We are in a spiritual battle everyday. Soldiers would never go into battle without their armor, it would be a suicide mission if they did. How many missions have you gone into without being protected? God has given us His armor to put on daily. We put on His armor by; remembering what He has done for us, believing truth instead of lies, protected by His righteousness knowing we are right with God, walking in His peace, shielded by faith, wearing salvation, using the Word of God as a weapon, and praying always!
We are in the “Armor of God” series. We have learned how to “Stand Therefore,” and we have the “Belt of Truth” tightly around our loins. Today, let’s look at the next piece of armor we are to put on.
Eph. 6:14b NKJV
“…having put on the breastplate of righteousness,”
We can get a better understanding of this verse by looking at other translations of the Bible:
Amplified Bible – “Breastplate of integrity and moral rectitude and of right standing with God.”
New Living Translation – “Breastplate of God’s approval.”
Holman Christian Standard Bible – “Righteousness like armor on your chest.”
Contemporary English Version – “Let God’s justice protect you like armor.”
New Century Version – “The protection of right living on your chest.”
“…the protection of right living on your chest.” I like that! We have to make a choice to live right or wrong. We have a choice to follow God’s Word and His Holy Spirit or to walk in the flesh and what pleases it.
Looking in the Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Definitions for some of the words or phrases used in these translations:
Righteousness means: “Virtue or quality of one who is upright, acceptable to God, purity, correctness in thinking, feeling and acting.”
Integrity: “Wholeness, innocence, without any evil motivation in the heart, ethically sound.”
God’s Approval – “To commend, to be pleased with, to be thought of as worth.”
Justice – “just; especially, just in the eyes of God; correct, righteous, innocent.”
Why did Paul use the analogy of a breastplate?
1. Breastplates protect the vital organs.
The Roman soldier might have worn one of several types of breastplates. Depending on the particular design, the breastplate would extend from just below the neck to either the thighs or just below the stomach.
It was usually made out of some material into which had been sewn strips of leather and/or bits of tough material such as bones, hooves, metal, etc. Those in high rank might have a breastplate made completely out of metal, usually copper or bronze, that was hammered into shape to fit the individual.
The function of the breastplate was the same regardless of the particular type. It was there to protect the thorax (the literal Greek word here), that is, the portion of your body between your neck and legs.
2. Breastplates protect the mind, emotions, and will.
In the Jewish culture they describe their emotions and feelings in terms of their vital organs.
-The Hebrew word “‘racham,” which we translate as “compassion” or “tender mercies” is literally “bowels.”
Psalm 69:16 NKJV
“Hear me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good; Turn to me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies.”
-The heart was used to symbolize the seat of volition, which is the ability to understand and make choices.
Proverbs 4:4 NKJV
“He also taught me, and said to me: Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live.”
Matthew 15:18 – 19 NKJV
“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”
The heart; also used (figuratively) very widely for the feelings, the will and even the intellect; likewise for the centre of anything (Strongs Hebrew and Greek Definitions H3824)
The Hebrew word for “kidneys” is translated in the KJV as “reins” and in the NAS as “mind” or “inner man” since that is what is actually being referred to.
Proverbs 23:16 KJV
“Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things.”
For example Proverbs 23:16 literally reads, “My son, if your heart is wise, My own heart also will be glad; and my ‘kidneys’ will rejoice, When your lips speak what is right.”
Why is this important? Because what Paul is talking about being protected by the breastplate of righteousness are your mind, emotions and will. Too often we fall into the devil’s traps because we make our decisions based on how we feel at the moment rather than on what is actually true and right.
Also, the breastplate of righteousness protects us when accusations arise against us and accuse us of false behavior or behavior from our past that we no longer walk in. There will be times when people, even fellow Christians, will bring up your past. Righteousness has delivered us from our sinful past. We are thankful for what Christ did to wash away our past mistakes. In doing so, we can stand tall in His righteousness knowing we are not that person any longer; we are clean and His righteousness covers us. We are in right standing with God and no matter what people say or think about who you use to be, you are righteous and holy in God’s sight. Wearing the Breastplate of righteousness covers it all. What a reminder of His great grace for us!
Righteousness must be our breast-plate. The righteousness of Christ is our breast-plate against the arrows of divine wrath. The righteousness of Christ is our breast-plate to fortify the heart against the attacks which Satan makes against us.
Righteousness is imperative to spiritual warfare.
Righteousness is represented by the breastplate because the breastplate covers the vital organs of the body, (Thus righteousness protects the soul and the conscience of the Christian.)
If the devil can strip the child of God of their sense of righteousness then he can wound their heart and conscience, and if this wound is not healed quickly certain spiritual death will result.
Let’s go back and revisit the Greek definition of righteousness, “Virtue or quality of one who is upright, acceptable to God, purity, correctness in thinking, feeling and acting.”
Isaiah 61:3 NKJV
“To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
God has given us beauty for ashes. He has made something beautiful of our lives after we have come to Him and received His Son as Lord and Savior. Not only that, but even after we sin and ask for forgiveness God makes us beautiful again.
We stand tall and forever beautiful because God has called us “trees of righteousness.” This is His planting. Trees signify strength and that which is truly beautiful. This is what God has made us to be.
Living in the great Pacific Northwest of the United States, especially Washington State, we are known for our pine trees. It is so beautiful to see a mountain side full of pine trees. They stand tall, show strength and beauty constantly. This is what we are as we wear the breastplate of righteousness. Every time you see trees, I pray it reminds you of God’s righteousness He has placed on and in you.
Isaiah 61:10 NKJV
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
God has covered each of us with the robe of righteousness, His righteousness shields, protects, and decorates all of us. This is God’s affection towards us! We are God’s ornaments shinning daily for Him.
Righteousness connotes deliverance (New Spirit Filled Life Bible notes page 947). Not only are we delivered from hell, our past shame and mistakes, but we are also ambassadors of His righteous or deliverance to the world. We have the answer to everyone’s problems; Jesus! Our breastplate should ring out to the world that there is hope for their life. It should say, “I’ve been delivered and so can you!”
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34).
It is not the nations numbers, military, politics, intellect, or being civilized that makes a nation great. True greatness of a nation, and condition of its future and progress are the people of the nation in their private, public, and international life who conduct themselves by the true will of God. Righteousness, good morals, and reverence for God exalts a nation. Sin is a disgrace to the people, it lowers them before God and man. It brings them down instead of exalting them. Let us be people who will shine for God and live right according to His Word, this will lift our nation up.
Pastor Kris Belfils
Matthew 6:33 NKJV
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
When we seek God first, and His kingdom, and His righteousness, we will be blessed and protected. I would love to tell you that once you receive Jesus Christ in your heart as Lord and Savior that you will never sin again, but that would not be true. Daily we need a Savior. Daily we need to put on the Breastplate of Righteousness to protect our vital organs of our mind, emotions, and will.
Matthew 5:6 NKJV
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
Hungering and thirsting for what is right, wanting what pleases God, is the beginning of right living.
Basically righteousness is being right with God. It is not something we do or earn. Our own self-righteous is faulty, unholy, and prideful. Isaiah 64:6 tells us that all our righteous deeds are as filthy rags before God.
Isaiah 64:6 NKJV
“But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
How many times have you felt superior to other Christians all because you haven’t sinned like they have? Maybe you think you would never do what they did. Be careful least you fall. It might be in the same sin you judge someone else in, or it might be in another area, all because you thought you were better then someone else. Sin is sin. There are no greater and smaller sins. Pride is sin; it is filthy, stinking, and retched and will separate you from God and possibly send you to hell. We cannot stand on our own self-righteousness.
I remember God showing me my filthy righteous one day. It was after I had made a mess of my life with sinful choices. I was walking through the consequences of my choices and trying to get right with God. I was praying and He showed me a pile of filthy rags. I even saw the stench rise from it. As I was praying I said to God, “Looks like we need to do some laundry.” But God said, “No, throw it all away.” I knew I needed to take on Christ’s righteousness that He died to give me. Then on another day I was driving in my car singing a worship song by Kathryn Scott:
Search me know me
Try me and see
Every worthless affection hidden in me
All I’m asking for is that You’d cleanse me Lord
Create in me a heart that’s clean
Conquer the power of secret shame
Come wash away the guilty stain of all my sin
Clothe me in robes of righteousness
Cover my nakedness with grace
All of my life before You now I humbly bring
As I sang the words; “Clothe me in robes of righteousness” I could see God covering me with a white robe. The sleeves went all the way to my wrists and the bottom of the robe went all the way past my feet. It covered me totally and all you could see was this bright shinny white robe on me. For the first time I truly saw myself clean, whole, and right with God. It was nothing I did. It was given to me through God’s mercy and grace. I received it by faith that day and have worn it ever since.
Our righteousness are as filthy rags. God’s righteousness is complete, covering everything in our life. We cannot do anything to add to it or take away from it.
Today, let’s put on the breastplate of righteousness and protect our heart from anything the enemy will try to hurl in our direction. God has given us powerful armor to wear everyday to defend and to offend the enemy. We are mighty warriors in Christ!
Pastor Kris Belfils