Summary: In the spiritual battle Satan is going to try and con us with the lie that we are not good enough to be part of God’s family. In such circumstances we need to hold onto Jesus knowing that He is the One who makes us thoroughly equipped.
The Breastplate of Righteousness
Isaiah 59:1; 12-20
Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,
Let’s imagine you are reading the “cars for sale” section of the local paper. Someone is selling a Corolla which is described as being “in very good condition”. Picture for a moment what you would expect that car to look like. Now if we went to examine the car and found that it had a number of visible rust patches, and tears in the seats, and a motor that sounded like a tractor engine, we would be disappointed wouldn’t we. The description of the car in no way reflects the true appearance of the vehicle.
Most of us would get quite annoyed by that situation. We don’t have much time for people who deliberately try to mislead. We get tired of products that work well on TV but don’t work at home. We expect appearances to match portrayals. It is not an unreasonable thing to ask. So when it comes to our Christian life we should also realise that it is not unreasonable to ask for consistency in that area as well. Our life should match our Christian confession. Our actions should match our words. That is what makes us prepared for the spiritual battle. And that is what the breastplate of righteousness is all about. To understand the significance of this piece of armour let’s start off by Examining the Breastplate.
As a literal piece of armour the breastplate is quite easy to imagine. It was made up of small metal plates which were tied together in a similar fashion to the way roof tiles are placed on a roof. The armour was then placed over the shoulders to protect both the front and back of the soldier. The bottom of the armour was tied to the belt. A Greek word sometimes used to describe this piece of equipment literally translates as “heart protector”. And that was the main purpose of the breastplate – to give protection to the heart and other vital organs.
That is a description of the armour in a literal sense. But this is not literal armour, it is spiritual armour. The breastplate of righteousness. In the spiritual battle you need protection for your heart. Because, as Jesus once said, out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. If your heart is not right then the rest of your life will not be right either. In the spiritual battle we need to be sure that our hearts are directed by God and not relinquished to Satan. It is completely an issue of acting in a consistent manner. How do we know?
Righteousness, in this context, is all about moral integrity which comes as a result of knowing who Jesus is. We see Paul teach this truth a number of times in the book of Ephesians.
• Ephesians 4:1 (read).
• Ephesians 4:22-24 (read).
• Ephesians 5:1 (read).
Again and again Paul makes the same point. When Christ has entered our lives we should expect to live in a certain way.
And let’s be sure we understand the context. We do not earn a place in heaven on the basis of how our lives are lived. It is not an issue of trying to earn God’s favour. God’s knows that His children need to be shown grace, grace and more grace. All this is true. But just as true, and just as important, is the call to have a life-style that looks a certain way.
Earlier we read from Romans 6 and in that section we read these words.
“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness”.
The issue doesn’t get much clearer than that. Those who have experienced the grace of God will want to make sure that the breastplate of righteousness is in place because they want to have a consistent biblical life.
By examining the breastplate we hopefully are seeing the importance of this piece of spiritual armour. Indeed it is very important because, in the spiritual battle, there will be times when Satan tries to attack our hearts. That truth brings us to our second point where we want to consider Satan’s Attack on our Righteousness.
We have already seen the strategic position of our heart. A heart ruled by God and a heart dominated by Satan are easy to distinguish. One heart will seek direction from a world that hates God, the other will seek direction from God. Where does the heart of a believer get its direction? Of course it is from God’s Word. We believe what the Word of God tells us. It is the source of our direction. But having the breastplate of righteousness is more than belief – it is allowing the truth of God’s salvation to permeate every aspect of your life.