“Stand firm, therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and having PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Ephesians 6:14 (NASB)
We continue our series of short articles on the subject of spiritual warfare. We have noted that it is not about gimmicks but rather about the finished and completed work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Last issue we looked at the first part of this verse and dealt with truth. This issue will look at the breastplate of Righteousness. Please remember that wearing the armour is not for special occasions – it is for every day. Also, that this is not literal armour that you put on each morning – in any case, when did you take it off? It is the spiritual reality of the finished and completed work of Christ in our lives.
This is the way that we will overcome Satan, knowing that Christ has already overcome him.
The second part of the armour to be mentioned is the breastplate of righteousness and I think this is an area that Satan has many Christians ‘beaten’ on.
First it is interesting to note that the breastplate covers the heart – the place that so often condemns us.
“We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him, in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God.” – 1 John 3:19-21
John knows how the heart can condemn and so deals with this issue to show that God is greater than the heart. The way we move from knowing our hearts condemn us to that place of having assurance before Him is the breastplate of righteousness.
Satan delights in putting Christians on the sideline of the battle and nothing is easier if he can simply get our hearts to tell us that we are not worthy and that we are not able to be used by the Lord because we have done this or indeed not done that.
The Psalmist cried to the Lord:
“Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.” – Psalm 86:11
He was aware that his heart can be all over the place – fragmented into many different feelings and being pulled and swayed in so many different directions. Without clear focus and direction there is no hope of ever getting to your goal because you are not sure even what it is!
“The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” – Jeremiah 17:9
We could go on with other Scriptures but I think we get the picture. Our hearts can be our worst enemy and it does not need a battle from the outside – the one going on iside is enough.
It is here that the breastplate comes to our rescue – our armour against what Satan seeks to do in our hearts is the Lords righteousness. Said like that it sounds so mundane and easy but when we see what the Lord has done it goes to the root of so many of the battles that we lose.
Albert Barnes in His notes on the Bible puts it like this:
“The breast-plate defended the vital parts of the body; and the idea here may be that the integrity of life, and righteousness of character, is as necessary to defend us from the assaults of Satan, as the coat of mail was to preserve the heart from the arrows of an enemy… And it is as true now that no one can successfully meet the power of temptation unless he is righteous, as that a soldier could not defend himself against a foe without such a coat of mail. A want of integrity will leave a man exposed to the assaults of the enemy, just as a man would be whose coat of mail was defective, or some part of which was missing… It may be added here, that we need a righteousness which God alone can give; the righteousness of God our Saviour, to make us perfectly invulnerable to all the arrows of the foe.”
As we have already stated this is not just a literal piece of armour it is a relationship with the Lord. This is not just some ideal that is impossible to attain this is the reality of the righteousness of God brought to us through justification.
Without a practical understanding of justification we will never be able to stand and fight because our hearts will condemn us. We will always feel that we are not able and of course in one sense that is true – I cannot do it but He has already done it.
Christ said, “It is finished” and with that He did for us what no other belief system has ever done; we have been placed at the finishing line and we are not stiving to attain but we are working out what we already have.
If Christianity is just a set of rules and regulations and the words of a prophet that we must obey, our faith is no different to any other belief but more than that we are condemning ourselves because we will soon find that we cannot live up to the words of Christ or be obedient to Scriptures without fail.
The verses that sum this up are found in Romans chapter 3; the two key verses being 20 & 21.
“Because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested…”
Justification means that God has pronounced me as righteous and treats me as such. I could never be justified in His sight and if I try to keep the law and if I try to be righteous in my own strength then I am condemned before I even start.
But Christ did something – apart from the Law – it was not by any human means it was something that He did and He alone could do. He alone could fulfil the Law and He alone could manifest the righteousness of God not just for Himself but for all who believe in His name.
Does your heart condemn you in the battle? Do you feel that you are so unworthy that you give up the warfare? Then ask the Holy Spirit to show the reality of the Lord’s righteousness won for you.