Yesterday we talked about what is required to put on the first piece of armor of God, the belt of truth. We need God’s divine armor in the battle that is waged in the spiritual realm, because we cannot battle in our own strength or we will be defeated. Paul gives us the next item in our wardrobe in the armor of God: “Stand therefore…having put on the breastplate of righteousness” (Eph 6:14). Righteousness means being or doing what is right, and it follows the belt of truth because there can’t be righteousness apart from truth, which is the standard. Righteousness reveals how to work that standard out.
Righteousness has been imputed to everyone who has trusted in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. God did more than forgive our sins through Jesus; He credited to our account the righteousness of Jesus Christ, replacing the stain of our sin with His righteousness. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor 5:21)
Once we receive God’s gift of grace for our salvation, Satan can do nothing to change our righteous standing and justification before God. So instead he tries to restrict our personal practice of righteousness; he looks for a way to break our fellowship with God by causing a breach in our position of righteousness and our practice of righteousness. “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17) He knows that God “can not look on wickedness with favor” (Hab 1:13); and there’s the breach.
Like truth–which includes not only information and facts but also the intention behind the information and facts–righteousness includes more than right behavior. Righteousness includes the motivation behind doing right behavior or not doing wrong behavior. Perhaps the motivation is pride, a form of self-righteousness; or perhaps it is fear. God sees deep within us and measures the motivation of all that we do or don’t do by His view of sin (Jer 17:10). For example God equates hatred with murder: “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” (1 Jn 3:15)
If we haven’t aligned our minds, will, and emotions underneath God’s view on a matter–His absolute truth–then we may not see hatred as murder as He does. If we don’t see it as sin, then we won’t confess it as sin and repent. Because of our positional righteousness in Jesus, we are to maintain relational righteousness before God at all times by confessing our sin to God (1 Jn 1:9). Satan has then caused a breach in our position of righteousness and our practice of righteousness, and has given himself a foothold.
Two things happen in spiritual warfare when the breastplate of righteousness isn’t worn properly. First, an invitation is sent out to allow demons to hang out in our life. Second, the movement of God is hindered within and through us because there is a break in our fellowship with Him. God does not abide in darkness. The breastplate of righteousness is designed to protect our hearts; to keep our hearts pure. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the well-spring of life.” (Prov 4:23)
Just as the heart is the physical pump that controls the flow of blood throughout our bodies, so our heart–our essence and our core–is the spiritual pump that God uses to infuse life into us. At salvation, we were made new with His righteousness. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come.” (2 Cor 5:17) What became new is our spirit; our soul (mind, will, and emotions) is in the process of being sanctified and made new over time.
Until He has completed the work in us, our sin-distorted soul is still unsanctified. The work of the new spirit in us is to pump life into the soul until the spirit becomes our dominant influence. We need God, through the Holy Spirit, to restore our mind, will and emotions so that they function in the way they were intended. In order to access the perfect righteousness placed within us in our new spirit, we have to receive the truth of God’s Word deep within. James refers to the sanctification process: “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the Word implanted, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21)
Sanctification only occurs when His Word and His truth are implanted. When a person has a stint implanted in an artery, the stint is infused into the valve–it becomes part of it. The Holy Spirit is at work in us to fuse our hearts with God’s truth as our standard of righteousness by implanting His Word on our hearts. Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” (Ps 119:11)
The righteousness of God made known through His Word must reach from His Spirit into our spirit, feeding it as it grows to dominate our soul. As the Word of God feeds our spirit and begins to influence our soul, our actions will begin to naturally reflect God’s viewpoint on a matter. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” (Gal 5:16)
We must meditate on God’s Word, allowing it to resonate in our heart to such a degree that it becomes our breastplate of righteousness. When God’s truth flows freely from our spirit because it has been received, accepted, and submitted to, it releases righteousness into our soul, thereby restoring it. The breastplate of righteousness has been deposited within us; it’s our job to feed it and nourish it with the truth of God so that it expands to surround us with the protection in warfare that we desperately need.
A note of caution, it is God’s Word that we must meditate on, not someone’s opinion of what God’s Word says, including mine and your pastor’s. We must be like the Bereans: “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11) because Satan will use false prophets “to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matt 24:24).
Wearing the breastplate of righteousness involves:
- Walking securely in our imputed righteousness by virtue of the cross;
- Coming clean with God in our practice of righteousness; and
- Feeding our spirit with the Word of God so that the Spirit will produce the natural outgrowth of right living within us.
Part of the Series: The Authority of Christ (links will be added when they are published, and more may be added to the list as God leads)
- Authority Over Corruption in the World
- Recognize Your Enemy
- Stand Firm in the Authority of Christ
- We Battle From Higher Ground
- Be Strong in the Lord and His Mighty Power
- Put On The Belt of Truth
- Put On The Breastplate of Righteousness
- Shod Your Feet With the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace
- Take Up the Shield of Faith
- Take the Helmet of Salvation
- Take the Sword of the Spirit
- Pray At All Times in the Spirit
- Strength Comes From Surrendering
- Overcoming Past Failures