In Apostle Paul’s description of the spiritual armor that Christians need to wear found in Ephesians 6:10-17, he refers to the helmet of salvation.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17 NASV)
It is generally believed that Paul wrote Ephesians around 62 AD as he sat in a Roman jail waiting his execution. His Roman guards were undoubtedly the models for this passage.
The Roman helmet was made of leather and usually covered with brass. Many times it was crowned with a plume or some type of ornament. The purpose of the helmet was to protect the head from blows from a war club or sword.
Obviously, believers are required to wear such protection because Satan, like soldiers of old, went for the head for the telling blow. But he doesn’t attack it physically, rather he attacks us mentally.
As Paul sat in his dark jail can you imagine the thoughts that were running through his mind. Had he made a huge mistake going to Rome? There would be darts of fear on what was going to happen to him. Satan was undoubtedly bombarding Paul with thoughts that God had abandoned him.
Paul’s mind was under siege with doubts and questions.
In Romans 12:1,2, the Apostle Paul addresses this issue of our mind but in a slightly different way. He says that believers are “transformed by the renewing of our mind.”
That word transformed is the Greek word “metamorphou.” It is the word from which the English word metamorphosis was derived. This word was chosen because it most aptly describes the process of transformation when a caterpillar turns into a butterfly.
First the caterpillar spins a cocoon and then in this safety of this container, the insect dissolves and the mixture of enzymes reform into a new creature – a butterfly. The two insects are so different they can no longer eat the same thing because its digestive system has completely changed.
Paul says that the Christian is to undergo the same transformation. Unfortunately, we can’t spend a few days in a cocoon, we go through this transformation on the job.
But Paul does tell us that radical transformation takes place as our mind is ‘renewed.’ This happens as we choose to believe what God says about us in His Word, instead of the way we have thought about ourselves, over for years.
We have to change the way we think.
For years, I hated myself. I called myself an idiot and often said it out loud when I did something dumb or stupid.
But is this what God says about us? No.
God says we are his adopted children, a royal priesthood, the righteous child of God.
Consequently, we must willfully choose to believe our new identity in Christ. This may be one of the most difficult things you ever do.
So often, these feelings we have about ourselves are like crutches that we have used over the years to support and define our identity. Sometimes, this former way of thinking is so extreme that it feels good when we brow beat ourselves.
When the Holy Spirit tries to change the way we think, it can be very fearful time as God rips away our security blankets.
I vividly remember the deep struggle that I went through to change my thinking process. One incident, in particular, jumps out.
At that time I was working on a magazine, and one particular issue ended up with a typo on the cover. You can put up with a typo just about anywhere else but there.
When someone pointed out the mistake, the overwhelming urge came on me, as it had so often in the past, to call myself stupid and an idiot.
Yes, I had made a dumb mistake, but that didn’t make me stupid. However, that wasn’t good enough, quickly I was overwhelmed by an urge to punish myself for what I had done. I desperately wanted to tell myself how stupid I was.
At that moment I faced one of the greatest struggles in my life. I desperately wanted to turn on myself as I had done for nearly thirty years. But the Holy Spirit was there as well. He came along side me and urged me to confess who I was in Christ. I have never been so fearful in all my life, because God was changing my identity.
The Holy Spirit wanted me to put on the helmet of salvation.
I remember sitting in my car in the work parking lot, wrestling with the overwhelming urges and thoughts flooding into my mind. Finally after what seemed like hours, I refused to punish myself in this matter and instead I confessed who I really was in Christ.
That day something broke in my life. This is not to say that I never struggled with these same feelings after that day, but this was a watershed moment as I started the transforming process choosing to conform myself to the image God has of me.
The helmet is there to save us from ourselves and the lies of Satan as we choose to believe what God says about us.