Summary: The breastplate of righteousness. Faith our trust in God and love our choosing to share with others the hope of the gospel. Paul says, Put it on!!! We find out why and how it protects us from the advances and attacks of the enemy in this message.
Intro: When you read about the breastplate of righteousness you find a discussion and disagreement about whether the righteousness that Paul is speaking about is imputed righteousness or imparted righteousness. Imputed righteousness is what we get when we trust Jesus as Lord and Savior and are saved and sealed with God’s Holy Spirit. This is how we will gain access to God’s heaven.
When Jesus says, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” The right answer is because of the shed blood and finished work of Jesus. I trust Him and accept His forgiveness of my sins. That gives us a right standing before God.
Imparted righteousness is what we receive as we daily allow the Holy Spirit to live in us and guide our decisions, desire, emotions and thinking.
Paul gives clear teaching in this letter that I believe settles the discussion. In Ephesians 4:24 Paul uses the word righteousness to speak about the new man (imputed) that is created when we trust Jesus as Savior and confess Him as Lord. In 5:9 he uses it as righteous behavior. So according to this very letter it is our trust in Jesus that works itself out in behavior empowered by the Holy Spirit controlled by the will of God.
If you remember last week we said that we don’t need more legislation, taxation, immigration, population control or education, we need transformation. So what then is the problem? If you understand the gospel of Jesus Christ the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart!
The gospel is good news. In the gospel we hear the bad news about the condition of our heart and the good news that God takes care of our heart condition. Listen to the words of Jesus!
Mark 7:21-22 “For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, 22 adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, promiscuity, stinginess, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a person.” HCSB (choices)
Matthew 15:10-11 “And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” HCSB (Offense of the Pharisees and the ignorance of the disciples) (Read the rest of the paragraph)
The problem of a dirty sinful heart is taken care of at the cross of Jesus. William Cowper wrote an amazing Hymn called there is a fountain the first verse goes like this,
There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains. (So the gospel or good news about Jesus Christ tells us clearly that our dirty sinful hearts can become clean when washed with the blood of Jesus!!) Any heart or inner person offered freely to Jesus will be made new and cleansed!!
So where does the breastplate of righteousness come in?
I. The breastplate: Our standing before God
When we turn our lives over to Jesus and confess Him as Lord we receive a new heart in theological terms this is called regeneration. This is also called imputed righteousness.
Remember we are at War!! The enemy always seeks to demoralize, discourage and cause us to doubt. With a new heart we need to protect it! The breastplate of righteousness is the only protection that is effective against the attacks of devil.
Proverbs 4:23 – “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.”
In Hebrew thought the heart was the mind and the will or the inner man, and the bowels were the seat of the emotions. The breastplate of a Roman soldier protected them from the neck to the waist. For us when we put on the breastplate of righteousness we are protecting our entire heart our inner man. (Show what the heart is)
So what is the breastplate of righteousness?
1 Thessalonians 5:8 “But since we belong to the day, we must be serious and put the armor of faith (trust) and love on our chests, and put on a helmet of the hope of salvation.”
Philippians 3:9 and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith.
The breastplate is first and foremost our trust in Jesus Christ!! We do not have a righteousness of our own. So when we trust Jesus and agree we need Him as Lord His perfect clean life is credited to us!!
When God says, “Not Guilty!”, it is not because we have been good but because God exchanges our sin for Jesus righteousness. You can’t get a breastplate with money, service, attendance, good works, you only get it given to you when you trust what God has said and done!!