We have placed the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, and the shield of faith. Today we complete the armor of God with the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.
No battle ensemble is complete without the helmet. Whether in war, a sports competition, riding a bicycle, or working at a construction site, the helmet is integral to the individual’s safety and ability to move forward successfully. We can injure other parts of the body and survive, but when the head is injured, it affects the entire body; ask anyone who has experienced a traumatic brain injury.
The head (brain) is the center of thinking, of hope, the ability to believe, making protection of the head most critical. But how does salvation protect us?
In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul calls this part of the armor “the hope of salvation” (5:8). This gives us an even better understanding of the purpose of the helmet. There are a few things we need to understand here.
First, salvation, as taught in this letter, is a gift of God, by faith, not anything we can earn or win on our own (Ephesians 2:8,9). Throughout the New Testament we are called to salvation, to respond to God’s gift of faith and receive forgiveness and restoration to relationship with God. But how does this gift—this helmet of salvation—protect my head? Once again, we are called to hope, not that we will be saved one day, but to rest in the truth that we are saved NOW and will one day be with Christ eternally.
The helmet of salvation protects my mind by reminding me who I am, a child of God, not just someday, but today. This helmet reminds me that I am valued by God so greatly that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gave his life for me. The truth of salvation protects me from despair, from the lies of the enemy that tell me I am not good enough, not productive enough.
Putting on the helmet of salvation is a necessary part of our preparation for the challenges we face every day.
The final “physical” piece of the full armor of God is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v. 17). Throughout the Bible we are enjoined to study, to remember, to bind God’s Word to ourselves. It is in our study and remembrance of God’s Word that we find renewed hope and can actually battle the temptations, not only deflect them. The previous parts of the armor were protective, but this, the sword of the Spirit, actually enables us to defeat those who attack us.
When Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days, the tempter came to Him in His weakened stated to deter Jesus from the battle that was to come. The first temptation relates directly to this piece of the armor:
The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:3,4).
The author of Hebrews declares that “the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
What is it that stands in the way of your spiritual victory? Is it self-doubt? Maybe it is the little voice that continually accuses you of the sins that have already been forgiven by God. Perhaps that which prevents you from recognizing who you are in Christ is the collection of thoughts planted in your mind and heart over the years, thoughts that say you are not good enough for God. Whatever the impediment, it cannot stand against the Word of God.
Hosea 4:6 says that we can be destroyed by a lack of knowledge of God, but by studying and knowing the Word of God, we are able to defeat those attacks of the enemy of our souls. We are able to overcome our fears and doubts, slaying everything that attempts to tear down our faith in God.
So there it is, the full armor of God, consisting of the belt of truth—God’s truth—buckled around your waist, the breastplate of righteousness—Jesus’ righteousness—protecting your heart, sandals that are the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace—God’s peace, the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation, and finally the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
Are you ready? Today is not too late. Put on the armor!
Mary Kay Glunt
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church
P.O. Box 393
Greenfield, MO 65803