The last piece of body armor that the soldier would take up would be his helmet, just before he would pick up his sword and go out to battle. The helmet protects the solder’s head, and thus his mind. All of his decisions come from the mind, which is why it is so important to be protected. If the head is injured, even if the rest of the soldier’s body is healthy, it will not work correctly without the mind.
What is the helmet of salvation that Paul mentions here?
Ephesians 6:17 – And take the helmet of salvation.
He gives us no description; it’s just a simple statement.
The word “take” is dechomai (Strong’s 1209), and means to take with the hand, or take hold of. The word is also used as “receive.” Vines comments that it has the sense of “to take heartily.” The verb is aorist tense (simple action), in the active voice (the subject takesthe helmet).
Let’s go back to the reason we need this armor. We learned in Ephesians 6:11, 13 and 14, that we are learning to stand firm in the face of the attacks of our enemy. And who is our enemy? Look at verse 12:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Paul has already exposed our enemy earlier in Ephesians 2:2 – in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
Jesus identified our enemy in John 12:31 – Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.
The world we are living in is enemy territory; for the present time, God has allowed Satan to reign and to roam. The helmet of salvation identifies us as belonging to the kingdom of God. We are under His protection, and we go out in His authority. So the first point I would make is unless we are protected by the salvation of God, we are “fair game” for the enemy. In fact, without salvation, we are essentially members of the enemy camp.
Since Paul is writing to believers, I don’t think he is trying to say “accept salvation” or “be saved.” His audience is already saved. These are individuals already experiencing spiritual warfare, and are those who have already girded themselves with truth, righteousness and the gospel. So what might he mean by instructing them to “take” the helmet of salvation?
He uses a similar phrase in 1 Thessalonians 5:8 – 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.
Here he speaks of the hope of salvation as our helmet. The enemy’s attacks are always targeted at our mind and our heart. So hope, and specifically the hope of salvation is a defense against those attacks.
What hope do we have in salvation?
Hope is the Greek word elpis, and is defined here as joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation. It means “to anticipate with pleasure.”
Vines lists several exciting aspects of this hope for the believer:
- We have the hope of the resurrection (Acts 23:6)
- We have the hope of the fulfillment of God’s promises in Christ (Acts 26:6-7)
- We have the hope of righteousness, complete conformity to God’s will, when Christ comes (Galatians 5:5)
- We have the hope of the gospel, which is fulfillment of all the promises presented in the Gospel (Colossians 1:23)
- We have the hope of the glory of God, as in the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13)
- We have the hope of salvation, the rapture of believers (1 Thessalonians 5:8)
- We have the hope of God’s calling, the prospect before those who respond to His call in the Gospel (Ephesians 1:18)
- We have the hope of eternal life, the full manifestation and realization of that life which is already the believer’s possession (Titus 1:2, 3:7)
How is the hope of our salvation made practical in our life?
Consider the contrast in these verses:
Ephesians 6:12 speaks of forces of darkness and wickedness.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 says we are of the day.
I believe one primary way that Satan is attacking believers today is by a spirit of depression and discouragement. It is a heaviness, a weightiness of the mind that keeps us from being fruitful, joyful kingdom-participants.
The hope of our salvation is not simply “thinking good thoughts” and trying to be happy, so as to dispel the darkness of the enemy’s attacks. It is by faith taking holding of the promises of God, and asking God to give us a glimpse of reality. It is setting our mind and heart firmly on what God has declared to be true.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 – And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
This verse speaks of our enemy blinding the minds of the unbeliever, to hinder salvation. In the same way, if we are not dwelling in God’s Word, and living obedient lives, he can begin to blind our own hearts and minds to the hope we have in Christ. Life can become pretty depressing and discouraging if we forget who we truly are and what we truly possess in Christ.
That is why the hope of our salvation is our protection. We already possess salvation, but we must live in the hope that it provides. We are not home yet. We must keep our eyes on the end.
As we consider all of the glorious promises of our salvation, we have hope in the face of whatever our enemy throws at us.
Hope trumps discouragement.
Hope trumps despair.
Hope trumps failure.
Hope trumps fear.
Hope trumps insecurity.
Hope trumps shame.
Hope trumps guilt.
The hope of our salvation protects our mind (our thoughts) and our heart (our feelings).
Dwell on your salvation!
Learn about your salvation!
Rejoice in your salvation!
Exult in the promises of your salvation!
Live in the hope of your salvation!
Remember our definition of “take”? It has the sense of take heartily. Grab hold of all that God has promised us in Jesus. Cling to it with all that you have. When we consider what Jesus has done for us, and what eternity holds for us, we are able to walk expectantly, confidently and boldly in this life.
That is the helmet of the hope of our salvation!