Armor of God - Breastplate of Rightousness
Our first three weeks we looked at our adversary: his creation and fall, methods and strategies against the world, those who don't believe in Christ, and the saints who do believe in Christ, his limitations, and ultimate end.
We began the armor of God last time so we might stand, withstand, and having done all, to still stand. The armor Paul references was well-known to all of his day for it was seen as an accurate description of a Roman soldier. Last week our waist was girded with truth. This belt was one piece of the armor always worn by the soldier that enabled him to quickly cinch up his robe to free him to run or fight providing mobility and readiness.
Each piece of armor has a physical purpose, and Paul uses them to teach us the spiritual armor we have as believers in Jesus Christ. This was the belt of truth. Subjectively the word means honesty or sincerity and speaks of whole-hearted commitment. A full devotion to Jesus will secure you and make you ready for the battle, freeing you up to stand boldly. Objectively, the word truth speaks of the authority of God's Word, and it is that Word which we must gird our minds with, as Peter told us.
1. Christ's return should motivate us to live for Him.
[1 Peter 1:13 NKJV] 13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest [your] hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
2. Finish writing the scripture for the second piece of armor.
[Eph 6:14 NKJV] 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
Paul may have used the Roman soldiers guarding him while he wrote this letter as a point of reference each day for this teaching. The breastplate was vital for every soldier. The most common one was made of chain mail. It protected the body from the neck to the top of the thigh where all of our major organs are.
More significant to us is that those in Paul's day considered the heart the place of decision-making and choices are the bowels the place of feelings and emotions. Both are guarded by the breastplate that, like the belt, was to be worn all the time.
3. In the heart of man, the cognitive choices are made. What does Jeremiah 17:9 and Matthew 15:18-20 tell us about the heart? _____________________________________________
[Jer 17:9 NKJV] 9 "The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], And desperately wicked; Who can know it?
[Mat 15:18-20 NKJV] 18 "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 "These are [the things] which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man."
The bowels were understood to be the source of emotion due to the feelings often produced in our stomachs: nervous, butterflies, fear, expectation and so forth. The King James Version often translated this word simply as bowels, though in the New King James it has been replaces with words like yearning, affection, feeling, etc. Look at these verses in the NKJV as a few examples: Genesis 43:30 and Philippians 2:1-2.
[Gen 43:30 NKJV] 30 Now his heart yearned for his brother; so Joseph made haste and sought [somewhere] to weep. And he went into [his] chamber and wept there.
[Phl 2:1-2 NKJV] 1 Therefore if [there is] any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, [being] of one accord, of one mind.
4. These two areas of choice and feeling are often points of attack by our enemy. What can we do to be kept from his onslaught? (Eph 6:14)? __________________________________
5. Righteousness, by definition, is that which God approves, accepts, commends, and applauds. Man does not possess it on his own (Isaiah 64:6) and he has no hope of improving with time.
[Job 14:4 NKJV] 4 Who can bring a clean [thing] out of an unclean? No one!
Any hope of standing before God in our own righteousness is misguided and foolish.
[Isa 64:6 NKJV] 6 But we are all like an unclean [thing], And all our righteousnesses [are] like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
6. The scripture clearly teaches us of our ability to appear before God on our own (Luke 18:9-14, Romans 3:10). Read Philippians 3:4-9. What were Paul's personal words on the subject? __________________________________________
[Phl 3:4-9 NKJV] 4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 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 9 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;
[Luk 18:9-14 NKJV] 9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men--extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' 13 "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise [his] eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' 14 "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [rather] than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
[Rom 3:10 NKJV] 10 As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one;
Philippians 3:9 speaks of a righteousness God gives us and that is indeed this piece of armor. It is His righteousness give to us. It protects us from the lie of the enemy, from the enemy's accusations, from his finger pointing, or even using others to make us feel bad about ourselves. It is the Lord who has given us the ability to stand before Him.
[Phl 3:9 NKJV] 9 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;
This righteousness from Jesus to you is given to you in two ways. The first is imputed righteousness; it is often referred to as justification. It is that work of God accomplished in my life the minute I turned to Jesus. I am sinful by nature (Jeremiah 13:23) and God's standard for me is perfection (Matthew 5:48). But in Jesus, God gives to us the reward of His sinlessness, faithfulness, obedience, and perfection. The moment that you believe in Jesus, confess your sins and ask Him to be the Lord of your life, you are give Jesus' righteousness.
[Jer 13:23 NKJV] 23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? [Then] may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.
[Mat 5:48 NKJV] 48 "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Jesus came and led a perfect life in every way before heading for the cross where He would willingly take the punishment due me for my sins and give me in exchange the reward He deserved for His holy life. That placing in my account His reward is called imputed righteousness.
Satan, in his hatred for God and for us, would like to convince us of our failures. Not a difficult argument knowing our lives, where it not for his imputed righteousness that protects my heart and feelings.
The second is imparted righteousness; also called sanctification in the Bible. This is the result of imputed righteousness whereby I begin to live out all that I have been given in Jesus. One is position, the other is practice. By the work of the Holy Spirit I now become each day, more of who I am in Christ; victory over sin, walking in obedience and love, and so forth.
7. [Phl 3:12-15 NKJV] 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.
8 Paul says that his goal is to know Christ, to be like Christ, and to be all Christ has in mind for him. We should not let anything take our eyes off our goal - knowing Christ. We must lay aside everything harmful and forsake anything that may distract us from being effective Christians. What is holding you back?
Imputed righteousness assures me heaven if I die the minute I am saved (see the thief on the cross); imparted righteousness changes me daily so that outwardly you can see in my practice the lofty glorious place I have been given in Jesus Christ.
[Luk 23:39-43 NKJV] 39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." 40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 "And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." 42 Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." 43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
The breastplate of righteousness protects me in many ways. It protects me from Satan's accusations against me. It also keeps me from looking to myself and my weaknesses and instead has me depending upon Jesus and His righteousness to use me for His glory.
Moses suffered the slander of others, even his own family. So did Jesus and so will you! Job's counselors were constantly insisting it was Job's failures and weaknesses that had brought God's judgments upon him. This breastplate will keep your heart and emotions in check. Read Romans 8:35-37. This passage reaffirms God's profound love for His people. No matter what happens to us, no matter where we are, we can never be lost to His love.
[Rom 8:35-37 NKJV] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [Shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
9. Satan will not stop accusing, so keep this piece of armor on 24 hours a day. We are secure in Christ.
[John 10:27-29 NKJV] 27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 "My Father, who has given [them] to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch [them] out of My Father's hand.
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