things through Christ, then our very mental assent to that fact amounts to the putting on the helmet of salvation.
In John 16:11 Jesus said that “the prince of this world is judged.” If we assent with our minds to the fact that judgement has already been passed on Satan, we are putting on the helmet of salvation. But if, on the other hand, we really feel that there is little or nothing we can do when he attacks, then we are defeated. And the sad part is that that defeat took place in our minds. In James 4:7 we read, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” If we doubt that word we will be on our way to defeat. But if we believe it we are well on our way to victory. The word “resist” means “to stand against.” In fact it is the same word used here in Ephesians 6:13 where we are told to “withstand” the evil one. And James says that if we stand with our feet firmly planted on the promises of God, and refuse to be moved, Satan will turn tail and run.
We have somehow gotten the idea that Satan is a bold warrior. But actually the scripture reveals that he is a coward and a bully. Because of that cowardice he tries to frighten us with his threats, but when we stand against him, he will be the one to run.
Now we have seen the identification of the helmet and its inherent power, so now let’s look at some instances of in which the helmet can be used.
The Word of God has a great deal to say about the use of the mind. Because the mind is the seat of our thought processes and plays an active role in the exercise of faith. For example, in II Timothy 1:7, Paul told Timothy about a very important aspect of the mind.
God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
One of Satan’s favorite tools is fear. And this verse touches on several things that can cause fear: a lack of power, a lack of love, and a troubled mind. But we don’t need to be afraid of any of those because God has given all of those things to us. And to put on the helmet of salvation is to believe those promises.
Another use of the mind and the helmet of salvation is in Philippians 4:6 & 7:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your heart and mind through Christ Jesus.
Here is another tool of Satan is “worry.” But here is a patented formula to do away with worry:
The first step is, “stop worrying about anything!” Now I can almost hear someone saying, “That’s impossible! There are things that I have to worry about!” The second step is “pray about everything.” And again I can almost hear someone saying, “I can’t pray about everything; I don’t have time for that. But think about this: “who are you talking to when you are worrying about everything. You are talking to yourself, aren’t you?” And yet somehow you find time to do that don’t you? And you know what people think about someone who goes around talking to himself don’t you? It’s time to call the men in the white coats! And if you talk to God instead of talking to yourself, at least you are talking to someone who is promising in these very verses to do something about it. I like to call this formula “worrying to the Lord.”
And notice the unabashed promise here: “And the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your heart and mind through Christ Jesus.” I like to say that this last phrase is for those who can’t see how something as simple as this could work. But God knew you would feel that way, and that’s why He said that it is beyond understanding. The word “keep” here is a translation of a word that means “to stand sentry duty.” Now notice: God doesn’t promise that the problems will magically go away, but that we can have a secure peace even in the midst of Satan’s attack.
A third instance of the use of the mind and the helmet of salvation is in II Corinthians 10:5
Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts it self against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to Christ.
Doesn’t this sound familiar? Things crowding into our minds and forcing all thoughts of Christ out. And notice how important those things can seem – “every high thing. And how devious – “imaginations.” And what are we to do with those thoughts? Cast them down! But not only that, but “bring them into captivity to Christ.”
And that brings us full circle to where we started. To bring thoughts into captivity to Christ is to look at the things of life from the perspective of God’s standards, not the world’s. And it is only this kind of thinking that will protect our heads from the broadsword attacks of Satan.
Satan’s broadsword sometimes takes the form of fear, sometimes worry, and sometimes imagination. But God has complete protection for all of these. The helmet of the thought life – a mental assent to the truth of all that is ours because of salvation.