It’s been a bit of time since I was a teenager back in Bible class, yet I still clearly remember the leader teaching timeless truths from Ephesians 6 about the armor of God. His words still ring in my ears of how, as followers of Jesus, we are called to a battleground, not a fairground!
I must confess that I knew or understood little in those early days in my journey of faith about how cunning the enemy is; how intense the battle can be, and how crucial it is to be clothed daily with the armor God provides for His people.
Today, as we put on the “breastplate of righteousness,” we look at God’s Word to be reminded of why we need it and the significance it has in the suit of armor.
The breastplate covered the vital organs of the soldier—the heart and lungs—and was, therefore, critical to protecting them from the attack of the enemy.
God’s Word cautions that our hearts are deceitful and full of sin, so we need to guard our hearts, the very core of who we are, the source of our affections and longings. In confessing our sins, we pray with the psalmist for God to create in us a clean heart and a right spirit (Psalm 51:10).
We could never match up to God’s standard of holiness, nor could we ever try to be good enough to please God and be made right with Him.
How wonderfully reassuring it is that the righteousness we are clothed with is Christ’s and not our own.
The breastplate of righteousness God gives us to wear is ours because of Christ; His death on the cross, His blood shed for our sins, and the victory we can know because He has conquered sin and death and hell.
We receive His righteousness by faith. This is both a “once and for all” transaction and a daily decision. Salvation is ours when we repent and acknowledge our need for Christ. He alone makes us right before God.
But, while we still live on earth, we will struggle with sin and the enemy of the flesh, so we must rely on God’s Spirit to empower us to live holy lives, reflecting the goodness of Jesus, displaying the fruit of His Spirit, and seeking and desiring the transformation of sanctification, which is the ongoing work of God’s righteousness in us.
The evil one will do all he can to take us out, and our heart is a prime target for attack.
We need to make every effort to ensure our hearts are obedient, pure, and centered on God and loving Him above everything and everyone else—choices we can only make in the strength and power Christ gives.
The breastplate also covers and protects the lungs. It goes without saying that we need oxygen to live! We need to breathe! What a great exhortation we find in Psalm 150:6 — “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”
Praising God in the heat of battle, when we are feeling defeated, wounded and weary, can seem like the furthest thing from our minds or the toughest thing to do. How powerful it is to be able to stand against the enemy and choose praise as our battle cry! And what a witness it is, in this dark world, to those who watch how we face trials and opposition to hear us proclaim God’s goodness and ascribe greatness to the One who is always worthy of our praise.
In the Psalms, David gives us many examples of this. When Saul’s men were sent to murder him, David pours out his heart to God and then declares:
“You are my source of strength! I will sing praises to you! For God is my refuge, the God who loves me”
– Psalm 59:17
Dear friend and fellow soldier, has the battle robbed you of your song? Why not put on your breastplate and choose to praise God today, despite your feelings or circumstances? Nothing will make the enemy flee quicker than hearing the cry of victory that is ours in Jesus.
We can praise Him because…
All our sins, past, present, and future, have been paid for at the cross by our risen, conquering Savior. We are clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
We can stand on His promise to never leave us, even when the battle is fierce. Nothing can ever separate us from His love. He gives us godly companions to stand alongside us, praying and spurring us on.
We have the sure and certain hope of a coming day, when Christ will return to take those who are His to be with Him forever—all oppression and injustice will be put right and there will be no more suffering or sorrow, sickness or tears.
There will be a day when we no longer need the armor, for this earthly battle will be over and we will reign in victory with our Savior and King.
Until then, let us take up His armor, put on the breastplate of righteousness, standing firm in the battle, knowing with full assurance, along with the Apostle Paul (2 Timothy 4:8) that we will receive “the crown of righteousness” reserved for all those love Jesus, endure hardship as good soldiers, keep the faith, and long for His return.
May our hearts be encouraged today by the hope we have in the One who won the battle for us!
Week 2 Challenge:
This week, focus on praying over areas of your life where you struggle with bitterness, unforgiveness, or shame. Using your notecards or your prayer journal, list areas where you are struggling to live righteously. Then, pray that list back to God, asking Him to break these chains. Remember, because we are putting on Christ’s righteousness and not our own, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.