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Defense Against Defeat

"And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
Good Morning Beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's Day
Thank you for joining us, we're so glad you're here 
For those kids who were born in 1950's, 60's 70's, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and often drank while they were pregnant. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes. 
And then after that, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, childproof locks on doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, and we did it all day, until the street lights came on.

As infants and children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seat belts, childproof locks or even air bags. And can you believe, we even rode in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle. We shared one soft drink with four or five of our friends, all from one bottle and NO ONE actually died!!!

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps of wood, gathered from hours of hunting through piles of God knows what and then when finished, we would ride them down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, and the occasional tress, we learned our lesson, and solve the problem.

We climbed trees, chased others up in trees, We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt and the occasional rock, and we ate raw cookie dough, and believe it or not, the worms did not live in us forever!

We were given BB guns for our birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes. We had snowball fights, and if we were really losing, the occasional ball of ice.

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever! The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

If like me, you are one of them . . CONGRATULATIONS, You survived!!

Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn’t it?!

Now, before we go any further, even though it is true that many of us did indeed survive riding our bikes without a helmet, we didn’t really know better and helmets weren’t readily available, no parent today, would advocate that either we or our kid engage in that same practice today. I know that whenever I ride my bike, I certainly put my helmet on every time because I never know when I might need it to protect my head. Believe it or not, it is useful.. at times. 

And in the spiritual battle that we’re engaged in as followers of Jesus, we need to make sure we always have our spiritual helmet on, too, because we never know when we’ll need it. Christian life is anything but passive. Yes, God is our strength, and though the strength is His and the battle is His, we are called to obedience, to commitment, to diligence, to self-discipline, in order to be victorious.

I believe that the apostle Paul understood how hard it was to be a Christian, he was a warrior. His life could easily be characterized by words such as loving, faithful, boldness, endurance, affliction, hardship, distress, beatings, imprisonment, tumults, labors, sleeplessness, hunger and martyred.

Though historians debate the exact date or manner in which the apostle Paul died, it is universally accepted that he was martyred. Based on historical events of the day, because Paul was a Roman citizen, unlike Peter, he was protected from the brutal death of crucifixion. Therefore, it is likely that he was executed by beheading. Possibly around the same time that Peter was crucified. 

Let us bow our heads in prayer.

Heavenly Father,

We thank You for Your Word, and as we examine the truth, as we dig down into the intricacies of the text of each verse, we find there to be consistently one truth, flowing through the pages of Scripture. We can clearly see, that this is indeed, Your Word. And because we know it to be true, we treat it as such.

Father, we sincerely pray for those whom Your Word is yet hidden, those who are wise in their own eyes, living in darkness. We beseech You to reach down and touch their hearts, open their eyes and ears, that today would be that day of spiritual awakening, that they would see the truth. 

May it all be for Your glory, for Christ's sake and for the increase of Your Kingdom.
In Jesus' name we ask and pray,
Today's Message: Defense Against Defeat
I believe that a better understanding the nature and the purpose of the Roman soldier’s helmet will give us some insight into why the helmet of salvation is so important to those of us who are followers of Jesus. Roman military helmets could be made out of either leather or metal. The helmet had a band to protect the forehead and plates for the cheeks, and it extended down in back to protect the neck. When the helmet was strapped in place, it exposed little besides the eyes, nose, and mouth.

Although the helmet would protect the head from arrows, its primary purpose was to ward off blows from the enemy’s broadsword. Next time, we’ll look at the sword of the Spirit, where Paul describes a smaller, dagger-type sword. But the broadsword was a massive, three to four foot long weapon that was held in both hands like a baseball bat. A soldier would lift it over his head and chop down on his opponent’s head in order to try and create a split personality. And the helmet was the primary means of protecting the head against those blows.

It’s not too difficult to see the spiritual implications of the helmet. We’ve consistently noted that Satan’s attacks primarily come against our mind. And it is the helmet of salvation that protects us from those attacks. Based on what we know about Satan’s attacks both from the Scriptures and our own personal experiences, we find that just like the broadsword had two sides, the attacks of Satan also have two main sides.

The first side is discouragement. Satan loves to discourage us in our Christian walk. He tries to get us to question whether following Jesus is really worth it. He’ll bring all kinds of discouraging thoughts into our minds, like: "You go to church every week and read your Bible every day, but your husband still doesn’t treat you like he should and just look at your kids. They’re no different than anyone else’s kids. You prayed to God, you've asked, you've begged and yet your health hasn’t improved, even a little bit. In fact, it’s actually gotten worse. You’ve taught the children’s Bible study class for two years now, but are they really getting anything out of it? You're probably just wasting your time!"

Let me speak frankly, even pastors aren’t immune to that kind of discouragement. I know that Satan often tries to discourage me and to get me to question whether what I do, really makes any kind of difference at all in the lives of others. Are they really getting anything out of the countless hours I put into my ministry?

The second things is doubt. Satan loves to create doubt in our minds. Every time we sin, he’ll try to make us doubt our salvation. He’ll bring into our mind thoughts like these: "How can you call yourself a Christian and do the things you do? Are you sure you’re even really saved? You sure don’t deserve to be. There is no way God is going to accept you into His Kingdom, when you done those kinds of things. He has not forgiven everything. And then there's, God doesn't really care about you, if He did, He would have answered that prayer by now. You may as well stop praying, it isn't doing any good anyway."

And if, like me, you’ve tried to fend off those attacks of Satan in your own power, only to realize just how futile those attempts are and just how much we need the helmet of salvation. Yet, instinctively, I still tried.
So, what is the helmet of salvation anyway? Our initial reaction when we see the phrase "helmet of salvation" may be to assume that it is the act of committing our lives to Jesus Christ that protects us from the twin attacks of discouragement and doubt. But we immediately realize that there are a couple of problems with that view.

First, Paul is writing here to those who are already followers of Jesus. He is not writing to unbelievers and encouraging them to commit their lives to Jesus.

And secondly, if all we have to do is commit our lives to Jesus in order to put on the helmet of salvation, then why do all of us still have to battle with discouragement and doubt?

In order for us to understand the helmet of salvation, we need to go back to some very basic theology. We’ve already seen evidence of this throughout Ephesians, but it will be helpful to go back and review. In Ephesians, as well as throughout the rest of the Scriptures, we discover that there are three aspects of salvation:

Past – justification – freedom from the penalty of sin
Present – sanctification – freedom from the power of sin
Future – glorification – freedom from the presence of sin

Paul has frequently made reference to all three of these aspects throughout Ephesians. We were saved the very moment that we committed our lives to Jesus Christ. At that moment, we were positionally righteous before God and freed from the penalty of our sin. We are being saved right now as we live out that righteousness. That’s what the last three chapters of Ephesians are all about. We are no longer under the power of sin. And one day, our salvation will be complete. Paul has described how we have the Holy Spirit, which is the down payment, as a guarantee that we will one day receive the full inheritance that God has in store for us.

Paul says in Romans chapter 5, verses 1 and 2, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we celebrate in hope of the glory of God."

So which of these if Paul referring to here when he describes the helmet of salvation? Let’s at each of these aspects to see if we can figure that out. Past – justification – freedom from the penalty of sin.

I believe we can deal with rather quickly, because as we’ve already seen, no one is even in the army unless they are a follower of Jesus. In other words, if you’re not a believer, Satan doesn’t need to attack you, because he’s already captured you and then you would be fighting God and not Satan. So if you’re already in the battle and need the armor of God then you already have this aspect of salvation. So there is no need for you to take it up as Paul instructs believers to do here in verse 17. That brings us to,

Present – sanctification – freedom from the power of sin.

Throughout Paul's letter to the Ephesians, and in fact all throughout the New Testament, we see that the moment we are justified before God, we enter into this process of sanctification where God transforms us day by day to become more and more like Jesus. Paul described the process in II Corinthians 3.
"But we all, with unveiled faces, looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."

When we looked at the breastplate of righteousness we discovered that Paul was writing there about practical righteousness, which we described as living out the righteousness of God that has been given to us in Jesus. That process of practical righteousness is really just another way to describe this process of sanctification. And there is no doubt that is an important piece of our armor. But I’m not sure that it is the piece of armor that really deals best with our discouragement and doubts.

In John 16:33, the night before his crucifixion, Jesus spent some time with His disciples in the garden and He spoke these words of both warning and encouragement: "These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."

Even though Jesus encouraged His followers by making it clear that He has overcome the world, He also warned them that as long as they were in this world, experiencing the process of sanctification, that they would face troubles. God never promised His children that they would be free from troubles and worries here on earth. In spite of what is being taught in many churches today. Jesus Christ is not some kind of a genie, just waiting to grant your three wishes.

In fact, I don’t think that I would be off base at all to suggest that this aspect of our salvation not only fails to overcome the discouragement and doubts that Satan brings into our minds, but that it may actually even further those thoughts. God has promised that He will use everything in the lives of His children for the ultimate good of conforming us to be more and more like Jesus. 

But let’s be honest, some of the struggles, trials and difficulties we go through as part of that process are certainly fodder that Satan attempts to use to get us to question and doubt whether God really knows what He’s doing or whether He really has our best interests at heart.

But in that same passage, Jesus certainly hints at the third aspect of our salvation. And since we’ve seen that the helmet of salvation is not referring to the past or present aspects of salvation that means that the third and final aspect must be in Paul’s mind.

Future – glorification - freedom from the presence of sin.

In I Thessalonians 5:8-9, is one other place where Paul refers to the helmet of salvation.

In this passage, Paul very clearly points out that it is the hope of salvation that is our helmet. And in verse 9, that hope is very unmistakably connected with the future aspect of our salvation. He is pointing out that there will be a day in the future where we will not suffer the wrath of God, but instead receive the full measure of our salvation. Paul has written about this concept frequently in the earlier section of Ephesians when he wrote about our inheritance. And that inheritance, that future glorification, is assured for every believer by the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to every follower of Jesus as a guarantee that we will one day receive everything that God has promised to us.

Unfortunately, we tend to miss out on the significance of what Paul wrote in I Thessalonians because of the way we use the word "hope" in our English language. But the Biblical concept of hope is much more than just wishful thinking. It is a confident expectancy, and the absolute assurance of the good that God has in store for me in the future. When we apply that concept to our salvation, we come up with a very clear picture of the helmet of salvation:

The helmet of salvation is the absolute assurance that God will be faithful to bring our salvation to its full and complete fulfillment. And when we define the helmet of salvation in those terms, it is very easy to see how this is such an effective weapon against the weapons of discouragement and doubt that Satan launches against us.

That is a perfect picture of how the helmet of salvation protects us from the discouragement and doubt the evil one would try to use to injure us and knock us from the battle. There are a lot of things in this world that can discourage us and give us doubts. We spoke of some different types of ways earlier, but each of us have our own unique struggles, trials and difficulties to deal with. 

But what allows us to move beyond discouragement and doubt is the absolute certainty that this is only temporary and that one day we will receive the totality of the inheritance that God has promised to us. That’s why Jesus could warn His disciples that they would experience problems and difficulties here on this earth, but in the same breath encourage them by reminding them that He has already won the war, even though the evil one continues to fight, victory is ours.

The end product is assured. The end product is assured. So when we finally reach the end of our rope and get so discouraged that we think we can’t go on any more, we can look toward the finish line and we get that extra shot of spiritual adrenaline we need to persevere. As the apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:14, "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Now, let's face it, that sounds really good in theory, "And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

The word "take" in verse 17 is the Greek word, "dexasthe," a command which literally means to "receive" or "accept." Once the soldier had on all his other armor and was ready to go into battle, his attendant or armor bearer would hand him his helmet and his sword, so the soldier would have to take or accept those pieces of the armor in order to be properly prepared for battle.

There are two interesting things about that command. The first, as you might expect by now is that the command is plural – y’all take the helmet. The second is that the verb form makes this an urgent command. It has the sense of urgency, "Do this right now; do not delay."

So, as we’ve seen with the other pieces of the armor, there is something that I must do to put on the armor. No one else can do it for me. There are so many principles that I could share with you this morning about how to put on the helmet of salvation, but I’m going to limit it to just three essentials:

Base my hope on God’s Word, not my feelings. Satan loves for us to act based on our feelings. We’ve seen that the weapons that he aims at us are intended to attack our minds and our emotions and to try to get us to be discouraged and to doubt. And since our feelings are certainly impacted by the circumstances of life, they change all the time as our circumstances change.

But understand this: God’s Word never changes. 

So if we base our hope on God's Word, our hope will remain consistent and we won’t be tossed around by our feelings. In fact, one of the reasons God has given us His written Word is so that we can know without a doubt that our salvation is secure.

In I John 5:13, "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life."

John was writing to followers of Jesus so that they could know without any doubt whatsoever that they have eternal life. The verb "have" in that verse is in the present tense, which indicates a continuous action. In other words, all three aspects of our salvation – past, present and future are assured. 

We see this essential principle in action when Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. Jesus had been fasting and praying for 40 days in preparation for the start of His public ministry. He was hungry and tired. It would have been easy for Him to give in to discouragement and doubt. But rather than relying on His feelings, the Word of God was the firm anchor that allowed Him to turn away the attacks of the devil and stand firm. We need to do the very same thing.

Remember that my salvation is all God’s work

There is a reason Paul spent the first half of his letter laying out doctrine. He wanted to confirm for his readers the fact that our salvation is 100% God’s doing. He chose us, He predestined us, He redeemed us and He sealed us. Even the faith that we have in order to accept the salvation He had made possible comes from God.

And because our salvation is not based on what we have done, but on what God has done, there is absolutely nothing we can do that will nullify what God has done in our lives.

Paul summarizes this concept, in his letter to Titus, chapter 3:5-7. "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we did in righteousness, but in accordance with His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He richly poured out upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."

God provided for our salvation through Jesus, completely apart from anything we did, so we are in fact God’s heirs and the inheritance of our eternal life is 100% certain. It's guaranteed! God has promised that he will be faithful to carry to completion the work that He has started in every follower of Jesus Christ. If we have been saved through the blood of Christ, then we can be assured that we are begin saved right now, and that we will be saved in the future. That fact is not rooted in what I do, but in the character of God Himself.

Listen to the words of Jesus in John 10:27-29, "My sheep listen to My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand."

Jesus gives us eternal life and since, as we saw earlier, He has already overcome the world and the evil one, then no one can snatch us out of His hands or out of the hands of our heavenly Father. And when I say no one, that includes self.

So when Satan comes and tries to get us to doubt our salvation, all we have to do is to remind him, and ourselves, that our salvation is God’s work and that therefore there is no way that it can ever be lost or taken away from us.

In Closing..

Let's keep our eyes on the finish line.

Life here on earth is often hard. Sometimes, really hard, there is no doubt about that. We shouldn’t be surprised at that since Jesus warned us about the difficulties of life. But the way that we keep from becoming discouraged is by knowing that there is a finish line for our life here on earth and that our life on the other side of that finish line is going to be full of unimaginable joy and peace.

Whether you realize it or not, I do a lot of preparation and study, to encourage all of us to persevere in this life because there is something far better to come. I love that way that Paul describes that reality in Romans 13:11, where he is encouraging his readers by letting them know that the finish line is closer now that the day they first believed.  

"Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we first believed."

Even Jesus was able to overcome any possible discouragement in His life because he knew that there was a finish line and He kept His focus there rather than getting distracted by the circumstances around Him. How was Jesus able to persevere to the end? He looked to the finish line, to the joy set before Him.

If we want to put on the helmet of salvation, we must keep our eyes on the finish line and persevere to the end. In fact, the Bible promises us that if we do that, our hope will be sure.

Hebrews 6:11-12 says this, "And we desire that each one of you demonstrate the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and endurance inherit the promises."

There are a lot of us here who have managed to survive many years of personal struggles, family trials and life's difficulties. However, if we want to stand firm against the doubt and discouragement that Satan wants to sew in to our lives, we can’t survive without the helmet of the assurance of our salvation.

In the battle, we are protected from doubt, discouragement, dread, fear, that engaging in the spiritual war we may be overcome and forfeit our salvation by confidence in the hope of salvation given us in Christ.

May it be so...

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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