The Breastplate Of Righteousness
Having put on the breastplate of righteousness; Ephesians 6:14 NKJV
The breastplate covers the chest. In our case the breastplate is made not of iron but of righteousness. A soldier with his breastplate on goes boldly into battle full of confidence. Righteousness allows us to stand before God, men and demons.
Whereas the belt of truth shows us what is ours and what we can do, righteousness allows us to do it. Without the breastplate of righteousness, our faith would be like any mere religion, a form of godliness but with no power to act. Satan could knock us down with words of condemnation, and we would not have the boldness to go before the throne room of God's grace.
What is the breastplate of righteousness?
To be righteous is to have a right standing with God. It is being justified and free of condemnation.
Righteousness is two fold
It is imputed to us; that means something we are given free of charge without effort, and it imparted into us; that means something that Christ works in us, and with our cooperation.
This is righteousness God puts on us. It is not earned but given. Let scripture explain.
Romans 5:1-2: Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (NKJV)
Romans 3:21-25: But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth [as] a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, (NKJV)
Abraham, in the Old Testament, believed God and God considered this righteousness. In other words, God treated Abraham as if he had done nothing wrong simply because of Abraham's faith in Him.
This is sometimes hard for us to comprehend, that all our sins are forgiven and all our unrighteous deeds are not held against us. We can come boldly to God as if we had done nothing wrong. God makes us right with Him simply because we believe and accept as ours, the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins.
But this is only part of the story. Righteousness goes further than that. Imputed righteousness is the first investment of God into our life. It is something given to us to get us going. Treat it like a permanent grant, but it comes with some expectations attached. The expectation is that you invest it to make your own profit. In this case, imparted righteousness.
This is what Christ is working in us with our cooperation. The imputed righteousness gives you the boldness and access into His presence. His presence gives you the power to change your life and put sin away from your life and it imparts something of God into you. This has always been God's ambition.
Let the scripture explain.
Jeremiah 31:33-34: "But this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My Law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My People. 34 "No more shall every man teach his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." (NKJV)
The life and power of Christ changes us gradually into His likeness.
2 Corinthians 3:18: But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (NKJV)
God wants us to live holy lives. Not walking in sin or compromising our faith. The power of Christ inside us equips us to do this. As we submit ourselves to the leading and power of the Holy Spirit sin will no longer have dominion over us.
The person who intends to be a Christian must keep the power of holiness and righteousness in his or her life and conduct. Have the breastplate of righteousness and 'have it on'.
The following scripture from Romans 8 sheds more light on this:
Christ's death on the cross washed away our sins and made us right with God. This allowed the Holy Spirit to come and live within us.
The Holy Spirit within us now gives us the life and power to live above sin. He imparts in us godly living. This is the breastplate of righteousness.
Imputed righteousness is what Christ gives to us, the believers. The justification which allows us to stand righteous before God, this is called the righteousness of God. Imparted righteousness is what Christ is working in us now.
Righteousness is God's double sided protection for the Christian. It defends our conscience from all the wounds inflicted by past sin and failures, and also keeps us from the constant array of temptations and lust that desire to inflict more harm on us.
How to put on the breastplate of righteousness?
Putting on the breastplate of righteousness is something we do consciously. Become aware of who you are in Christ Jesus. Come boldly into His presence Hebrews 4:16. Don't cringe in His presence. Accept the truth that Christ has made you a pleasure in the presence of God. Expect Him to hear your prayer. Change your attitude and relationship with God in the light of what Christ has done for you.
Next, allow Christ to work His life and will in you. Allow His power to give you the power to live above sin. Do this, and you wear the breastplate of righteousness?