“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,” (Ephesians 6:14)
What is the breastplate of righteousness?
According to Merriam-Webster, a breastplate is a piece of metal that covers a person’s chest and was part of the protective clothing that soldiers wore in the past. Although it’s only called a breastplate, implying protection of the chest area, was more like a torso covering. It would have been large, covering both the front and back of the torso so that the soldier would be protected from attacks on either side. The breastplate would have been very important because the heart is located inside the chest. If the enemy were to successfully aim for your heart, you probably would have died immediately.
It translates well spiritually; if the enemy (Satan) is going to attack us, one of the first parts he’s going to aim for is the figurative heart because that’s where our loyalties come from. One of the ways we can guard our hearts is by wearing the breastplate of righteousness.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
If you’re righteous, according to secular definitions, you are “acting in accord with divine or moral law; free from guilt or sin; morally right or justifiable” (source). These defintions align well with the Biblical definition. God is righteous. In both the Old and New Testaments, God is revered as righteous. Because He’s righteous, He should be our ultimate source of defining the word. God is holy, pure, just, completely free of sin, faithful, loving, and longsuffering, among other things. Because all of these things describe God, they also describe righteousness. Each Of God’s characteristics leads to being in accord with moral law, free from guilt or sin, and morally right or justifiable.
So, if we wear a figurative breastplate of righteousness into battle, we’re wearing a torso-protecting piece of armor made of everything that aligns with God’s moral law or truth. (See my post, The Belt of Truth.) This means that we, ourselves, will be aligned with the truth, full of righteousness. It will protect us from everything that’s opposed to God’s Word, even though we’re targets.
Why do we need it?
The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness;
According to the cleanness of my hands
He has recompensed me.
God rewards the righteous. This is apparent in every Bible story of a righteous person. If you read Hebrews 11, you’ll find what many people like to call the Hall of Faith. Throughout Hebrews 11, verses begin with “By faith Noah…” or “By faith Abraham…” Each person listed in the Hall of Faith was rewarded because of their faith in God. This faith they had inevitably led to righteousness.
Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Diligently seeking God is involved in being righteous — being free from guilt and sin, morally right and justifiable. Because we can’t be any of these things without seeking God. Some of these people received longer lives, prosperity, and children, and all of them will receive the “heavenly country” (11:13-16). We can look forward to this if we also dwell in righteousness. We may not be blessed with all of the earthly things we desire now, but the point of living in righteousness is 1) to glorify God, and 2) to live forever with Him in heaven. That will be the ultimate reward.
As I mentioned earlier, Satan will try to attack our hearts because that’s where our loyalties come from. Everything we say and do comes from our hearts — that means that what we set our minds on, we’ll inevitably do. We choose in our hearts who we will love and serve, and if we don’t have the protective shell of righteousness surrounding our hearts, we’re going to be in huge, spiritual trouble.
How do we use it?
1 | Devote ourselves to God
The idea of devotion is to be fully committed to a person or thing. Your loyalty will not waver toward what’s unnecessary when you’re devoted to someone or something, you tend to adhere to their values. When Christians are baptized into Christ, they put away former ungodly and unrighteous conduct, and put on the “new man,” which was even created in righteousness (Ephesians 4). We repent — we make a dedicated change and fully devote ourselves to God. This means constantly praying, reading His word, and acting on it. If we truly love God, we’ll be devoted to Him and only Him.
So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”
2 | Pay attention to what’s right and wrong
“Without God, there’s no virtue because there’s no prompting of the conscience.” -Ronald Reagan
In order to be righteous, we have to know what’s right and wrong according to God. And to do that, we have to read His word every day. We have to fully rely on His inspired word to give us the standard for how we act and think because without Him, we think we can do what we want, when we want, and how we want it! God has given us everything we need to know in order to be faithful servants of His.
It seems the world’s standards of right and wrong are found on an individual basis, give or take major issues. But God’s standards always remain the same, and God’s way is perfect, so we have to pay attention to what He says.
3 | Strive to be like Christ
In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul says, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” Paul was constantly looking to Jesus’ example because he knew that was the only way to be truly righteous.
Jesus is the ultimate example of moral character. I say this in so many of my posts because it’s really what should define a Christian. A Christian is someone who follows Christ and is completely devoted to Him in word and in deed. When we follow someone in this sense we tend to adhere to that person’s way of life; it’s just part of worshiping, idolizing, and revering someone. And if righteousness is going to flow from this type of following, then we’re going to have to choose to follow Christ and only Christ, in turn being like Him.
4 | Keep our guard up
If you were on the battlefield, would you even think about taking off your breastplate? Absolutely not. Because the minute you take that off is the minute you’re fatally hit. Well, God’s war is going on 24/7. Satan is always watching, and he’s always ready to attack. Friends, we can’t afford to spiritually relax. We can’t afford to say, “Today, I’m going to take a break from all this fighting and thinking and praying.” We just can’t. Because the minute we take let our guard down is the minute Satan has us; that’s when he starts to win over our souls.
Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
*Note: None of these things are meant to be harsh, but I want them to encourage us (myself included) to remember that not only is Satan always attacking, but also that God is more powerful.
And with Him we can conquer.
“But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'”
This is part two of my 6-part Armor of God series. I’ll post one installment each week, with the Sword of the Spirit and Prayer combined (it should wrap up around Thanksgiving).
Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.