************ Sermon on Ephesians 6:17a ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on March 25, 2018

Ephesians 6:10-18
Ephesians 6:17a
"The Helmet of Salvation"

Dear friends, we are in a war, a battle. We have an enemy who never quits. We have an enemy who wants nothing more than to destroy the church, pervert the Gospel, and receive the praise and worship which belongs to God alone.

We can never be asleep at the switch with this enemy. We need to be vigilant, watching, praying. And, we can never take matters into our own hands. I say that because I just read the story of the Gibeonites in Joshua 9. They looked real. They sounded real. It sure seemed like they traveled a long distance. But it was all a lie from Satan. Joshua and the leaders of Israel made a treaty with them without first checking with the Lord. And they were deceived.

This is the way Satan operates. So we need to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. How does that happen? How do we tap into the power and strength of Jesus? By putting on the full armor of God.

The Christian life is anything but passive. Yes, God is our strength. Yes, the battle belongs to the Lord. But we are also called to be active and obedient and diligent and committed. So be strong in the Lord. Put on His armor.

HOLD UP PICTURE. So far we have looked at the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the Gospel of peace, and the shield of faith. Today we want to look at the next piece of the Christian's armor: the helmet of salvation.

I The Roman Soldier's Helmet
A Roman soldiers wore armor to protect themselves. They wore a breastplate to protect their vital organs. They used a shield to protect themselves from flaming arrows. They wore a helmet to protect their head.

Protect their head from what? From the broad swordsof enemy soldiers. Soldiers back then wielded two kinds of swords. There was the small dagger, more like a large knife, with a single cutting edge. This was used in hand-to-hand combat to stab and wound. There was also the broad sword, a massive double-edged sword that was 3-4 feet in length. The handle would be gripped in both hands. The soldier would raise it high over his head and strike down on his enemy's head, splitting open the skull. A helmet was needed to protect the skull from such an attack. No Roman soldier would ever be foolish enough to go into battle without a helmet. A Roman soldier would be very careful to get his helmet on.

B My research this past week revealed different types of helmets worn by Roman soldiers. The original helmets were made of leather -- looking something like the original football helmets worn in the NFL. Next came leather and metal helmets -- basically, leather with strips of metal riveted on them. Then came helmets of solid, cast metal; over time these also included flaps that protected the neck, ear, and chin; and the metal-smiths learned to add a double-thickness of metal at the most critical points.

On TV we have all seen Roman soldiers with those big, red crests mounted on their helmets. These crests were worn by officers and by imperial guards. And on you might have seen Roman soldiers with face guards attached to their helmet. This was the helmet worn by gladiators in the arena.

Regardless of the style or type of helmet, they all had one purpose: to protect the head of the soldier.

II The Devil's Sword
A Paul tells us to "take the helmet of salvation" (Eph 6:17). To protect us against what? To protect us against the attacks of the enemy, the devil, whom we know as Satan.

What kind of attacks are we talking about? Since the helmet protects the head, it only makes sense to talk about the attacks of Satan's sword on the mind.

The first edge of Satan's sword is discouragement. Discouragement. Look at Paul. Satan struck Paul with blow after blow. Paul could write to the Corinthians about his experiences: hard pressed on every side, persecuted, struck down, hardships and distresses, imprisonments and riots, sleepless night and hunger, regarded as an imposter, sorrowful, having nothing, having concern for all the churches, weak, led into sin (cf 2 Cor 4:8-9; 6:4-10; 11:21-29).

Satan wants to discourage the people of God. He wants them to give up on witnessing to someone, to quit doing Kingdom work, to give in to the world, to think "I am doing no good and making no difference." Satan wants to discourage elders and deacons. He wants them to be discouraged as they help people and give up on being an encourager and give up on trying to admonish and correct. Satan especially wants to discourage pastors. He wants pastors to be criticized, attacked, complained about; he wants them to feel isolated and unappreciated; he wants them to give up and give in and start catering to people's itching ears when it comes to sermons and music and moral issues.

B Doubt. This is the other edge on Satan's sword. Satan wants you to doubt your salvation. Most people suffer doubt at one time or another in their Christian life. As he did in the Garden of Eden, Satan takes a true statement and turns it into a lie. For instance he correctly convinces you that you are not good, that you are bad. But then he goes the next step -- here comes the lie -- you are not good enough to be saved, you are too bad to be saved. Or, he wants you to doubt that your faith is real. Or, he wants you to doubt that you are a Christian. Or, he wants you to doubt your love for God and God's love for you. Or, he wants you to doubt that the grace and love of Jesus saves you; that you need to add some of your works to the mix and, of course, they are never good enough to stop your doubt.

The activities and attacks of Satan are relentless. They never stop. Again and again he wants to give a death blow to your faith.

III The Christian's Helmet
A Picture Satan standing over you. With both hands he is holding his broad sword. One edge is discouragement. The other edge is doubt. He wants to strike your head with the sword. He wants to split you skull wide open. He wants to kill your faith, your love, your commitment. What do you do? "Take the helmet of salvation ..." "Take the helmet of salvation ..." That's the only way to protect yourself from the devil's sword. That's the only way to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.

So what is the helmet of salvation? I did a google search on the Internet to see how different people answer this question. More than one pastor says this means you have to quick be saved before you go into battle. They say you need to give your life to Jesus. They say you need to get down on your knees and pray the sinner's prayer. All of these are good things to do, of course, but this is not what Paul means by the helmet of salvation.

In Ephesians 6 the Apostle Paul, and the Spirit Who inspires Paul, have a couple of assumptions. First, they assume you are a Christian, that you are already saved. Second, they assume you need the armor because Satan is attacking you and hating you as one of God's children. So the helmet of salvation cannot be a call to be saved.

B So what is Paul talking about? Paul explains what he has in mind in his letter to the Thessalonians:
(1 Th 5:8) But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
Did you hear that last phrase: the hope of salvation as a helmet?

What does this mean? Salvation in all its fullness includes three things. First, it includes justification. Because of the cross and grave of Christ we have been justified. The great exchange has taken place: our sins have been placed upon Christ and His righteousness has been placed upon us.

Second, salvation includes sanctification. Sanctification is the process of becoming Christ-like, of breaking the dominating power of sin, of putting off the old man of sin and putting on the new man of righteousness.

Third, salvation includes glorification. You know what I mean. A new and better life with Christ in a new and better body on a new and better earth. A life without sin or the power of sin. A life with no more tears or death or mourning or crying or pain.

We have already experienced the first part of salvation in Christ -- salvation as justification. This happened already some 2000 years ago. We are already experiencing the second part of salvation -- salvation as sanctification. The third part of salvation, the hope of salvation, is what are looking forward to. This is what Paul has in mind when he talks about the helmet of salvation.

C So, what is the helmet of salvation? It is confidence in a full, final, total salvation. It is the assurance of salvation in all its fullness and glory. It is a conviction
(Rom 8:38-39) ... that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, (39) neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It is knowing Satan is going to lose. It is knowing Jesus is going to win. It is knowing that in Christ you also are going to win.

How is this part of our armor? Let me put it in a negative way and let me put it in a positive way. Negatively, if you believe you can lose your salvation, you are headed for trouble as you battle Satan. If you are scared of losing your salvation you cannot withstand the attacks of the enemy. If you are scared Satan can attack you and you end up in hell, you will not put up much of a fight. Discouraged people, people who think the devil can mess up God's plans, people who think the devil is stronger than God, are going into battle with a defeatist attitude. They don't fight with confidence. They don't give their best. That's the negative side.

Positively, if you believe you cannot lose your salvation, Satan is the one in trouble as he attacks you. We need to be crystal clear about our eternal victory, so confident and positive and assured about our future, that we allow nothing to stand in our way. Our confidence makes us willing to sacrifice anything and everything in this life because what is waiting for us in glory is so much better. Those with the assurance of salvation are willing to sacrifice their whole life without fear. That's the positive side.

"Take the helmet of salvation ..." Believe in your victory in Christ. Believe in your triumph in Christ. Believe in Satan's total and complete defeat. Have the heart and attitude and mindset of a victor.

So Satan comes at you with sword over his head ready to strike down and crush your skull. What do you do? "Take the helmet of salvation ..." All his fatal blows are deflected by the helmet of salvation. All his fatal blows are deflected by the confidence that nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

D What do they look like who wear the helmet of salvation? Who are they? Where do we find them in the Bible? In the seven letters to the seven churches the book of Revelation gives us a beautiful picture of those who wear the helmet of salvation. Now, remember, each of the churches was under attack. They were beleaguered by sin and persecution. Each of the churches faced the sword of Satan. Yet, each of the letters ends with a promise to those who "overcomes." Each of the letters ends with a promise to those who overcome, who persevere in the faith, who wear the helmet of salvation.
(Rev 2:7) To him who overcomes, [maybe I should add, to him who wears the helmet of salvation] I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

(Rev 2:11) He who overcomes [that is, him who wears the helmet of salvation] will not be hurt at all by the second death.

(Rev 2:17) To him who overcomes, [that is, him who wears the helmet of salvation] I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

(Rev 2:26) To him who overcomes [that is, him who wears the helmet of salvation] and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations--

(Rev 3:5) He who overcomes [that is, he who wears the helmet of salvation] will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.

(Rev 3:12) Him who overcomes [that is, him who wears the helmet of salvation] I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.

(Rev 3:21) To him who overcomes, [that is, him who wears the helmet of salvation] I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.
These, I say, are the promises of God to those who wear the helmet of salvation.

The helmet of salvation does not make us proud and arrogant. It doesn't allow us to swagger and boast that we are stronger than the devil. Don't forget, by putting on the armor we are strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. The strength and power are God's. The victory is God's. It is all of God.

With this in mind let me end with my all time favorite Bible verse. From Paul's letter to Philippi:
(Phil 1:6) being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Those who wear the helmet of salvation are not confident in themselves. Never in themselves. Their confidence is in Christ. Their hope is in Christ. Their victory is in Christ. They believe that the Christ Who justifies us and sanctifies us will also someday glorify us. That's our hope. That, my brothers and sisters, is the helmet of salvation.
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