THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
ALWAYS GO FORWARD – NEVER GIVE UP
It has been rightly pointed out that the armour that we wear is on the front of our body – thus assuming that we are always going to face the enemy. If we turn and run away then we are exposing our unprotected back to them and are in grave danger of being slaughtered.
Remember Churchill’s words of “we will never surrender” and “never, never give up”.
Though sometimes we will feel we have got nothing left:
Ray Stedman in “Spiritual Warfare” (p 31-32) recounts the true story of Robert the Bruce who, hiding in a cave from the victorious army of Edward I was ready to give up. However, he watched a spider trying to attach its web to the wall of the cave. Time and again it failed – but it never gave up and in the end succeeded. He felt inspired to act likewise, left his hiding place, re-gathered his army and led them to victory at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
Never give up! Instead “be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” (Ephesians 6: 10).
In this session we are going to study the second of the pieces of armour, given to us by the Lord, by which we are able to “take [our] stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6: 11) – the “Breastplate of Righteousness”.
13 Therefore put on the full armour 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. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, (Ephesians 6: 13-14)
WWI SOLDIER SAVED BY BIBLE
Leonard Knight, born in 1898 in Wychbold, Worcestershire, was only 17 when he enlisted in the army and served throughout the First World War in which his life was saved by a hard-backed Bible that he kept in his breast pocket – over his heart – a gift from his aunt Minnie Yates in 1915. The German bullet penetrated all but the last 50 pages of the Bible. Without this gift of God’s Word protecting his heart he would have surely died. As it was he lived into his 70’s (though suffered from PTSD from the sights he had seen).
His life had been saved by a gift from someone who loved him.
It is like the “breastplate of righteousness”, given to us as a gift by Jesus – the One who loves us no matter what. And it is this protection of our spiritual heart that will stop the spiritual bullets of our enemy, the devil.
YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH!
Although I would NEVER say that we should stop endeavouring to do what is right, yet the Word of God makes it crystal clear that there is none righteous – no, not one;
‘There is no one righteous, not even one’ (Romans 3: 10)
and that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; and that even our righteousnesses are but “filthy rags”!
all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64: 6)
[And here we can see “righteousnesses” in two ways: the things that we do – however good – are like “filthy rags” in reality – they are never perfect and always infected with some degree of selfishness; secondly the way that we think of ourselves – many think of themselves as “pretty good really” – but in fact all of our thinking is selfish to some degree]
You see, we just never can be good enough. No matter how hard we try we shall trip up, fall down, make a mess of things…and then feel REALLY bad about ourselves.
WHAT IS OUR “SPIRITUAL HEART”?
Feelings have their seat in our heart. Emotions have their seat in our heart.
It is in our spiritual heart that we have feelings about ourselves – of what we are really like, whether we are good or bad, happy or sad; and feelings about others – what we think of them, whether we like them or not, whether we feel encouraged or hurt by them.
WHAT ARE THE “BULLETS” THAT OUR ENEMY FIRES AT OUR HEART?
And our enemy, the devil, will seek to capitalise upon our failure to be righteous in our own efforts. We will feel “not good enough”; we will feel “a failure”; we will feel that we “can’t possibly be good enough to go to heaven”; we will feel that “God can’t possibly love me”. We will feel that others are against us, have got it in for us, do not like us. It is the common experience of Christians to lack assurance, to feel “unworthy” of the God that we claim to follow and serve, to feel a failure in their walk with God, to fear that God will reject them or is no longer interested in them, that He can’t possibly love them, that He can’t possibly forgive their sins
Our enemy, the devil, fires thoughts, like bullets, towards our heart. Thoughts that come from his gun that fires the “5 D’s” of depression, disillusionment, distraction, diversion and doubt at us. “Bullets” that seek us to feel “no good” about ourselves and which will kill our spirit if we allow them to penetrate to our spiritual heart.
But remember – our enemy, the devil, is a liar and the father of lies. And in the armour of God, the heart is to be protected by the “breastplate of righteousness”.
But, it is not OUR righteousness, it is HIS.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6: 33)
It is HIS righteousness that we should seek. It is finding HIS righteousness. He is righteous and He makes us righteous despite our failings. It is this that should protect our hearts – our seat of emotion – from our enemy’s attacks.
SO, WHAT IS THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
We were sinners who were saved by Grace. We were sinners who were loved so much by God that He sent His Son to die for us that our sins might be paid for by Him. We were sinners whose sins have been forgiven and taken away by His sacrifice on the Cross.
Jesus is now the mediator between God and man. This means that He has (and continues to) stand in the presence of the Father saying “I have made these people right with you and before you”. He has given us His covering of righteousness.
Yes, we shall continue to do wrong – as long as we live – but He has made us eternally right with God.
It is this declaration – “you are now right with Me” that we wear as a breastplate in the spiritual battle against our enemy, the devil. No matter WHAT he fires at us. No matter how accusing he is. No matter what thoughts he sows in our minds, we ARE protected by the TRUTH that we are righteous – we are right with God – and nothing can take that away from us (as long as we aren’t so foolish as to walk away from God and take off this breastplate of righteousness that we have been given).
We do not stand on our own merits – we never did. We stand in the battle of life because, and only because, He has made us right with God. The breastplate of righteousness is what He has given to us.
Paul shows he is wearing the breastplate of righteousness when he says to the Roman church:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (Romans 8: 1, 33-35)
And then, writing to the Corinthian church (in 1 Corinthians 15: 9-10), this man, Paul, who had been the great persecutor of the church – a man who had done such wrong – was able to declare – wearing the breastplate of righteousness:
9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.
In effect he was saying: “It doesn’t matter what I have been. I don’t defend what I am. What I am now is what Christ has made me. I’m not standing on my own righteousness – I’m standing on His. I am accepted by grace, and my personal situation does not make any difference at all”.
THE CONCLUSION OF THE MATTER
Our enemy, the devil, is a liar and the father of lies (John 8: 44). His “bullets” are lies that seek to convince us that we are not good enough to be children of God. He will attack, attack and attack again – aiming to pierce our armour and hit our heart, the seat of our emotions, getting us to believe his lies. He shall NOT succeed. For we have been given, by Jesus, the breastplate of righteousness. He has made us right with God DESPITE our human failings. The devil can never take this away. The devil can never break through this. Victory is ours. Our role is to stand firm, then, with the full armour of God on.
FOR FURTHER STUDY – EITHER AS AN INDIVIDUAL OR A HOUSEGROUP
The life of Paul shows as clearly as any the fact that the Breastplate of Righteousness has been given to us by Jesus Himself – that He has made us right with God – and this has nothing to do with our having earned it through living a good life.
So, have a look at the following life story of Paul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfMkKTKIN3g
- Was Saul (Paul) “righteous” before his conversion?
- Was he righteous (made right before God) AFTER his conversion?
- Do you think that once he became Paul he always lived a good life? Even if he did, would that “good life” have made him right before God?
- What about you – are you made right with God?
- How does Satan lie to you – and fire “bullets” at your spiritual heart?
- Does Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 15: 9-10 help?
- Do you have to “put on” your breastplate of righteousness?
- Can you literally “take off” this breastplate – and if so…how?