In a war, soldiers get injured. At times, the injuries can be severe. But while a soldier might survive a broken arm or a few fractured ribs, an injured head can debilitate his movements. A particularly hard blow to the head can immobilize him.
The head covers our minds, and as we saw in the introduction to this booklet, our minds are the battlefield where war rages. This is what the enemy attacks most ferociously. It becomes essential, therefore, that we don protective headgear to safeguard our mind. God prescribes the Helmet of Salvation.
But what is the Helmet of Salvation? Paul, who uses one of the most brilliant metaphors to be found in literature to describe the Armor of God, gives us a clue in another letter, this one to the Thessalonians.
But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. (1 Thessalonians 5:8)
The Helmet of Salvation is the hope of salvation; the hope of salvation from hell, and more importantly, salvation from sin.
The importance of hope can be seen in our daily lives. A working man will put all his energies into his job in the hope that his efforts will be noticed and result in material and other rewards. Should he lose his job, it is the hope that he will get a better one that will sustain him. Take away his hope of gaining profitable employment and you would have effectively incapacitated him. He will sit at home and despair. Take away his hope in life, itself, and you would have destroyed him completely.
When looked on as part of our armor, hope takes on greater meaning. The Greek word elpis, from which the word hope derives, literally translates as “confident expectation” and is a far more descriptive and accurate definition of the helmet that safeguards our minds. The confident expectation we are required to have is of the day when Jesus Christ will come again, fulfilling all the promises made in the gospel. On this day the work that he began in us when we were born again will be completed. On this day we will secure eternal life.
... in the hope of eternal life that God, who never lies, promised before the ages began ... (Titus 1:2)
It is the hope of this eternal life that can protect our mind from the relentless assaults upon it by the enemy. A Christian who has this hope will not get confused with the fleeting pleasures of sin. Nor will he trade his salvation for the temporary lusts of the world. He won’t worry or be anxious about life’s many problems either. When the enemy shoots arrows of despair, doubt or temptation at his head, he will not succumb, because hope will secure his defenses.
There is hardly a day—nay, an hour—that goes by without the enemy whispering his insidious blandishments into my ear, asking me why I sacrifice the pleasures of life that are there for the taking. His exhortations are always played to the accompanying tune of half-truths. “You are human,” he murmurs in the seductive way only the utterly corrupt can. “God understands you are weak. Even if you fall, He will forgive you. After all He loves you so much. So why do you try so hard to be good?”
At times, especially in weaker moments, the temptation to buy into his lies is enormous. What stops me from giving in is knowing that what he offers is short lived, whereas what God promises is for all eternity, and my hope is that if I cling to His promise, I will attain it.
Hope develops the same way faith develops, and like the Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation grows stronger with use. The clearer the understanding we have of God’s word, the more we believe in God’s promises and, consequently, the greater our hope in His ability to fulfill those promises. And when the Helmet of Salvation becomes very strong, we can anchor our very soul to it.
In the same way, when God desired to show even more clearly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it by an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God would prove false, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us. We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain. (Hebrews 6:17-19)