Discovering The Breastplate Of Righteousness
If a soldier is not fully outfitted for the battle, he can easily lose ground to the enemy. It’s the same concept with spiritual warfare. That’s why Paul wrote about armor in Ephesians 6:10-18. He wanted to teach us about spiritual warfare, prayer, and how we can live the Christian life victoriously.
The Bible says that we find our safety and security when we trust God and run to Him and seek shelter. When we choose to put on the whole armor, we are protected and can move about in the world without fear.
With the proper armor, you can face anything that happens with quiet confidence and the assurance that you are not fighting alone. A few pieces of spiritual armor include:
- The belt of truth. It keeps us from being deceived.
- The shoes of peace. It keeps us from strife and confusion.
- The helmet of salvation. It keeps us from trying to earn our way to heaven or our Father’s love.
- The sword of the spirit. It is an offensive weapon and represents the Word of God.
What Is the Breastplate of Righteousness?
In Ephesians 6, Paul highlights the breastplate that every Christian should wear when he says,
14“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place…” (Ephesians 6:14)
Some versions of the Bible call this “the body armor of God's righteousness.” Other versions call it the Breastplate of righteousness.
Why do we need a breastplate? More than that, why would a soldier need it? The answer is simple: to protect his heart against the assaults of his enemy. It’s the same concept for Christians today. The breastplate of righteousness protects you from the attacks of your enemy.
How to Get the Breastplate of Righteousness
Some people are tempted to believe they have to do something special to get spiritual armor, but that’s simply not true. As God’s beloved child, you have access to the breastplate of righteousness at any time.
In Romans 5, Paul says,
17“The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over us, but all who receive God's wonderful, gracious gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17) NLT
Paul goes on in the next verse to further explain what he meant by saying,
18“Yes, Adam's one sin brought condemnation upon everyone, but Christ's one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.” (Romans 5:18) NLT
So, we can’t earn righteousness, and we certainly don’t deserve it. Righteousness is a precious gift that Christ died to give us. However, just because it’s given to us freely doesn’t mean we always choose to wear it. We can refuse to wear it, and we can even take it off without realizing it.
The Different Types of Breastplates
You have a wide selection of breastplates to choose from every day. If the breastplate of righteousness is a defensive mechanism, what else do we try to use as a defense?
The Breastplate of Dishonesty
Nancy did not grow up in a Christian home. She was taught that lying was wrong, but she lied anyway. She mostly lied to stay out of trouble because her mom was a hard taskmaster, and punishments could be severe. She had little patience for Nancy’s accidents or mistakes.
If Nancy broke something and wasn’t caught red-handed, she would lie. The typical, everyday mistakes that kids make could get Nancy into a lot of trouble, so she would lie about them.
But the lies didn’t stop there. Nancy lied at school. She lied to her friends. She lied to strangers. She lied so much that she couldn’t keep track of them after a while.
Lying did give Nancy a guilty conscience. When she would get in trouble for something she didn’t do and answered truthfully, she almost felt as if she were lying.
Nancy didn’t lie as much as an adult, but she still had the habit. She frequently lied to protect herself. If she was late to work, she made up a problem. She called in sick if she wanted a day off and couldn’t get it.
When she was honestly sick, she felt guilty when she called in. If she was genuinely late by no fault of her own, she felt like her employer probably knew she was lying. But still, she lied anyway.
Things began to change when Nancy became a Christian, and the Holy Spirit began the work of teaching her not to lie. It might sound easy, but it didn’t feel that way to Nancy.
She had a confused view of sin. She viewed sin as either a “big” or “little” sin. She thought most of her lies were “little” sins that God wouldn’t bother with. However, as she softened towards the Holy Spirit, her views changed. She recognized that even a tiny lie is a lie and God hates lying lips (Proverbs 6:16-19).
Maybe you can relate to Nancy’s story. You may have lied to protect yourself from the poor opinions of others or the possible consequences of your actions. But as Christians, we are called to wear our breastplate of righteousness proudly – accepting that we are called to speak the truth no matter what.
The Breastplate of Pride
Pride is an ugly breastplate. Unfortunately, those who wear it think it looks wonderful. They believe that their problems are hidden behind it. They choose this breastplate because it is easier to pretend that the problems don’t exist than to let anyone see that they aren’t perfect.
Dan was a deacon at his church on Sundays. During the week, he worked as a car salesman, and his business was very successful. He had a wife and three kids who all loved him dearly.
But Dan also had a secret. He was a high-functioning alcoholic. He had served overseas on two tours of duty and came home with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
He didn’t want to look weak in front of anyone, so he tried to ignore the intrusive thoughts, nightmares, flashbacks, and other symptoms. When he couldn’t do that, Dan turned to alcohol to numb his pain.
Pride depends on itself and prefers not to lean on anyone, even God. Instead, those that wear this breastplate try to “tough it out,” “play through the pain,” or “grin and bear it.” While these approaches may work temporarily, they can eventually lead to addiction and other mental health issues.
The Breastplate of Intelligence
The breastplate of intelligence hides personal insecurity behind abundant knowledge. It might come through as a “know-it-all” attitude, but it doesn’t have to. Those who wear this may get their sense of self-worth from knowing that they’re considered highly intelligent.
Harper had an emotionally distant dad who was only impressed with his grades. As a result, Harper learned that he needed to be smart and have lots of knowledge if he wanted his father's attention.
When Harper became a Christian later in life, he thought the same concept applied to God. He was determined he would impress His Heavenly Father, never realizing it wasn’t his knowledge that God wanted—it was a relationship with Harper that God craved.
The Breastplate of Victim Mentality
Sadly, everyone experiences tragedy at some point in their life. It might be getting involved in an abusive relationship, growing up in a rough neighborhood, surviving a violent crime, or being diagnosed with a serious illness.
For Sarah, it was the breakdown of her marriage. Her husband cleaned out the couple’s bank accounts, moved in with another woman, and refused to see their children.
Instead of healing, Sarah held onto the difficult circumstances as the years passed. Every time something went wrong, she somehow related it back to her ex-husband. She blamed all of her problems on him and continued to be re-victimized again and again.
There is comfort in being a victim. It doesn’t feel good, but it’s nice to know that you don’t have to take responsibility. After all, it’s not your fault that bad things happened because of your victim’s story.
But those who shrug off the breastplate of a victim mentality to embrace the breastplate of righteousness understand that overwhelming victory is theirs because of Jesus and what He did on the cross (Romans 8:37).
The Breastplate of Control
This is the breastplate worn by people who can’t face their own need for change. They have to change everyone else. They have to control everyone’s decisions, and they are easily offended when their advice isn’t taken. If you disagree with them, you must think they’re wrong – and they can’t face that.
Amy wore the breastplate of control for years. She always stepped in and made decisions for others, trying to control what happened.
She didn’t realize she had a problem until she went to a counselor to talk about how her daughter’s addiction affected her life. The Christian therapist helped Amy realize she was enabling her daughter’s behavior in an effort to control the situation and make things better.
Sometimes, the breastplate of control does stem from a good place (like Amy). She genuinely wanted to help her daughter. Unfortunately, our own efforts are rarely enough to create change. We need Christ’s redemptive work in our lives! That’s what the breastplate of righteousness is all about—admitting our need and asking Jesus for help.
There are probably many more breastplates that you could think of, and they all have the same problem—they can’t stand up to the enemy. We may believe we are protected by them, but we aren’t. We are open to every attack as long as we choose to wear them. And we are prevented from enjoying genuine relationships with the people in our lives.
Wear the Breastplate of Righteousness by Faith
Now that you understand the importance of the breastplate of righteousness, it’s time to put it on daily. There’s only one way to do that—by faith! You must believe that you have the right to wear it and then choose to wear it.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul explains,
17“This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” (Romans 1:17) NLT
It’s easy to consider the breastplate strictly defensive. But there’s a powerful verse in 2 Corinthians that applies to Christians everywhere. In it, Paul says
7“We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense.” (2 Corinthians 6:7) NLT
When we wear the breastplate of righteousness, we are defended by it. We can also move ahead with it, pressing into places we would never have considered going before. We can pray powerful prayers and step out in huge steps of faith.
The Breastplate Is Your Security
As we wear the breastplate of righteousness, we learn to find our true worth in Christ. It isn’t our acts that make us righteous; it is HIS.
When we wear the breastplate of righteousness, our faults aren’t hidden. Instead, they are acknowledged, and we are accepted. We can admit it when we mess up and still feel secure knowing that our God’s acceptance is not based on what we do.
We can stand tall when someone sees that we aren’t that good at one thing or another, like music or sports, and still feel secure because our worth is not based on our talents.
We can hold our positions loosely and not try to exalt ourselves because we are all equal, and our value is based on God’s opinion! We do not have to control others or try to make everyone agree with us because we know that we are valued for far more than our efforts.
The breastplate of righteousness is a reminder that your identity and protection don’t come from you. They are gifts from God. God defines your worth, and it is the righteousness of Jesus that protects you, day by day!
Grace and peace,
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