The Breastplate of Righteousness
“…with the breastplate of righteousness in place,”-Ephesians 6:14b
We are currently fighting a health battle against an unseen enemy called Covid-19. While this enemy may be invisible to our eyes it is nonetheless real and is inflicting deadly damage to our economy, our society and most significantly to real people. As Christians, we are also fighting an unseen enemy, the Tempter who Jesus confronted during his temptation. We too must confront this same enemy but we must be spiritually equipped with what Paul calls “the armor of God” to be able to withstand his attacks. Each piece of this armor represents a part of God’s strength that God extends to us when we become God’s children. Yesterday, we learned that Paul begins with the belt of truth and that it plays a critical role in holding the rest of the armor together. We learned that the belt of truth is the teaching of scripture, specifically the person, life and teachings of Jesus. Notice that Jesus battled the enemy by quoting the Scriptures because Jesus is the very Word of God and the Scriptures all point to and find their meaning in him.
Today we’re going to look at the second piece of the armor of God, “the breastplate of righteousness.” The breastplate of righteousness is nothing else but Christ’s righteousness which he obtained for us through his death on the cross. As the old gospel hymn so succinctly puts it,
“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus name”
The Scriptures clearly and consistently teach that it is God who is the source of our righteousness
and not we ourselves. In Jeremiah 23:6 we read,
“In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called:
The Lord Our Righteous Savior.”
Other passages making this same point are Job 36:3; Psalm 5:8, 23:3, 24:5 and Psalm 71:16.
We are instructed to “put on” the armor of God, which implies that we do not automatically wear it all the time. Putting on the armor of God requires a conscious decision on our part. This means that we make a decision to acknowledge that there is nothing we can do apart from Christ, He is the only source for our righteousness. (John 15:6).
The belt of truth (teaching of scripture) holds firmly in place the breastplate of righteousness (our recognition that Jesus is our righteousness not we ourselves). Recognizing this, prevents us from becoming a victim to pride, self-righteousness or legalism which are weapons the enemy uses to spiritually defeat and enslave us. We need our breastplate of righteousness securely in place in order to overcome the attacks of our enemy, the Tempter. When we “keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), we keep our breastplate securely fastened.
O God, we thank you for sending Jesus who is everything to us: our life, our truth, our righteousness. Help us to put on the breastplate of righteousness by consciously deciding each day to trust completely in Jesus and to focus our attention on his teachings and examples. We ask this in the name of Christ, our righteousness. Amen.
Questions for Reflection:
1. What is the breastplate of righteousness? Why is it so vital for our spiritual lives? How can it protect us from pride, self-righteousness and legalism?
2. Are we daily putting on the breastplate of righteousness? How?3. How do we secure in place the breastplate of righteousness and how can putting on the belt of truth help us do this?