The Whole Armor of God: Part 5

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If the shield of faith conveys to us the soul's perfect confidence in what God is in His own unchangeable nature, the helmet of salvation teaches us what God has done for us, known and enjoyed in the soul, and with that unquestioning certainty that never leaves in the heart a shadow of doubt as to the result by-and-by. When the soul feels and knows this, it is free in the day of battle, and goes on without fear. It can think of others when the enemy seeks their ruin. It feels that that lovely word, "Thou hast covered my head in the day of battle," imparts a firmness and joyfulness than no present circumstances can ever mar. The enemy may rage, and evil may be there; but through that impregnable helmet no sword can ever pass. God's salvation as a helmet on the head, set there by the hands of God Himself, renders the heart fearless in the face of the foe. One is free, in the forgetfulness of all personal questions as to one's own things, to desire others' good.
What a lovely illustration we have of this helmet of salvation in Paul in Acts 26. For a considerable time in prison, cut off from the work he loved and lived in, and the sad thought perhaps that his own conduct was the immediate cause of his imprisonment, the first moment of his conversion fills his soul. There stood that blessed man bound with chains, before Festus, with King Agrippa and Bernice. He unfolded to them the story of his former life, his conversion, his mission of service. This Pharisee of the Pharisees, this righteous man according to the law who had lived in all good conscience before God, while doing many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth—this dread persecutor of the saints—of the Church of God—there he stood, the attention of the Roman governor riveted by the glowing words addressed to the king, until Festus cried out, "Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad."
Mark the calm and collected reply: "I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. For the king [Agrippa) knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely; for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds."
There stood this blessed witness of the power of that salvation with which God had covered his head for the day of battle. An evident consciousness too of the truth they conveyed, in the king's soul, before whom he spake the glowing words, eloquent from the calm and holy joy which filled the speaker's heart. How near was King Agrippa to this salvation, and yet how far off when, to cover and conceal his emotion, he rose up and went aside to confer with the rest.
Chains and imprisonments had not dampened this heavenly joy. Free in heart, and with the helmet of salvation on his brow, he can think of others' blessing. No desire was expressed as to removal of the bonds of Christ which he wore.
His desires were for others. He did not merely wish they were Christians, which King Agrippa seemed almost persuaded to become, but that they might be "both almost, and altogether such as I am," that they might have the same deep joy which filled his heart—the same salvation consciously which rested on his brow—"except
these bonds"—he could bear them alone for the
Master whom he loved, and he would only wish them to be as happy as he, without the bonds.
Oh, what a softened feeling grace imparts to the heart which brings us in contact with a living Person who has placed the helmet of salvation on our brow! It is not the salvation itself which then engrosses, but the One who has so acted for us, setting our heart as free as air, that it may run in the same channel with His heart toward an evil world.
The soul is now free and in order to wield "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Remark that first of all, the Word of God has formed us and braced up the whole inner man; the conscience is good; the path is peaceful; confidence in God is perfect, and the conscious joy of a salvation which no adverse power can mar, and which links the heart with Him who has accomplished it and bestowed it upon us, is making the heart joyously free. Then comes the aggressive warfare by the sword of the Spirit against the enemy of soul.
Remark too that as in all this armor it is a question of meeting the wiles of the devil, so here it is not the word used in edification for souls, but for detecting and unmasking these very wiles. How prostrate and feeble the soldiers of Christ seem to be in these infidel days. They fear often to stand alone by that Word which God has set above all His name (Psalm 138:22I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. (Psalm 138:2)). They are not formed by its precepts themselves, and therefore they are not fit to use this mighty sword; it would cut themselves, for it has two edges. It must do its own keen circumcising work with ourselves before it can be used effectively against the foe. Israel must be circumcised themselves before they can draw their sword and follow the leading of the Captain of the Host of the Lord.
But when the soul is thus fitted to wield this sword, no enemy can withstand it. See the Lord Jesus Himself in conflict with the devil (Matt. 4). No power was put forth by Him to destroy the destroyer. No word was spoken to correct the misquotation of the enemy (v. 6). "It is written" was His weapon; and "By the word of Thy lips I have kept Me from the paths of the destroyer" (Psalm 17:44Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer. (Psalm 17:4)). It is very striking, as one has noticed, that when it became a direct conflict between Jesus and the devil, the Word of God was the instrument used on both sides. The Lord used it to explain and govern His own conduct, and the devil used it against Him. How solemn! In the present day, when the saints are thrown upon it as their resource, the devil uses it for his own ends as well. But the saints must be formed in obedience by it, else they will find they must fall with the sword of the Spirit in their hands, because it will wound themselves.
When those wiles of the devil are presented to the soul, there is no fear felt for the result of the conflict by the well-trained soldier of Christ. He is not amazed at what the enemy presents, nor distracted by an effort to have some text ready to meet the foe; the Word of God comes readily to the heart and lips, the wile is answered, the soul is steadied, and its conduct and obedience are accounted for by the Word. No wile of the enemy can stand for a moment before that mighty weapon which is "mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations [reasonings), and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." 2 Cor. 10:4, 54(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Corinthians 10:4‑5). Every infidel suggestion is met; every perversion of the truth is laid bare—every superstition with which the devil deceives his votaries, exulting in their shame—is exposed. All is met by the mighty instrument which alone can guide the soul in a world of boasting progress, but which, having lost the knowledge of God and refused the revelation of Himself in tender grace in Jesus, ripens under the culture of the wicked one, for that judgment which will consign himself and his followers to the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are, to be tormented day and night forever! See Rev. 20:10-1510And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. 11And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:10‑15).