The Helmet for the Soldier
What it is
How it helps
The Helmet for the Christian
What it is
How it helps
Taking Up the Helmet
Ephesians is a book all about the church. Probably, in regard to the church, what it is, what it has, and what it is supposed to be and do, there is no better book in the entire Bible. Ephesians chapters 1-3 are all about the riches we as Christians have in Christ. It is about the amazing wealth that has been given to us simply because we have placed faith in Jesus Christ for eternal life.
Chapters 4, 5 and half of 6 tell us how we should be using these riches. They tell us what our responsibilities are as Christians. God expects us to do great things for Him, but He only asks us to do something for Him, after He has told us what He has done for us and what He has given to us.
The last half of chapter 6, which is the section we find ourselves in now, is all about spiritual warfare. What it is, who our enemy is, how to be victorious in it, and what pieces of armor we have been given for our protection.
We have seen already the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of the gospel and the shield of faith. We have two items left, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.
Today we cover the helmet of salvation, and just as with the other pieces of armor, we will look at three things. First, how the helmet helped the Roman soldier in battle and what it was used for. Second, how the helmet can help the Christian—what we can use it for. And then thirdly, how we as Christians can put on the helmet.
The Helmet for the Soldier
The Roman soldiers had the best helmets in the ancient world. While many other nations used helmets made by wrapping cloth or leather around bones and hooves, the Roman helmet often had a chinstrap, a visor and came down to cover the back and sides of the neck.
This first picture of a helmet is rather difficult to see, but I think it is a helmet made from thick leather which is probably a more primitive version of the types of helmets Paul was familiar with. Note the ring on the top of the helmet. I will explain what that was for in just a bit.
This next picture is a drawing, and I think it shows the helmet quite well.
The helmet in Paul’s day was most often made of heavy bronze or iron, and had those cheek pieces which came down to protect the side of the face. The higher ranking officers were given the bigger plumes on top, and sometimes had gold and silver helmets for parades and ceremonies.
You may be interested to know, as is seen in the picture at the top of this post with the soldier resting next to the fire, that the helmet was not worn at all times like many of the other pieces. Pretty much, it was only worn when the soldier was going into battle.
At other times, it would be taken off and set aside, or taken off and somehow attached to the armor of the soldier for better traveling. You can see that on this soldier—he’s got his helmet attached to his shoulder. I imagine that ring on top of the first picture I showed you was used for this, and also, I am told, the ring was used to fasten the plume to the top of the helmet. 
So that is what the helmet looked like. But what was the helmet for?
Well, obviously, the helmet was intended to protect the head! It is just like a helmet today. Construction workers wear helmets of sorts to protect their heads from falling objects, football players wear helmets to protect their heads from other players, motorcycle riders should wear helmets to protect their heads if they get in an accident.
The helmet protected the soldier from swords and arrows that might get past his other defenses. In this way, the helmet was kind of a last line of defense. You know, the shield you’ve got out there—fending off attacks, it’s getting all the damage, and it’s taking all the heat—but no soldier purposefully lowers his shield and says “Well, I’ve got my helmet on—go ahead and wack away at my head. I’ll be okay.”
No, even with the helmet on, it is still the last line of defense, and the soldier doesn’t want to get hit in the head if he can help it. The helmet is only there to protect the soldier from those swords and arrows that get past the shield, and when they do get past, the soldier is mighty glad he had his helmet on.
It is much better to get a dent in the helmet than to get an arrow or sword in the head, right? The helmet—both then and now, protects the head.
But why is it so important to protect the head? Obviously, because that’s where the brain is! You protect the head because of what is actually inside the head—your brain. Without the helmet, if you sustain an injury to your head, depending on the damage, anything can happen from loss of certain bodily functions like walking or talking, to partial or complete loss of memory. You can get something like a concussion, or enter into a coma. If the damage to the brain is severe enough, you could become paralyzed or even die.
Very rarely is head damage a minor thing, so that is why it is so important to protect the head—and more specifically to protect the brain that is inside the head. That is why the soldiers wore their helmets in battle, and how the helmet was used.
With all of that in mind, let’s move on to discuss what the helmet is to be used for as part of the Christian’s armor.
The Helmet for the Christian
First of all, just like all the other pieces of armor, we must realize that this piece also is from God and belongs to God.
Isaiah 59:17 speaks of God putting on the helmet of salvation when he goes out to battle against wickedness. So this helmet of salvation is not our salvation, it is from God. It is his gift to us at the moment we believe in Jesus for eternal life.
The helmet of salvation is God’s helmet which he has given to us, for our use, as His soldiers in this war against spiritual forces.
But what exactly is this the helmet? Well, verse 17 tells us that the helmet is salvation.
And in Ephesians, when Paul refers to salvation, he is referring to aspects of the salvation or deliverance from the penalty of sin. He is referring to justification.
And so that is also how we should understand the helmet of salvation in 6:17. This helmet which we are to take up and put on is our justification. It is the helmet of justification salvation.
But why does this matter for the Christian? Especially for the Christian in spiritual warfare? Of what use is the helmet of salvation for the Christian soldier who finds himself or herself in battle?
It obviously can’t mean that they need to be saved, for remember, God only gives his armor to those who already are saved. You do not become saved by putting on the helmet. No, if you have the helmet to put on, you are already saved.
So how does the helmet help the Christian in spiritual battle?
Well, remember, the helmet protects the head, and more specifically, the brain, and so the helmet protects what the brain contains in regard to salvation.
Satan always begins his attack with what a Christian does or doesn’t know. And here, in speaking specifically about the helmet of salvation, Paul tells us that one of the main truths that Satan tries to attack is what we know about our salvation—specifically—whether we have salvation or not.
To put it simply, putting on the helmet provides us with the assurance of salvation. Assurance of salvation is ultimately a matter of the mind. Assurance of salvation is a factor of what you know and Who you know. And of course, all knowledge is contained in the mind.
It is in our head, it is in our brain, that we contain the knowledge of what Christ has done for us. It is in our head that we made the decision to believe in Jesus for eternal life. It is in our head that we know what we have in Christ, and it is in our head that we know we are saved.
So when Paul says, take up the helmet of salvation, he is kind of saying, “remember… know…understand in your mind…that you are saved, that you are justified, that you are secure in the arms of Jesus.” Taking up the helmet of salvation is the knowledge and understanding of the assurance of our salvation.
And I will talk to you in a bit about how to know you are saved, how to have assurance of salvation when we talk about putting on the helmet. But let me close this point about how the helmet helps the Christian by talking about one misconception of assurance.
Some people seem to think that the assurance of salvation, and related to it, eternal security, is a license to sin. Some people seem to think, “Well, since I know I’m saved, and since I know I’m secure, and that I cannot ever lose my salvation, I’m going to go out and live like the devil.”
Now, theoretically, logically and Biblically, a Christian can do this. It is true that if you are saved, and you go out and live like the devil, you cannot lose your salvation. You will still end up going to heaven.
But Christians shouldn’t do this, and most Christians don’t. And there are hundreds of reasons why not, but let me just explain one that has to do with our text this morning.
The helmet on the soldier’s armor was never intended to be the first line of defense against the enemy. Similarly, in spiritual warfare, the helmet of salvation—or the knowledge and assurance that you are saved is not the first line of defense either.
In spiritual battle, you don’t want to say, “Well, I’m saved and secure forever, so I can lower my defenses, put down my shield, go live any way I want, and let the enemy take his hits at me—because “Hey, I’ve got my helmet on.”
A soldier that did this would end up getting a lot of blows to the head. And a soldier that gets hit on the head a lot—even though he may live because he’s got his helmet on—he’s not going to be much use in battle, and very soon, he will lose his hearing, his sight, his ability to think, and probably will end up with some serious brain damage and maybe die prematurely.
A Christian who takes too many blows to the helmet of salvation, doesn’t lose their salvation, they just end up like Mohammed Ali, the great boxer who took too many blows to the head, and now can barely remember who he is and what he has done in the past.
It is a tragic, tragic thing when a Christian misuses or abuses the wonderful, gracious gift of assurance as an excuse for sin. They end up as decapitated Christians. The living dead. Walking around, forgetful of who they are, and what they should be doing, or what God has done for them in Christ. It is very sad.
You see, the thing is, the helmet is the last line of defense, not the first. The shield of faith and the breastplate of righteousness are the pieces of the armor which are to take most of the blows. The helmet is only there for the attack that gets past these.
If you are living righteously by walking in faith, but all of a sudden you find yourself in some sin, and Satan has, through his wily schemes, gotten one of his flaming darts in, and he comes in and starts to taunt you—“Oh, a Christian wouldn’t do that. You must not be a Christian.”
“Oh, a Christian wouldn’t have said that word. Are you sure you’re a Christian.”
“You skipped your devotions today? Maybe you’re not a Christian after all.”
This is when you bring out the last line of defense—the helmet of salvation.
Satan has gotten past the shield of faith, he has breached the breastplate of righteousness and now he is attacking your salvation. He is challenging you to question whether you were ever saved or not. He is making you doubt whether you are a Christian. Maybe sometimes he tries to get you to think you have lost your salvation.
That God maybe doesn’t love you anymore. That God has given up on you. That God has thrown up his arms, turned his back on you. These are lies that Satan tells you.
Ultimately, all of these are blows to the helmet of salvation. And they hurt. I have been in this situation before, and it literally is like you’ve stuck your head in a iron bucket and then someone whacked the outside with a sledgehammer. WHAM!
Your spiritual ears are ringing. Your mind is twirling. You can’t see straight. Worry and doubt creeps in. You begin to panic. It is not a good feeling having the helmet of salvation take a blow from the enemy.
But guess what? You had your helmet on. Yes, you’ve got that ringing in your ears, and the stars twirling around your head, but at least it’s not your brains all over the sidewalk. And so in these situations, if you have your helmet on, if you are knowledgeable about what the Bible says about your salvation in Jesus Christ, you can be sure that you are saved, no matter what lies the devil throws your way.
You’ve seen the T-shirt, I’m sure, that says, “When the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.”
That’s what the helmet of salvation does for the Christian. It provides you with the assurance of salvation. And it should be the last line of defense, not the first. So when you sin, as we all still do, you can say, “Yes, I’ve sinned—but thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord—I’m still saved!”
Let me just say one more thing before moving on to how to take up the helmet. In our day and age, the question about eternal security and the assurance of salvation is sometimes seen as a divisive issue. Some churches and Christians refuse to talk about it because there is so much disagreement on it.
And I understand why they want to do this—for the sake of the unity of the church—but I think that if we lose or sidestep the truths of eternal security and assurance of salvation, then we have pretty much lost most of the gospel—we have pretty much lost the battle for the truth of the Gospel.
If God is not able to keep us saved once we are saved, then how do we know he can save us in the first place? If God is not able to save us when we have been saved, have been secured, have been sealed, how do we know He is able to save us when we are depraved, and lost and dead in trespasses and sins?
Also, if we need works to keep ourselves saved, or to prove we are saved, then it is not going too much further to say that we need works to get saved. And we see many churches headed in that direction.
And when we head in that direction, that is when the Gospel begins to crumble.
Do you want to know what historians say was one of the indicators that the Roman Empire was beginning to crumble? Believe it or not—some historians say that the beginning of the downfall of the Roman empire was when they stopped wearing their helmets.
Gibbon, in his book called The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, notes that relaxation of discipline and the disuse of exercise made the soldiers unable to survive the fatigue of service. They complained of the weight of the armor and finally obtained permission to lay some of it aside—in particular, the helmet.
The church cannot afford to lay aside any pieces of the armor—even the helmet. Yes it causes some division in the church, and yes some would prefer to ignore it or sidestep it, or leave it behind, but that is only because some soldiers have become relaxed in their discipline and have stopped exercising and staying fit.
The assurance of salvation as illustrated here by the helmet is not something we can afford to lay aside. Rather, Paul says in verse 17, we are to take it up.
Putting on the Helmet
So let me conclude this morning by teaching you how to take up the helmet of salvation. How to know that you are saved. How to know that you are safe and secure forever.
First of all, as this particular piece of the armor reveals, the assurance of salvation is based on knowledge, not on works. It is based on what and Who you know—NOT on what you have or haven’t done.
Let me show you a few passages of Scripture that teach eternal security and the assurance of salvation.
A great book of the Bible on the assurance of salvation is the Gospel of John. Over and over again, we read that anyone who believes in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life, gets it.
Romans 8:31-39 is a classic passage on the security of the believer. There, we read that once we are saved and justified by God, nothing can separate us from his love after that. Nothing—not angels or demons, or death or anything in heaven or on earth—which includes even ourselves. Nothing we do can separate us from God’s love.
Another passage that has helped lots of people gain assurance is 1 John 5:11-13. I like to take people through this passage, asking them a few simple questions about the text. These questions are as follow:
- What has God given us?
- Where is this life?
- Who has eternal life?
- How do they get eternal life?
- Who does not have eternal life?
- Is there any alternative?
- Has this been written so that we may hope we have eternal life?
- Is God making a promise?
- Would God lie to us?
- Have you received the Son? (personal)
- Then do you know that you have eternal life? (personal)
- On what ground or basis can you know this?
- When can you know this?
The assurance of salvation is so important to correctly living the Christian life. Some people think of it as only a peripheral, controversial doctrine, but I think it is central. It provides us with great peace and comfort in the Christian life to know that God loves us so much, no matter how much or how often we mess up, He loves us still. Unconditional and infinite love is one of the best motivators to spur us on toward Christ-like living.
One of my favorite theologians is a musician by the name of Steve Taylor. In one of his songs, he writes, “people think better when they don’t have a gun at their head.” And that’s true of Christians as well. People are better Christians when they don’t have to worry all the time about whether they are saved or not.
If we go around wondering, or hoping that we’re saved, we’re not going to be very effective in battle. But if we know we’re going to heaven, no matter what, that frees us up to focus on other things, and focus on the task at hand.
Did you know that when they began to build the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the work went very slowly for quite a while. It was not that they were short on workers, or short on money—they had plenty of both. The reason was that the men were scared to be working over those cold, icy waters of the San Francisco Bay. They went very slow because they were afraid to fall to their death.
And in fact, twelve men did fall to their death, and with each one, the workers grew more and more scared and worked more and more slowly. And with each passing day, the job got further and further behind schedule.
So finally, the contractor had the idea to lay a safety net below the bridge. And he ran it from one side of the bay to the other, underneath the workers, so that if they fell, it wouldn’t matter. They would land on the safety net and be safe.
And guess what? After that, the work went very quickly. Two men did fall from the bridge, but neither one died. And the bridge was finished on time. What was it that made all the difference?
Security. The assurance that if they fell, they would be caught. This freed the workers up to focus just on the task at hand, and not have to also worry about keeping their balance in the blustery winds of San Francisco Bay.
Has the devil been tempting you to give up? Has he been telling you that you cannot be a Christian? That God doesn’t love you anymore?
Don’t you believe it! Put on the helmet of salvation, and remember the comforting and assuring teaching of the Word of God.
Remember that there is a safety net below you if you do fall, and this net is the very hand of God. Jesus says in John 10:27-29: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”
God loves us even though we all still sin. And if he’s not going to take us out of his protective hand, then nobody else can either—not us, not Satan, nobody. Don’t let the lies of Satan get into your mind. Put on the helmet of salvation and know that if you have believed in Jesus for eternal life, you are safe and secure forever.
 The Roman Soldier.
 McCalley, 74.
 From sermon from Dwight Edwards, on Eph. 6:16-17: “Armed for Battle II”