This is a question only Holy Spirit can answer, and I’m not going to find the answer in my Pastor, or my friends, or my husband. No. This answer needs to come from the Author and Perfecter of my faith, the Finisher of my Salvation, my Rock. My God.
Have you ever come to a place like this?
Remember the Truth. As hard as it may be to stand at all today. Remember you are can stand with His strength, on His truth, and on solid ground.
For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of the 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. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken’ struck down, but not destroyed…
(2 Corinthians 4:6-9)
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:6-7)
For me, I know the His Truth. But I haven’t been living in that Truth. And life circumstances made a storm great enough that I found that black abyss. But God is good, and He is bigger than any storm I will face.
The Armor of God: Helmet of Salvation
Ephesians 6:10-18 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 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. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints…”
As I was preparing for this topic of the Helmet of Salvation I began pondering the set of armor as a whole. If I were going out to battle I would want the strongest metal available. Do you know what the strongest metal is? We know that gold while very valuable, is a weak and soft metal. Not one of you would want to take that into battle. Adamantium, perhaps? This is the fictional metal that appears in the X-Men universe. This metal is practically indestructible. It’s most common appearance is in Wolverine, where this metal was infused into his body and bonded to his skeletal system. It became one with him. And really when you think of it, isn’t that what happens upon salvation for us? The Holy Spirit comes upon us, becomes one with us, and is an indestructible force within us. I found that there isn’t one metal that is ideal; in order to create a metal strong enough to withstand impact, tension, or forces that may try to bend it or squish it you have to combine metals. Much like the whole armor of God. It’s not one attribute that keeps us protected and ready to fight, it’s the whole of them. However, there is one you must have in order to obtain the rest. The Helmet of Salvation.
But, what is salvation? What does is do for us as followers of Jesus? And why is it likened to a helmet?
Salvation, comes from the Greek word sōtér (so-tare), which is derived from sózó. Sózó means to deliver out of danger and into safety. Sōtér, the word used here in our text means the Savior, Jesus Christ Himself, who saves us from our sin, and delivers us into His safety.
God, from the very beginning, has been striving to save us. Even before sin entered into the world He was coming up with solutions to save us. Man was the first one needing saving, and woman was the solution. Genesis 2:18 “And the Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him.” You see, man needed to be saved from loneliness. As we move through the book of Genesis alone you can see the many moments of salvation and redemption: the blood sacrifice needed for Adam and Eve’s sin (Genesis 3:21), God seeking out Cain and his attitude before he even killed his brother (Genesis 4:6-7), God gave another son to Adam and Eve after Abel was killed (Genesis 4: 25-26), the world wide flood (Genesis 6-9), God’s promise to Abram (Genesis 12), Lot’s physical salvation (Genesis 14)….on and on and on in Scripture God is faithfully saving us. And every bit of Scripture points to His ultimate Salvation plan.
Even the priestly garments pointed to the coming of the Messiah. Look at Exodus 28:36-38. The turban was fitted with a plate of gold that read “Holiness to the Lord.” It was set on the front, that the high priest may bare the iniquity of the children of Israel. And it shall always be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord. Ok, let’s unpack this a bit. The turban, which the High Priest wore, was a picture of the sin of the people that he took onto himself. God said in Exodus that the turban, which represented the Holiness the High Priest carried to the Lord on behalf of the people, would be continually on his head, so that the people of Israel and their offerings would be accepted before the Lord. Our High Priest is Jesus (Hebrews 5:9-10), He took on our sins (1 Peter 2:24, Romans 4:25, 1 John 2:2), and He bares the mark continually of our sins (John 20:27). So, if Jesus is the High Priest, and He is, He bore our sins, and we have accepted this as truth, then Jesus is the holiness that sits on our head so that we may be accepted by God the Father. The helmet of salvation. What the High Priest wore physically, Jesus now is. Done through the cross, resurrection and ascension.
This is what salvation is, then: Jesus Christ, a free gift of grace from God (Romans 6:23). Even Merriam-Webster Dictionary agrees, salvation is “deliverance from the power and effects of sin.” [This is what they have to say about Jesus, “the Jewish religious teacher whose life, death and resurrection as reported by the Evangelists are the basis of the Christian message of salvation.”] Look at John 1:12-13, salvation is the act of believing. John 3:16-18, salvation, or believing, is rescuing us from condemnation. Jesus Himself is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). He is salvation, not condemnation as many would say He is. Romans 10:9-10, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart of a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth confesses, resulting in salvation.” You can claim God all you want, but until you believe His Son is the Way, the Truth, and the Light then you won’t be saved, for even the demons believe and shudder (James 2:19).
Look again at John 1:12-13. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” When we have faith, believe, and confess, then we are given the right to be called children of God.
But if it’s a right, then it is simply a right, right? Wrong.
Examine for yourself what a right is. It is not automatic. There are qualifications that come with the right-either you are born into the right, or you have somehow earned the right. Citizenship for example. You are born into the citizenship, or you prove through processes and tests that you have earned the citizenship. John 3 is the account of Nicodemus coming to Jesus in the night. In verse 3, Jesus says this, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” One more verse, Philippians 3:20, “For our citizenship is in Heaven…” So you see, upon salvation we are born as a citizen into Heaven, therefore earning the right to be called Child of God. Daughter of The Most High.
[As a citizen of Heaven then, we are ambassadors unto this world. Therefore, it is our responsibility to represent Christ appropriately. To quote Pastor Mike, “Do you see people or a problem?”]
I have been so moved by this extraordinary, indescribable love that He has shown, not only to me, but the entire world. He has loved the world so much that He has given us the choice. But on top of that choice, He gives us every opportunity to chose correctly. When Jesus was entering Jerusalem on the back of the donkey, and the crowds were praising Him, the Pharisees tried to tell Him to make them be quiet. But how did He respond? “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19:40). Can you imagine that? If no one on Earth was praising Him, the very nature He created would be shouting His praise. Romans 1:20, in fact supports this. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Nature itself holds, represents, and points to the power of God, so that no one is without excuse when they meet Jesus face to face. What love! I am astonished and marveled at this love. I pray that I could one day love an inkling of this kind of love.
What a beautiful picture of God’s pursuit of us, love toward us, redemption and salvation offered to us.
If God pursues and loves us so, then why are we not all taken to Heaven? Why do people go to Hell?
In short, God is just, and He must judge justly. If you appear before Him with the promised Holy Spirit, and Jesus’ blood running through your veins you are saved. If you present before Him with anything less, you are condemned. However, that being said, God did not intend for us to be sentenced to an eternity of damnation. He created us to commune with Him. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.” It’s important for us to know that God didn’t create this world to condemn it, but to save it, to love it, to love us. God doesn’t force this decision on us. He waits so patiently for us to turn to Him.
Although God does not force us to make a decision to love Him, we will eventually face Him with the choice we have made on Earth. Just as I said before, if we choose to love Him and follow after Him this side of eternity we choose Heaven. If we don’t make that choice, we have then abdicated. We have given up our right to be co-heirs with Christ. We have given up our right to live in God’s presence forever, and we are to live eternity in the complete absence of God. When we choose God, what happens after that?
John 14:15-17, 26-27. From the very lips of the One who went to the cross for you, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you…But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be trouble, nor let it be fearful.”
What else does Holy Spirit do for us upon faith, belief and confessions? John 16:13, He will speak to you and through you, He will guide you in the truth. 2 Corinthians 3:6b, Spirit brings life; verse 17 brings freedom; verse 18 He transforms. Keep your finger here, we’ll revisit this passage in a moment. We are also sealed with Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13).
Unfortunately, with salvation we are not given perfection or untroubled lives. How often do we hear this said, but then grumble against our circumstances? John 16:33, we have trouble but we also have hope in Christ who has already overcome this world. 2 Corinthians 1:3-6, 9 answers that question we often ask in the midst of troubles: why? We are afflicted for the salvation of others, and we are afflicted so that we may trust in God rather than trusting in ourselves.
What are some other benefits of salvation? Of course eternal life as we’ve already mentioned (John 6:35-40). We walk in light, not darkness (John 8:12). If you’ve ever struggled with depression than this is a great reassurance. Here’s one for everyone: we are set free from the bondage of sin and death (John 8:31-34). This reminds me greatly of some of Jesus’ most spoken words, “Your faith has made you well.” The last benefit, so to speak, that I’d like to talk about, but certainly not the last mentioned in the Bible, is the idea of God’s glory being unveiled within us. Turn (or click) to Exodus 34:29-35. Here is the account of Moses, who after spending time with God, had a glowing face. This frightened the people, so he made it a habit to put on a veil after spending time with God. Now turn to 2 Corinthians 3:6b-18. Here we see several things, but what I would like to point out is that through the work of the Spirit and His righteousness the veil covering our heart is removed, we are given freedom and life, and we are being transformed. This is the mark that we wear when it’s said that someone should be able to simply look at you and know you’re different.
How are these marks portrayed in our lives though, how does it look? Look at Galatians 5:16-26, paying attention to verses 22 and 23.
Can we agree then, that salvation is the biggest decision you will EVER make in your life? Here’s how I imagine it: upon salvation God fits you with your helmet, signaling to all those who see, you are His child. Not only are we fitted with tailor made armor, we are also a new creation; the old you is gone, replaced with new you. Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26 both talk about God taking out our heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh. If we are also a new creation, then I would think that before salvation we are fully made of stone. Upon salvation we are a new creation, made of flesh, which is why we are immediately fitted with God’s armor. Am I inferring too much, maybe…but if the armor fits, wear it…
If you think about the heavenly realm being this kind of “parallel universe.” I imagine that there are things of this realm which are present, but we can’t see in our physical world. As believers walking around in this realm we are marked by our armor in the spiritual world. And the helmet is the key piece to being clothed in all the other pieces. Because without salvation, we can not have a breastplate of righteousness, or the shield of faith, or any other piece of God’s armor. Now I would venture to say that there are varying degrees of what our helmets and armor look like: some are shiny and well taken care of but weak (someone who plays the plastic Jesus game), some are beaten and worn but strong (those who are walking the walk and talking the talk), some are rusting and essentially useless (those who have walked away, or are apathetic in their faith).
How our armor looks is a picture of what we are doing with our salvation and call to holiness. [2 Timothy 1:9 “[He] has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity…”]
So, then, this begs the question: what does your armor look like?
Remember what the beginning of this passage in Ephesians says? Our armor is for the purpose of this heavenly realm. To stand against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:11), and that our fight is against the dark and evil powers and rulers and authorities of this heavenly realm (Ephesians 6:12). So if this picture I’ve painted of a “parallel universe” is accurate, then our enemy can see the state of our armor.
Armor of God: The Shield of Faith
What is faith?
- Faith is having been persuaded, or to come to trust in something or someone.
- Faith brings assurance(Hebrews 10:22)
- Faith is persecution, bearing each others burdens, confidence in the things of Heaven, perseverance, believing, courage(Hebrews 10:32-39)
- It’s a lifestyle (Hebrews 10:38, Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17)
- Faith is confidence in what we hope for, it’s assurance about what we cannot see, it helps us to understand, and we will be rewarded for our faith. Hebrews 11:1, 3, 6
- When we have faith, great things will come: sacrifice, offerings, righteous living, please God, hear God, obey/move, become heirs with Christ, dwell in foreign lands (Earth), receive (Phil. 4:19), bless others, worship, confidence/courage/no fear, walk away from the ways of the world and choose the path of life, keep God’s commands, pass through various trials, walls will fall, the ungodly will claim the name of God, eyes will be opened, turn from dark to light, turn form Satan to God, receive forgiveness of sins, receive inheritance, be sanctified.
- When we have faith, horrible things will come: tested, sacrifice, temptation, war, strife, death, persecution, wandering/desert times. If you look at Hebrews 12:11, you can catch a glimpse of why all these terrible things must come, even when we have faith.
- Without faith: Cain who offered not his best, Lot who compromised his holiness, draw/shrink back, in light of Ephesians 6:16 we have no protection/no shield, without faith there is no hope, Hebrews 12:15-17
There is an expectation of how one should live for someone who confesses to have faith in Christ. Fair? Absolutely! We are called to holiness, to be different. Now, that’s not to say the world has often twisted those expectations, but we has a Church have also often failed to live up to the expectations that God has placed on us. Wrestle in your heart to see where you might be compromising your faith, where the weak spot in your shield is.
Things to ponder:
How are we able to use our faith as a shield?
What keeps us from having faith?
Do you have any weak spots in your shield?
If you were to “fix” your weak spots, how would your life be different?
What are you waiting for? Go talk to God about those weak spots and start living a more faith filled life!
Lord, thank You for giving us the opportunity to have faith. Thank You for the joy, the peace, the hope, the love that comes from having faith. I pray, God, that these words would have stirred a heart to consider having faith, strengthening their faith, or somehow loving You. May Your words settle into the hearts and souls reading this, and may my words pass away like chaff in the wind. In Your Holy Name we ask these things…
Armor of God: Belt of Truth, Breastplate of Righteousness
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, and the breastplate of righteousness in place…”
What is truth? This is a question plagued by our society, and probably the whole world. Do we not see it around every corner? People searching in all the wrong places for truth. But did you know, it was also a question plagued by the world over 2000 years ago too? Look at John 18:37-38. Jesus is with Pilate, and Jesus says to him, “I am a king, as you say. This is why I was born. I was brought into this world to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” To which Pilate responds, “What is truth?” If this isn’t a reflection of Pilate’s heart, then I’m not sure what would be. Can you imagine being in his position? Standing face to face with THE TRUTH, convinced that Jesus is innocent, yet torn with what society wanted him to do. How would you have responded? Have you ever been in such a place of turmoil with what was true vs what you “had” to do? I think it’s safe to say that the way a person responds to objective truth, the Word of God being that objective truth, shows their heart’s condition; it’s a reflection of their righteousness.
When faced with the truth, how do you respond? Are you defensive or humble? Does your reaction depend on how the truth is shown to you? Should it really matter how truth is shown, if it is in fact the truth?
Truth is the basis of our faith, it is our foundation. At some point in time, your heart was faced with the truth about who Jesus is, the Savior, Messiah. And in your frailty, humility, and deep heart ache for His presence you submitted to the truth, you submitted your life and heart to Christ. Thus beginning your journey in truth. Jesus is the the way, the truth, and the light (John 14:6). Your heart responded to the truth that Jesus is the truth.
Do you remember that moment you responded to Him? What was it like to finally know real, unadulterated, living truth?
There is beautiful freedom that comes with knowing Jesus (John 8:32). We have Joy by knowing the Truth (John 17:13). We are sanctified by the truth; God’s word is truth (John 17:17). We are to worship in Spirit and truth (John 4:24). The Gospel of John is filled with Jesus’ words, and it seems to me that every other word out of His mouth is about truth: what truth is, where we find it, what to do with it.
The more I dug in to this idea of truth. The Word of God being truth, and Jesus being truth, the more amazed I was at the connectivity of everything. I used to have a faith that was so segmented. Like a child building with blocks , one piece on top of the other, but still separate pieces. And now, as I dig into His Word in a way that I never have before, it’s like I’m now building with brick and mortar. Everything is connected, it’s not disjointed and segmented anymore.
If the Word of God is our objective, solid, always relevant, yet never contradictory truth, then are you living your life according to it’s truth? According to God’s truth?
You’ve been exposed to the truth. If you’ve made the choice to believe God’s words, accept Jesus as your Savior and asked Him to be a part of your life then you are continuously exposed to the truth through Holy Spirit’s work. What are you going to to do with the truth? Are you going to be responsive and obedient, or are you going to brush it off? My friend told me once that her mother-in-law, who is a born again Christian, refused to further her knowledge of God and faith because she didn’t want to be accountable for what He revealed to her. Are you scared of the truth?
What you choose to do with the truth is going to determine your righteousness. Now, I’m battling with this statement because it’s not completely true, but to an extent it is. Your righteousness is not your own, it has been placed in you by Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection (Philippians 3:9). God Himself is righteousness (Psalm 11:7, Psalm 24:5, Psalm 37:6). Isaiah 56:1 “Thus says the Lord, “Preserve justice and do righteousness, for My salvation is about to come and My righteousness to be revealed.”” Who does it sound like He might be talking about? Couldn’t be Jesus could it? God sent His righteousness down to Earth in the form of a man, not removing any bit of His holiness, leaving it all. In order that His Word would be fulfilled; in order that you may attain everlasting relationship with Him; in order that His name would be known.
Our righteousness is not our own, it is not our weight to bare. The righteousness is Jesus’ alone; so, you may rest in knowing that you are not responsible for perfection. You are not responsible to please God, for He is already pleased with you. Otherwise, why would you exist?
Although our righteousness is not our own, we are still responsible for what we do with the truth revealed to us.
Figuratively, this breastplate of righteousness protects our heart, and emotions, and their desires as they bear our decisions. But we can’t rely on on our heart, emotions and desires unless we are also permeated with the truth. And if you’re living in truth then you’re going to remember not to make decisions based on feelings, and emotions. Here in Ephesians 6:14 we see the breastplate of righteousness; 1 Thessalonians 5:8 refers to the Breastplate of Faith. This indicates that the righteousness we have is a result of obeying the faith that God births in our hearts. If you take a look at James 2:14-26, you’ll see that the work of faith and righteousness go hand in hand. For our works of faith are proof of our righteousness, or rather, proof of the righteousness of God that dwells within us.
So what does a life look like when truth is permeating a heart, and righteousness is abounding? Romans 10:4-10 “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes that the man who practices righteousness which is based on the law shall live by that righteousness. But the righteousness based on faith…” will result in true righteousness and salvation. A life filled with truth knows that we are set free in Christ of all sin and bondage. It’s filled with unspeakable joy because of what God did for us. That life is covered with peace despite any circumstance.
Take a look at Psalm 132:9 “Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness and let Your godly ones sing for joy.” Now take a look at 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” Those verses sum everything up for me: we lived in darkness because we did not know the truth, we were exposed to the truth, accepted the truth and now live in the truth. In response to the truth we now live in we are clothing ourselves with righteousness. It’s not that I’m doing the right things because God told me to. It’s that, God loved me so much, He let my heart know and understand the truth and now I want to live right for His sake.
Psalm 23:3 “He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” God isn’t demanding us to love Him and obey His commands. Rather He is leading us down a peaceful path, filled with His love. His heart behind commands and laws and rules is not to control. His heart is this, “I love you, therefore you need to know….”