Robert Jeffress - The Helmet And The Sword
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". Have you ever harbored secret doubts about your salvation or wondered whether your not even God exists? If so, then you've experienced first hand what it's like to be under spiritual attack. Gratefully, God has given us the weaponry needed to ward off Satan's evil tactics. And today I'm going to teach you how to use what the apostle Paul calls the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit. My message is titled "The Helmet And The Sword" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Someone has written, "My orders are to fight. Then if I bleed or fail or even strongly win, what does it matter? My orders are not to win or fail, my orders are to fight". Over these past months in our series on spiritual warfare, we've seen that each one of us is in a fight. We're in a death struggle, not against flesh and blood, that is not against other people, our struggle is against the unseen but real forces, spiritual forces of wickedness. The Bible says there is a Satan. Not only does Satan exist, but he has a plan to destroy everything valuable in your life.
Fortunately, God has given us the spiritual weapons we need to defeat Satan's plan to destroy us. But God wants us to do more than just survive Satan's attacks, he actually invites us to join with him in his efforts to reclaim this world, to overturn the kingdom of darkness and prepare it for the return of our commander in chief, the Lord Jesus Christ. We're the first wave of attack on this earth as we prepare for the return of Jesus Christ. What are those weapons that help us not only defeat Satan's attack on our personal lives, but help us to move forward in reclaiming this world for God?
Well, in Ephesians 6, Paul mentions six pieces of armor, and those pieces of armor for a soldier are really representative of six strategies you can use every day of your life to defeat Satan's plan to destroy you and your family. And what are those pieces of armor? We've looked at four of them already, first of all Paul mentions putting on the belt of truth, and that's a strategy. The strategy is to recognize ungodly, destructive thoughts that Satan puts in your mind and replace those wrong thoughts with God's thoughts. And then he talks about putting on the breastplate of righteousness. That is obedience, obeying what you already know to be true.
There is something about obeying what God has already told you to do that's protects you against Satan's attacks, and the consequences of sin in your life. And then third, he talks about putting on the right shoes, the boots of the preparation of the Gospel of peace. He's talking about there making God's business, your business. If God's primary business is seeking and saving those who are lost, that ought to be our primary business as well. And when we make God's business our business, it has a way of keeping us centered and focused in life. And then we talked about, last time, the shield of faith. The shield of faith that a soldier would use, especially when he's Marching against the enemy, that shield of faith means moving forward in God's plan for your life in spite of your doubts. Remember, that's what faith is, faith is believing what God has said and acting accordingly.
Now, today, I want you to turn to Ephesians 6:17, we're going to look at these two final pieces of armor, these two strategies that God has given us to win the spirit wars, Ephesians 6:17. Occasionally somebody will ask me, Robert, what is the hardest thing you've ever had to do in your ministry? I don't have to think long about it, the experience is seared into my consciousness as if it happened yesterday. A few years ago it was palm Sunday, it was about three o'clock in the afternoon. In a few hours our church was going to be having its annual Easter pageant. I received a phone call at home telling me that a couple in our church, husband and wife, had been killed in a motorcycle accident. And the extended family asked if I would go to the couple's home and tell their two grade school daughters that their parents were dead.
Lemme assure you, it doesn't get any tougher than that. As I went there, I thought to myself, if only those parents had been wearing helmets, they not only would have probably saved their own lives, they would have saved their children from a lifetime of grief. You see, helmets are essential. And not only in motorcycling, they're also necessary for warfare. And that's why in verse 17, Paul says and take up the helmet of salvation. In Paul's say, a soldier would never think about going into battle without making sure he had his helmet on. That Roman helmet was a piece of molded metal with a face guard on it, and the purpose of the helmet was obvious, it would protect the head from mortal wounds inflicted by the enemy.
In the same way Paul says, "Before we go into battle, we need to make sure we have the right helmet on". What is that helmet? He calls it the helmet of salvation. Remember, our mind is control central of the body, it's where Satan enters our lives. And many times when we're in the heat of battle against the evil one, Satan will try to make us doubt our salvation. And Paul says when you are facing the attacks of the evil one, make sure you have put on that assurance of your salvation. Now what do we mean the assurance of your salvation? That word salvation is used in the Bible in two very distinct ways, and it's critical you understand what Paul is talking about here.
When he says be assured of your salvation, first of all he's talking about your salvation from the penalty of sin. Write that down. Your salvation from the penalty of sin. John 10:27 and 28, Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow after me". But get this, "And I grant to them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no man shall pluck out of my hands those whom the father has given me". Will you notice those words, he says, "I grant eternal life". If you're a believer, you've been given eternal life. Now, if your salvation can be lost, it's not eternal, is it? No, he says I give you eternal life. You shall what? Never perish. And then he says, "No man shall pluck out of my hand those whom the father has given to me"? If you are saved, you are secure in the hand of Jesus Christ. No one, including Satan himself, can pry you lose from Jesus' hands.
In Romans 11:29, the apostle Paul said, "For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable". They cannot be taken away. Somebody has said if after trusting in Christ, I end up going to hell, I will lose my soul, but God will lose his good name and his reputation, and he's not about to do that. Your salvation from the penalty of sin rests on the character, the faithfulness of God himself. And when he says we need to put on that helmet of salvation, he's talking about being secure about our position in Christ. But I don't think that's the primary meaning of this passage. I don't think he is so much talking about our assurance of salvation from the penalty of sin, he's talking about, especially when we're in the midst of temptation, we need the assurance of our salvation from the power of sin. That's what he's talking about here, mainly. We have been saved from the power of sin.
Listen to Romans 8:2 from the New Living Translation, "And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death". Do you see that? The Holy Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. And yet most Christians are unaware of that power they already possess.
Every time I read this passage, I think about a friend of mine who went to work for the circus for one day. Somebody called him up on the phone and said hey, would you like to come and work at the circus for the day? My friend said yeah, that would be fun to do. So he went to the circus for the day and he said during one of his breaks, he went over to see where they were keeping the elephants. And he noticed these huge multi-ton creatures, elephants being held in place by a tiny stake in the ground, tied to a flimsy chain that was attached to the elephant's leg.
And my friend said to the elephant trainer, how is it you can stake down these huge animals with such a tiny stake and a flimsy chain? I mean, one tug and they would be up and off. Why don't they try to get free? The elephant trainer said to my friend, well, you have to remember two things about elephants, number one, they're not very smart. But secondly, they have great memories. And when these elephants are little babies, two hundred pounds, we stake them down with that same stake and that same chain, tied to their leg, and they'll try and try to break loose and they can't. And they eventually give up. And then when they get larger, we still use the same stake, the same chain on them, but whenever they think about getting loose, they remember their experience when they were little, and so they don't even try to break free. What a great analogy for the Christian life.
Now I don't give too many homework assignments in my services, but I'm going to give one to you today, okay? I'm going to give you a practical way to put on this helmet of salvation. When you're in the heat of battle, when temptation is flying at you the next time, this is a practical way to put on this helmet. I want you to remind yourself of this scripture passage, write it down, Romans 6, yeah, Romans 6:11-14. It's the passage that we read just a few moments ago.
Now here's the homework assignment, I want you to memorize this passage of scripture. You say well I can't memorize. I'm just not able to memorize anything, pastor. Okay, what if I told you if you memorized this passage, I'll give you a million dollars? Do you think you can memorize it then? See, memorization isn't about ability, it's not about ability, it's about motivation. This passage, if you'll put it on, if you'll memorize it and remember it, when you're in the heat of temptation, it will save you from sin. That can be a lot more valuable than a million dollars to you.
Here's the passage, Romans 6:11-14, Paul says, "Even so, consider yourselves as dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign over your mortal bodies that you should obey its lust. And do not keep on presenting the members of your bodies to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and present the members of your bodies as instruments of righteousness to God. So then, do not let sin be master over you, for you are under grace and no longer under the law".
Now if you will memorize that, the next time you're in the midst of temptation, remind yourself I am dead to sin, but I'm alive to God. Sin has no more power over my life any longer. That is a practical way to put on the helmet of salvation. The final piece of armor that Paul talks about, is found in Ephesians 6:17 as well, and take up the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God. Now, when Paul talks about taking up the sword of the spirit, that word sword does not refer to that big Roman broadsword I mentioned in a moment, you know, the soldier would be riding on the horse and he'd take out his big broadsword. He'd just flail it around hoping to hit somebody or something, and eventually he would. That's not the word here. The word here sword is the word machira in Greek, it literally means a dagger.
The Roman machira was six inches to 18 inches long. And it would only be useful to a soldier when he was in hand to hand combat with the enemy. When he was in hand to hand combat, he would pull out that dagger, and the key is, he had to know precisely where to strike with that dagger in order to render his opponent inoperable. He had to know precisely how to use that dagger. It took great skill. It wasn't like the broadsword you could just flail around, you had to know precisely how to use this machira. Now what is the dagger that Paul was talking about here? We don't have to get a commentary out to figure out what it is. He said take up the sword of the spirit, which is what? The Word of God. He's talking about the power of scripture when we're in hand to hand combat with Satan. What is it that makes the Word of God so powerful?
Remember the words of Hebrews 4:12, for the Word of God is what? It is living, it is active, it is sharper than any two-edged sword and is able to pierce as far as the division of the soul and the spirit, the joints and the marrow, and it is able to discern the thoughts and the intentions of the heart.
Now that last phrase captures why the Word of God is so powerful. The Word of God is powerful in spiritual warfare, now get this, not because of what it does to the enemy, but because of what it does for us. Remember, again, the mind is command central, as a man thinks in his heart or mind, so is he. When Satan wants to tempt you, it will always be through your mind, he'll always put an ungodly thought into your mind. And the Word of God is like that dagger, that sword that can cut through the fog of Satan's deceptions, when those deceptions come into our mind. The Word of God is alive, active, sharper than any two-edged sword, because it is able to judge the intentions and the thoughts of our own hearts. That's what makes the Word of God so powerful in spiritual warfare.
You know, a great illustration of using the Word of God, skillfully, comes from the temptation of Jesus. Remember when Jesus was in the wilderness? Both Matthew 4 and Luke 4 record the story, Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days and remember, Satan came and tempted Jesus in three very specific ways, three specific temptations. And, by the way, there's nothing in that passage that indicates that Satan was there in person in front of Jesus. It says Satan spoke to Jesus. Very possibly he spoke to Jesus through his mind, who knows. But the lies came this way.
First of all, Satan tried to temp Jesus with discontent. God hasn't give you what you need. Why not go ahead and turn these stones into bread? What did Jesus do? He quoted scripture, "Man shall not live by bread alone". And then he came to Jesus and he said, "You know, Jesus, this Messiah thing is taking way too long, aren't you ready to speed it up? Aren't you ready for everybody to embrace you now? Let's go up to the pinnacle of the temple, why don't you throw yourself off the pinnacle? God will be obligated to catch you, because after all, his word says my angels have been given charge over you. And then everybody will accept you as Messiah".
How did Jesus respond to that temptation to circumvent God's timetable? Again, he quoted scripture, he said, "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test". And then he took Jesus up on a high mountain and said, "Jesus, see all the kingdoms of the world? They can be yours right now, not in some millennium, not in some new heaven and new earth, right now, if you will simply bow down and worship me". And again, Jesus quoted the Word of God, and said, "You shall not worship anyone except the Lord your God, you are to serve him only". And then Luke 4:13 says when the devil had finished his temptations, he fled from Jesus until a more opportune time.
Now what is it that caused the devil to flee from Jesus? What is it that caused him to wave the white flag of surrender? To my embarrassment, this is what I used to teach and preach and believe, and I bet some of you have heard it and believed it as well. I thought it was the Word of God that made Satan flee from Jesus' presence. I always heard it said that, you know, when Jesus started quoting scripture, that's what made Satan flee from the presence of Jesus. Have you ever thought that's what happened? That's not what happened, listen to me, Satan is not afraid of the Word of God. Satan knows the Word of God better than most Christians do.
In fact, even in this passage, he was quoting from the Bible back to Jesus. The power in Jesus quoting scripture was not what the scripture did to Satan, it's what it did for Jesus himself. That Word of God, the right scripture quoted at the right time, helped cut through the fog of Satan's deception in Jesus' mind. It helped Jesus to see things as they really were and it's the Word of God that gave Jesus the strength to say no. And when Satan saw he wasn't getting anywhere with Jesus, he said I'm out of here. Same thing can be true of you. James said, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you".
Now notice, Jesus didn't quote just any verse of scripture, he quoted the precise scripture that dealt with the temptation he was facing. When my old professor and mentor Howard Hendricks used to teach us from this passage, I'll never forget what he said to us in class one day. He said, "Men, we all know Jesus was quoting scripture, but did you know, Jesus was quoting from the same book of the Bible in each of those three instances"? How of you here know which book of the Bible Jesus was quoting from? We didn't know. Then he would say, "It was the book of Deuteronomy". All three of those quotes, man shall not live by bread alone, you shall not put the Lord your God to the test, you shall worship God and serve him only, all three of those quotations came from the book of Deuteronomy. And then prof.
Hendricks would say, "Men, if your spiritual survival depended upon how well you knew the book of Deuteronomy, how well would you do"? And then he would add the zinger, "Maybe that's why you're not having any more success in your life than you are". See, knowing God's word, being able to use it skillfully, if it was necessary and essential for Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, if that is the only way he was able to defeat Satan's attacks, how much more important is it for people like you and me to know God's word so that we can use it precisely in the right way at the right time to cut that fog of deception, to see truth as it is, to give ourselves the strength we need to say no to the evil one.
Somebody has said the test of a man's character is what it takes to stop him. Make no mistake about it, Satan has a plan, a personalized blueprint to stop you dead in your tracks in your relationship with God. Fortunately God's given us the strategies, the weapons we need to move forward. The helmet of salvation, reminding ourselves that we are saved, not only from the penalty of sin in the future, but the power of sin right now. And the Word of God, the Word of God, through which we can cut through the deceptions of the evil one. Against those weapons, our enemy doesn't have a prayer.