The Breastplate of Righteousness
Updated: Apr 1
Having put on the breastplate of righteousness.
God worked many unusual miracles of healing and casting out evil spirits by the hands of Paul during his ministry in Ephesus. At this time there were also some counterfeits traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits.
The seven sons of Sceva, tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus whom Paul preached to cast out an evil spirit. But one time they got a big shock and a big beating. When attempting to cast out an evil spirit in a man using Jesus’ name, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus and I know Paul but who are you?” Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house naked and battered. (Acts 19:11-16)
Of course, this story spread quickly all through Ephesus, and upon hearing about this the fear of the Lord fell upon the Jews and the Greeks there, and the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly honored. Many who became believers confessed their sinful practices. (Acts 19:17-18)
Ephesus at this time was a focal point for idolatry, magicians, occult practices, and sorcery. During this time, it was common to have books with magic, evil formulas, and incantations. The newly converted believers’ eyes were opened to the evil that they had practiced and demonstrated repentance by bringing their books and burning them. These books were valued at fifty thousand pieces in their day. Today it is estimated to be valued at anywhere between a whopping one million to five million dollars. Yet they counted it all as rubbish to gain Christ.
These faithful few had previously been involved in these evil practices of unrighteousness. The Apostle Paul left no stone unturned in his letter to the church. God had a piece of armor to combat this evil. The breastplate of righteousness.
God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
We like the church of Ephesus have no righteousness of our own. Our own righteousness is like filthy rags but oh when we receive the Lord Jesus! We are stripped of our old filthy rags and He clothes us with robes of righteousness! He gives us His righteousness! Glory to God! What a gracious and loving exchange! He is our righteousness and the preface of the breastplate.
When we place our faith in Christ, we are made righteous. Righteousness is our position in Him. But it doesn't stop there, though we are made righteous we must be diligent to live righteous. Making righteousness a reality by living out God's Word and not letting sin rule our lives.
Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So, use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Romans 6:12-13
Obedience is paramount in spiritual warfare.
Sin is birthed in the heart. Our hearts are where our emotions and desires dwell. It’s the center of who we are and a primary aim of the fiery darts of the enemy to steal, kill and destroy us.
Genuine righteousness leads to life, but the pursuit of evil brings death.” Proverbs 11:19
Sin separates us from God and loosens our armor but like the believers in Ephesus, we must have a holy reverence for the Lord, cultivate a life of confession, repentance and be willing to give up anything no matter the cost to gain Christ. We all fall short of God’s glory but practice and patterns of sin dishonor and disconnect us from God and leaves us wide open for the consequences of sin and the fatal blows of the enemy to the heart.
As the human heart is protected by the rib cage God has given us the breastplate of righteousness to protect our spiritual heart, our inner man, our innermost desires.
The breastplate of righteousness for the Roman soldier would guard their vital organs, most notably the heart. Being wounded in such a vulnerable area would mean a fatal blow. In like manner having the breastplate of righteousness on enables us to, “Guard our heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23
Where our heart goes, so do our lives.
What’s in the heart comes out in the way we live. This is why it’s critically important to pursue righteousness, grow in the Word, and progressive Christlikeness.
Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:11
To be able to stand firm we can’t just know about Jesus or just know His name. The sons of Sceva knew Jesus’ name and even tried to use His name but they didn’t know Him. They didn't have a personal relationship with Him and most significantly, they were not followers of Christ. Therefore, they were powerless against the evil spirit. Knowing Jesus, having an intimate relationship with Him, being doers of the word as being imitators of Him is powerful ammunition in our warfare.
Listen to God’s word regarding the heart,
The human heart is the most deceitful of all things and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve. Jeremiah 17:9-10
The prophet Jeremiah makes it clear that sin is a matter of the heart. Our hearts in their natural states are inclined toward sin but we must protect our hearts by nourishing our spirits with God’s word, depending on the Holy Spirit to help us to live a life that is pleasing to God, and demonstrate genuine repentance by resolving to turn away from our sin. In doing this God creates in us a clean heart and a right spirit that creates a sure pathway to have sweet fellowship with God now and forever.
Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8
Knowing this should compel us to cry out like David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalms 139:23-24
When we live a life yielded to God, seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness (holiness), infused by love for Him, having a desire to please Him, empowered by the Holy Spirit we are thus having on the breastplate of righteousness. This is not a one-time act of putting on the breastplate, it's a lifelong process of walking in the Spirit and being conformed to the image of Jesus. Endeavoring to keep ourselves to be without spot or wrinkle. This keeps our breastplate secure.
Does our breastplate get loose at times? Absolutely. We are in a brutal war. But take heart God’s grace is sufficient. He is faithful to forgive, restore, establish, strengthen and deliver His soldiers!
Many are afflictions of the righteous but God delivers them out of them all! Psalm 34:19
Righteousness is given through faith, not by anything that we’ve earned or could ever earn. Only the precious blood of Jesus could pay such a high and precious cost. For it is by grace we have been saved through faith. (Ephesians 2:8)
We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet, God in His grace freely makes us right in His sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty of our sins. Romans 3:21b-23
God's grace abounds!
Listen to the Apostle's Paul forceful answer regarding sin,
"But should we keep sinning so that God can show us more of His wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives." Romans 6:1-5
Cultivating a heart posture like the believers in Ephesus is essential to walking uprightly before the Lord our God and thus providing us with powerful ammo to stand firm against the fiery darts of the enemy.
May we endeavor to mirror our hearts to those of the faithful church of Ephesus and the great apostle Paul and consider everything else as worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. For His sake having discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that we may gain Christ and become one with Him. No longer counting on our own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, we become righteous through faith in Christ. God’s way of making us right with Himself depends on faith. Philippians 3:8-9
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; by His wounds we have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24
Our aim must be to let the Spirit renew our thoughts and attitudes, putting on our new nature, created according to God, truly righteous and holy. (Ephesians 4:23) In doing this we are secure, well equipped for battle and will be found faithful and standing firm.
We know that God's children do not make a practice of sinning, for God's Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them.
1 John 5:18
When we submit to God, and resist the temptations the enemy sends our way he will have no choice but to flee for we belong to the army of the Lord of Righteousness. If He is for us, who can be against us?
The effectual fervent prayer of the righteous avails much. James 5:16
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