January 22, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
According to Ephesians, if we’re to fight our spiritual battle in God’s way, if we’re to “stand firm” on the battlefield, then we need to “take the helmet of salvation” (Ephesians 6:17). That sounds right. But what does it actually mean? What should we do if we want to “take the helmet of salvation”?
I’m pretty sure this doesn’t mean “get saved for the first time.” Paul is writing Ephesians to believers, after all. This is clear throughout the letter. Specifically, Ephesians is meant for people who already “have been saved” by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). Though the perfect tense of the verb “have been saved” suggests an ongoing process with present implications, it anchors that process in the past. We have been saved because Jesus Christ graciously bore our sin upon the cross and because, at some point, we received this grace through faith.
So how, then, can we who have been saved already “take the helmet of salvation”? I would suggest that one way we can do this is by more deeply embracing who we are as people saved by grace through faith. All too often, we who believe our relationship with God is founded on grace live, think, and feel as if everything really depends on us. For example, have you ever struggled with an especially clingy sin, something for which you desperately need God’s forgiveness and deliverance? Yet instead of praying straightaway for God’s mercy you think to yourself, “I really need to get my act together before I pray. I can’t come before God like this.” Thus, you don’t turn to God as if your relationship with him depended fully on his grace.
Now, let me be clear. Putting on the helmet of salvation doesn’t mean taking sin lightly or neglecting repentance. But it does mean that we recognize God’s grace at work in us when we hate our sin and turn away from it. Furthermore, we know that God’s grace enables us “to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
So, putting on the helmet of salvation means actually living by what we first believed when we received God’s grace through Jesus Christ. It means trusting God more, not only for our eternal destiny, but also for living each day, in every place to which God has dispatched us for his purposes and glory.
Something to Think About:
In what ways have you experienced God’s salvation in your life?
Are there times when you’re tempted to live by your effort, rather than relying on God’s grace?
Something to Do:
Talk with your small group or a Christian friend about how you can actually “put on” God’s salvation in your daily life.
Gracious God, thank you for saving us by grace. Thank you for raising us from death to life through Jesus Christ. Thank you for the invitation to put on our salvation, not just once, not just in theory, but in our daily lives. Help me, Lord, to live in the salvation you’ve bought for me. To you be all the glory. Amen.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
The Christian Life According to Popeye and Paul
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.