The Breastplate of Righteousness
November 7, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
Paul’s words, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood,” are well known among Christians, but do we truly live mindfully of spiritual warfare? It is far too easy to allow our sight and physical realities to command our attention. The call of Scripture, however, is to be battle ready for spiritual warfare. Through this multi-week series, we will consider what Scripture teaches about this spiritual struggle. This is part six.
We have now turned our attention to the specific pieces of the “whole armor of God.” Last week we looked at the “Belt of Truth.” Today we consider the “Breastplate of Righteousness.” Before we do that, from where do you think Paul got the “idea” for the pieces of the armor of God? Some assume that he was thinking of Roman soldiers and applied the various pieces to the Christian warfare. But Paul had in mind a warrior much older than any Roman soldier.
In Isaiah 59, we are introduced to a divine warrior, the Lord himself. In verse 15 we read, “Truth is lacking… the Lord saw it, and it displeased him.” Isaiah was called upon to confront the rampant wickedness of Israel and call the people back to the Lord. Truth and righteousness and humility before the Lord was lacking among the people. What would the Lord do? Verse 16 reveals, “He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede.” No human is able to intercede and reconcile this dilemma.
Enter the divine warrior.
The Lord understands that only he can save; only he can deliver the people from their sin. Verse 17 says, “[The Lord] put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head.” The Lord dresses himself in his righteousness and provides salvation by his own might. The Lord fights the battle against sin and comes out victorious.
This divine warrior, and his armor, is the background for Ephesians 6. The “whole armor of God” truly is God’s armor, what he wore to secure our salvation. Paul invites us not to create our own armor, but to take up God’s armor, God’s completed victory.
The Breastplate of Righteousness speaks about God’s righteousness, not our own. “All our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Is. 64:6). We deserve the wrath of God, revealed from heaven (Rom. 1:18). This is a glaring vulnerability before Satan. We are guilty and have nothing in ourselves to overcome such guilt. Satan loves to needle this guilt, driving us to despair.
Thankfully, God provides a righteousness not our own… namely Christ’s righteousness. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul writes, “For our sake he made him (Christ) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” This is the great exchange that takes place on the cross. And we are left guilt free (cf. Rom. 8:1). Satan has no foothold against one who is protected and covered by the righteousness of Christ.
Like a physical breastplate, the breastplate of righteousness protects our vital organs. Christ’s righteousness protects our hearts from the lies of Satan, namely, that we are unworthy of God’s love and sin does not really matter. “The righteousness obtained for us on the cross gives us profound security in God’s love and powerful motivation against sin” (Duguid, The Whole Armor of God, 45). We need to cling to Christ’s righteousness to withstand the devil’s schemes that would seek to drive us away from God.
Are you equipped with God’s breastplate of righteousness?