There’s a reason mothers lose their cool when their kids choose not to wear their bike helmets for their long ride to school–because moms know that if the brain inside that pretty little head is damaged, the whole person is too.
Priscilla Shirer, in her Bible study, The Armor of God, draws a beautiful analogy from this imagery, “What the brain is to the body, your mind is to your soul” (p.160), the soul being the core of who you are as an individual–your personality, feelings, and will. Therefore, where our minds go, so goes our whole being. If our thoughts focus on lies from the enemy, then everything about us will follow the thoughts as they descend to doubt, distraction, discouragement, and despair.
But, as we talked about last week, we are not without power or hope. We can take control of our thoughts. We can saturate our minds with God’s truth–about Him, ourselves, others, and our circumstances–by entering into the sanctifying process called salvation.
Two Layers of Salvation
Most western Christians are very aware of the first layer of salvation–the saving kind, the salvation that grants by grace and faith an eternal home with Christ. But, our salvation has a second layer that includes more than future promises–it grants us power and purpose for our present life on earth. Priscilla teaches:
“Our souls are saved daily and progressively through the Spirit and the Word of God. This is sanctification and it is how we are able to experience the abundant life.”p.154
Friends, we’ve been given the promise of eternity but often fail to live for heaven now while we’re in the world. If we neglect this restoring, sanctifying salvation, we live partial lives. It’s time we embrace that “God’s salvation is holistic and involves the well-being of the whole person” (p.155).
This series on strengthening our abiding lives aims at bringing our whole beings into the process of sanctification–our bodies, minds, emotions, and spirits. If we neglect one area, we limp through life hindered, the opposite of whole. But, if we receive Jesus’ offer of salvation that extends to our here and now, we’ll possess His saving and shielding, His rescuing and restoring. Jesus’ salvation enables us to “lead whole, healthy lives not fractured by the enemy’s deceptive strategies” (p.156).
Donning the Helmet of Salvation
And, friends, that’s why Paul describes the piece of armor that fits on our heads the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17). We’re meant to wear Christ’s salvation every single day.
Just as the Roman soldiers slid a piece of iron and bronze over their heads to protect them in battle, we place Jesus’ salvation over our minds, the ”spiritual expression of our brains” (p.160). Not to put on the helmet of salvation is to leave our thoughts exposed and open for crushing blows. So, let’s put that helmet on!
Heavenly Father, I am thankful that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, to the casting down of imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and to bring every thought into obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, in my own life today, I tear down the strongholds of Satan and smash the plans of Satan that have been formed against me. I tear down the strongholds of Satan against my mind, and I surrender my mind to You, Blessed Holy Spirit. I affirm, Heavenly Father, that You have not given me the spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
(taken from “Warfare Prayer” by Victor Matthews)
Practice “Fighting Words”
Another way to understand the helmet of salvation is to see it as our identity in Christ. When we focus on who we are in Christ, our minds are protected in Christ (Priscilla, p.151). It’s in God’s Word that we find the truth of who we are–children of God (1 John 3:1).
Then, when we, His children, “receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21, NASB), we acknowledge God’s truth in us and use it to establish our spiritual identities and restore our whole beings–not only for eternity but also for the here and now.
So, picture placing that helmet on your head to protect your mind and thoughts AND as putting on your identity in Christ. Priscilla encourages us to see our identity as our weaponry (p.172). With that helmet on, we are secure in our identity because we have fortified our thoughts with the truth of who we are. And when we do that, we live from a place of security, smashing the strongholds of Satan.
Ellie Holcomb, a Christian musician and friend of Lysa TerKeurst, gives us our strategy to practice this week. “Fighting Words” are Ellie’s way of thinking of Scripture–because God’s Words are the truth we can speak over every vulnerable place and situation we face (Lysa, p.188). Ellie has written a song about “Fighting Words,” and Lysa springboards off Ellie’s idea, offering us a list of declarations that we can speak as our own fighting words.
Lord Jesus, “no matter how brokenhearted or broken down I may feel today, I know for a fact that I am not forsaken or forgotten by my God. I am His beloved daughter, and He is my gracious and loving Father. He strengthens me when I am weak and calls me ever closer even when I fail. His love for me is unshakable, and His compassion toward me is unending. He is a safe place for my every hurt and the perfect match for my every need. And so, while the enemy may want fear, grumbling, and complaints to flow from my lips today, I am choosing instead to declare the praises of my ever present, forever faithful, tenderly compassionate God. The One who is worthy of my trust and adoration.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.
(Fighting Words: a Declaration of Adoration, by Lysa TerKeurst. Based on Psalm 103:13–14)
Prayer for Our Mental Lives
As we claim the full salvation Christ has for us, we can guard our mental lives with His helmet. “Fighting Words” help us declare over ourselves truths that the enemy wants to twist and distort; they empower us to name the lies and cast them out; they give us language to renew our minds in Christ–because WE ARE HIS.
Father God, “I fully admit that, many days, my attention is scattered. My mind is so prone to get fixated on the diversions and hardships right in front of me. But my deepest desire will be the declaration of my heart. I am a woman who will wait and watch for God before drawing conclusions myself.
“My soul feels stuck in the muck and the mire and the hard of this earth. But God tells me I have been raised with Christ. This world is not my home. Its brokenness and hurt is not my destiny. And this pain and heartbreak will not be the end of my story. Today I’m purposefully choosing to lift my gaze. To set my heart and mind on the things above. I have the promise of eternity in heaven — a place where there will be no more tears and no more pain. And I have the sweet assurance of God’s powerful presence and His perfect provision in the here and now. I am fixing my eyes on the hope He says is mine. The hope I have in Him. This battle has gone on longer than I expected. My heart feels faint. My eyes weak from the countless tears. I am tired — body, soul and mind. But I am choosing to remember today that all hope is not lost. I am turning my thoughts and lifting my prayers to the Lord, reminding my soul of who He is. My Jesus, who is both mighty and tender. He’s as big as the universe and yet so incredibly close. He is the Savior of the world and the intimate lover of my soul. He is my sure and steady hope in the midst of this storm. The One who will hear my every prayer and give me the strength I need to press on through this day.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.
(Fighting Words: a Declaration of Attention, by Lysa TerKeurst. Based on Psalm 5:3, Colossians 3:1, and Lamentations 3:19–24)
- Week Six Practice = Fighting Words! Lysa TerKeurst offers, for free, a PDF of multiple declarations we can speak into every area of our lives: our affection, adoration, attention, attraction, ambition, and action. These words arm us to fight back against the enemy’s attempts to influence our thought lives!
- Week Six Prayer = Use the prayers from this post, which I’ve pulled from Lysa’s “Fighting Words” and Dr. Matthews’ “Warfare Prayer.” Speaking prayers that have been written by other believers adds to our arsenal of retaking ground the enemy has claimed in our minds. I particularly love these prayers because they incorporate God’s Word. We can do the same–take a passage of Scripture and sculpt it into a personal prayer.
- Rich Villodas says, “When we can expose the lies we’ve believed, we are in a position to welcome God’s presence and power into our lives. God doesn’t dwell in unreality and illusion. By naming the illusions and lies we’ve been handed, we open ourselves to the liberating truth of God’s saving love” (Deeply Formed Life, p.152). Often we need other people to help us name the illusions and lies. In community we can speak truth in love. We can combat the isolating influence of the enemy–together! Let this community know how we can be praying for you. Comment below or join in the conversation on Instagram.
- Ellie Holcomb’s song, “Fighting Words,” perfectly captures this part of our abiding journey–with energy and joy and power. It’s on our Abide playlist:
You say that I am worth fighting for
And Grace is like waves that keep crashing on the shore
Fight the lies with the truth
Keep my eyes fixed on You
I will sing the truth into the dark
I will use my fighting words
(“Fighting Words” by Ellie Holcomb)
- Resources for this week–just a list you can come back to as needed. No expectation for this series:
- Priscilla Shirer’s Bible study, The Armor of God.* Another study I’ve come back to over and over, probably because of the way she digs so deeply into each part of the armor Paul prescribes.
- Lysa TerKeurst’s book, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way.* (again) The “Fighting Words” that I linked in this post are also printed in her book, pages 191-202.
- Rich Villodas’ book, The Deeply Formed Life: Five Transformative Values to Root Us in the Way of Jesus.* (again)