13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 15 and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
What exactly is righteousness? I think we all have an idea. We think it is about “moral upstanding” or even being correct (taken from the word “right”). But even with that, we would need to define “moral upstanding” wouldn’t we? One definition even points to righteousness meaning “free from sin” while older versions of the word point to “being wise”. In trying to define a word I try to take the totality of all the derived definitions to understand the meaning behind a word. Much like trying to decipher the meaning behind a symbol. It’s not always as clear cut as we would like it to be. With all of these definitions, taken in the context of being used in the bible, to me it signifies purity in God’s eyes. We can even take a term like “self righteous” and note that the inclusion of “self” indicates that it is a purity that is only defined by ourselves, not others. So what does it mean to put on a breastplate of righteousness?
The term, since it is capitalized, is actually taken from another passage in Isaiah. This time, it is a passage preceded by an explanation of the sinfulness of man and how man is separated from God because of his own sinfulness. It continues (check out Isaiah 59 if you want to read the whole thing) as the prophet then explains God’s solution, sending a Savior who is adorned with the breastplate of righteousness (as well as various other war garments) to fight against the sinfulness of man in order to rescue them from themselves and make them worthy of a relationship with God once more.
We read in Philippians that righteousness comes by faith in Christ. So then, the breastplate of righteousness is from our faith in Christ. Likewise, if we look at the functionality of a breastplate, we learn that it is meant to protect the chest, more specifically the heart, in battle. We are all built with a breastplate of bone, and warriors wear a breastplate over top for extra protection. In those days, it was more of a steel or iron vest, today it is Kevlar and ceramic. Either way, you will rarely find a soldier not wearing one in battle, because it is the chest, the heart, that is vulnerable and essential for life.
With our breastplate of righteousness, we protect our heart with faith in Christ. In the daily spiritual battles we face and fight, it is essential to guard our hearts with our faith, which as we discussed yesterday, is built and enhanced by the truth we find in His Word. Our faith is anchored in Truth (notice the importance of the Belt of Truth)
How protected is your heart today? Is it protected with the faith in Christ? Are you running into battle bare-chested? Maybe you’ve already been wounded and need a medic. Once Christ heals your wound, it would then only be smart to make sure next time you wear a breast plate, would it not? For those of us wearing a breastplate, would we allow our brothers (and sisters) in arms take off their armor just before heading into battle? We would stop them and remind them that it’s not a good idea, wouldn’t we? What kind of fellow soldier would we be if we didn’t?