The Armor of God Part 2 – The Breastplate of Righteousness
What is the Breastplate of Righteousness? “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,…” (Ephesians 6:10-14).
Iain Duguid asks,
“What does the typical Christian look like? What part of the Christian’s armor does the average person think of when she thinks about what makes someone a Christian?…
“Most people think of righteousness as the essential ingredient of being a Christian. … To put it another way, for many people, a Christian is someone who is (or thinks she is) a decent, moral person who lives her life in the right way.”
Those are some pretty big shoes for us to try to fill, and you don’t have to get very far into the Scriptures before you find out that this righteousness is not something we do on our own. Oh, we all try. We might even fool some of the people some of the time. But at the bottom line, before God, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).
So the first thing we must recognize is that whatever righteousness we have, whatever righteousness we portray to a watching world, is based on the righteousness that Christ won for us on the cross, and which is ours because He has bestowed it upon us. We are told in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Now, it’s important to remember here what that righteousness cost. Jesus died to secure it for us. Not only that, He had to endure a time of separation from His Father when God turned away because He could not look on the sins which were laid upon the Son. My point is, don’t take this lightly.
In Christ you have become a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), so don’t spit in God’s face by turning back to unrighteous ways. Instead, take advantage of every “way of escape” Jesus has given you when temptation comes your way. Remember, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
That being said, this breastplate of righteousness is a piece of armor that we must consciously don anew every day. Every day we must make the choice to obey God and to act in the righteousness He has given us. Paul explains how this plays out in your life when he says,
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. ‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:22-32).
That’s a pretty tall order for sure, and it may seem a bit overwhelming. However, when we live that way, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can truly be an example of the righteous Christian that the world is looking for. As Iain Duguid explains:“In one sense, the average person is actually right in seeing that righteousness should mark out the Christian…. But it is not our own weak and failing righteousness that guards us,… rather, it is the perfect righteousness that comes from God, a righteousness given to us in Christ as part of the cosmic transfer deal by which our own guilt was laid on Jesus. It is this imputed righteousness that is worked out in us as the Holy Spirit renews our thinking and renews our living.”
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