Each one of the seven pieces of armor that Paul lists in the sixth chapter of Ephesians is of vital importance for every believer. But the fifth item—the helmet of salvation became an essential part of my own personal victory over depression and hopelessness.
My story begins in the mid-1950s, when I was pastoring a congregation in London, England. During that time, God was in many ways blessing my ministry. We regularly saw people saved, healed, and baptized in the Holy Spirit. Inwardly, however, I was battling a tremendous, ongoing struggle with depression. Those around me never had any idea what was going on inside of me. But almost day and night during this period of my life, I was surrounded by an awful sense of depression. It took the form of a dark, heavy cloud that would descend over me—pressing me down, closing in on me, and shutting me off from normal communication with other people—even my own family.
Ironically, the more successful I became in my ministry, the worse the oppression grew. I battled against it in every way that I could. I prayed. I fasted. I reckoned myself dead. I made resolutions. I got up early. I stayed up late. I did everything within my power that I knew to do. But nothing seemed to do any good. In fact, the more I prayed and fasted, the worse it got.
Then one day, when I reached the end of all my efforts, God gave me a wonderful revelation. I read these words from Isaiah 61:3, “The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (NKJV).
Suddenly, as I read those words—the spirit of heaviness—the Holy Spirit indicated to me, “That’s your problem. It’s not you. It’s not a mental or a psychological condition. It is a spirit—it is a person that hates you, that dogs you, that is unseen. It is a person without a body that has followed you even from boyhood. That person knows your weakness, so as to know exactly when and how to attack you most effectively. You are fighting a person, an unseen demonic person. It is the spirit of heaviness.”
In modern English we would call it the spirit of depression. This was not psychological. I was not dealing merely with some entrenched pattern of negative thinking. There was a person—an evil spirit set against me by Satan himself—tracking me and plotting my downfall.
Then I saw why the pressure got worse the more I wanted to serve the Lord. The assignment of this evil spirit was to hinder me in my service for God. When I was somewhat slack and indifferent in my ministry, the pressure was lifted. But the more dedicated and earnest I became, the worse the pressure became.
At last, I had come to realize the identity of my enemy. With that realization, I knew I was 80 percent of the way to victory. But the Lord knew that I only needed one other scripture to bring me the solution to my problem. He led me to Joel 2:32, which says this:
It shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered (KJV).
I saw that this promise was just as all-inclusive as John 3:16:
Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (KJV).
I knew that these verses were a promise to me of deliverance, and I said, “That’s for me!” I did not understand the deliverance ministry in any sense in which we do now. But driven by my own desperate need, and acting on those promises in faith, I put the two Scriptures together—Isaiah 61:3 and Joel 2:32. Then I prayed specifically to God, and I want to emphasize the importance of praying specifically. I named the spirit, “the spirit of heaviness,” and I claimed God’s own promise, “Whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered.”
“God, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, according to Your Word, I’m asking You to deliver me from this spirit of heaviness.”
This was my prayer: “God, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, according to Your Word, I’m asking You to deliver me from this spirit of heaviness.” When I prayed that specific, scriptural prayer, I was delivered! The pressure was lifted! I give God all the thanks and praise for this wonderful, wonderful deliverance.
Wearing the Helmet
As joyful as I was at the time of the deliverance, I quickly learned that it is one thing to be delivered—it is another challenge altogether to stay delivered. God began to show me that He had done His part of the job. Now I had to do my part. I had to learn how to protect my own mind against thoughts of pessimism, morbidity, and depression.
“I had to learn how to protect my own mind against thoughts of pessimism, morbidity, and depression. As I considered how to protect my mind, I remembered these words in Ephesians 6, ‘the helmet of salvation.’”
As I considered how to protect my mind, I remembered these words in Ephesians 6, “the helmet of salvation.” Immediately I said to myself, “That’s what I must have—the helmet of salvation.”
So I came to realize my need for this helmet of salvation to protect my mind. But then I wondered, “What is the helmet of salvation? I know I’m saved—doesn’t that mean I have the helmet of salvation already? If I have it already, why do I need to take another step?”
The answer to my questions came when I realized that the people to whom Paul wrote in Ephesians were like me—they were saved and had received the Holy Spirit. Yet Paul still told them to put on the helmet of salvation. Therefore, the fact that a person is saved does not mean that he or she is wearing the armor. Saved people must still put on the armor of God. So I began to explore more fully what exactly the helmet of salvation is.
“The fact that a person is saved does not mean that he or she is wearing the armor. Saved people must still put on the armor of God.”
Fortunately, in the margin of my Bible there was a reference for the verse about the helmet in Ephesians. It directed me to 1 Thessalonians 5:8:
But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.
This verse referred to two of the pieces of armor that were mentioned in Ephesians 6. The first was the breastplate. It was very obvious that the breastplate of faith and love protects the heart.
Then the verse continued: “And as a helmet, the hope of salvation.” When I read those words, I felt as if currents of divine electricity were going right through me! I said to myself, “That’s the helmet—it’s hope!”
Reclaiming My Mind
Faith is in the heart and protects the heart. But hope is in the mind and protects the mind. Immediately I saw that one of my biggest problem areas in my life was in the realm of my mind. All through my life, the devil had been continually reaching in and defeating me through my mind. His attack on my mind came in two ways.
The first way was through my education. I happened to have had the privilege of a very elaborate, prolonged, and scholarly education, especially in the area of analytical thinking. I discovered that the more highly refined and cultivated a person’s mind is, the more vulnerable that person can be to Satan. Why? In my case, I realized that the more I trusted in and relied upon my own mind, the more Satan could use it against me. I was going to have to learn how to reclaim control of my mind.
“Faith is in the heart and protects the heart. But hope is in the mind and protects the mind.”
Second, I realized that all through my life I had been a habitual pessimist. Not only that, the whole of my family background was one of pessimism. I respect my parents and I am grateful for their memory, but they were steeped in anxiety and pessimism. I would have to say that in my family if you were not worrying about something, you ought to be worrying about the fact you were not worrying! As a result, I was totally imbued with this spirit of worrying and pessimism.
“Pessimism was actually a denial of my faith.”
God then began to reveal to me that this pessimism was actually a denial of my faith. If I truly believed the gospel, I could not be a pessimist. In earlier chapters, we considered several scriptures which teach this very clearly, especially Romans 8:28:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
God said in effect, “I’ve delivered you from a spirit of depression. Now, it is up to you to put on the helmet of salvation, which is the helmet of hope.” As a result, I began a process of retraining my mind. I had to cultivate a totally different outlook, different reactions, different mental patterns. Every time a negative or pessimistic thought would come to my mind I would refuse to yield to it. I also quoted and memorized helpful Scriptures that became a scriptural foundation for not being a pessimist, but for being an optimist!
Changes did not happen overnight, or even in a period of months. Change happened over a period of years. However, I can testify that I became a totally different person from what I was before this experience. I am now a scriptural, Bible-believing optimist. In addition, thanks to what God showed me in Scripture, I keep my helmet on day and night. I never take that helmet off—the helmet of optimistic hope. It is a helmet that ensures faith in God and hope in Him, and protects my mind against all the dark forces of pessimism and depression.
Breaking the Chains
In the years since my deliverance, I have helped many people who have suffered from prolonged, serious depression. I have come to the conclusion that in almost every case, it is connected with involvement in the occult.
This was true in my own situation. Before I became a believer, my involvement in the occult had been quite extensive, particularly in the field of yoga. It was not until many years later that I saw the connection between my involvement with yoga and the spirit of depression.
My ministry in the area of deliverance has spanned many decades now. I can tell you clearly that wherever I deal with a person who has prolonged, serious bouts of depression, it is usually a signal to me that somewhere along the line, they have trespassed into Satan’s territory in the realm of the occult. If you are depressed and you suspect that occult involvement is part of the issue, it is of the utmost importance that you deal with that issue. You must first take back the ground that has been given to the enemy. In fact, for me to tell you to cultivate new thought patterns would be like a drill sergeant giving orders to a group of soldiers who are fettered. They can hear the orders, but their feet can’t move to carry the orders out.
Deliverance is an essential part of God’s provision. If your depression or hopelessness is a demonic problem, then step number one is deliverance from the demon. Once that is dealt with, step number two is to begin a “retraining program”—to bring your thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ.