In this part of the series about the armor of God, we will take a closer look at the Helmet of Salvation. Learn how it will protect you against 12 different tactics the enemy uses to attack your mind, like discouraging words, accusations, intimidation, distractions, lack of success, and much more.
In Ephesians 6:17 Paul says: “and take the helmet of salvation,” (ESV)
The Greek word used here translated to “take” (dexasthe), carries more heaviness than for example simply taking something of a shelf. The word also means “accept”, “receive”, and “welcome” and has an official vibe to it. Its official vibe probably comes from the related word dexios, which means right hand. Because in ancient Greece, the right hand was used for official business, like greeting or raising the right hand to their gods in order to pay them respect or to give assurance when making a treaty. These traditions still exist in many cultures today.
In the Bible, the same word is used to describe that Jesus took the cup of wine (representing His blood) at the last supper (Luke 22:17). And also when Jesus told the Apostles to shake off the dust from their feet when leaving if someone would not receive or listen to their words (Matt 10:14).
And when you think about it, the King of Kings handing you the Helmet of Salvation is official business. God granting you salvation, and you accepting it, is the most important event in your life. It is a treaty with God, a promise to which you shake hands and agree. With this new covenant, made possible by Jesus’ blood, He tells you that you are His, and He is yours.
And it’s not called a helmet for no reason. As you know, a helmet protects your head, where the brain sits and our thoughts are formed. And everybody instinctively knows how important it is to protect your head when being attacked, as people duck and cover their heads automatically when someone raises a hand or a weapon. Well, raising your arm is not going to stop the enemy from taking you out; we need a spiritual covering for our head to be able to withstand his blows.
You might also know that our thoughts, feelings, and actions are interlinked. A thought can lead to a feeling and a feeling to action. A feeling can lead to a thought, and an action to a feeling, etc. And so all three influence another. If one of the three isn’t functioning as it should, it will have an effect on the other two.
In my experience, the enemy attacks our minds, our thinking, in various ways. Here are 12 of his common tactics:
Tactic 1: Temptation
Our flesh helps the enemy a lot. Like with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3), the devil will dangle countless opportunities in front of us, which without the helmet of salvation, seem impossible to resist. It’s so hard to resist because they will seem good to you, as they will either give you short-term satisfaction or, when it is done more sneakily, they will be presented as the opportunity of a lifetime.
The world screams at us from every angle, to buy this, to do that, to like this, and to hate that. When you look at it from a distance, you see how the world’s people are tossed like leaves in the wind, tripping over each other because of want, peer pressure, folly, lust, and lack of guidance based on Truth.
The devil, who came to kill, steal, and destroy, already has the world in his pocket. He is more interested in you. Because how much less effective would you be if you would waste your God-given time, energy, talents, and resources on things that don’t advance the Kingdom of God? How will you do something for God when you are sick in bed because you ate that whole bucket of ice cream in one go? How easy is it for him to win the battle when you are distracted by hunting the latest fashion items because they are on sale and you need those shoes in your life right now?
These are just little things, but as you know, there are big temptations too, with long-term incapacitating effects. And if you can’t even withstand the little things, how will you withstand bigger temptations?
That doesn’t mean we are not allowed to enjoy things in life, but it does mean that whatever it is we do, we should be able to do it for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Otherwise, don’t even consider doing it.
The devil is smart, but God didn’t leave you powerless against his schemes. With the helmet of salvation, you carry the protection you need. It tells you that you belong to Jesus now, that you are no longer a slave to sin.
But Jesus bought your freedom from sin at the cost of His own life. So, disrespecting that by sinning anyway doesn’t demonstrate good character, nor wisdom.
Anyone having the Helmet of Salvation is dead to sin and alive to God and will recognize sin for what it is. We don’t belong to this dead world, so everything that comes from it, disguised as “good”, still smells rotten to us. And those of us who live in Christ will be trained to smell sin from a mile away. So, each time the shrewd snake rears its head with a proposition, we are faced with the choice of how to deal with it. Running can be helpful (1 Corinthians 10:14), slaying it with the Sword of the Spirit is a great option, but one thing you should never do is negotiate with it. You cannot negotiate with snakes. A snake has no conscience, and you don’t even speak the same language. Instead: Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).
So, before you start self-justifying sinful actions, just ask yourself: “Did Jesus die this horrible death on the cross to save me, for this? Does this glorify God?”
Exchange the word “this” for your temptation and you’ll have your answer right there.
Tactic 2: Sparking unGodly desires
Although Adam and Eve weren’t slaves to sin either, the devil did manage to trick Eve into having an unGodly ambition (Gen 3). Once the thought was put in her mind, she began to like the prospect of being like God, knowing good and evil, even though God didn’t want that for her. That is what I mean when I say unGodly desire, a desire that isn’t in line with God’s will for your life.
The trick never gets old, because nowadays the devil will still poke us with something that belongs to someone else: “Wouldn’t you like to be like…?” “Wouldn’t it be nice if you also had…?” But the Lord’s commandments teach us that we should not desire what is our neighbor’s, whether that is their beautiful mansion or their ministry.
Most of us will know that we should not envy the people of the world and their successes. Because even though they might have all the money or talent or friends in the world, they are spiritually dead. No, we are set apart, and walk this temporary earth as people belonging to another Kingdom, a life-giving Kingdom.
Anyone who isn’t a baby Christian anymore will probably feel less tempted by this type of envy.
But for many believers, it becomes harder when they look at the success of another believer: Their wonderful relationship with God, their growing ministry, you name it. If this is you, ask yourself honestly: Why do you long for those things? If the answer is because you want to be honored, recognized, respected, or acknowledged like they are, remember that this life isn’t about your glory. It’s about God’s glory.
The solution is simple: You won’t desire what other people have if you only long for that what the Spirit longs for: to glorify God. Then you will only want to live the life God has for you to enable you to glorify God your way. And then you will see, with gratitude, that God has prepared a unique journey for you, and that the fruit you produce will be unique in the world.
Jesus saved you to be you, not to be someone else.Back to top
Tactic 3: Reminding us of our past
I’m probably not the only one experiencing feelings of worthlessness sometimes because of something I did in my past. At times thoughts of mistakes pop up in my head to accuse me. I’ve learned to rebuke these thoughts in Jesus’ Name. That always works. And over time, these thoughts have been coming at me less often.
But what if someone else reminds me of something I did in my past? Often that still catches me off-guard, because I know full well that I am born again as a new creation in Christ. They just didn’t get the memo. In that case, I remind myself that they are not my Judge. God knows I’m a new creation in Christ, and He’s all Who matters in the end. My Helmet tells me that I live through and for Christ now, and nobody is taking that away from me.Back to top
Tactic 4: Throwing past curses at us
When we are young, we have people in our lives who serve as an example. People we look up to and learn from, like a parent or a teacher. When those people did not have a good influence on our development, by their words and deeds, we can carry those as curses into our adult life. Either because we feel like we might have inherited them, or because we still believe them.
Let me give you an example: My dad often called me an idiot and in his native language something that translated to “imbecile”. A teacher in school also angrily told me that she couldn’t understand what I was doing at the highest level of advanced education, since she couldn’t even envision me doing well at the lowest level. And when I told my mom that I did an IQ test and scored very high, she would simply not believe me. She said the test had to be flawed.
Over and over again, it was affirmed that I was a good-for-nothing, stupid little girl. After a while, I started to believe those words, and I took the fact that I thought differently than others, as evidence that I really was stupid. I hardly ever heard anybody say that I was smart, and when they did, I simply did not believe them, as my mom did with the test.
It was only a few years ago that God healed me from this negative self-talk when I was struggling with these insecurities again. God spoke to me clearly with a simple message: that I am intelligent because He created me that way. That changed me from the inside out. And that is how the Helmet of Salvation works: through Christ, we can be changed from the inside out, instead of from the outside in.
You don’t have to believe negative affirmations from your past anymore, simply because you are a new you. Those curses don’t belong to you. Even if they were true – and they likely were nothing more than fiery darts from the enemy – you are a new creation with God’s promises spoken over your life. There is no inheritance or curse on you anymore, because you are chosen to break the negative cycle that kept you captive for a season.Back to top
Tactic 5: Making your past seem attractive
This one hasn’t happened to me too often, thank God. Probably because my past was so grim, and the change after salvation so tremendous, that I would never ever want to go back. But sometimes subtle thoughts do sneak up on me. For example when my husband and I have a hard time making ends meet, and I think back to the tons of money I used to make when I was in marketing, which we spent freely (while almost forgetting that that job cost me my mental, physical, and spiritual health). Or when I’m hungry and with a subtle longing, think back to the days when all I ate was junk food. The days before Jesus restricted my diet for my own good (because I became really, really ill).
Whenever I have these types of thoughts, I remind myself of what happened to the rabble within the people of Israel. After being delivered from slavery in Egypt, they put God to the test in the wilderness. They demanded meat because in Egypt they had all kinds of food. They thought they were better off in Egypt, “forgetting” that they were badly treated slaves there. And here, on this journey with God, they only had manna (the Bread of Life). Well, as you can read for yourself in Numbers 11, this didn’t end well for the grumblers, who all died of a severe plague.
That event reminds me of how important it is that we remain grateful for our salvation. We should never treat salvation with contempt or disregard because Jesus died at the cross for us! To disrespect that sacrifice is literally asking to go the hell.
So when the enemy reminds you of the good times you had before salvation, make sure to protect yourself by gratefully remembering that through the promise of salvation you are a new creation, made right with God. Finishing this journey with God, with all its challenges, will bring you to a land filled with milk and honey. Going back may seem easier, but that road will lead you to hell. Choose wisely.Back to top
Tactic 6: Telling you that you are “too” serious about Jesus
Attacks come in many forms and from various angles. When you least expect it, the devil might send people you trust, even other Christians, to demotivate you.
I’ve especially struggled with remarks of lukewarm Christians who told me to be less “radical”. That knocked me down a couple of times. Everything about my relationship with Jesus is radical, starting with the day He delivered me and turned my life upside down, or better still: right side up.
Should I water that down? No way!
My life before Jesus was also radical but in an ugly way. Many people would rather have me water that down too. But if you see the deep darkness I came from, the Light of Christ can only be seen as radically bright! Yeah, I know it hurts your eyes, but you’ll get used to it.
So, when anybody tells you to be less serious about your faith, remind yourself (and maybe them) where you would be without Him saving you, and that you owe Him everything.Back to top
Tactic 7: Hurling accusations
When you are about to make waves in the world, people might resort to slander or say to your face that you’re up to no good. Just like David’s older brother did with him when he defended God’s honor (1 Sam 17). He angrily accused David of having the wrong motives, of doing the wrong thing, of being conceited, of having a wicked heart, and of only being there to watch the battle.
All of those remarks are obviously lies, and I wonder if he wasn’t speaking about himself. Because what were his motives? His disdain speaks volumes. And he was wrong, as David proved by his actions.
So, prove your accusers wrong by going up into the battle anyway while using your spiritual helmet to know that you belong to God and that He is your sole Judge with a capital J. Give that role to no one else.Back to top
Tactic 8: Manipulation
Manipulation can be hard to spot. It is aimed to change the way you think about something or someone, in order to make you feel differently about them. I’ve noticed that people who use this tactic will often change facts just a little bit, or leave out important bits so that their theory sounds plausible. Without all the facts, it will be hard to know the truth. That is why you should never just take somebody’s word for it, but check the facts (or both sides of the story) yourself.
You can easily sniff out manipulation when someone makes him or herself the victim of your actions. That is a red flag in itself because if they belong to the same team as you, you’re fighting with them, not against them. So, either they really believe that you are not on their team fighting for the same goal, or they are grasping in the dark not knowing that they are actually fighting against their own team. But as long as you know that you know, that you are on team Jesus (and your helmet tells you so) you have nothing to worry about.
Sometimes people will try to convince you, or make you feel that you need to do so and so for them, while you feel that there is something wrong with that request. They might even tell you that God said so. Or they’ll smooth talk you into it. Or they’ll tell you that it is a solution to their weariness. Or they’ll label it “love”. But in reality, it is their fleshly desire or fear talking.
If God wants you to do something, He will tell you so Himself. Since we are not living in the Old Testament anymore, we have our own relationship with Him through Jesus. And they can have that relationship too.
Of course, it’s good to bless people, but they don’t need you in order to take away their weariness, desires, or fears. Let them wear their own armor to deal with those burdens. They should stop leaning on you, and start leaning on Him. Don’t carry their burden also. Don’t make their problem your problem. Pray for them and let them worry about their own relationship with God, without weakening yours.
To get what they want, manipulators will often shower you with compliments. This can be very attractive, and provide a feeling of (sometimes finally) being appreciated, and important. And just like Satan did with Eve, they might even lead you to believe that you will become even more important under their lead. Don’t fall for it! If you do, you give them the power to control you, until they don’t need or like you anymore and it becomes clear that they’ve used you. Because without your Helmet on, these compliments taste sweet like honey, and you’ll keep going back for more. But really, it’s not much different than a bribe that blinds you from your true calling.
Jesus on the other hand, really believes that you are important, just as you are. You are so important to Him, that He’s even interested in how many hairs you have on your head (Matthew 10:30). Jesus will give you a purpose, and His burden is light. With the Helmet on, you will know why Jesus set you free, and how to use this freedom. And then compliments of a human being suddenly won’t taste so addictively sweet anymore, as you’ll only long to please the Lord.Back to top
Tactic 9: Confronting you with a lack of success
Discouragement also comes in the form of a lack of visible success. When I came out of the shadows of behind-the-scenes ministry, I had to open the church service by reading Scripture every Sunday. I’ve learned a lot from that experience. One of the lessons was to not be discouraged if only 3 people showed up or to feel invisible if people started coming in and greeting each other loudly while I was reciting. Because in reality, I have an audience of only One. I need to please One Person only: my Savior. Whether or not I was successful, depends only on Him.
I can only see now how those lessons have prepared me for the ministries that followed, but at the time they hurt. At times, those lessons even made me doubt the truth of God’s promises for my life. But now that I am taking the Helmet with me in every battle, it’s like a lack of success stopped being an issue. I let God worry about that part, and focus on what He saved me for.Back to top
Tactic 10: Intimidation
Another way in which the enemy might discourage you from following God’s path for you is by using scare tactics. He will scare you into believing you are too small for a task so big. We need our helmets against any fear instilling messages that tell us that we are too young, too inexperienced, too uneducated, and so on.
All these and more were thrown at me by people who were mostly talking about themselves. They themselves feared stepping into the light without the backup of maturity, education, or experience. Of course, all of these are important, but if you wait until you know everything before you do anything for God, you will have died before you even began. Remind yourself that God gave you this armor to be in the battle. Not to stand your ground until you are old enough, educated enough, or experienced enough to fight. No, the battle is what trains you to be mature, wise, knowledgeable, strong, and experienced. If you don’t move, you won’t grow. And if you don’t grow, you will never produce fruit. And then you will turn into those conscience-stricken, faithless people telling you not to go into battle.
King Saul discouraged David from going into the battle with the giant. Because how would a young boy like David be able to slay a giant without the relevant experience or training? David could have thought that Saul had a point, and given up, but he didn’t. The king, his eldest brother, and the giant himself (note that they were people with authority), all tried to demoralize him, each in their own way. But David persevered, and we all know that the story ends with victory.
As God uses the weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Cor 1:27), so He used David to shame all who looked down on God. I say on God, not on David, because in reality, the problem was not a lack of trust in David, but a lack of faith in God. People who don’t believe that God can win a battle without human strength, and without the weapons of this world, don’t believe in the Great I AM.
David did. He didn’t want to wear a physical helmet because he had something better: the Helmet of Salvation. He trusted God to save him like He always did. David knew that the Lord doesn’t save with sword and spear. God, in His sovereignty, owns the battle.
So, if God is for us, who can be against us (Rom 8:31)?Back to top
Tactic 11: Keeping you too busy
A more subtle way of discouragement is aimed at letting you believe that other things are more important than your walk with God, while really, nothing is more important. I think of Mary and Martha in Luke 10, who were both serving Jesus in a way. Jesus commended Mary for choosing what is best: humbly learning from Jesus. But Martha was distracted by things that needed to be arranged, which really weren’t that important. They were simply distractions.
Think about it: However sweet, Jesus doesn’t need us to bring Him food. He can make wine out of water and feed way over 5000 people from 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. He can do anything that Martha was preparing for, in an instant. What He does need us to do is listen to Him, know Him, love Him, and learn to be like Him.
I made that mistake many times. I worked hard for Jesus, but was I really doing what He asked me to do? Did I focus on my assignment, or was I distracted by “urgent” mundane things? Often my distractions were good things, but just not the best thing for God’s glory.
That is why I always have to remind myself to take the Helmet and consider: What did Jesus save me for? That should be my focus.
At the same time, I have my husband and myself to take care of. It took me years to find a balance in that, and every time something changes, it takes a while to figure it out again.
This is what helped me: if my priority is to do what Jesus saved me for, then everything else I do should in some way serve that end. For example, I eat with the purpose to be energetic and healthy so that I can continue glorifying God with the job He gave me.
In our case, my husband works a full-time job to provide for us both. He earns just enough to get us through the month, which is a blessing, especially in this society. Because the country where we live is organized in such a way that in order to survive, in most cases, both wife and husband should be working paid jobs.
By God’s providence, before I started this ministry, my husband was out of work for six months and wasn’t able to find a job. God kept closing one door after another. And all the while I got opposition from outside, telling me that I should go do a paid job then. But I wore my Helmet, so I knew what Jesus saved me for, and had no worry in the world. I knew things would work out. I knew that my husband would find a job to sustain us as long as I stayed on track with God’s plan for me.
So, I did what David did, and went into battle anyway, which annoyed (and hopefully intrigued) some people. Some would call it taking a risk, or a leap of faith, or they would say it was reckless, but I felt no such thing. It felt like the only good option. I was going to serve Jesus with all of me, and no one was going to talk me out of it.
Until I suddenly felt a slight panic when I was about to click the “order now” button to buy the domain name and webspace. Was I really going to commit to this? Thank God I remembered my helmet and felt encouraged, so I clicked and the rest is history.
At the very moment that I finished my order, my husband was at a company for a second job interview. And now you might expect that I am going to say that he got the job right there and then. But then again we’re not living in a fairytale but under the power of God’s mighty hand.
So, although that interview went well, the owner of that company just couldn’t make up her mind. She thought my husband would be too expensive while he had not asked for an unreasonable salary and nothing more than we needed to survive. And my husband in turn didn’t feel good about the company, and he didn’t like the prospect of the long daily commute because his car is quite old and might give in one day. Still, both of us did not grow anxious, because we did not take off our helmets. We simply waited to see what God had in store for us.
Then a day or so after that interview, another job opportunity came seemingly out of nowhere. So, 7 days after I started my blog and had written 3 articles, my husband went to that company for an interview. Sure enough, they were so thrilled to have him on board that they practically hired him 5 minutes after they met. Without even negotiating, his new boss gave him the salary we needed, and on top of that, he offered him a company car for his commute! God’s answers to prayer never cease to amaze us!Back to top
Tactic 12: Convincing you to take off your armor
How can anybody convince you to take your armor off in the midst of a battle? Simple: By convincing you that there is no war.
The enemy might tell you that you don’t have to fight your sin because you are already perfect. Or he will tell you that there is no God. Or that you shouldn’t read the Bible. Or that praying is useless because God does not listen anyway. Lies, lies, lies.
By telling you to put down the Shield of Faith, he is able to destroy you with his fiery darts. When you take off the Belt of Truth, he robs you of any way of knowing that his attacks are in fact based on lies. And if you would actually stop praying because you think that God doesn’t listen to you, you’re simply deluding yourself.
A Christian friend of mine, a pastor’s wife, made this very mistake. In the midst of a difficult time in her life, she lowered her Shield and took off her Helmet when the devil whispered in her ear that the reason why God didn’t answer her prayer with “yes” was because He is not a personal God Who answers personal prayers. She believed that. And then she told me that she stopped (wanting to) believe that God wants what is best for us and that she doesn’t believe that He knows what is best for us anyway.
When she told me that, I was angry with the devil and sad for her. Because like I said, a person without faith in Christ is dead and will burn in hell. I still am sad for her, since she is not willing to see it differently.
It is different though. God does know better than any of us what is best for us, and we shouldn’t try to fit Him in the tiny space of our brains. God is bigger than anything we know and can comprehend. God is beyond space, time, and matter because He created all of that. And we can’t even comprehend the fullness of space, time, and matter, let alone God, Who is even bigger!
No, He doesn’t fit in our brain, and He shouldn’t because that would imply that He is a god who does not answer personal prayers and doesn’t know what is best for us. Our God, the Great I AM, is everywhere, and knows all things, because like I said, He is beyond time and space. And that is one of the many things my friend could have told the devil when he came up to her if she had kept her armor on.
Without the armor of God, you are defenseless against the enemy, and the battle will be lost. So, whatever anybody tells you, never, ever take it off.Back to top
Don’t let attacks of the enemy come near your mind, by constantly reminding yourself what the Helmet of Salvation tells you:
You don’t belong to the enemy with all his evil schemes anymore, but to Jesus, Who saved you for the great, unique plan He has for you.
Never forget that.
Click on any of the links below to read about another piece of armor. Or read all 7 articles to see how they work together.