Summary: The second piece of our spiritual armor is the Breastplate of Righteousness.
Christian Warfare - Pt. 3
In our previous studies in this series, we have seen that we are engaged in a spiritual war. All of the forces of evil are arrayed against us to prevent us from doing the divine will of Jesus Christ our Lord and reaching our Heavenly Home. We have learned that Christ Jesus does not leave us unequipped for battle but, on the contrary, He has provided us with powerful spiritual resources that can enable us to achieve victory - the armor of God.
If we are to have strong victorious spiritual lives, we must know about our armor and weaponry and use them each day of our lives. Last week, we learned about our first piece of combat equipment - the belt of sincerity. The first requirement for victory is to be supported and strengthened by a genuine and singular desire to please the Lord and promote His glory. If we have put on that belt of sincerity, we are ready to put on the next piece of armor - the "breastplate of righteousness."
I. The Breastplate.
The Roman soldier wore a bronze plate, lined with leather, on his torso. It extended from the neck down to the navel. It was to provide protection to the vital organs, especially the heart, from sword thrusts, arrows, spears and javelins. If unprotected, wounds to this part of the body were quite grievous and oftentimes fatal. Obviously, the breastplate was an essential piece of the soldier’s combat armor.
The Apostle Paul says that the Christian’s breastplate is "righteousness". Let’s consider exactly what he is talking about.
Righteousness is moral and spiritual up-rightness such as is seen in the character of God. When the Scriptures speak of righteousness in relation to the Christian, it speaks of it in two different ways. It speaks of (A) imputed righteousness and (B) imparted righteousness.
A Imputed Righteousness.
Imputed righteousness is the Divine righteousness of Christ Jesus which is given to us as a free gift when we are saved. You see, because God is holy, He cannot have a relationship with anyone who is sinful. Yet, by nature we are sinful rather than righteous. Romans 3:10 states the truth that "there is none righteous, no not even one." Verse 23, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Left to ourselves, we could never make ourselves acceptable to God. But, Romans 5:6 tells us the blessed fact that "while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly." Christ not only shed His blood to remove our sins, His righteousness - His record of perfect obedience to the Father - is given or imputed to us as a gift. When we are brought in union with Christ, at baptism, we arise from the waters wrapped in the robe of the righteousness of Christ. When God views us, He does not see our record of disobedience or sin but He sees Christ’s perfect record of obedience or righteousness. 1 Corinthians 1:29-30, "that no one should boast before God… by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, Who became to us…righteousness."
But imputed righteousness is not the end of righteousness for the Christian. Imputed righteousness gives us a right standing before God and is the foundation for ‘imparted’ or ‘practical’ righteousness. Because the Christian has been, by a Sovereign act of God, made righteous in Christ, he or she is now responsible to act and live-out what is already true of them in Christ We must let the righteousness of Christ be seen in our attitudes, words and actions
B Imparted righteousness.
Imparted righteousness is the righteousness that the Spirit of Christ or Holy Spirit works in us with our cooperation. As we sincerely desire and strive to please the Lord, the Spirit imparts to us all that is necessary to be obedient as was Christ We become Christ-like according to the will of God. We think, feel, speak and act correctly or righteously as did our Lord.
Ephesians 4:22, 24, "put away, as concerning your former way of life, the old man, …and put on the new man, who in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth."
Romans 6:11-13, "Thus also consider yourselves also to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore don’t let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. Neither present your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God"
Philippians 1:11, "being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."
III The Breastplate of Righteousness.