Ephesians 6:14, “Put on the breastplate of righteousness.”
Another important piece of our armor is the breastplate because it protects the vital organs of the body. Often the Old Testament writers would use the names of different organs to express feelings, affection, etc. This is the reason why the breastplate of righteousness is so important in this conflict that we find ourselves in; that of wrestling with the world, the flesh and the devil. We need to protect our feelings, affections and our conscience, as well as our desires and our will.
The conscience is very important. We see that Paul puts the conscience second only to our faith in 1 Timothy 1:19, “…having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected…” We know from the rest of the verse that those who have rejected a good conscience have become shipwrecked in their faith. The conscience is very important and the devil will attack us in this area, and many are held captive by the devil at this point.
We also have desires and there is nothing wrong with desires as God has given us ‘desire’ and many of our desires are good. They are part of who we are, however, what the devil tries to do is bring inordinate desires, or to inflame the desires that we have. Through all of this the will is affected and that is the reason why the breastplate of ‘righteousness’ is so important.
What do we mean by righteousness? Are we talking about moral rectitude, or should it be translated as integrity? Or could this be a righteousness that is provided by God Himself? I think so. For example, consider Apostle Paul. He was a man of integrity as well as self-righteousness, but like we read in Philippians 3:7-9, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” So, this is the breastplate of righteousness that we need to put on.
Another example of this is found in Luke 18 where the Pharisee talks about his self-righteousness. Listen to what he says: “I fast twice a week, I give a tenth of all that I have.” Yet it was the sinner that said: “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13) The sinner went home ‘justified.’
500 years ago, Martin Luther discovered this righteousness and by starting the reformation he changed the course of history. The question that comes is: What can we do? We can do nothing and that is probably one of the first things that we need to learn. This is why God sent His Son so that we might receive His righteousness, because God is pleased with His Son. 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
One of the great verses in the Bible is Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Now that this righteousness has been imparted to us we are to work this out in our daily lives. In doing this we will find that this righteousness protects our heart, our mind, our conscience as well as desires, emotions and will.
It is important to see that the breastplate protects our emotions. Human emotions and desires are real and can be good. They play a great part in our life, but unless checked can lead us into a lifestyle that is detrimental to being holy unto the Lord. We can feel so strongly about something that it can replace the rational thought.
Praise God for this breastplate that protects us and keeps us strong in the Lord and in the power of His might!