ARMOUR OF GOD – The Breastplate of Righteousness
It is a joy for me to welcome you again to our devotional series as we closely look at the Armour of God for believers. Since we are fighting against the, treacherous, invisible and powerful enemies in the spirit world, we need special equipment both for offense and defense. The good thing is that God has provided the whole or the full armour for us and we dare not omit any part as we go about living for him. Remember, Scripture says, Satan roams about like a roaring lion, looking for that unguarded area where he can make a beachhead or gain a foothold.
Last time, in looking at the first half of verse 14, we talked about the belt of the truth. We saw that the belt on the soldier’s armor, although a seemingly insignificant piece was actually one of the most important pieces. We could say that the belt was the foundational piece, or the unifying piece of armour. But, although the belt is so important, you cannot go into battle with nothing but your belt on. For although it is foundational, it doesn’t provide much protection. All it does is keep the rest of the armour in place. For protection, you need the other pieces of armour.
Let’s read together, Ephesian 6:14, again think about and reflect on the second piece of armour and think about its importance. Paul writes:
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,”Ephesians 6:14
Now, let’s look at how the breastplate was used on the Soldier, how it is to be used for us as Christians in spiritual battle, and then I will conclude by talking about how we can put it on for battle.
- The Breastplate for the Soldier
So let’s begin with what the breastplate did for the soldier.
The breastplate, was a piece of armour, made of strips of metal plates or chains; it covered the body from neck to waist, both front and back. No Roman soldier entered battle without one showing how important this piece was.
Today it can be compared to a bullet-proof vest which protects the soldier’s vital organs like the heart and lungs. If either of these were affected or injured in battle, the soldier is as good as dead. So the breastplate was obviously important.
With that in mind, let’s move on to see how the spiritual breastplate is to be used for the Christian in spiritual battle.
2. The Breastplate for the Christian
To begin with, remember that putting on the belt of truth is putting on the Word of God. Studying it. Reading it. Learning it. Putting on the belt of truth is knowing what God’s Word says. It is gaining a knowledge of the Bible. Now, since that is the case, the breastplate of righteousness, which is attached to the belt, remember, is applying the truth of the Bible to our lives.
There is a major difference between understanding the truth, and living the truth. There is a difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge. There is a difference between being able to recite verses and list Bible facts, and actually living or applying those verses and Bible facts to your life.
Do you remember the Pharisees? They were Bible scholars. They were experts of the law. Most of them had the entire Torah—which is the first five books of the Bible—memorized. They knew the history of Israel forward and backward. They prayed and sang the Psalms. They could recite passages from the Prophets. And if you were living at that time, and you were to watch them, you would not only be amazed at how much they knew of the law, but also how obedient they were to it.
But guess what? It was only an outward obedience. It never made it into the heart. And because of this, Jesus reserves some of his most scalding rebukes for them. You can read all about it in Matthew 23, but let me just give you a taste of some of the things he says to them. The Pharisees, according to Jesus, were outwardly righteous. They appeared righteous to others. They had all the right words, and all the right actions, and all the right behaviors. But Jesus is saying here, “It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, what do you look like on the inside? What does your heart look like?”
And that is what the breastplate is for, to get the truth of God, not just strapped around us, not just so we can quote Scripture—but to get the truth of God inside us, to protect our vital organs from damage—to know it and live it.
The breastplate is applying God’s truth to our lives so that rather than living in sin, we can live holy and righteous before God. Do you want to protect yourself from sin? Do you want to protect your heart from sin? You need to have on the breastplate of righteousness. Which brings us to our third point. How can we, as Christians, put on the spiritual breastplate of righteousness?
3. Putting on the Breastplate of Righteousness
Just like the belt of truth, we must understand first of all, that the breastplate of righteousness is Gods. When we put it on, it is his armour we are putting on. In Isaiah 59:17, we read that God wears righteousness as a breastplate. And Isaiah 59 reveals that this righteousness is not the positional, imputed righteousness that God gives to all believers the moment they believe in Jesus for everlasting life. Instead, it is the practical, day to day righteousness that God expects and desires all Christians to live by. It is living the holy life.
Just as the actual breastplate on a soldier protects his heart, lungs, and other vital organs, so the breastplate of righteousness, the practical holiness of a life lived in obedience to God, is what protects the heart of a Christian. H. A. Ironside, a Bible commentator and teacher, makes this observation,
“The breastplate covers the heart of the man, and when we think of the heart we think of the conscience…”H.A. Ironside
In other words, to wear the breastplate of righteousness, we have to protect our heart, the centre of who we are, by keeping our conscience pure.
So how do you maintain purity in your life? Well, first of all, it builds on the belt of truth we looked at last time. As you dig daily into the Word of God, and feed your spirit upon the truth of Scripture, you will come across passages which convict you of sin in your life. In such situations,
- take a moment, confess your sin and repent, remembering that God is good and when we confess our wrongdoings, he is faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- Appropriate God’s forgiveness, in other words, believe God and take him at his word. Faithful is he who has promised and he will bring it to completion, says the apostle Paul.
- Now live in the light of the victory Christ has accomplished at the cross for you.
This is how you put on, how you wear the breastplate of righteousness. God has given us his righteousness to wear, but we put it on by taking off the filthy clothes stained with sin and the chains wrapped tight around us. We do this through confession, purification and repentance. And when we get the breastplate of righteousness on, when we get it firmly in place, it becomes much easier to protect our heart. Only in this way will you protect your life from the deadly and suffocating consequences of sin.
So, like the true solders of the cross, with our bulletproof vests on, let us stand ready to stop the fiery darts that the devil shoots our way. May God be with you!
Activity for kids
(Click on the bold, underlined text in the activities below to go to the online link.)
1. Make a breastplate:
Use paper, cardboard, or anything else you have at home to let your children make their make their own breastplates. As you sit with them, discuss and reinforce today’s devotion.
2. Where does righteousness come from?
Create a scavenger hunt for your children using the letters of ‘righteousness’ or the words of 2 Corinthians 5:21 (‘God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.’). After they have gone on a hunt to find ‘righteousness’, explain how we do not put on the breastplate of ourown righteousness, but that we instead receive and live in Jesus’ righteousness.