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Author: Ron Graham

Anchor of Hope

The Breastplate of Righteousness
—The Armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-17)

As Christians we are at war —not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of wickedness and darkness. To win this war, to fight the good fight, we must be adequately equipped. Part of that equipment is "The Breastplate of Righteousness" (Ephesians 6:10-17).

Ephesians 6, Verses 10-17

¶“10Finally, be strong in the Lord and his mighty strength. 11Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against rulers, against powers, against the world forces of this present darkness, against spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:10-12).

¶“13Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day —to stand firm having done all. 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15As shoes for your feet, prepare yourselves with the gospel of peace. 16That's not all: take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” (Ephesians 6:13-17).

1 Believe that righteousness is required

The breastplate is a prominent piece in the soldier’s armour. The breastplate protects the heart and lungs, which together control the blood and breath essential to the life of the flesh. The life of the spirit deoends on faith and works which together produce righteousness in God’s sight

Take Abraham’s faith, for example. "Do you not see that faith was working together with his works and by works faith was made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which says, 'Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness'" (James 2:21-24 NJKV)

So we see that the righteousness necessary to our justification is a combination of faith, works, and God’s gracious accounting through Christ.

2 Restore the righteousness that God decrees

We are not made righteous by what we think and do, unless we think and do exactly what God commands. Imagine a soldier saying, "I don't need to wear a breastplate, I have my own skin and that will do as my armour."

We are no better if we say, "I don't need God or Jesus his Son. I've got my own righteousness and it will do".

To be genuinely righteous in God’s judgment, to put on God’s original breastplate, we need to listen to him and do as he says, no more and no less.

As Jesus said, "Whoever hears these sayings of mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man..." (Matthew 7:24)

3 Engage in righteousness as your battle plan

There's not much use in a soldier putting on a breastplate if he is not going to fight in the battle. He may as well put on his favourite fancy shirt.

The Christian battle plan is to live righteously and speak truth, to believe and do the righteousness which God decrees.

This engagement can be a serious struggle for "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against... spiritual hosts of wickedness..." (Ephesians 6:12).

4 Aspire to righteousness led by Christ

A soldier should be trained for battle, but often that training leaves much to be desired. But each soldier trusts his captain and follows orders hoping to win the day.

"For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:10 NKJV)

Our righteousness is aspirational and his righteousness is inspirational. So we train to make our righteousness more and more like his. Nevertheless, it is his righteousness, not our own, that we wear as a breastplate.

5 Stick to righteousness encouraged by Christ

"No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier" (2Timothy 2:4)

As the parable of the sower says, one can become "choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life and bring no fruit to maturity" (Luke 8:14).

We must endure and persevere in dedication to Christ. We need to stick to our engagement in the battle.

Of course soldiers take leave, and we must attend to certain affairs of life. However we must not become so entangled in those worldly things, that they prevent us from serving in the Lord’s army.

6 Test your righteousness, examine it often

Soldiers don't don their armour carelessly. They regularly check each piece. They test that it's clean, strong, correctly fastened, and complete. (They do the same for horse and chariot.) The soldier’s breastplate doesn't escape this test.

Paul tells Christians, "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves..." (2Corinthians 13:5).

Of course the standard by which one examines onself is the word of God, not one's own opinion of oneself.

7 Pray for righteousness to guard you in Christ

After speaking of the armour of God and the word of God, Paul says, "Pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:18).

This includes praying for righteousness. As we said before, the breastplate of righteousness is made of God’s righteousness, not our own. But God imparts the righteousness of Christ to us. This empowers us to fight the evil one and have victory.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-8 NKJV).

Prayer brings inner peace and strength while outwardly the battle rages. Even when we have inward turmoil, God is at peace, and his peace and righteousness will guard our hearts and restore us. His providence will find a way to help us.

8 Love righteousness, let it cover your heart

People generally are in favour of love, and the devil convinces very few people to be otherwise. Therefore he puts a spin on love, so that things that are wrong are called love and mistaken for love.

We must love what is right; ultimately we must love the righteousness of God. "Hate the evil, and love the good" (Amos 5:15).. If we don't, then our love is a sham.

"He who does not love does not know God, for God is love" (1John 4:8). The breastplate of righteousness covers the heart that loves God and his goodness.

9 Advance in righteousness marching on

Soldiers in the battlefield try to stand their ground, resisting the enemy, but taking every opportunity to advance, gain ground, and split the lines of enemy soldiers.

The good soldier is protected by his breastplate when he faces the enemy, not when he turns and runs.

"Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness" (Ephesians 6:14). But advance at every opportunity.

10 Teach righteousness by your example

Soldiers are upholders of their kingdom and its law. So they are expected to set an example of righteousness and good conduct.

By their good conduct and fair exercise of authority, they set an example that teaches the people they protect to be imitators.

Paul was a good and outstanding soldier who said, "Imitate me just as I imitate Christ" (1Corinthians 11:1).

11 Excel in righteousness to which you are called

A good soldier strives for excellence. Average is not good enough. Only being among the best will do.

"Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more" (1Thessalonians 4:1 NASB).


 
Believe that righteousness
   is required
Restore the righteousness
   that God decrees
Engage in righteousness
   as your battle plan
Aspire to righteousness
   led by Christ
Stick to righteousness
   encouraged by Christ
Test your righteousness
   examine it often
Pray for righteousness
   to guard you in Christ
Love righteousness,
   let it cover your heart
Advance in righteousness
   marching on
Teach righteousness
   by your example
Excell in righteousness
    to which you are called

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