In the 1950s (relatively early in my ministry) I was pastor of a church in London, England. During that time, we regularly saw people saved and healed and baptized in the Holy Spirit. Still, in the midst of these blessings I had a problem of recurrent fits of depression that would come over me like a dark, heavy cloud. When this cloud was hanging over me, I projected this pressure onto the people who were near me - particularly my own family.
I struggled against this by every means in my power that I knew of. I prayed. I fasted. I made resolutions. I got up early to pray. I stayed up late to pray. I did everything that I knew to do and it got no better. In fact, the more I prayed and fasted, the worse it got. One day I had come to the end of my solutions when a phrase in Isaiah 61:3 - “The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” - captured my attention.
I suddenly realized that I was dealing with a spirit - a personality that studied me, knew my weaknesses, knew how and when to attack me. I was not dealing with mental or psychological conditions merely in myself. I then understood why the pressure got worse the more I wanted to serve the Lord: because the mission of this spirit was to hinder me in my service for God. This personality knew just how and when to apply the pressure.
Recognizing the identity of my enemy was a tremendous step forward. I searched the Scriptures and found a verse that I believed would bring me the solution to my problem. Joel 2:32 (KJV) says:
“It shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered.”
I put Isaiah 61:3 and Joel 2:32 together and prayed a very specific 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.” And when I prayed that specific, scriptural prayer I was delivered. The pressure was lifted.
I subsequently learned that it’s one thing to be delivered; it’s another thing altogether to stay delivered. God began to show me that He had set my mind free from this demonic pressure, and it was now up to me to reeducate my mind - to cultivate a totally different outlook and way of thinking. Before I was delivered, I was not able to do it.
After I was delivered, it was my responsibility to do it.
In fighting this battle to keep my deliverance from depression, I became aware that the problem area in my life above others was the area of my mind. The devil was continually reaching me through my mind. I happen to have had the privilege of a very sophisticated education. I have discovered that the more highly refined and cultivated a person’s mind is, the more vulnerable it is to Satan. The more you trust in your mind, the more Satan is able to use it against you.
I learned that it was up to me to teach my mind and my thoughts that they were the servant, not the master. When I came to see that I needed protection for my mind, I remembered that in Ephesians 6:14–18 there are six items of equipment—the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which all are made effective through the weapon of prayer.
As I studied that list, I noticed the one piece of equipment that is obviously designed to protect the mind: the helmet of salvation. The helmet covers the head, which is typically associated with the thought-life. I saw that God had provided me with protection for my mind.
I knew I had salvation. But I wondered if that meant that I automatically have the helmet of salvation. Or is there more to it than that? In my Bible, the cross-reference to Ephesians 6:17 was 1 Thessalonians 5:8, which says:
“But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.”
The helmet is called the hope of salvation. Hope. I realized how little thought or study I had ever given to the place of hope in the life of the believer. The Holy Spirit led me from Scripture to Scripture through the New Testament showing me that my whole spiritual experience was unbalanced and incomplete without a proper understanding of the place of hope as the protection of my mind.
In 1 Corinthians 13:13, Paul says:
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three...”
In the context of the chapter, it’s clear that these are the three continuing (abiding) realities of spiritual experience in the Christian life. Other things, Paul says, are temporary. They have a purpose, and when their purpose is fulfilled they will no longer be needed. But he says the abiding three realities of spiritual experience are faith, hope, and love.
I studied further and learned that there is a scriptural difference between faith and hope. They are located in different areas of the human personality. Biblical faith relates to the present from the realm of the heart. Hope relates to the future from the realm of the mind.
The protection of the believer’s mind is the helmet of hope. Therefore, I believe every Christian must be an optimist. For a Christian to be a pessimist is - in effect - a denial of his faith. Hope provides a confident expectation of good.
My mind - which had been captivated by the spirit of heaviness—was now liberated. And God showed me that my mind was liberated so that I might retrain it. He was not going to retrain it for me. That was my responsibility. I had to cultivate a totally different outlook—different attitudes, different reactions, different mental patterns. Romans 8:28 is just one of many verses supporting my belief that every believer should be an optimist:
“We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
If you love God and if you are sincerely seeking to walk in His purposes, then all things work together for good to you. And if all things are working together for good, there can be no reason for pessimism. Every situation is an occasion for optimism. The key is to train our minds to embrace this truth and live by it.
Hope is one of the most beautiful themes in the Bible. Romans 4:18 (KJV) tells us about Abraham when he received the promise of God about the birth of his son, Isaac, long after it was physically possible for either him or his wife.
“Against hope [he] believed in hope.”
Abraham believed and, as a result, he hoped. Believing was first. Hoping was secondary - or the product of the faith. And Hebrews 11:1 says it even more clearly:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for...”
Faith is the underlying bedrock of assurance on which hope is supported. Faith produces hope. Both are legitimate, but we must have them in the right place—they are designed to operate in the right relationship.
You simply cannot survive without hope. In Romans 15:13, Paul says:
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
God is not merely the God of peace, the God of joy, the God of righteousness and the God of power. He’s also the God of hope. So when you are filled with joy and peace through believing (faith), the result will be that you will overflow in hope.
By way of contrast, in Ephesians 2:12 Paul offers a picture of those who do not have hope:
“...That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”
Paul says that the lost are without three things: without Christ, without God, without hope. When you are without hope, you are without Christ and without God. Hope is that integral to our salvation.
In Colossians 1:27 (KJV), speaking this time about the unfathomable mystery of the gospel, Paul writes about the believers:
“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery... which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
The whole of the gospel centers in this great and wonderful revelation that was kept secret from all the prophets and sages and great men of past generations. And the amazing part is that this mystery is now revealed to humble believers like you and me: that Christ is actually in us, and that Christ in us is our actual hope of glory.
The glory is in the future. The one who has Christ within has hope for that future - a glorious, radiant, confident expectation of eternal glory with Almighty God. That’s what you have when you have Christ in you.
In Hebrews 6:18–20, the writer emphasizes the tremendous basis that we have for our faith in Christ:
“...That by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
Our hope is an anchor of the soul, steadfast and sure. It’s an anchor that actually passes out of time into eternity and fastens within the veil in the great Rock of Ages—Jesus Christ, our High Priest and our forerunner.
A boat needs an anchor because it floats on the unstable, impermanent element of water. The anchor is passed from the boat, through the unstable element of water, into the stable element of rock. Then it is stabilized and made secure. When you pass your anchor through the water (time) into the rock (eternity), you can be secure.
When you invest yourself in your relationship with Jesus, you are casting your anchor into that Rock of Ages. And all the storms and hurricanes that blow will never detach you from that Rock. The way that we anchor into it is through hope.
It is up to us to train our minds to hope. In my own life, the difference was like night and day. It didn’t come in five minutes, though; it took more than five years. But it’s been worth every bit of training that I’ve put into it.
Deliverance will set you free to do your share. But it’s your responsibility to contend for your deliverance. And for many of us (if not most of us), the mind is the most vulnerable point.
Take the helmet of salvation - the helmet of hope. Put it on. Cover your mind. Protect your thoughts; bring them under control and in line with the Word of God. And experience the glorious results.