Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Full Armor of God - Breastplate of Righteousness

"Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness..." Ephesians 6:14

Let's state the obvious. A breastplate is meant to protect your vital organs, most specifically, your heart. A wound to the heart can cause immediate death or a slow, painful bleed out. Neither make for a happy ending.

So, what exactly is the breastplate of righteousness?

Well, righteousness comes into our life two ways - it's imputed and it's imparted. Let me explain.

When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you exchange identities with Him. He takes your sin and gives you His perfect record - His righteousness is imputed to you. That debt of sin is paid-in-full through the salvation work of Jesus Christ on the cross, and when you stand before the Father, He doesn't see you drenched in sin, but He sees you clothed in Jesus' righteousness.

So, at salvation you become instantaneously righteous in your standing before God. Pretty incredible, wouldn't you say?

But it doesn't stop there, because we all know that while on earth, we are still battling with sin in our lives. In other words, nobody's perfect. That's when righteousness is imparted to us. It's called the sanctification process and as you walk with Jesus, you learn more about Him and you start to imitate Him. He is our example of righteousness, and with our new nature, we have the ability to put off the old and put on the new daily. God has given us His Spirit to work within us - with our cooperation, we are able to make righteous choices and live righteous lives. Notice I said "with our cooperation." It takes effort - you don't just wake up one day and make good decisions. No, it's a process but we are not alone. We have Jesus as our example, the Spirit as our guide and the Father as our rewarder.

It really doesn't get much better than that, does it?

So, putting on the breastplate of righteousness is really a two-fold action. Perhaps a double-sided breastplate. On one side, you have Jesus' imputed righteousness. There's nothing you can to do lose that. It's a fact and you need to remember that. No matter what you've done, in light of eternity, Jesus has already paid for it.

Second is the righteousness that comes through growing in Christ. You must remember who you are in Christ, who He enables you to be and put into practice what He is teaching you through His Word.

These two things are a protection for your heart. Think about it - righteous living is a protection for you. If you are not a gossip, then no one can complain about your words. If you choose purity in your marriage, then Satan has no accusations to whisper in the ears of your neighbors. If you are falsely accused, you can sleep at night because you know that before the Lord, you have been righteous.

But, when you choose to live unrighteously, there are always consequences. I won't go into them here, but you all know what I am talking about. And those consequences wear out your heart.

So, put on the breastplate of righteousness - remember what Jesus has done for you and choose to follow Him daily, to protect your heart from the consequences of sin and the accusations of the devil.

I love that picture above - instead of a soldier, I decided to make it more personal...

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