The Armor of God
the Breastplate of Righteousness
What is a breastplate? In historical times, the breastplate was a piece of armor that a soldier wore over his chest and abdomen. This protective covering was very crucial. It protected the heart, lungs, and liver of the soldier from attack. If any of these organs was penetrated with a sword or arrow, it could prove to be deadly.
Without his breastplate, a soldier would feel quite vulnerable and open to attack. Because of this, he might not fight with the same courage or intensity as if he were wearing the proper protective gear. It would be constantly pressing on his mind that he was missing this very important piece of protection. He would not be able to fight well as he could if properly equipped.
What is righteousness? The words righteous and righteousness are found 540 times in the Bible. Righteousness must be important to God. What is it? Simply put, righteousness is being “right” before God. That is a very easy definition, but it leads to a more challenging question … “How do I become right before God?” We obviously don’t start life that way, so how do we get right with God?
Many people claim to know the answer to that question. Countless religions and cults have been started with the goal of answering that question. Almost all of them say that we become right before God by doing good things. This answer seems to make sense because bad things are bad and good things are good … and if a person wants to be right before our good God then they shouldn’t do bad things but instead do the good things, right?? However, this leads to another question … “How good is good enough for God?”
After God led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, He gave them a lot of rules and regulations to follow so that they could live a God-pleasing life. These rules made up what is called the Law. No doubt you have heard about the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are just part of this Law. God told the people of Israel to keep all parts of the Law and then they would be righteous before Him. He required absolute perfection.
BUT no one then was absolutely perfect and no one today is either. No one can keep the whole law! Even King David tried to follow the Law and couldn’t do it. In Psalm 14, he said that “there is none that doeth good, no, not one”. The Apostle Paul repeats this in Romans 3:10 when he says “there is none righteous, no, not one”. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”. These verses clearly say that no one can and ever will be able to perfectly keep the whole Law. In fact, in Isaiah 64:6 God says that all our righteousness is as filthy rags … our righteousness is just not good enough.
So, if no one can keep the Law, then why did God give it? Why did He set a standard for righteousness that no one could ever meet? Paul gives us the answer to that question in the book of Romans. He writes, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” The Law was given so that we would know what sin is. The Law was given to show us how inadequate we are.
And if we can’t get righteousness through the Law, how do we get righteousness? God’s Word gives us the answers we need. The first part of the answer lies in the first book of the Bible. In Genesis 15, the author writes, Abram "believed in the LORD, and He counted it to him for righteousness”. Abram was credited with righteousness simply because he believed the promise that God had made to him. Likewise, we are credited with righteousness by believing the promise that God has made to us. And what is that promise? While the promise is given in many places throughout the Bible, one place where the promise is clearly stated is John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
God credits you with righteousness when you believe that Jesus is God’s Son, and you ask Him to forgive you for your sins. Remember, sins are those things that we think, say, or do against God’s Law. God then gives us His righteousness. His righteousness becomes your righteousness making you righteous before God.
You now are a follower of Christ … a Christian. In Philippians 3:9-10 the Apostle Paul reminds you that as a follower of Christ you are
… found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection…
What a wonderful reminder of His great power working in your life!
How is righteousness like a breastplate? In our spiritual battle here on earth, Satan will try to make you and I doubt our right standing with God. Satan will often remind you of how sinful you still are and he will accuse you of not being worthy of God’s love and salvation. His attack is against your heart. He wants to discourage you in order to keep you from walking with God. He wants to make you feel guilty over the sin that Jesus has already forgiven. If Satan is successful then he has weakened your strength and confidence.
BUT the breastplate of righteousness is your defense against Satan’s weapon of guilt. Righteousness is like the historical military breastplate in that it protects your heart and gives you confidence in battle. As a Christian, you can live your life confidently knowing that you are righteous before God because Jesus paid the price for your sins. Think about that. If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you are completely forgiven of all of your sins. God has forgiven you! He has also given you the strength to stand against the schemes of Satan. Remember what Ephesians 6 says …
… Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil…
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness …
If you are a Christian, then God’s power is for you! No matter how many accusations or bad things Satan brings against you, remember that God is there with you and has given you the Truth you need to stand firm against the Enemy!
Put on the Belt of Truth and the Breastplate of Righteousness …stand firm and live boldly for Jesus! Always remember that are righteous before God because you know Jesus as Savior. Learn all you can about the Bible, then live by God’s Truth and confidently serve Him because you are properly equipped for victory!