Breastplate of Righteousness

"Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place" Ephesians 6:14 NIV

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The Greek word for righteousness in this scripture is dikaiosune (Strong's #1343).  Crosswalk's online lexicon gives these definitions for this word:

  1. In a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God 
    1. the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God
    2. integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking, feeling, and acting
  2. In a narrower sense, justice or the virtue which gives each his due

The part of the definition I'd like to emphasize is the "condition acceptable to God."  We can only reach this condition through faith in Jesus Christ.  In exchange for our faith, God counts us as righteous, i.e. being acceptable in his sight (Philippians 3:8-9).  The breastplate of righteousness is forged by a combination of this perfect righteousness God imparts to us and our obedience to his commands for living.  Our obedience is essential because it proves that our hearts are in agreement with God and that our faith is genuine.

How the breastplate works:  

Our faith is the power link that connects our breastplate with God's infinite power. By believing in Jesus, we receive all the power and benefits of being righteous in God's sight (see below for examples).  If we don't believe that we have God's righteousness, then our breastplate will be ineffective.   

Our sin has an associated "spiritual nakedness" with it that repels God from us.  When Adam and Eve sinned, they lost their covering of purity and became spiritually and physically naked.   Their sin and nakedness separated them from fellowship with God.  Since the wages of sin are death (Romans 6:23), God mercifully slaughtered an animal (s) and made clothes of skin to cover Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21).  

God's actions foreshadowed the lasting sacrifice he would make by sending Jesus to die on the cross for mankind.  The blood of Christ provides atonement for our sin and clothes us with a righteousness (symbolized by a breastplate) that covers our spiritual nakedness.  We can now boldly approach God's throne without fear of punishment (Romans 5:1; Hebrews 4:16).  

Another important function of the breastplate of righteousness is revealed by the action of Christ's blood on our conscience.  The blood of Jesus spiritually washes us clean from our sin (Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:22).  This cleansing action removes potential "footholds" that would have caused us to be vulnerable to the devil's attacks.  With the breastplate of righteousness covering us through Christ's blood, the devil has nothing in us to exploit (John 14:30).  

How to put on the breastplate:  We put the breastplate on through faith by speaking it.  Here is a way to do this:  

"I put on the breastplate of righteousness.  I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I am clothed with God's righteousness, which protects my heart from the enemy.  All footholds that the devil had in me have been washed away by the blood of Jesus.  I am no longer clothed with filthy garments, but rather with rich robes of righteousness (Zechariah 3).  The righteousness of God covers me and protects me from the enemy."  

How to maintain the breastplate:  Just as with conventional weapons of war, regular maintenance of our spiritual armor is critical to its operation in battle.  

  1. Obey God's commands for living:  We are obligated to obey God's commands, out of loving appreciation for what Jesus did for us.  This is a way of exercising our faith which keeps us plugged in to God's power supply.  Paul wrote, "Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness" (Romans 6:19 NIV).  God gives us power to live obediently through the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11,13).  
  2. Live in Love:  Love is the key activity by which we live for righteousness.  Jesus explained that all of the commandments are summed up by love your neighbor as yourself (Galatians 5:14).   Paul wrote: "12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity"  (Colossians 3:12-14 NIV).  By showing God's love to others, we will grow in righteousness toward holiness.  When we combine our faith with living in love, our breastplate is strong, like an alloy of two metals.  

Benefits of living for righteousness: A great benefit of living for righteousness is that our breastplate will function at maximum efficiency.  Here are some other benefits that we will also enjoy:  

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