There are two pieces of armour mentioned by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Thessalonian Christians, the breastplate of ‘faith and love’, and the helmet of ‘the hope of salvation’. I’m more familiar with his letter to the Ephesian Christians where he wrote of putting on the ‘whole armour of God’. There he mentioned the breastplate of ‘righteousness’ and the helmet of ‘salvation’, amongst other pieces of essential armour, before going on to speak of a weapon, ‘the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God’ (Ephesians 6:11-17).
I expect Paul would have been familiar with the Old Testament book of the prophet Isaiah, where we have the poetic image, or metaphor, of God Himself having ‘put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head’ (Isaiah 59:17).
Thinking about this, I concluded a helmet protected a soldier’s head, because a head wound would definitely prove fatal in battle. Applying this spiritually to ourselves, it’s where our brain and mind are located. It’s where we think thoughts, and form beliefs about the world, and our life.
As Christian believers, we have knowledge of God. It’s not just factual knowledge, but a covenantal, relationship knowledge. We know about God’s great plan of salvation and understand the bible and God’s rules for living, and try to apply them to our daily life. Paul called this ‘the hope of salvation’. It’s a helmet protecting our thoughts and world view.
In Isaiah’s day, the people of God knew God’s law, the ten commandments and what God had said through the prophets. This was how they knew God. But we live in a day when Jesus has come. He fulfilled what the prophets said, and taught us much more about God the Father.
A breastplate protects a soldier’s chest area where his heart is. If the enemy could stab him in the heart, or shoot arrows to pierce the heart, it would mean certain death. Applying this spiritually, my heart is a place for my emotions, such as love, but also for my attitudes, such as faithfulness and loyalty. Attitudes are part of my character and not just a passing emotion in response to what’s happening. My character is formed by the sum total of all the personal choices I’ve made in my life. Each moral decision changes my life in a significant way.
I need information and facts to equip me in life. But I also need good relationships with other people. Good parents and teachers their best try to impart all these skills. But now, as adults, we have the responsibility to grow and mature, and keep on learning. It means keeping our minds well informed of true facts and useful information, but also to keep working on our character, and protect our heart attitudes.
As Christians, this means keeping both our beliefs and heart attitudes in line with those of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord. For that we need a Gospel helmet and a breastplate. It’s part of our standard equipment in the army of God. ‘But since we belong to the day, let’s be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation’.
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, thank You for the rich imagery of the bible to inspire us and help us remember the important things that You want to teach us. I choose to protect my mind and thinking today by wearing a helmet of the hope of salvation and testing all the world views and opinions which try to influence me and take me away from God’s truth. And I also choose to protect my heart attitudes by wearing a breastplate of faith and love, and intentionally reach out in relationship with others in the way that Jesus would. Amen.
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