That theme came to me twice in two days this week.
I led a men’s Bible study on the breastplate of righteousness. Why wear a breastplate? Be prepared for enemy attacks.
The next day, I attended a first aid and CPR recertification class. The purpose of first aid? Be prepared for a potential emergency. Our instructor made sure we knew that before starting the class.
To help us prepare for life’s battles, here’s a summary of my notes from the breastplate discussion.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you maybe able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness.
The breastplate worn by Roman soldiers was generally made of iron, though some wealthier soldiers may have worn a bronze breastplate (which is lighter than iron). It consisted of overlapping pieces of metal with connecting front and back sections. There were rounded pieces connecting the shoulders and the breastplate usually rested on the soldier’s hips so the entire weight wasn’t carried on the shoulders. The overlapping pieces allowed for more flexibility of movement.
What’s the purpose of the breastplate?
It protects the soldier in battle. The breastplate covers the heart and other vital organs. The shield wards off enemy blows that we see, but the breastplate provides protection from unexpected directions or overwhelming numbers.
If the soldier gets ambushed from behind or attacked from multiple sources, he has protection.
What happens when armor is not worn correctly, or not worn at all?
1 Peter 5:8 – the devil looks for someone to devour.
Hebrews 3:12 – unbelief.
Romans 6:1-2 – we abuse grace by making excuses for sin.
Hebrews 4:5-7 – disobedience, hardening your heart.
2 Corinthians 2:10-11 – we do not want Satan to outwit us.
Why do we wear God’s armor?
The example of Job. Satan tested him severely, but God gave him parameters. First, don’t touch his body. Then, don’t kill him. Job faced two back-to-back unexpected tragedies, without knowing why or how long they would last.
If Job wasn’t wearing his “armor,” how could he have possibly survived?
Eventually, God restored to him his family and possessions – more than he had to begin with.
Satan realizes that if he can get our minds and emotions, that will affect our worship and our obedience to God. That’s why he always works to implant wrong teachings and lies into our minds through books, music, TV and conversation. Our minds affect our walk – how we live. But Satan also wants to get our emotions. Many Christians are emotionally all over the place, and part of that is a result of spiritual warfare. Satan stirs up people to criticize and condemn. He sirs up little romances with the opposite sex to distract us from focusing on God. He works to make believers worry and fret about the future so that they lose their joy. The enemy is cunning and keen. Therefore, we must guard our hearts above all else.
Here’s another Bible verse on the breastplate:
1 Thessalonians 5:8 – put on the breastplate of faith and love.
What’s the connection between faith, love and righteousness?
Abraham provides a great example.
Hebrews 11:8-12 – Abraham’s faith in the impossible – numerous descendants who will live in a promised land. (He and his wife both were too old to have children when God gave him those promises.) Read about the promises in Genesis 15.
Romans 4:18-22 – Abraham’s faith was reckoned to him as righteousness.
Did Abraham see either of those promises come to pass?
No. Yet he never doubted God’s plan. He didn’t let his mind or emotions sway him from God’s promises. Why should he care what happens after he’s gone from this Earth? But he did care. And he believed God. Which was reckoned to him as righteousness.
- Isaiah 64:6 – What is our righteousness like? Our human righteousness is like a filthy rag.
- Isaiah 59:15-17 – Who put on righteousness like a breastplate? Why? God Himself put on righteousness like a breastplate. Israel needed rescuing, as do we.
- Matthew 6:33 – we seek God’s righteousness first, and “all these things” will be added to us. What things will be given to us as well? This is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Read the rest of the sermon for that answer.
- Psalm 119:172 – all God’s commands are right (righteousness). Pretty self-explanatory. However, we need to read the entire Bible to understand ALL of God’s commands.
- Proverbs 8:20 – we are to walk in righteousness. Righteousness and justice are choices. They don’t just happen. They take effort.
- Proverbs 11:4-6 – great rewards for righteousness: delivered from death, keeps our ways straight, saved.
- 2 Corinthians 5:21 – Christ became sin to give us His righteousness.
- 2 Corinthians 10:3–5 – taking every thought captive.
- Jeremiah 23:5-6 – who does this passage refer to? (Jesus) The righteous Branch is coming: The Lord is our righteousness.
An in-depth study of all the scriptures concerning righteousness (there are 301 in the New King James Version) reveals that servants of God in the Bible who had righteousness all had it because they followed God’s way. Though it may seem a sweeping statement, it is through a continuing and dedicated adherence to both the letter and spirit of God’s law that we can defend ourselves with His righteousness.
Ezekiel 33:12-17 – Righteousness is not a one-time event. We must keep wearing it. Our past righteous deeds aren’t good enough, and our past sins do not prevent us from receiving God’s righteousness.
Job was attacked twice. Paul was attacked repeatedly. If they took off their armor even for a moment, they would have been defeated.
Philippians 4:8-9 – whatever is true, whatever is noble … think about such things. This is a good way to put on the breastplate of righteousness.
Isaiah 32:17 – The results of righteousness: peace, quietness and trust forever. Was this true for Job? Abraham?
Job did not get bent out of shape over his circumstances. Peace, quiet and trust were his hallmarks.
Abraham’s faith also gave him a life of peace, quietness and trust.