The breastplate of righteousness

Choosing the right breastplate – the breastplate of righteousness

Uniforms. We see them all the time. Sports uniforms – certain equipment needed if you are going to be a baseball shortstop, soccer or ice hockey goalie or a football player. You don’t wear the proper equipment, and you can end up injured. 

Firemen and Policemen also wear uniforms and have equipment they need for their jobs, some to keep them safe, some in order to perform whatever actions they need to do. 

Soldiers also have equipment, and if  not fully outfitted for the battle, he can easily lose ground to the enemy. 

In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul wrote a  letter to the church in Ephesusus. In these scriptures, he taught them about spiritual warfare, prayer and about how they could live a victorious Christian life. 

The Bible says that we find our safety and security when we trust in God, when we run to Him and seek shelter. I invite you to read it because he talks about various pieces of armor that may be unfamiliar to the modern people. But, their general purpose is still easy to comprehend. 

When we acknowledge the power of the whole armor we are protected and able to move about in the world without fear.  

What are the pieces of spiritual armor?

The belt of truth. Truth is an easy concept to understand. Lies deceive, Truth keeps us from being deceived.

The shoes of peace. Peace is another concept that’s not hard to understand. We all want peace, we stove for peace because peace keeps from strife and confusion.

The helmet of salvation.  Salvation is so simple a child can do it, Christ already paid the way with His life. Him as the source of salvation keeps us from trying to earn our way to heaven or our God’s  love.

The sword of the spirit. A sword is both an offensive and defensive weapon. His Spirit is revealed to us in His Word, the Bible.

The shield of faith. Faith is the substance that gives us the endurance and patience to trust in God’s will.

The last piece to the spiritual armor is the Breastplate of Righteousness. This is the piece of armor I had the hardest time grasping a clearer understanding. 

What Is the Breastplate of Righteousness?

In Ephesians 6:14, Paul highlights the breastplate that every Christian should wear when he says, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place…”

Some versions of the Bible call this “the body armor of God’s righteousness”. Other versions call it the Breastplate of righteousness.

Why do we need a breastplate? More than that, why would a soldier need it? The answer is simple for a soldier –  to protect one’s heart against the assaults of his enemy. Wow. Protecting the heart. When I read that explanation, I immediately thought of the saying “wearing your heart on your sleeve.”  If I wear my heart out in the open, it can suffer damage. My heart needs protection and in God’s infinite wisdom he provided it. 

For Christian women today we have the breastplate of righteousness to protects us from the attacks of your enemy.

How to Get the Breastplate of Righteousness

Some people are tempted to believe they have to do something special to get spiritual armor but that’s simply not true. As God’s beloved child, you have access to all the armor at any time, including the breastplate of righteousness.

In Romans 5:17 – 18, Paul explained that because of the sacrifice Christ made with his death that God gives us undeserved grace. Righteousness.

So, we can’t earn righteousness and we certainly don’t deserve it. Righteousness is a precious gift we receive because Christ died to give it to us. 

However, just because it’s given to us freely doesn’t mean we always choose to wear it. But we can refuse to wear it and we can even take it off without even realizing it. Why? How? Because, you can’t wear two breastplates at once. You have to choose which defensive breastplate you will wear.

#2 The Different Types of Breastplates

The Breastplate of Dishonesty

Years ago in our ministry, there was a little girl in our church. She wasn’t raised in the church until she was about 8-years old. From that point, she was taught that lying was wrong. But she lied anyway. She mostly lied to stay out of trouble. Patience ran thin in the household, so maybe her lying was a defense mechanism. But the lies didn’t stop in the home. Nancy lied at school. She lied to her friends. She lied to strangers. She lied so much that after a while, she couldn’t keep track of them.

Don’t get me wrong. Lying did give Nancy a guilty conscience. When she would get in trouble for something she didn’t do and answered truthfully, she almost felt as if she were lying. However, through her teen years and into adulthood she continued to make lying a habit.

It wasn’t until she hit her 40’s that she became a Christian and the Holy Spirit began the work of teaching her not to lie. It might sound easy, but it didn’t feel that way to Nancy.

She had a confused view of sin. She viewed sin as either “big” sin or “little” sin. She thought most of her lies were “little” sins that God wouldn’t bother with. However, as she started to soften towards the Holy Spirit, her views were changing. 

She recognized that even a tiny lie is a lie and God hates lying lips (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Maybe you can relate to Nancy’s story. Have you  lied to protect yourself from the poor opinions of others or the possible consequences of your actions? But as Christians, we are called to wear our breastplate of righteousness proudly – accepting that no matter what, we are called to speak the truth.

The Breastplate of Pride

Pride is an ugly breastplate. Unfortunately, when we wear it we think it shines with grandeur.   Our problems are hidden behind it. We may choose this breastplate because it is easier to pretend that the problems don’t exist than to let anyone see that they aren’t perfect.

Tammy was a worship leader at her church on Sundays. During the week, she worked as a counselor to domestically abused women. But, Tammy also had a secret. She was a high-functioning alcoholic. She had endured years of eating disorders and had an extremely verbally abusive husband. 

She didn’t want to look weak in front of anyone, so she tried to ignore the intrusive thoughts, nightmares, fears, and other symptoms. When she wasn’t able to do that, Tammy turned to the bottle to numb her pain.

Pride depends on itself and prefers not to lean on anyone, even God. Instead those that wear this breastplate try to “tough it out”, “play through the pain”, or “grin and bear it.” While these approaches may work temporarily, they can eventually lead to deeper or more addictions and other mental health issues.

The Breastplate of Intelligence

The breastplate of intelligence hides personal insecurity behind an abundance of knowledge.  It might come through as a “know-it-all” attitude, but it doesn’t have to. Those who wear this may get their sense of self-worth from knowing that they’re considered highly intelligent. 

Angela had an emotionally distant dad who was only impressed with her grades. As a result, Angela learned that if she wanted her father’s attention, she needed to be smart and have lots of knowledge.

When Angela became a Christian later in life, she thought the same concept applied to God. She was determined she would impress her Heavenly Father, never realizing it wasn’t her knowledge that God wanted—it was a relationship with Angela that God craved.

The Breastplate of Victim Mentality

Sadly, everyone experiences tragedy at some point in their life. It might be getting involved in an abusive relationship, growing up in a rough neighborhood, surviving a violent crime, or being diagnosed with a serious illness.

For Sarah, it was the breakdown of her marriage. Her husband cleaned out the couple’s bank accounts, moved in with another woman, and refused to see their children any longer.

As the years passed instead of healing, Sarah held onto the difficult circumstances. Every time something went wrong, she somehow related it back to her ex-husband. She blamed all of her problems on him and continued to be re-victimized again and again.

There is a comfort in being a victim. It doesn’t feel good but it’s nice to know that you don’t have to take responsibility. After all, it’s not your fault that (bad thing happened) because (your victim story).

But those who shrug off the breastplate of victim mentality to embrace the breastplate of righteousness understand that overwhelming victory is theirs because of Jesus and what He did on the cross (Romans 8:37)

The Breastplate of Control

This is the breastplate worn by people who can’t face their own need for change. They have to change everyone else and control everyone’s decisions. They are easily offended when their advice isn’t taken.

Florence Littauer wrote in her books and on video about how she and her husband had a learning experience.  They were visiting his parents, right after getting married. She sat down to eat grapes and was plucking them off one by one, carefully choosing which one she would eat next.  Fred told her,” NO NO. THAT is not how you eat grapes!   This is how our family eats grapes. You do this!” and he took out his little clippers and cut off a cluster and then plopped it on her plate.  The reality is that neither way was the only way.  

Amy wore the breastplate of control for years. She was always stepping in and making decisions for others, trying to control what happened. At work and in her family, she made decisions and in her mind, her decisions were the only right ones. 

She didn’t realize she had a problem until she went into a counselor to talk about how her daughter’s addiction was affecting her life. The Christian therapist helped Amy realize she was enabling her daughter’s behavior in an effort to control the situation and make things better.

Sometimes, the breastplate of control really does stem from a good place like Amy. She genuinely wanted to help her daughter.

Sometimes, the breastplate of control stems from misconceptions or habits, like Fred. 

He really thought his way was the only right way. 

Unfortunately, our own efforts are rarely enough to create change. We need Christ’s redemptive work in our lives! That’s what the breastplate of righteousness is all about—admitting our need and asking Jesus for help.

There are probably many more breastplates that you could think of, and they all have the same problem—those breastplates can’t stand up to the enemy. 

We may think we’re protected by them, but we aren’t. We are open to every attack as long as we choose to wear them.  And we are prevented from enjoying true relationships with the people in our lives because of them.

Wear the Breastplate of Righteousness by Faith

Now that you understand the importance of the breastplate of righteousness, it’s time to remember it’s there daily. There’s only one way to do that—by faith! You must believe that you have the right to wear it and then you have to choose to wear it.

It’s easy to consider the breastplate strictly defensive. But there’s a powerful verse in 2 Corinthians that helps us to understand it’s dual purpose. In it, Paul says we are to use the weapons as the right hand of attack and a left hand of defense.  (2 Corinthians 6:7)

When we wear the breastplate of righteousness, we are defended by it. We can also move ahead with it, pressing into places we never would have considered going before.  We can pray powerful prayers and step out in huge steps of faith.

The Breastplate Is Your Security

As we wear the breastplate of righteousness, we learn to find our true worth in Christ. It isn’t our acts that make us righteous, it is HIS.

When we wear the breastplate of righteousness, our faults aren’t hidden. Instead, they are acknowledged, and we are accepted.

We should seek righteousness and pursue it. (Matthew 6:33). 

Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6). 

Righteousness comes through Jesus Christ alone (John 3:16). After all, no one is righteous (Romans 3:10). We cannot attain right living and salvation on our own.

We can admit it when we mess up and still feel secure knowing that our God’s acceptance is not based on what we do. It’s based on what Jesus did. 

Heavenly Father, no one is righteous, no, not one. But you gave us the gift of righteousness, our breastplate, to protect our heart. Help us to follow the path you have set before us, and to avoid snares of temptation and sin set up by our enemy, the devil.  Steer me away from situations or places which may tempt me to sin. But, when I am tempted, remind me of your goodness and that you are the way of life. Arm me with the breastplate of righteousness today, so I may be ready when the devil  rains down arrows to attack us on the battlefield of life. Amen.

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