Ephesians Study, Part 52: Spiritual Warfare --
The Helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit
Paul has told us, in the previous verses, that our ability to live our
lives in a manner worthy of our calling as Christians is beyond our human
ability. He told us that the enemy is spiritual and not physical and
that our only hope is to suit up with the full armor that God has provided
for us, all of it.
So we need a shield of faith; one that does not have holes of doubt. We saw that
it requires constant maintenance, and the help of our fellow Christians to keep
- We have learned that we need to "gird our loins with Truth"; how that that is
the element, like the belt that the Roman soldier wore, that holds
everything together and allows us to be agile, whether it is the absolute
truth of the Bible, or being truthful or recognizing that sure enough,
Jesus was right, he is the truth and the light.
We learned that the Breastplate of Righteousness is essential to protect
the vital organs in battle. And it is essential to protect the heart in
this spiritual battle. We saw that the righteousness that Paul was talking
about was our personal integrity. But we also recognized that the
righteousness that really matters is the righteousness of God that is
imputed to us through Jesus, which is the true and ultimate protection for
us in the spiritual battle.
We learned that we have to have good stable shoes, a stable foundation
to defend our faith. This requires work in preparation, in anticipation
of the battle. This involves training; it involves hard work and early
Then the next piece of God's armor to put on before the battle starts is
the Shield of Faith. The Roman shield was about four feet tall and about
two and a half feet wide, and it was curved. It was the part of the armor that
was movable. It was constructed, usually, of wood covered with leather
and linen and other decoration. It was coated to be able to withstand
fiery arrows. So one of its functions was to protect other parts of the
armor since it could be moved around to intercept incoming arrows.
Today: The Helmet of Salvation:
Today we learn about the last piece armor that God has hanging on the
wall for us to put on, that is required for victory. Paul says:
And take the helmet of salvation... --Ephesians 6:17
The Roman helmet, of course, provided protection for the head. Having
your head protected gives you a sense of safety. As a believer each of us
who is in this battle must know that the outcome of the battle is certain. His
assurance of that is a critical blessing. One of the critical keys to your
success in your battle with Satan is your certainty of ultimate victory. You
need to know the end of the story. You must know that you have been sealed and
your eternal security is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit. If you have a problem
with that, and you won't resolve that until you have really examined the issue,
there are all kinds of theological debates in this area, but there are also
good resources to help you find the answer. One of those resources is a book
by Chuck Missler called "The Sovereignty of Man." We all know that God is
sovereign. God is God, and he can do whatever he wants. But man is sovereign too;
there is great value in studying the sovereignty of man.
You need to resolve these questions yourself. Don't trust on anybody
else. There are questions like predestination or free will. Theological
libraries are full of writings on that question. That leads to doctrinal
principles of Calvinism and Armenianism. A deep enough study will lead
you to a conclusion that both principles are correct in what they assert
and both are correct in what they deny. But there is an easy answer to the
apparent conflict, if you understand it. It is not an insoluble dilemma. It
is only insoluble if you insist on solving at within the domain of time, but
God is not restricted by the domain of time. Once you recognize that God
is outside of time, the contradictions evaporate. Every one of us either
has questions in this area, or will have.
One proof of this whole question is that Adam fell, but God arranged a safety
net for man, a Redemption. God has gone to incredible lengths so that you
and I might share eternity with Him. But let me tell you the punch line that should blow us away. God does not get what he wants out
of the deal. You say, "How could that be?". God has told us that He is not
willing that any should perish but that all would come to repentance.
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness,
but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to
come to repentance. --2 Peter 3:9
That is His desire. But will all come to repentance? No. But precious to
Him are those who do.
But our issue here is: don't let that remain unresolved and create doubt
and be a weakness in your Shield of Faith. Paul says in First Timothy 1:12:
For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed;
for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard
what I have entrusted to Him until that day. --2 Timothy 1:12
Notice that it is the faithfulness of Jesus that is the issue. It is not up
to us, it is up to Jesus. Thank you God. Remember Romans 8:28.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good
to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. --Romans 8:28
That is where you need a tab in your Bible to check every day and make sure
it is still there. What are the three most important words in that verse? They
are the first three: "And we know".
Not suspect, not hope, not just believe: "And we know that all things work
together for good." Unless you know, you are vulnerable.
Hebrews 7:25 tells us that that is the full-time job of Jesus. Right now, this
morning, he is praying for you. Not a bad prayer partner, huh? Carol
is probably the best prayer partner that I can imagine, except this one.
The Sword of the Spirit:
We could talk about faith for several more lessons and continue to learn
about this shield of faith, but for now we'll stop. Paul goes on:
And take the the helmet of salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit,
which is the Word of God. --Ephesians 6:17
This idiom, the sword of the Spirit, is one that we're all very familiar
with. This idiom has been so widely used that in some congregations the
pastor would say, get out your sword. Some people call their Bible cover,
their sheath. There are a number of places in the Bible where the word of
God is referred to as the sword.
It is interesting that as we put on all of this armor; the breastplate, the
belt, the shield and so on, what is the last named that the soldier picks
up? It's the sword, right? Let's talk about the Roman sword. Prior to the
Roman period, the typical sword was long and sharpened on only one edge. It
had to be used with a cocked arm and a chopping motion, typically. The
Roman army made an innovation. They adopted what is called a machira. It
was only 24 inches long, which was very short compared to previous swords, and
it was sharpened on both edges. That was a revolutionary change in the
weapons being used. In contrast to having to fight with a raised chopping
motion, which left you vulnerable when you raise your arms, the Roman
soldier could duck and stab his opponent while his opponent was raising to
strike him. He could thrust or cut from any position because of the design
of the sword. It was a very close-quarters weapon. This was in great
contrast to Alexander the Great's style, which included spears and long swords.
The machira was a powerful weapon, only if the user had been specially
trained in close combat. If you were just handed this weapon and not
trained with it, it was not obvious how to win the battle with it. The
Roman soldiers were trained in the unique use of this particular weapon. It
took a lot of practice to know how to use it. But used right, it guaranteed victory.
You may recall that when Jesus was tempted in the desert, he used his sword
three times in those victories. Remember the weapon he used every time? He
used quotations from the Scripture. I don't know if you realize it or not
but Satan is great at quoting Scripture, often improperly, out of context. But
when Jesus used his sword he quoted it properly and in context. One of the
weaknesses in many pulpits is that Scripture is quoted to make a point, but
often incorrect points or out of context.
Paul brings up another aspect. One of the most important aspects of a
military engagement is proper ground support. We might call that
artillery. Let's talk about your heavy artillery, in this spiritual
warfare. That is verse 18.
With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit,
and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition
for all the saints... --Ephesians 6:18
Remember that Thessalonians tells us to pray without ceasing.
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything
give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. --1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
What does it actually say in the Greek? It's says pray without ceasing. It
is very simple and straightforward. Paul says that we should pray all
the time for all of our fellow Christians. This is the heavy artillery
that supports the individual in close contact battle. You can pray and have
an effect on a spiritual battle going on outside of your individual
domain. With any supporting fire, coordination is essential. We need to
be supported by prayer warriors. Do you remember how often Jesus was
praying? If he needed prayer, I think it's a pretty good bet that you
and I do. Jesus only had three years to establish the church, and he
spent a lot of those three years praying. That should tell us something
about how we should lead our lives. Is it important? I would say so.
Notice that Paul says we should be praying for all saints. The word all
appears four times in this verse.
...and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in
the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel...
This is Paul asking for prayer that he might be more bold. That is Mister
Chutzpah himself. Give me a break. Paul is about to go on trial
before Caesar. This letter was written in Rome. The Romans
considered the Christians to be a sect of the Jews. The Jews considered
the Christians heretics. So in his trial he needed to make it clear that
the Christians were something new, not just a sect of the Jews. He needed
to explain the Church, the mystery of the gospel. This was the very reason
that he was incarcerated anyway. Remember that in Chapters 2 and 3 of Ephesians,
we dealt with this great mystery. Paul continues.
...for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it
I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. --Ephesians 6:20
So Paul tells us that we need all of the pieces of armor. These
instructions from Paul are major. This is not incidental teaching.
This is crucial stuff. This is a command, if we are to live our lives as
God wants us to. All of this armor is critical to our spiritual success.
Our ability to bear fruit is dependent upon our having all of the armor in place,
maintained and ready to fight. At this point Paul concludes the letter.
But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am
doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord,
will make everything known to you. --Ephesians 6:21
Tychicus was apparently the individual delivering this letter around to
the various churches. Paul considered him a beloved brother and a
faithful minister. In Colossians 4:7, Paul called him by these same
names. He is mentioned in Acts 7 and several other places. Then Paul
wraps up the letter.
I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you
may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts. Peace
be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the
Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus
Christ with incorruptible love. --Ephesians 6:22-24
Notice that Paul concludes the letter with Grace. You may remember
that he also started the letter with Grace.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the
saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace
to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. --Ephesians 1:1-2
So Grace serves as the bookends
for Ephesians. Although Paul ends this
letter with reference to those who love Jesus in purity, with incorruptible
love, remember that in Acts he visits with the elders from Ephesus and
warns them that there are wolves among them. Also remember that before
the end of the first century, John writes seven letters, in Revelation, and that
the first of the seven letters is to the Church at Ephesus. That is in
Chapter 2 of Revelation. You may remember that in that letter he
says they had lost their first love. In reading that letter it is
obvious that they had lost the fervency of their love. It appears
that they were too busy worrying about doctrine and had forgotten about
their love for Jesus. Those seven letters in Revelation were the report
cards back to the churches, and in virtually every case it was clear
that they were surprised at the grades on the report card.
So ends our study of the book of Ephesians. Remember that the first
three chapters were doctrine. Many biblical scholars consider these
three chapters as the highest ground in the New Testament, and probably of
the whole Bible. The last three chapters are on how to apply that doctrine
in our lives, summarized by the admonition that we should lead our
lives in a manner worthy of our calling as Christians.
Any time that you are sitting around and don't know where to go in the
Bible, it's probably a good idea just to open up Ephesians. You can
read it through in a matter of minutes, but there is enough there to
study for a year, or more. We just did.
We're in spiritual warfare. Are you prepared to take it seriously?
...we will start a new study, to be discussed.