“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes...Stand firm then...with the breastplate of righteousness in place” (Ephesians 6:11, 14b).
When someone chooses to join Jesus in His Great Commission, they aren’t handed a pair of fuzzy slippers, toasty house-coat and cup of hot cocoa before being instructed to go and take a seat in the lounge while they comfortably await their grand adventure with God...that begins with their departure for heaven. No. We are instructed to put on the full armour in preparation for the battle we have just signed up for! We have just entered a life and death struggle being waged over a most priceless treasure–human souls. No sane person would walk into the midst of an active battleground without protection. The same is true of the very real spiritual battle we find ourselves in the midst of daily. We need the armour of God!
The belt of truth, which we previously discussed, was the first of the armour listed because it is the first piece that a soldier made certain was in place. It was not intended to protect vital organs in and of itself, but without it the vital organs of a soldier could nonetheless be exposed to the enemies’ attacks. Not only did it serve to protect its own particular area of the body, but also to anchor the breastplate of righteousness firmly in place. A Roman soldier wore a breastplate of bronze or chain mail to protect his vital organs, but if the belt was missing or loosened the breastplate slipped right off.
Our breastplate is one of righteousness, but not our own. If our protection against the enemy depended on our own goodness, we would be left dangerously vulnerable. The righteousness of our breastplate has been explained this way,
“When Paul compares the armor of God with military gear, each piece represents a part of God’s strength that He extends to us when we become His children. The breastplate of righteousness refers to the righteousness purchased for us by Jesus at the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). At salvation, a ‘breastplate’ is issued to each repentant sinner. It is specially designed by God to protect our heart and soul from evil and deception. Our own righteous acts are no match for Satan’s attacks (Isaiah 64:6). The breastplate of righteousness has Christ’s name stamped on it, as though He said, ‘Your righteousness isn’t sufficient to protect you. Wear mine.’” 1
Jesus’ righteousness is credited to us so we can walk into the battle with confidence. But just as we must daily pick up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23), we too must daily put on the breastplate that Christ offers to us for our protection. Becoming His follower does not remove from me my own freewill or ability to choose to follow in obedience or disobey. We ‘put on’ the breastplate by choosing to live our lives in obedience to the lordship of Jesus; if at any point we refuse God’s work in us, our ‘no’ opens up a crack that leaves us exposed. Our refusal of God works to remove His protection, not because He is punitive, but because we have removed it from His hands and deemed ourselves competent to protect ourselves.
Though it is Jesus’ righteousness that protects us, as we daily put on the breastplate we are transformed so that our lives begin to match up with His. “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image” (2 Corinthians 3:18). “As we wear Christ’s breastplate of righteousness, we begin to develop a purity of heart that translates into actions.” 2
Too many people, however, are tricked by Satan’s counterfeit breastplate. Rather than Christ’s righteousness, they work to create their own through strict adherence to a set of rules, in the false assurance that their own good works are what is required. “When we tolerate sin, refuse to forgive (2 Corinthians 2:10–11), rely on personal righteousness (Titus 3:5), or allow earthly concerns to crowd out time for an intimate relationship with God” 3 we have chosen to wear a counterfeit and will find ourselves poorly protected. There is no substitute to Jesus’ righteousness when it comes to protecting our hearts from the attacks of the enemy. We are to ‘fix our eyes on Jesus’ (Hebrews 12:2) and only then will we firmly affix the breastplate of righteousness to the belt of truth in place–with our hearts fully protected and prepared.
~ Pastor Jane
1 Retrieved May 20, 2020 from https://www.gotquestions.org/breastplate-of-righteousness.h…
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!