The Armor of God:
The Helmet of Salvation
From time to time when watching a football game on TV, we will see a play when players from both teams are piled in one big heap, and out from the bottom of the pile rolls some player’s helmet. The sight of that unattached helmet is startling, and causes us to immediately wonder with concern about the unprotected head from which that helmet has come. Even in sports, the protection of a helmet is crucially important.
A few of the pieces of the armor that are listed in our text of study are obsolete in today’s battle tactics. The sword is replaced with a gun. The breastplate is replaced with a bullet-proof vest. The old battlefield shield is discarded without any replacement. But the helmet, the old helmet is still with us, and is still a critical part of the soldier’s gear.
If I had been the Holy Spirit of God, inspiring the Apostle Paul to write these words, I would have had cited first in this great list of the Armor of God this piece, the Helmet of Salvation. Without it, you are not only unprotected, you’re dead! Without a personal relationship with the holy, living, creator God through His Righteous Son, Jesus Christ, none of the rest of this stuff matters - the Belt of Truth, the Shield of Faith, the Sword of the Spirit. Indeed, unless you are in personal posession of Helmet of Salvation, none of the rest of the protective armor is even available to you.
There is a startling example this truth from a real-life experience described in the Bible. It happened, coincidentally in the city of Ephesus - or perhaps it was no coincidence at all.
Acts 19:Drachma was a silver coin, equivalent to a Roman Denarius, one day’s wage for unskilled labor. In today’s ecconomy, the market value of those scrolls would calculate out to several hundred thousand dollars.
13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out."
14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.
15 One day the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?"
16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.
18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds.
19 A number who had practiced sorcery [the term used here refers to the practice of occut magic] brought their scrolls together and [they sold them at a garage sale and donated the procedes to the church? No! They] burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.
20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.Now get the picture of what was happening. These supposed exorcists seemed to know something about the occult, but they didn’t know anything about Christ. By their own remedies, they could never bring lasting results to their clients. But they had seen the Apostle Paul and the other Christians bring real lasting freedom to those whose lives had been in bondage to Satan. And they were alert enough to figure out that it wasn’t Paul or the Christians doing it, but it was the person of Jesus Christ. Now you would think that they might have been a bit curious and would want to know who Jesus was and why there seemed to be such power in His Name. But no, they had figured out a way to invoke the powerful name of Jesus without actually surrenduring their own lives to Him in faith. And it didn’t work.
The demon answered: "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?"
Even the demon was smart enough to see that those who sought to do battle with it were unqualified, and totally unprotected:
What was missing?
These want-to-be exorcists were missing The Helmet of Salvation. There were depending on a ritual, a religious formula. But they personally were unsaved. They had no authority to invoke the name of Christ against the evil enemy. The enemy knew it, and he called their bluff.
Similarly, many today participate in religion and ritual even in our own churches, hoping their religious activity will protect them from the devil’s mischief both in this life and the life to come, but their spirits are not yet awakened to the necessity of having a living relationship with the living Christ.
The Seven Sons of Sceva also lacked the Breastplate of Righteousness. They not only lacked the protection of Christ’s righteousness to cover their individual sin, they and the whole community was deeply involved in the occult. And it appeared that even many Christians seemed to be unaware of the contradiction and the danger of continuing occult practices. And, I am sad to say, that many today who professs to be Christians deny the power and the claims of Christ, and so they resort to the world of the occult for their ultimate meaning in life.
And without a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, the Seven Sons of Sceva had no shield of faith. Their faith was not in Christ’s sacrifcial death and ressurection on their behalf. Their faith was a faith in themselves, in their own cleverness and ability. Again, they failed to realize that they needed a personal faith relationship with Christ.
I wish I had the time this morning to look at other folks in the Bible who tried to tap into God’s power in the face of spiritual oppostion without first taking care of the most important matter of their own standing before Him. Those of you familiar with your Old Testament history may remember what happened to the Hight Priest Eli and his two morally bankrupt sons, Hophni and Phinehas, when they tried to use the Ark of the Covenant as a good luck charm (1 Samuel 4). They did not fare as well as the seven sons of Sceva.
There is another protective aspect of the Helmet of Salvation. The image of the helmet that covers the head is applies to the battle of our thought life.
Satan sneaks in the back door of our minds and introduces some obscene or destructive thought. And just about the time we wonder where that came from, the Enemy walzes in the the front door and says, "You call yourself a Christian, and you came up with a thought like that!? Maybe there is no hope for you after all. How can a holy God ever forgive a sinner like you? Maybe you should seriously consider the possibility all this stuff that God has told you is an empty joke. Just maybe there is nothing to it after all."
And taking the Helmet of Salvation, you say, "I know who and what I am. But I also know Whose I am. Christ proved His love for me by going to the cross especially for me. And He assures me of it every time He offers me His body and blood in the Sacrament, and I hear the words the I am forgiven. And Christ prove His promise to me by rising again from the dead. I am His, not because of anything I have done, but because of what He has done for me. And He promised that when He comes again, He will come for me."
Part 7 - The Sword of the Spirit
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