< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: The Helmet of Salvation

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Helmet of Salvation

This is part two of the Sunday School lesson I wrote using Larry Richard's book The Full Armor of God:

In the 1st century the whole Mediterranean was under Roman rule. The Roman guards/soldiers and their uniforms were well known. In Ephesians 6 Paul describes their armor and draws an analogy between it and God’s spiritual armor that we can use to stand against demonic enemies.

Ephesians 6:14-17 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Belt = truth, Breastplate = righteousness, Sandals = preparation that comes from the Gospel of peace, Shield = faith, the helmet = salvation. The sword is the Word of God. The sword is the only offensive weapon. Everything else is defensive. Each of these meanings is defined earlier in his letter.

Ephesians 1:1-23 = defines salvation. Ephesians 2:1-10 = faith. Ephesians 2:11- 4:16 = peace. Ephesians 4:17-5:7 = righteousness. Ephesians 5:8 – 6:9 = truth.

The first scheme of Satan:

The truth is we are works of God. Each one of us is God’s personal creation. Each of us is special! We may wish certain things about us were different, but we are just as God intended us to be for His purposes.

Satan hates that. He doesn’t want us to have a meaningful life. He doesn’t want us to be used for God’s purposes. His scheme is to block our development by convincing us we are worthless. He tries to convince us we are flawed, weak and inadequate. So we will never step out and become all that God intends us to be. And he uses sin that others committed against us to reach that goal. Parents who make their children feel they aren’t reaching their potential. People who shame and humiliate us. Abandon us. Bully us. We’ve all been wounded by someone’s words or actions. Satan’s strategy is to use those words and actions to convince us we are not “wonderfully made”. That our lives will never have meaning. He uses those things to corrupt our self image. He wants us to feel weak, helpless and miserable.

Our thoughts of “I’ll never change” or “nobody cares” or “nothing I do is important” can usually be traced back to something that happened in our childhood or adolescence. The feelings we have may be real, but these are Satan’s lies.

The Helmet of Salvation

The helmet of salvation is the last piece of armor a Roman soldier puts on, but Paul talks about it first in his letter. Around the time of Paul’s writing the Roman helmet not only had a metal skull cap covered with bronze, it had a piece that protected the neck and 2 pieces that protected the cheeks.

Paul uses this to show that what protects our hearts and minds is an understanding of salvation itself. Our salvation provides a perspective that protects us from Satan’s lies. When we understand what God has done to provide salvation, we begin to grasp how truly significant we are and how much we are loved. Each member of the Trinity played a part in our Salvation.

Ephesians 1:3-14 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Even before creation, God the Father had you in His thoughts. He chose you. He planned you. He determined to adopt you as His child. In Ephesians 1:3 it says God the Father “blessed us in the heavenly realms.” In Ephesians 6:12 Paul points out that “the heavenly realms are those from which “the forces of evil” launch their attacks. Blessed in these realms we are guarded against these attacks.

It also says in 1:3 God blessed us “with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Because of our relationship with Christ there isn’t a single spiritual blessing we don’t have. So Satan’s lie of “there’s no use trying” is just that – a lie!

Ephesians 1:4 says “God chose us to be holy and blameless in His sight.” Satan’s lie is “you’ll never amount to anything.” God’s truth is that throughout eternity you will reflect the very holiness of God and even now are becoming more and more like your Creator.

Ephesians 1:5 says “God predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Christ Jesus. He did this at the foundation of the world. In the 1st century adoption as a son was very special. Every tie to the old family was cut and every debt owed to the old family canceled. We are part of God’s family now. We are royalty! Destined to rule with Jesus.

1:5 also tells us why God did this. “In accordance with His pleasure and will.” He blessed, chose and adopted us because He wanted to! He loves us! And that love isn’t based on anything we have done or will do. He loves us for ourselves!

The Son’s part is He was a freely given gift.

Ephesians 1:6 Grace. Even though we didn’t deserve it and didn’t do anything for it, Jesus chose to die for us. There was a huge cost to bring us into the family of God.

Ephesians 1:7 Jesus shed His blood to redeem us. Redemption means to pay the price necessary to free someone from imminent threat or danger. His death saved us from death. And also provided forgiveness from our sins. Past, present and future.

Ephesians 1:8 In Jesus God lavished on us the riches of God’s grace. This means that in everything that happens to us, Jesus will be there, working in each situation to bless us and those we love.

Ephesians 1:9-11 Ultimately all things in heaven and on earth will be brought together in Christ. All of God’s purpose will be fulfilled and we will see where we fit in.

Ephesians 1:12 says “for the praise of His glory.” Throughout eternity we will glorify God.

The Holy Spirit’s part:

Ephesians 1:13 says the Holy Spirit marked us with a seal. The seal is the Holy Spirit Himself who came into our lives when we believed. In the 1st century a wax seal on a package or letter had several purposes. 1. It denoted security. 2. It identified ownership. 3. It certified genuineness. The presence of the Holy Spirit in our life shows we are genuine Christians. His presence is proof we belong to God and it assures us we are safe in His loving hands.

Ephesians 1:14 The Holy Spirit is “a deposit guarding our inheritance until redemption.” Jesus has redeemed us. The Holy Spirit is God’s personal guarantee that when Jesus returns the transaction will be completed and we will be free from the slightest taint of sin.

In Ephesians 1:14 Paul repeats “to the praise of His glory.”

So God: chose, blessed and adopted us as His children.
 Jesus: redeemed, forgave and granted us overflowing grace.
 And the Holy Spirit: sealed and guaranteed our ultimate salvation so that throughout eternity we will glorify God.

Paul’s prayer follows and it’s not just for the Ephesians. Because it’s in the Bible it’s for us too.

He prays that God enables us to know Him better. That God opens our eyes to understand the significance of this salvation that is ours. As God’s own we are now one of His treasurer’s. His own precious inheritance. Also, God’s resurrection power, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us! The power which not only raised Him from the dead, but lifted Him to a position of total authority over the heavenly realm. Everything bows to the authority of Jesus.

Satan says we are weak and impotent. God says we have His resurrection power available to us!

How do we put on the helmet of salvation? How do we change the beliefs and feelings about ourselves that are rooted in Satan’s lies?

1.  Speak the truth. Read out loud and often: confessions. An example – Loving Father, I confess that I believed Satan’s lies about who I am. I have failed to live as the new creation Your Word says I am. For this I ask Your forgiveness. God and Father, I praise You for the gift of forgiveness won for me by Christ on the cross. I acknowledge You have forgiven me and accepted me. That I am Your child and an inheritor of Your kingdom. 

Next renunciation. Example: I reject Satan’s lie that I will never amount to anything. I have been given gifts by the Holy Spirit and am an important member of the Body of Christ. I renounce the lie I am not worthy to be loved. I am loved by You, God Almighty, and I am worthy to be loved by others also. I renounce the idea there is no use trying. I reject self-hatred and self-condemnation. And I affirm that You, Lord Jesus, will enable me to do anything You call me to do. I believe in Your promise that You give me “hope and a future.”

Then declaration: Example: I declare this day I am a dearly loved child of God through faith in Jesus Christ. I am adopted into God’s family and provided with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. I will no longer listen to Satan’s lies. I will daily put on the helmet of salvation and live as the redeemed and transformed person I truly am. To the glory of God, the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son.

2.  Besides speaking these, read Ephesians 1 regularly and let the truth of who you are in Christ fill your heart and mind.

3.  Memorize verses. Like 1 John 3:1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

Galatians 4:6-7 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

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