“And take the helmet of salvation,” Eph. 6:17a
Marriage is emotional. So many of the components of married life are emotional components. The heart is involved, for better or worse. I say for better or worse because marriage should engage the affections. We should fervently love our spouse from the heart. God wired us this way and healthy emotions in marriage is a good and godly thing. But sometimes such emotions as anger or irritation rise and control the heart so that there is always tension or conflict. Other times the emotions have become detached. Cold and distant is still a heart issue. Emotional entanglement and disengagement are devastating in a marriage. But once again, the armor of God helps us to deal with these common issues.
Each piece of the armor so far has required us to understand the truth. The belt of truth only strengthens our core if we understand the truth. The breastplate of righteousness is protection only if we understand the righteousness of Christ. The shield of faith is only effective when we understand the faith by faith. The Gospel of peace footwear only gives us stability if we understand the Gospel of peace. it is the same with the helmet of salvation. The helmet of salvation is a crucial piece of our defense in this spiritual battle, so let’s understand it and apply it marriage.
The Roman helmet was made of bronze, equipped with thick leather straps that covered the cheeks and kept the helmet firmly in place. Its purpose? Simple- Protect your head! Even though some heads are harder than others, all need protection in warfare. The helmet of salvation protects the mind, the understanding. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “The apostle is drawing attention to the head, to the mind, the brain, the understanding, the thinking of a Christian.”
Our thinking and our understanding are critical in the Christian life and in spiritual warfare. The helmet of salvation helps us to keep our head in the battle and keep your head in battle. (Go ahead and read that last sentence again).
The OT background to the helmet of salvation is Isa. 59:17. The Messianic Warrior puts on salvation like a helmet. The image is the Messianic Warrior comes to us, for us, to deliver us, and give us what we need, which is salvation. This salvation is brought to us and now we can wear it like a helmet. But what does that mean?
Right thinking about God’s work of salvation protects my mind in the battle. It gives me the emotional toughness to stay in the fight. If I am to renew my mind (Rom. 12:1-2), if I am to “be renewed in the spirit of my mind” (Eph. 4:23), and take every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5), then I must think correctly about salvation. I must see the truth, the doctrine of salvation, as my motivation, my strength, and confidence in the battle. If I have a minimalist view of salvation, that is, a small gospel. A tiny savior, and a small salvation, then I might as well just be putting a beanie on my head. I need to understand the full gospel, in its biggest, most sweeping and glorious truths. What best protects my mind? A view of salvation rooted in the Trinity, planned in eternity, accomplished by the glorious person and work of Jesus Christ, applied by the Holy Spirit, anchored in the Covenant of Grace, built upon immutable promises, fueled by joy in the Holy Spirit, guaranteed by grace, secured all the way to the end, and which produces holiness of heart and life. What best protects my mind? A rigorous understanding of redemption, propitiation, reconciliation, regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification, and preservation and perseverance. Yep, a rigorous understanding of salvation means I understand those words in their biblical context. A rigorous understanding of salvation means that I understand what God in Christ has done in the past, what He is doing in the present, and what He will do in the future. I understand the already and the not yet. I understand my inheritance, glorification, and the future state.
How does the helmet of salvation help me in marriage? Remember, marriage is emotional. My emotions are attached to my thinking. When Satan is hurling his ballistic missiles at me and my marriage, the best way I can control my emotions is by protecting my mind with the truths of salvation. Here are a few applications on how we can do this:
My relationship with Christ and my spouse’s relationship is the most important relationship in our lives. I need to see her, she needs to see me, as a saved but still needy, child of God. This assumes my spouse is a believer. Some may be married to an unbeliever, and the principle still stands. My unbelieving spouse’s most important relationship is one he/she does not have yet, and they will be forever lost without it. Keep that in mind.
When things are getting choppy in marriage, when emotions are running high, take a breath and a fresh look at yourself and your spouse, as a child of God. God is my Father, Christ is my Savior and High Priest and King, the Spirit indwells me. Take a breath. I am forgiven. She is forgiven. I am justified. He is justified. His High Priest prays for him, He prays for me. Force yourself to think these things. Force yourself to see them as more important than a momentary conflict.
When things seem hopeless in marriage, when emotions are cutting deep with despair, remember, you have an inheritance which will not fade away (1 Pet. 1:4-5). Despair is not forever. Salvation is. When anger rules the heart, when sin abounds, take a breath and realize that the only remedy for sin is right at your disposal, the crucified and resurrected Christ. He stands ready to empower you to forgive (Eph. 4:31-32). He stands ready to give you grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:16). My Messiah, my Warrior-King, lives to help me love and forgive. My Messiah, my Warrior-King, is my spouse’s Warrior-King too. What can I do right now to help us both see Him? What can I do right now to tighten the straps of the helmet of salvation? Husbands, maybe in the heat of battle you can say, “We are Christians, God is here to help us. He loves both of us. Christ lives, He has forgiven our sins. He has given us the Holy Spirit. Let’s pray for each other right now and ask for help to get past this.” Don’t pray imprecatory Psalms against your spouse! Pray for the grace and peace of Christ.
So many times, our identity is what controls our hearts. If I only see myself as a wronged spouse, a neglected spouse, the perfect spouse, then my emotions will rule. I need to see myself as a saved spouse, a justified spouse, a spouse who has peace with God. Let those truths govern your identity, think those thoughts, and the fruit of a saved life will start to show. If you only see your spouse as sinful, selfish, annoying, or worse, your emotions will rule your heart towards them. If you see his/her identity as a child of God, saved, being sanctified and in definite need of more sanctification, then you will treat them as family, not as a foe.
The helmet of salvation can change our perspectives about ourselves and our spouse. The helmet of salvation shapes my identity and my spouse’s. The helmet of salvation can help mortify ungodly feelings towards my spouse and vivify true affections of love. Put on the helmet of salvation. Help each other keeps the straps tight.
This article was originally published at https://www.gracenevada.com/marriage-and-spiritual-warfare-part-6/ on March 10, 2020
Brian Borgman (BA, Biola University; MDiv, Western Conservative Baptist Seminary; DMin, Westminster Seminary; ThM, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary) is a pastor at Grace Community Church in Minden, NV. He is husband to Ariel, father to three, and grandfather to three.
Note: The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of other contributors on this site.