Angelology 027 (Demonology 9)Ephesians 6:10-20 • Dr. Andy Woods • January 26, 2020 • Angelology
January 26, 2020
Dr. Andy Woods
“Father, we’re grateful for today and grateful for Your people. We’re grateful for what it says in the Book of Lamentations, that Your mercies are new every morning. “They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:23)
We celebrate today Your character that never changes. We come before You today as Your people in complete and total need of Your Holy Spirit to be with us today as we fellowship, assemble together, teach the Word of God, and all of the things that You want to do today at this church. And not just this church, but Your body as it meets worldwide today.
We ask that we’ll be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit as we walk in dependence upon Him. I specifically ask, Lord, that we would leave here changed people. That this wouldn’t be just a religious activity, but that You would do something special in our hearts today. Either people get saved, we get strength we need for the week ahead, some insight, or a new relationship. Whatever You want to do we invite You to do in our midst—what only Your Holy Spirit can do.
We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name.”
And God’s people said? “Amen.”
Open to Ephesians 6:10. As you know, we are in this study on demonology. It’s actually not just a study on demonology; it’s a study on angels—angelology. We’ve taken a look at the good angels, then Satan (a fallen angel), and then those angels who fell with him, a third, who today we call demons. We looked at their existence, their origin, their personhood, their characteristics, their powers, their works. We got into the subject of demon possession.
Now we’re on the subject of defense. No doubt you’ve been listening to all this teaching on satanology—demonology—and it’s somewhat overwhelming how powerful this enemy is that we have. And yet, what we discover here in number 8 is that God has given us grace to endure spiritual warfare.
It’s interesting to me that when the Lord wants something done, He always provides the power to do it. God is not like the guy who goes into a restaurant, orders a big meal, and then says, “Oh my gosh! I forgot my wallet, and I forgot my credit card! Maybe I’ll have to wash dishes.” God is not that way! Whatever God asks somebody to do, He provides the power!
That’s also true in the area of finances. One of the great lessons you could ever learn as a Christian is where God guides, God provides! So whatever God has called you to do, He will not necessarily meet our “greeds,” but He certainly meets our needs. Amen?
And we find this to be true in this area of spiritual warfare. We’re under ferocious attack, but we find here in number 8 that God has given us defenses. As we’ve talked about, there are certain things that God is already doing to protect us in the midst of spiritual warfare. We worked our way through that. But at the same time, we don’t have a mindset that says, “Let go and let God,” because there are things that we’re supposed to do actively in the area of spiritual warfare.
Here is a list dealing with our responsibilities. We’ve worked our way all the way through that list. We’re now at the very end of that list and, consequently, at the end of our study on demonology.
We’ll be starting, the Genesis 6 controversy soon—maybe next week. I know folks are looking forward to that. They’re looking forward to what I’m going to say on Genesis 6, and I’m looking forward to what I might say on Genesis 6! So pray for me, would you?
We know that one of the things God has given us is spiritual armor. So let’s refresh our memory and start here in Ephesians 6:10. I’m going to read through verse 17. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
This is a very famous chapter in Paul’s writings; it’s dealing with the armor of God. I like to call it, “Dressed for success!” We need to be dressed for success. Paul is in prison when he writes this. He’s most likely using the guard that he is chained to—the praetorian guard—as a model for spiritual warfare and armor.
He mentions six pieces of armor. Today, in 21st-century America, we don’t really fully understand this, but in the Greco-Roman world wars are won or lost based on the updatedness of armor.
Paul (I’ll mentioned this in a minute) is reinforcing a prior concept in Ephesians. This is a command. When he says, “Put on the armor of God,” he doesn’t say, “Hey, try this out and see if it works.” This is what you call an imperative in Greek, meaning it’s a direct command to the Christian. Last week I described each piece, explaining what it represents and then applying it to our lives.
Paul is taking the six aspects of our weaponry—because we’ve got six pieces here—and he’s using this metaphor to summarize things that he’s already spoken of earlier in the letter. So that’s how you identify what these pieces of armor are. You simply track how the same word is used by Paul in the same letter rather than running everywhere else in the Bible to figure out what these pieces of armor are. We went through Paul’s logic on that last time.
That’s basically how the Book of Ephesians is structured. Chapters four through six build on what we’ve already learned in chapters one through three. So all of the responsibilities that we have in chapters four through six, including putting on the full armor of God, are rooted in ideas that Paul has already developed earlier in the book. If you want to understand the pieces of armor, you simply track how the same word or concept is used earlier in the Book of Ephesians.
Last time we took a look at the first three pieces of armor. We saw the belt of truth. We saw that truth, or the Greek word ALETHIA, is basically used of doctrinal orthodoxy and moral purity. So the belt of truth is the foundation of our defense in standing firm in the truth of God’s Word as well as personal integrity. There’s an objective quality to this; we’re standing in the objective truth of God’s Word. But then there’s a subjective aspect of this where we’re walking in personal integrity. And as we do that, we’re putting on the belt of truth.
The second piece of armor is what’s called the breastplate of righteousness. We talked about that last time (also in verse 14). When you take that word righteousness, the Greek word DIKAIOSYNE, and track how it’s used earlier in the book (you’ll find it in Ephesians 4:24 and Ephesians 5:9) it’s basically referring to practical righteousness. In other words, we start making decisions in our life where our practice is consistent with our position.
In other words, God has already declared us to be righteous in His Son. But then in life as a Christian I have a choice in all kinds of situations to act unrighteously or righteously. And I simply say, “Lord, today I want my decisions, the things that I speak about, the things that come out of my mouth, and my thought life to be consistent with how You have already declared me to be.” When we start making decisions like that on a moment-by-moment basis—every single time that we do that—we’re putting on the breastplate of righteousness.
So the breastplate of righteousness is our underlying protection, including our righteous character and deeds stemming from our positional righteousness. We live consistently with our position.
When the Christian engages in a sinful or impure lifestyle, that’s when you’re vulnerable to satanic attack. That’s when Satan can destroy your credibility, take you out of the ministry; any number of things can happen. He can’t take away your salvation, but he can certainly wreak a lot of havoc in your life! Just King David about that sometime when you get to heaven.
When we’re engaging in impure activity—online, gossip, looking at things on my phone I shouldn’t be looking at, these kinds of things—it’s like going out to battle without having your breastplate on. Our chest is vulnerable, and we can take an arrow right to the chest when we do that. But when I’m making decisions in daily life consistent with the position that I already have in Christ, then that breastplate is on and Satan doesn’t have as much ground to work with in my life—and your life.
Then we have the sandals of peace, verse 15. The footwear is very critical in ancient warfare. Sometimes a woman or a young girl will be named Irene which comes from EIRENE, peaceful. When we track the word “peace,” the Greek word EIRENE, as it is used earlier in the Book of Ephesians, you discover that it refers to our peace with God that we already have because of our relationship to Christ.
Then, it not only refers to a vertical peace, but it refers to a horizontal peace. In other words, God has set up the body of Christ in such a way that hostility that used to exist between groups—male/female, slave/free, Jew/Gentile—peace now exists between those groups because members of those groups are now one in Christ Jesus. That’s why Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” That’s our position.
So we have vertical peace and we have horizontal peace. Therefore, when I put on the sandals of peace, it means that because we are at peace with God, we should pursue peace and unity within the church. It’s so easy for Christians to get crossways with each other over things that really are tangential. It’s one thing to take a stand for truth; it’s another thing to go to war with somebody over a personal vendetta or a personal preference.
You have a negative example of this with Euodia and Syntyche, Philippians 4:2-3. In this case two women are fighting like cats and dogs. They’re clearly Christians because their names are written in the Book of Life. Paul calls these two women to stop this conflict, and what he wants them to do is put on the sandals of peace.
Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity!” So if I make decisions in the life of the church where I’m not at odds with people because of personality reasons, or “I don’t like that person,” or something like that, then I’m putting on the sandals of peace.
If I go around and I’m warlike? War is the opposite of EIRENE. The Greek word for peace is EIRENE. The Greek word for war is POLOMOS, where we get the word polemical. EIRENE is where we get the word irenic.
So if I’m warlike—not over truth, but over preferences, personality, vendetta, or jealousy—and I’m acting like that towards my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, then I’m not putting on the sandals of peace. It doesn’t really take much to mess up a church when you think about it. You just have to get a few people mad at each other over something, and you can get a church to divide almost in no time at all.
It takes a long time for a church to be built-up, it takes about 24 hours for a church to be destroyed. In fact, I was in Australia. The churches in Australia are much smaller than ours, and they were so happy that they had a church. In this case it was one of the brethren assemblies, and it had been built up to about 300 people. God was working there, and Christ was building His church.
My particular host there in Australia talked about how Satan just divided that church. I can’t even remember what the issue was, but it was laughable. It destroyed the church, and it’s never recovered. That’s why Paul is exhorting us to live consistently with our position. We’ve already been declared to be at peace with one another. When you put on the sandals of peace Paul says, “Act like the position that you already have.” That’s my best take on the sandals of peace.
Now we’re getting into new material where we are to take up the shield of faith. You’ll see the shield of faith in verse 16. It says, “in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
When you study ancient warfare in Greco-Roman times, it was typically a wooden shield and they doused it with water. What the enemy would do is fire arrows which were on fire, because if one of those unobstructed arrows got into the camp that they were trying to destroy, it could start a forest fire, so to speak. It could start a fire, and they could defeat the enemy that way. So flaming arrows is actually a big deal in ancient warfare.
The way they would put these arrows out? They would take these wooden shields and douse them with water. As the incoming arrow comes in, you put up your shield. Not only does it block the arrow, but because it’s drenched in water it puts out the fiery tip in the process. That most likely is the imagery that Paul seems to be using here.
So what is this shield of faith? Again, the way to understand these various pieces of armor is to track how the same concept is used earlier in the book. Faith is a noun—PISTIS is the way it reads in the Greek—and that same root can be used as a verb. The verb is “believe”; the noun is “faith.” So the noun is PISTIS, the verb is PISTEUO, and that combination is used about nine times in the letter. I’ve got all of the noun references to faith: Ephesians 1:15; 2:8; 3:12, 17; 4:5, 13; 6:23. It’s also used in the verb form in Ephesians 1:13, 19.
When you track down all of those uses, you’ll discover that faith is used by Paul in this letter to depict the content of what the Christian believes, and we trust in that content. So the definition of the shield of faith, I think, is as follows. It’s our confident trust in God’s ways in order to withstand Satan’s attacks.
In other words, when the fiery darts come and you start to experience doubt—or whatever the case may be—you simply stand on what God has already declared. One of the ways that Satan gets us is in the area of anxiety. We’re anxious because we see a lack in our life of something, and we think that we’re going to go without. Yet the reality of the situation is you’ve got verses in your Bible that you can claim in the midst of that evil day when the fiery darts come in.
One of my favorites is Philippians 4:19 which says, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” If you’re weak in that area, the best thing to do is to commit a verse like that to memory. So when the fiery dart comes in…and we all have negative thoughts! A negative thought is not a sin in and of itself; it’s what we do with that thought. As someone said, “You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can certainly prevent them from building a nest in your hair.”
So here is this fiery dart that comes in, and I just say, “You know what? I’m not going to yield to that thought right now! I’m going to stand on what God has objectively revealed in His Word. And I’m going to make a decision—not just to repeat the verse mentally—to trust in what it says.”
In Psalm 37:25, David says, “I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken Or his descendants begging bread.” There’s a lot of anxiety—worried about retirement, the economy, the stock market, who’s going to win the election, all of these kinds of things. Cable television and all these things that we have access to don’t help, because they just prey on our anxiety all of the time. And you just make a decision to say, “You know what? Today, in this very moment, I’m going to go to the Word of God and stand on God’s Word.” You can’t do that unless you know a few verses!
By the way, make sure the verses are in context. A lot of people are claiming verses they shouldn’t claim at all. But there are many verses in context that you can stand on in the evil day, when the fiery dart comes in. And it’s not just mentally knowing the verse; it’s making the decision to trust in what the verse says. That’s why it’s called the shield of faith. Faith basically means “trust.” You start doing that in your life, and watch that shield come up drenched with water and watch that fiery arrow just dissolve!
So, the application of this would be that flaming arrows are coming at us. We have an analogy from the ancient world: Fiery darts are lobbed at us by the wicked one constantly. So in the evil day, when the attack comes, we simply trust in God’s ways!
It is interesting that if you do that, we have the ability to extinguish. It doesn’t say “some” in verse 16. We have the ability to extinguish all of the fiery darts of the wicked one. We’re already saved by way of faith, right? You put on the shield of faith, and you’re now trusting God—not for salvation, you already have that—in the emergencies of life, in the exigencies of life.
You’ve got a verse or two tucked away in your mind. You know where you’re weak, because you keep getting hit with the same thought over and over again. And you stand on what God’s Word says. There are countless verses that you can claim, and as we do that, we are putting on the shield of faith.
And if we don’t do that? I’ve spent a lot of my Christian life, sadly, not doing this, so I know a little bit about what it means to crash and burn. We become what I like to call an “unbelieving believer.” You say, “That’s a contradiction in terms; that’s an oxymoron!” Two ideas that contradict each other, right? That’s like saying, “Microsoft…works, postal…service, government…efficiency, reasonable…attorney’s fees,” and all those kinds of things.
Look at that phrase, “unbelieving believer.” It doesn’t make sense to us because those two ideas seem to be contradicting each other. Yet the Bible is full of people that are saved, but they didn’t trust God in the emergency of life. See, they’re saved in the sense that they’ve trusted in Christ, and they’ve passed out of life unto death. But when the problem of life hit, the same God Who saves them they really don’t turn to. The same God Who saved them eternally they don’t turn to for Him to gain for them the temporal salvation that they need through their problem—their surgery, their operation, their visit to the doctor, the financial downfall, the layoff, etc.
So we just hit the panic button! It doesn’t mean you’re not a Christian! But what has happened is we have become an unbelieving believer. You say, “Do you have any real-world examples of this?” You’ve got a great one in Numbers 13 and 14. The nation of Israel had come out of Egyptian bondage after 400 years, and that generation saw the ten plagues. That generation had passed through the divided Red Sea, and then they watched God close the water walls on the Egyptians.
That’s the generation, in Exodus 15, that celebrated the delivering hand of God. That’s the generation that was provided for 40 years, miraculously, through manna as they made their way from the tip of the Red Sea to Mount Sinai. That was the generation that received the Law of Moses at Mount Sinai. I mean, you can’t talk about a group of people that had experienced more deliverance than these people. A lot of folks will tell you these people weren’t saved, and I’m here to tell you they are saved!
The reason I know they’re saved is they are in the Hall of Faith with all the other saved people. You’ll find a reference to them in Hebrews 11:29. If you say these folks weren’t saved and aren’t going to heaven, you’ve got a big problem because Moses is part of that group. And I think Moses went to heaven, don’t you agree with that? He appeared with the Lord 1500 years later on the Mount of Transfiguration, Matthew 7:3.
So you can’t talk about a generation—at least of this time period—that was more blessed, that saw greater things from God than this one. But the Bible says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required.”
So there they are at Sinai (at the bottom of the chart) and now all they have to do is make their way up north and they’re going to come to the southern border of Israel to a place called Kadesh Barnea. And according to Deuteronomy 1:2 there are 11 days between Sinai (which is sometimes called Horeb) and Kadesh Barnea.
What God is saying is, “All you have to do is trust Me for 11 days! You trust Me for 11 days, and you’re in the promised land that flows with milk and honey! After all, I’m trustworthy, aren’t I? I just pulled you out of 400 years of bondage, miraculously. So, 11 days and you’re IN!”
You know the story. They got there to the southern border of Israel at a place called Kadesh Barnea. They looked into the land, and what did they see in the land? Giants! And the Bible says that they became like grasshoppers in their own eyes. There’s the problem!
They’re analyzing a problem that they are about ready to experience through their own resources. And if you’re looking at your problems through the lens of your own resources, you will go into fear because our problems are too big for us.
In fact, I would say this: God has designed our problems to be too big for us, because He wants us to trust Him and put that shield of faith up as we hit that problem. These were people that did not put up the shield of faith. You can read all about it in Numbers 13 and 14.
They came up with a bunch of excuses; they came back with an evil report. In fact, in that whole generation you only have two guys who want to trust the Lord. “If the Lord helped us with everything else, what’s a few Giants,” should have been their attitude! The only people who put up the shield of faith were Joshua and Caleb. The rest of them fell into fear. That’s important also because it helps us to understand that the majority is not always right!
See, we’re in the United States. We’re in a Republic and we have committees and boards, even at Sugar Land Bible Church, “Let’s get the majority opinion.” Well, here’s an example where the majority is totally wrong! The minority has got it right—two guys. They want to trust God and enter the land; everybody else falls into unbelief.
So what does God do? He shut that whole generation off from what they could have had—in 11 days—which was Canaan. Now watch this very carefully: He didn’t send them to Hell! Their personal salvation is not an issue. In fact, at the very end of Exodus 14, when they cross through the Red Sea, it says, “…they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses.”
If you study that in Hebrew, it’s the exact same sentence structure with the change from the singular to the plural in the nouns and verbs. But other than that, it’s the exact same sentence structure that you have in Genesis 15:6, “Then he [Abraham] believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” So there’s no doubt in my mind that these folks were saved!
So what did they get disinherited from? They got disinherited from a blessing which they could have had flowing from their own justification. You know the story. God says, “Okay, y’all are just going to wander around here for 40 years until you’re all dead! And I’ll start working with your kids. I’m going to work also with Joshua and Caleb; I’m going to let them go in later as seasoned citizens—in their 80s—because they trusted Me. But every single one of you is just going to die out here in the wilderness!”
It’s just a tragic thing that happened there! What could have been an 11-day victory—11 days till victory!—turned into a 40-year nightmare. And it’s all related to the fact that when they hit the problem, they just didn’t put up the shield of faith! They didn’t trust God like they should have—when they had all of the evidence necessary to trust God!
So, that’s what I’m trying to articulate when I say, “an unbelieving believer.” This is someone who is saved, someone who is blood bought, someone whose name is written in the Book of Life. They hit a problem which really doesn’t determine salvation; it just determines a blessing they could’ve had. They just stop believing God! And then they got mad at the people who did believe God, the minority. See that? So, whenever I think of the shield of faith that we’re supposed to put up to extinguish these fiery darts of the wicked one, that’s the story that I think of.
Another example in the New Testament of an “unbelieving believer” would be the Apostle Peter. Matthew 14:28-31 is Jesus appearing to the disciples on the Sea of Galilee. “Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’” WOW! That’s a bold move! “Lord, you’re on the water. Let me walk on the water out to You.”
Jesus says in verse 29, “And He said, ‘Come!’ And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.” Don’t you wish the verse stopped there? I mean, he’s walking in faith! But here’s the problem, look at verse 30. “But seeing the wind…” Whoops! Where did his eyes go? Off of Christ and onto a problem!
That’s exactly what happened to the Kadesh Barnea generation. Their eyes got off of the God Who delivered them and onto the problem of the Giants, and they became like grasshoppers in their own eyes. This is exactly what’s happening to Peter, “But seeing the wind, he became frightened…” Well, of course you’ll be frightened if you look at the wind! If you’re looking at your problems through your own resources, of course you are frightened! But if you’re looking at your problem through the lens of God, it’s not really so much of a problem anymore, is it?
“But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink…” Now we have problems! “…he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith…” “You didn’t have your shield up! You didn’t trust in what I’ve given you! Because Jesus had told him earlier, “Come on out!” Jesus didn’t say, “Okay, you’re going to make it about five to ten feet out, and then you’re done!” Jesus never gave him that impression!
Jesus gave him a promise—just walk! He did it for a little while, but then his eyes shifted to his problem. “Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’” Peter could have had a victory there, which he didn’t fully experience because he didn’t put up his shield consistently. The Kadesh Barnea generation had a victory that that whole generation couldn’t have, and they never experienced it, because they didn’t have their shield of faith up.
Of course Peter went to heaven; of course the Kadesh Barnea generation went to heaven; that’s not the issue. The issue isn’t forfeiture of salvation; the issue is that they are now deprived of a blessing because they didn’t have their shield of faith up. So that’s what I’m speaking of when I’m talking about an unbelieving believer. We can get like that very fast. Amen?
Going back to Ephesians now. We have a fifth piece of armor, and this is our helmet of salvation. Notice, if you will, Ephesians 6:17, “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Let’s just focus on the first part of verse 17 there, “…take the helmet of salvation.”
Now, think about this for minute. What does the helmet protect? It protects your mind. It protects your head. The 9/11 hijackers did not have to control every square inch of the airplanes that they used to fly into the twin towers—that was unnecessary to control the whole airplane. All you have to do is control the cockpit where the pilot sits, and you influence the whole plane. See that?
So Satan understands that if he can influence the way you think as a Christian in any area, he largely influences you! As we’ve argued before in our study, Satan and the demons cannot possess you, but they can certainly take ground in the mind that we yield. And Satan will take all of that ground if you let him, because he wants to influence your life negatively.
When you understand this idea of helmet, and you understand what it protects (the head), you understand why the Bible puts so much of an emphasis on our thought life. I had a pastor in the Dallas area that put it this way, “Private thoughts will eventually turn into public actions.”
In fact, even at this last conference that I came back from, we had a young guy, great, honest person talking about his struggles with looking at impure things on the internet, magazines he shouldn’t look at, etc. And when you converse with somebody like that, and you start to get into their background, it’s not long until you figure out they’ve made some mental compromises a long time ago. They opened the door a little bit. You open the door little bit and Satan wants it open even more, and even more, and even more!
Sin has a price, right? The wages of sin is death. Then you find yourself ensnared to the very thing you thought you had control over, see that? The road to immorality is paved through gradual compromises, and those gradual compromises typically start in the arena of the mind.
I was thinking about this on the plane on the way home: How much does the Bible say about the mind? And I figured there was so much material I’d have to turn that into a 10-week series. But just a few verses on it.
Notice Joshua 1:8. This is the tools that God gave to Joshua to be successful in Canaan. He says, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate…” Isn’t that what meditate means—allow into the arena of the mind? “…on it…” How frequently? “…day and night…” That’s a lot of consistency there! “…so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”
We all want to be prosperous and succeed, right? I mean, isn’t that why we get up early, work ourselves to death, and get to bed late at night? We all want to prosper and succeed. Well, here are the tools for prospering and succeeding: meditation on God’s Word! Because what’s going on in my mind is what’s affecting the quality of my life.
Psalms 1. How many verses can we find on the mind? Psalms 1:2, “But his delight [the righteous man] is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he [what?] meditates [how frequently?] day and night.” That’s what we just read about in the Book of Joshua.
In fact, my professor in seminary, J. Dwight Pentecost, used to close our classes by saying, “Selah.” And I had no idea what he was talking about until I studied Hebrew. You’ll find the Psalms concluding with the remark, “Selah”. What does that even mean? It means to consider carefully, to give deep thought to. And that’s another verse you can use to talk about the mind.
What about Lot? I have a sermon title, “Are you a lot like Lot?” You know, folks, Lot was a believer. You say, “How do you know that?” Because he’s called a righteous man three times in 2 Peter 2:7-8.
If I didn’t have that New Testament reference and I just studied his Old Testament life, I would never, in a thousand years, think the man was a believer, because his life was compromised. Right down to offering his virgin daughters to a sodomite crowd. You can’t get more positionally righteous compromised than that!
So where did it all start to go wrong with Lot? Look at Genesis 13:12, you see where the whole thing started to unravel. “Abram settled in the land of Canaan…” Now, Abram went to Canaan because he said, “Lord I’ll go wherever you want! You send me over here I’ll go there. You send me the other direction, I’ll go there!”
That was one of the best pieces of advice I ever got from somebody in ministry. “Don’t try to figure out where you’re going to land. God opens the door somewhere? Just go there and God will bless.”
“Abraham settled in Canaan [because he is walking by faith] while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom.” It talks here about the lush ground that Lot settled on. Abraham said to Lot, “Okay, you pick a place; I’ll go somewhere else.”
Abram is walking by faith; Lot is walking by sight. And as he’s walking by sight, he pitched his tent as far as Sodom—a wicked city. He’s thinking about Sodom; he’s meditating on Sodom. He doesn’t have on a helmet of salvation, and all kinds of thoughts were going through his mind. So it doesn’t strike us too odd to learn in Genesis 19 that now he’s sitting at the city gates of Sodom.
In the ancient world, when you sit at the city gates that means you are one of the big kahunas of the city. Like being on the city Council. Well, how did a righteous man end up there at home in this wicked city? Genesis 13:12 explains it.
It’s like with this young guy I was talking to. As he was giving me his story, I could see a Genesis 13:12 in his life. And I say to myself, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” Because my thoughts can go sideways also, and I don’t want to end up in bondage to sin. So I have to start disciplining my mind and, moment by moment, putting on my helmet of salvation.
Look at Proverbs 23:7. “For as he [or as a man] thinks within himself, so he is.” Show me a person’s thought life, and I’ll show you exactly what kind of person they are or will end up being. I even had a professor one time who said, “Show me the books you’re reading right now, and I’ll show you your life in about 10 to 20 years.” Because of the power of the mind! This is why the Bible is placing so much emphasis on the mind. This is why there’s a helmet of salvation and this is why the adversary is targeting the mind.
“Well, these are just Old Testament passages, Pastor. Can you give us anything in the New Testament?” Glad you asked! Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world…” Okay, I’m not supposed to walk according to the value system of the world, how do I do that when I can’t even watch the Super Bowl without seeing impure commercials? How do I leave my mark on this world without the world leaving its mark on me?”
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed [oh my goodness—look at this!] by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” It’s all about mental renewal! It’s all about what I’m thinking about and letting my mind dwell upon!
Notice Philippians 4:8. What kinds of things should we think about? Do we go into legalism and say, “Well, if it’s this rated movie stay away from it. And women need to not show too much of their legs, and they have to have a certain dress lengthen.” A lot of churches will go that way! They start to develop rules.
The Bible really doesn’t give you rules like that. What it gives you is general principles. It’ll give you the principal and it says, “Okay, here’s the decision. Now you figure out what to do!”
So what are the principles in terms of what I allow my mind to watch or to dwell upon? It’s right there in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren…” I like it when Paul says “finally,” and he goes on for another five or six paragraphs. I don’t feel quite as bad when I do that! “…whatever is true…” Ah! He’s giving us a test. He’s giving us criteria. Here’s the criteria to determine what you dwell upon. Not a negative thought that you have because we all have them—but what you’re allowing your mind to feast upon.
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” So, I’m channel surfing and see something that comes on television and I say, “Is this true? Is this right? Is this lovely? Is this excellent? Is it of good reputation? Is it worthy of praise? Okay, I’ll dwell on that!” And that rules out a lot of programs!
Now on my cable stations, I’ve got 800 stations. So I’ve got 800 stupid things I can look at! And I’m going through them and saying, “Maybe I ought to just read the Word!” Why? Because I’m developing legalistic rules, “Thus saith the Lord, no more cable stations.” Or, “Thus saith the Lord, you can’t have 800 channels. You can only have 200!” We get into all these rules. When we move into rules, we’re moving into legalism. God just says, “Here’s the principal: Does it meet these criteria or not?” So that then controls what we think about!
Look at the Colossians 3:2. “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” Wow! I remember when the Obergefell V Hodges decision was handed down, which made it a constitutional right to have same-sex marriage in America. And I’m watching all the cable shows and getting worked up, “This is wrong and that’s wrong!” Then I get a call from Dennis Rokser, and he says, “How’s your Colossians 3:2 thought life going right now?” Not too well! So, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” See that?
In fact, we were in the catacombs. I think it was Rome, wasn’t it, Anne, where we saw the catacombs? And we’re going through these tunnels of all of these dead people, where everybody was buried—all these ancient tombs. And to be honest with you, it’s really depressing going through all of that. And I was so grateful that our tour guide, Bill Perkins, quoted Colossians 3:2 as we are in the middle of the catacombs. “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things of the earth.” That changes your whole perspective on things, doesn’t it?
What we’re dealing with here is mental renewal and that, in essence, is what I think the helmet of salvation is. The word “salvation,” SOTERIA in Greek, is used one time in the Book of Ephesians. It’s used in Ephesians 1:13. Let’s look at that real fast to flesh out the meaning of the helmet of salvation. “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise…”
So, salvation in the Book of Ephesians essentially means our salvation. Now, as you know, salvation is much broader of a term in Paul’s writings than trusting in Christ and getting saved. There’s a past tense to our salvation—justification—where we’re delivered from sin’s penalty. There’s a present tense of our salvation—sanctification—where we are being gradually delivered from sin’s power. It’s not that we become sinless, but hopefully we’re sinning less as we walk according to the resources God has given us. And then there is a future tense of our salvation—glorification—where we will be delivered from sin’s very presence. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see the word “saved” used past tense, present tense, and future tense.
With all of that in mind, here is the pretty good working definition, I think, of the helmet of salvation. It’s maintaining confidence of our past, present, and future deliverance in the midst of battle.
One of the things Satan will always try to talk you into? Christians struggle with this all over the world. “If you’re really a Christian, how could you have a thought like that? How could you ever commit an act like that?” Satan wants you to believe you’re really not saved, and when those thoughts hit, we put on the helmet of salvation which protects our mind, which is confidence in the full ramifications of our salvation no matter what Satan throws at us or how he causes our assurance to wane.
Here are some verses I stand on. I stand on John 10:27-28 all the time where Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. Now, if you’re reading this in English you’re cheated, because what “never perish” says in Greek is two negatives back-to-back. When you have a double negation in Greek, it’s like saying this will never ever happen! Never is it possible for us to be snatched out of the Son’s hand and the Father’s hand.
And if that weren’t enough, it throws in the word AIONIA, which means forever. So, if we had some good Bible translations, what it should say is, “My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never, never, never—Spanish version, “No way, José”—ever perish, forever!”
People today want to debate eternal security. There’s nothing to debate here when you stand on this kind of promise in the midst of a thought that comes into your mind where Satan says, “You can’t be a Christian thinking that!” You stand on John 10:27-28! You don’t just know it, but you actually trust it. You do that, and what did you just put on? The helmet of salvation, which protects your mind. You protect your mind, and the whole being of your life is transitioned. Because as a man thinks, so he is.
I stand on this all the time—Romans 8:29-30—putting our glorification in the past tense. It’s a done deal! I stand on this all the time—1 Peter 1:5—that we are being protected by the power of God. That’s how this helmet works. And salvation is not just a past thing, but it’s a what? Present thing. And it’s a what? Future thing. J. Vernon McGee called it salvation in three time zones. Love it!
So the grace that saves you is the grace that equips you right now for the problem that you’re in. See that? God wouldn’t have sent you into this problem that you’re in without providing the grace necessary for you to endure it. So grace is not just a yesterday thing, it’s not just a tomorrow thing, but it’s a what? A right now thing!
1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am [present tense] what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” Grace didn’t just save Paul—past tense; grace is not just getting Paul to heaven—future tense; its helping him in his problem that he is experiencing right now.
One more verse, 2 Timothy 2:1. Paul is giving instructions to a pastor who is young and sickly and who has a problem with nervousness and timidity—timid Timothy. “Timothy, guess what? You’re the pastor of the church at Ephesus, the most influential church of the ancient world!” You don’t think Timothy had some anxiety issues?
What does Paul say in 2 Timothy 2:1? “You therefore, my son, [son in the faith] be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” You can have a perfect understanding of your past justification and a perfect understanding of your future glorification, but if you won’t (and we won’t) appropriate the resources of God now in the midst of problems, then we’re not putting on the helmet of salvation! See that?
Those are two really key pieces of information—the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation. I’m over time, so let’s pray.
“Father, we’re grateful for what You’ve given us. You’ve described the enemy and You’ve described how we are to stand up against him through Your power. So help us to grow in understanding of the armor You’ve given us. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name.”
God’s people said, “Amen.”