"Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground...take the helmet of salvation" Ephesians 6:10-18
I remember one of my Bible teachers back in high school had said, “You have to put on every piece of the armor, except for the helmet of salvation. If you’re a Christian, you’re armed with that permanently from the start.”
Yet, it never seemed to make sense to me: why would Paul admonish Christians to put on this helmet if they already had it from the start?
Although this could bring up a debate about whether one can lose their salvation or not, entire books and articles have been dedicated to that subject, and this article can nowhere near cover the breadth of that subject.
This article will endeavor to look in-depth at the ‘helmet of salvation' as a crucial piece of the armor of God without diving into a study on Soteriology—the study of the doctrine of salvation. To understand some of the answers that Soteriology seeks, read Titus 3:5-8. It explains how we are saved, reborn, and renewed by God's grace, not by 'doing righteous works.'
Why is the Helmet of Salvation Such a Crucial Piece of Armor?
For any of us who have seen the movie Saving Private Ryan, there’s a scene where a soldier takes off his helmet to analyze a bullet that just hit it. The moment he does so, a soldier takes advantage and shoots his exposed head, killing him instantly. For the discretion of readers, I decided not to include the video clip, as it contains violence.
In the same way, the helmet of salvation protects us spiritually from a powerful blow of doubt from the devil.
Without the helmet, we leave ourselves exposed on the spiritual battlefield.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/svm243
What Is the Helmet of Salvation in the Bible?
We read about the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Now the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17) according to my Bible teacher from high school is given to a Christian from the start of their journey. John Gil’s commentary seems to align with this view.
The Arabic version of the phrase, from Gil’s exposition of the Bible is ‘the helmet of the Savior.’ In other words, we put on Christ himself. Christ protects our heads (and our whole beings) from spiritual death.
Head, symbolically in the Bible, tends to mean the whole person.
It’s the most essential part of a person, in Scripture. People would place their hands on the head of a person when that person was being blessed (Matthew 19:15). Curses would fall on someone’s head (Genesis 49:26). When Jesus crushes the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15) he renders a grave, irrevocable blow. He essentially destroys him completely.
Therefore, we must protect the head at all costs, putting on salvation. Putting on Jesus.
But if we put on salvation from the start of our journey, then why does it seem like Paul here is telling us to put on the helmet regularly? Do we take off our salvation before we go to bed at night?
No. Salvation (or justification) is a one-time thing. We don’t have to keep saying the sinner’s prayer over and over again until it ‘sticks.’
So how do we put on the helmet of salvation if we already have salvation?
The passage, according to Wesley’s explanatory notes, also appears to focus on the hope of salvation. We have confidence that God will work in us and through us, and will offer us 'pardoning love' if we follow him.
So, in essence, we put hope on our heads every day.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Jeremy Perkins
How Do We Take Up the Helmet of Salvation?
In the Roman army, the helmet would go on last.
Why not first? After all, if a soldier experienced head injuries, the rest of the armor would be superfluous.
Salvation is a protection that comes only from the Lord. We cannot ‘put it on;’ he puts salvation on us. However, we do have to put on a helmet of salvation every day: and that is the helmet of the hope of salvation.
In other words, the devil likes to plague us with doubts about our salvation, inject worldly ideas (Romans 12:1-2), and have us focus on the minute instead of eternity.
The helmet of salvation protects us from that. Some commentators have said the helmet has a purpose in assuring us of salvation. It helps us when we enter the battlefield of the mind, where the devil can deal harsh, sometimes fatal blows.
If the devil plagues us with doubts about our eternal standing, of course we’re going to be susceptible on the battlefield. Of course, we won’t spend time spreading the Gospel through the sword of the spirit, because we’re busy nursing head injuries.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 seems to align with this interpretation as it admonishes us to put on the ‘hope of salvation as a helmet.’
Before we enter any battlefield, and every day is a spiritual battlefield, we need to ensure we put on this helmet. But how?
We need to refresh our memory every day by staying in Scripture, pray during all circumstances, and remember who has the ultimate victory.
Satan wants to keep us trapped in the here and now. We see awful tragedies on the news, we encounter doubts, and we worry we’ve lost our salvation. But in times like that, we have to renew our trust in the Lord.
What Does Jesus Say about Salvation?
Salvation was one of the most talked-about topics in Jesus’ sermons. No wonder since salvation comes through him alone (John 14:6).
Jesus says God gave his only Son for our salvation from sin (John 3:16-18), and that anyone who makes a believing commitment of faith to him will not be condemned to eternal death. When we do so, when we trust in him and make him Savior of our lives, we become children of God (John 1:12). He adopts us into his family.
If you haven’t had a chance to make a commitment to the Lord, and you want to be saved and adopted into God’s family, consider speaking with a pastor, or a friend who is a believer, and have them guide you through one of these prayers.
If you’re still curious about what making a commitment to Christ entails, check out this article here.
My inbox is always open as well (see my website in my bio). I’d love to share how God has worked in my life and dialogue with you about how Christ has saved me and what salvation looks like.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Andriy Boechko
Where Else Is Helmet/Salvation Imagery Used in the Bible?
The phrase ‘helmet of salvation’ is used in terms of the divine warrior in Isaiah 59:17. This passage talks about God sending a warrior armed also in a breastplate of righteousness and a cloak of zeal.
The Bible doesn’t seem to carry many other instances of a helmet in a symbolic sense, but it does have several images for salvation.
A Prayer for Your Helmet of Salvation
Heavenly Father, salvation comes through you alone. Please give me the assurance that I am your child and that you will do all you have set out to do on earth. In this broken and dying world, remind me of your promises. Help me to renew my mind. Purge any thoughts that are not holy or not true, and equip me for the battlefield of today. Destroy any doubts that may cloud my mind and help me to keep my mind on the things of eternity, even amidst the worries of every day. I love you Lord, and am trusting in you today, tomorrow, and always. Amen.
Salvation is key in the Bible as well as hope and trust that the Lord will do what he says he will accomplish. Without such hope, and without such salvation, we come to the battlefield vulnerable.
We need the Lord to protect our heads, where the devil likes to strike. Hope and trust in the Lord can shield us from all the blows the devil may try to render against us. When God arms us with the helmet of salvation, we can rest assured that he is our rock, fortress, light, and life, and he will never abandon us on the battlefield.
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 600 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog. Her modern-day Daniel, Blaze, (Illuminate YA) Den (releasing July 2020), Dear Hero (releasing September 2020), and Dear Henchman (releasing 2021) Find out more about her here.
This article is part of our series on the Armor of God. To learn more about the meaning, context, and purpose of each piece of armor in the spiritual life of the believer, visit the articles below.