Day 18: The Breastplate of Righteousness
Another crucial part of the armor God has been bestowed upon us: the breastplate of righteousness. A breastplate protects vital parts of our body, which would otherwise be vulnerable to attack. In the same way, righteousness protects vital parts of who we are spiritually. Herein lies the problem, we are not righteous by nature:
“As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one.’” -Romans 3:10 (NIV)
Yet we are told to equip righteousness:
So how then are we to equip righteousness? Unlike the righteousness described in Romans 3, we are given a new meaning when describing the armor of God. What was once void in our lives can now be accomplished through faith in the one who intercedes for us. The breastplate of righteousness is Christ himself:
and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. -Philippians 3:9 (NIV)
Our world is turned upside down when we fully grasp this verse. No longer are we righteous of our own doing, through obedience to the law. The law was given to act as a mirror in our lives. When we begin to think we have it all together, the law reminds us just how broken we are. Instead of relying on our ability to obey the law, we are made strong, fearless and bold through Christ. He is at the center of our armor, because he is the center of all things. If you want to find freedom from the arrows of the enemy, from the sin that so easily entangles, equip Christ and make him the center of your life.
CENTER OF OUR ARMOR
There is another reason why righteousness is at the center of the armor. Our enemy sees this piece first. When wearing armor, the largest and most noticeable piece is the breastplate. Before drawing our sword (a later lesson), the enemy will cower in fear at the sight of Jesus. This throws him off balance right from the start before we’ve even struck a single blow.
Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “Legion”, he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. -Luke 8:30-31 (NIV)
The enemy knows he has been defeated and will tremble before the believer who bears the armor of God. We should have no fear of temptation, because Christ overcame all temptation; face it with boldness and courage knowing that Christ is at your core, giving you the strength to move mountains.
RIGHTEOUSNESS PROTECTS OUR HEARTS
The final aspect of the breastplate we must come to understand is the primary part of us that it protects - our heart. When we talk about the heart, we aren't just referring to the physical organ. Our hearts are also a symbol for who we truly are on the inside. Our minds simply process information, but from the heart comes motive, desire, longing, and much more. The heart is simply the real you and the real me.
“I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” -Jeremiah 17:10 (ESV)
The heart was chosen as a symbol for who we are because it represents one of the most central and vital portions of who we are. A soldier who neglects to wear their breastplate is neglecting to protect that which makes them who they are.
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. -Proverbs 4:23 (ESV)
Protecting our hearts means eliminating the motives behind sexual sin. It's changing how we view sexuality, marriage, and intimacy. Simply rebuking images as they come into our minds won't get us to a place of full healing and a changed life. That's just changing behaviors. What really matters is the motive behind what you're visualizing or doing.
For a long time, I fought images as they would pop up in my head. That meant gritting my teeth and pushing through, swearing to not to lust anymore. Problem was, my heart wasn't changed. In my heart, I still wanted to lust, I still wanted to give in. But when I began to imagine the women in my head not just as objects, but as God's daughters, people uniquely created in His image for His purposes... well that changed everything. These were not just bodies, these were real people with real thoughts, emotions, and feelings. My heart toward them changed, so the natural course of my mind was to move away from a place of lust, hate, and desire.
We are mountain movers in Christ. There is no valley, no mountain, no depth of space, no infinite chasm that you cannot cross through His power. You are victorious because of his sacrifice, and now you have the ability to bear that power in your war against the enemy.
- Accept your salvation in Christ
If it were possible to sin enough to reverse your salvation, then Christ died in vain. This is a lie, he died so that you will be eternally forgiven. Rise up and claim this free and wonderful gift that God has given.
Salvation is not a license to sin but an opportunity to obey. God has saved us so that we can move forward in strength and righteousness. Leave your past life of sin, confess the truth of God’s word over yourself. Memorize verses that remind you of your freedom in Christ regardless of your past.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. -1 John 1:9 (NIV)
- Heart Change
Your heart is what's at stake here. At the center of who you are lies the heart. The breastplate is what protects that. Since Christ is the breastplate, He needs to be the center of our lives in order for us to properly equip it. Our protected hearts are a byproduct of wearing the armor. After making Jesus the center, we no longer have to worry about getting stabbed in the chest, so to speak. With that burden lifted, we can move forward and focus on how we will wield our weapon.
Day 18 Application
Are we made righteous by our own hands?
If righteousness is freely given to us through the sacrifice of Christ, why does it matter whether or not we find freedom from habitual sin?
Do you feel you can use what you're already doing in your life as an act of worship? How so? Have you been in contact with your accountability partner such that you were asked tough questions about purity?
Since the last lesson, how have you been with maintaining your sexual purity?