Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Armor of God: The HELMET of Salvation

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will REJOICE and be glad in it!
We started looking yesterday at the importance of putting on the Armor of God, every single day. We must pick up the shield of faith to quench ALL of the fiery darts of the enemy. Today, let's look at the HELMET of Salvation.

"Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:17 NIV

The importance of the mind

Since man's beginning, Satan has focused his attacks on people's minds. Satan cannot force us to sin, but rather, he must persuade us to commit sin. The mind is the control center which decides if we will sin or not. If we sin, we place ourselves under the power of sin and become slaves to it (the degree will vary). Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin" (John 8:34 NIV). If we choose to live as slaves to sin, we are mastered not only by our evil desires (Titus 3:3), but also the devil, who temporarily rules the world (I John 5:19). The devil seeks to persuade us to sin because it will increase his own power and influence in the world.

Jesus authors our faith, while our minds form it and put into action. Faith based on God's word is the most powerful kind of faith. That's why I feel so strongly the need for all of us to read the Word of God through this year. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20 NIV). When our shield of faith is rooted in this kind of faith, the devil cannot penetrate our defenses because all of his "flaming arrows" are quenched by the shield (Ephesians 6:16). However, if Satan can corrupt our faith, bringing it away from God's word or tainting it with doubt, our shield will be compromised.

We should be aware that the power of faith can be used for sinful purposes and Satan seeks to harness that power. Jesus' statement in Matthew 17:20 guaranteed the power of faith regardless of the bearer's intentions. Satan therefore wants to persuade us to misuse our faith to further his purposes.

Satan's tactics against the mind

Satan uses a variety of tactics against our minds. These are designed to weaken our faith, ruin our discernment and corrupt our thoughts. If successful, these "spiritual head wounds" will make it easier for Satan to captivate our minds to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26). Here are some examples of typical tactics Satan uses against our minds:

1. Deceive with false doctrine: False doctrine leads people astray from their devotion to Christ. For example, Paul was worried that false teachers may have led the Corinthians astray from their devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3). False doctrine ultimately brings us into bondage under lies. Examples:

· Smooth talk and flattery to deceive minds (Romans 16:18)
· Deceitful scheming through the cunning and craftiness (Ephesians 4:14)
· Trivial doctrinal disputes (2 Peter 1:16; 1 Timothy 1:3-7;1 Timothy 4:7-8)
· Demons teaching false doctrines (1 Timothy 4:1-2)

2. Distract with carnal interests: Satan tempted Eve by appealing to her carnal interests (Genesis 3:4-6) and he continues to tempt people today through combinations of pride, lust of the eyes and lust of the flesh (I John 2:15-17). The more we yield to the temptations, the more our minds become set on earthly things instead of godly things.

An earthly mindset weakens our devotion to God and causes us to be unfruitful for God's kingdom. It could even cause us to become hostile toward God. Paul wrote, "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so" (Romans 8:5-7 NIV). Examples of carnal distractions:

· Pride (Matthew 16:23; Luke 4:3-13)
· Cares of the world (Philippians 3:19; Colossians 3:1-2; Matthew 13:22)
· Money (Matthew 13:22; 1 Timothy 6:5,10; John 12:2-8; Acts 5:1-11)
· Sexual temptations (Proverbs 6:23-29; Proverbs 7:6-27;1 Corinthians 5; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; Revelation 2:20-23, 2 Timothy 2:22)

3. Poison the mind/ Blind to the truth: Well-timed or well-placed lies can quickly find a home in our minds if we are not firmly rooted in the truth. We are especially vulnerable when we have issues like unforgiveness and roots of rejection. If we believe what the devil says to us, we are in danger of a partial or total blinding of the truth. As with the false doctrine tactic, believing such lies places us in bondage because we are unable to receive the truth that would set us free (John 8:31-32). Examples:

  • Poison the mind against other Christians (Acts 14:2)
  • Blind the minds of non-Christians to the truth (2 Corinthians 4:4)
  • Corrupt the mind and conscience (Titus 1:15)
  • Sear the conscience via false doctrines (I Timothy 4:2)

The long term effects of these untreated "spiritual head wounds" can be devastating. Paul described a group of people in Romans 1:18-32 who turned completely away from God. They followed a path of increasing rebellion resulting in total abandonment to evil. Key changes occurred in their minds along the way. Their thinking became "futile" and their "foolish hearts were darkened" (v. 21). They exchanged the truth of God for a lie (v. 25) and committed sexual sin. Eventually God gave them over to a "depraved mind" (v. 28) and they were filled with every form of evil (v. 29-31). (Another example: Ephesians 4:17-19)

How the helmet of salvation protects our minds

Considering the strategic value of our minds, God has given us the helmet of salvation to protect us from the enemy. This helmet functions by the peace of God, which is engaged when our minds are focused on God and trusting in him. Consider these verses that link God's peace to our minds:

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

3You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You." Isaiah 26:3 NKJV

The helmet, like the other pieces of armor, is dependent on our faith in God and his promises. Salvation comes ONLY through Jesus, (Acts 4:12) and the enemy will do everything he can DAILY to cause us to doubt our salvation. He attacks us through our minds and thought processes. That is why we have to put on the helmet of salvation DAILY to overcome the doubts that slyly infiltrate our minds, especially during difficult, and trying times.

How to put the helmet on:

  • Speak it on by faith, believing that you truly have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16): We can stand on God's promise that he has written his laws on our minds. Hebrews 10:16 NIV says, "This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." This can be as simple as saying:

"I put on the helmet of salvation, which protects my mind from the enemy's attacks. I have the mind of Christ."

  • Focus our thoughts on God instead of sinful things: Paul wrote in Colossians 3:2 NIV, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." This discipline will likely be the most challenging part of walking in purity. The more we do it, the easier it will become. It basically involves redirecting our thoughts toward God and/or Godly things whenever we are being tempted. In my own practice of this I have found that speaking Bible verses, singing praise & worship songs, picturing Jesus on the cross and speaking "the blood of Jesus covers me" and "I plead the blood of Jesus" are all helpful in shifting my thoughts heavenward.

As we practice this "thought shifting," the Holy Spirit will help us improve our recognition of the times when our thoughts are going awry. It's important that we take action at the moment of recognition to redirect our thoughts heavenward. Any delay could lead to sin.

Our obedience in controlling our thoughts will reflect our love for God. In doing so, we will fulfill Jesus' command in Matthew 22:37 NIV to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."

  • Direct our requests to God through prayer: Situations will come our way that will tempt us to get anxious and take matters into our own hands instead of taking them to God. By taking our requests to God, we enable God's perfect peace to protect our mind and hearts (Philippians 4:6-7). Our prayers should always include thanking God for who he is and what he has done in our lives.

"O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle." Psalm 140:7 NKJV

Blessings to you today, and I pray you have a victorious day in the Lord! Remember WHO you are in Christ, and WHOSE you are!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "Through the Bible in a year" reading: January 31, 2008 Numbers 10:11-14:45

This week's Memory Verse: Psalm 19:14

(KJVR) Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

(MSG) These are the words in my mouth; these are what I chew on and pray. Accept them when I place them on the morning altar, O God, my Altar-Rock, God, Priest-of-My-Altar.

TOMORROW'S BLOG: The Breastplate of Righteousness


Anonymous said...

That was a great word today. God's word has an answer for everything that comes our way or comes against us. We have to "put it on" though. Protecting our mind. That is the battle field.
I also liked the Egyptian Gods/Ten Plagues. Interesting and informative stuff.

Pastor Bill