Summary: We guard our heart against error by knowing that we’ve been made right with God, and how. (#19 in The Christian Victor series)
“…and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,”
The breastplate on a Roman soldier really covered more than the chest. It extended down and covered the abdomen as well. So the entire trunk of the body, in the front at least, was protected by this piece of armor.
Notice please, the order he uses in donning this spiritual armor. Here in verse 14 he has said,
“Stand firm therefore, having guarded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness…”
If a soldier has put on the belt that provides for the girding of his loins, and then over that the breastplate that covers his torso from collar bone to abdomen, everything but the limbs and head are now protected.
But look at the spiritual application.
First truth, and then righteousness are to be applied. Righteousness is right standing with God, which cannot be had until the truth is learned in reference to sin and salvation. So truth must come first.
Now last week I did say that this truth Paul is talking about is Biblical truth that pertains to the fundamental doctrines of our faith, upon which all other scripture learning is founded. But it cannot be denied, nor would I want to deny, that understanding of the gospel message for salvation itself is not only included, but primary and prerequisite to the apprehension of any spiritual truth.
Nothing else of a spiritual nature can be understood until the person is first born from above. And the truth that must be known in order to appropriate to one’s self the gift of salvation, is the gospel message.
This takes us right back to the basics, and I never want to assume that everyone in the room is secure in the knowledge of those basics. So let’s cover them today.
THE GOSPEL (GOOD NEWS)
When we say ‘the gospel’, we are saying ‘the good news’. That’s what gospel means. Good News.
Specifically, it is good news of the way to be right with God, through faith in Jesus Christ. Hear what Paul calls the gospel, in I Corinthians 15:3,4
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures.”
Now when it says, ‘according to the scriptures’, it means that these things were predicted in the scriptures; being, in Paul’s mind, what we refer to as the Old Testament.
When he says, “…that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures”, he is referring back to Isaiah 53:5-12. I want us to read that passage together today.
“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.”
That’s a long passage to read, but well-worth the reading and full of blessing for the one who understands that Isaiah was talking about what the Messiah would suffer for us all.
Paul understood, and he referred to it as the first part of this powerful gospel message.
Then he said, “…that He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures”, and he was thinking of Psalm 16:8-10