Ephesians 6:17. and take the helmet of salvation,
The word take here means “to receive.” Which makes sense because a Roman solider would not put on his own helmet, his attendant would put it on his head for him and then hand him his sword.
The picture is fitting for us. We don’t grab our own salvation and put it on. We receive it. It is placed on our head by our Savior. Paul has already made clear in this letter that our salvation is by grace through faith?
Ephesians 2:8-9. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
It is God’s saving grace that is our helmet.
But why helmet? Why does Paul connect salvation to the helmet?
Well one simple answer is that Isaiah the prophet said that the Lord Messiah would come wearing a helmet of salvation.
Isaiah 59:17. He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.
So when Paul says that you and I wear the helmet of salvation he is doing much more than giving us a pep talk. He’s demonstrating our union to Christ. His helmet is our helmet.
Now here’s the thing about a Roman helmet, it wasn’t just utilitarian. Yes it could stop an arrow or spear and many blunt objects. But it also signified status, rank, and honor. Crests and plumage adorned the helmet telling everyone the identity of the one wearing it.
So what about our salvation? That’s right it’s both our security and our identity.
You were saved FROM (your security).
The word salvation in the Bible means what it sounds like it means. When we were saved by Jesus we were saved from mortal danger. From eternal death. From the firing squad. From the fire. From the runaway train bearing down on us as we are tied to the tracks (choose a metaphor). We were saved from God’s wrath and from ourselves. Like Lois Lane falling from the helicopter being saved by Superman before she splats onto the ground below – that’s us. And that’s God.
When Christ places his helmet on our head he is saying, “I’ve got you.” “You never have to fear death again.” His helmet stops every arrow of the Devil. His helmet stops every weapon formed against you. His helmet prevents you from being devoured. His helmet can never be removed, pierced, cracked, dented, or even scuffed.
Is Christ’s head protected by his helmet? Then yours is too. Together you two are invincible. Immortal. Indestructible.
So stand therefore.
You were saved INTO (your identity).
But the salvation of God doesn’t just rescue us from certain death and destruction. It places us into a whole new identity. Crests and plumages abound upon thine head (this should be read in your fanciest accent). We’re not just another random person that Superman saves. We’re Lois Lane. His bride. His love. His friend. We get to fly with Superman even when we’re not in danger anymore.
Christ is our Savior but he’s also our King. Our identity is his kingdom. We are citizen soldiers living in his life and love. His helmet tells everyone that we belong to him. His helmet is our rank, our status, our privilege, our honor. And it is Christ.
We haven’t just lost the fear of death in Christ, we have found the reason to live. To serve. To love. To obey. To worship. To stand. In fact, we don’t stand against Satan and evil to avoid death. That’s already been settled. We know we have died in Christ in order to live. And we know that we must die in the body to live.
So we don’t take the helmet to keep us alive. We wear it to keep us living. Really living. Living in Christ.
The helmet obviously protects the head. Could Paul have our mindsets in view here when he wrote this? Could he be thinking that knowing our security and identity in the salvation of Jesus Christ is what our minds need for daily renewal? Could focusing on what we are saved FROM and what we are saved INTO each day change our thinking enough to make us start to experience life differently? To see reality more clearly? To walk in love and light? To stand?
“To live is Christ” means Christ has placed his salvation upon your head. You are saved from death and into life. His own life. Can and should this change how we think? How we relate? How we choose to live our lives? Of course it should. If you haven’t experienced this, Jesus stands holding out his helmet for you to take.