The Christian life is described as a spiritual battle, which put simply is anything that tries to disrupt our faith and belief in God. This battle has to be fought with spiritual weapons, and Scripture uses imagery to describe all that God has provided for our defence. If we visualize the different parts of the spiritual armor that we have been given it often assists our prayers. As we put on the breastplate of righteousness we are focusing on the protection that we have been given for the most vulnerable part of our body, our heart. But what exactly is the breastplate of righteousness and how does it protect us?
What is a Breastplate?
In early Roman times, a breastplate was simply two pieces of metal that were shaped and hammered to fit the torso. They were strapped together so that they could be worn on top of a tunic.
The breastplate design did develop into being made of strips of metal hinged and laced together and these overlapped to allow more freedom of movement. But whatever form the breastplate took it was an essential part of a soldier’s armor. This was the soldier’s main protection for the body’s vital organs in battle.
When David volunteered to go and face Goliath, Saul offered him his armor. Initially, David tried it on, but he was not used to wearing armor, he was a shepherd boy rather than a warrior. David took off the borrowed armor, confident in his relationship with God. He stepped out in faith as he put on the breastplate of righteousness!
David’s faith had grown, during the long, lonely nights as a shepherd. God had empowered him to defeat the wild animals who came and attacked the flock. Now, in the same way, David trusted fully in the LORD to rescue him from Goliath, this giant who stood against the armies of God!
Ephesians 6:14 Verse
There is a description in Isaiah of the LORD putting on His armor to act in the battle against Satan. It is in a passage of Scripture where God expresses dismay that there is no justice. There is no one amongst mankind who will put an end to evil and so God intervenes.
“He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.”Isaiah 59:17 NIV
In the letter to the Ephesian church, the Lord’s armor from Isaiah is compared to the spiritual armor available for all believers. The apostle Paul had written on the unity of the church, and the maturity of believers, with instructions for Christian living. And then he develops the theme that we are to stand and remain strong against any opposition to the gospel.
The unity of the church makes a statement into the spiritual realm of the power and wisdom of God. Jesus declared that the love that we have for one another is our witness to the world that we are His disciples. This is the battle that we are in, we have an enemy who wants to disrupt, damage, and destroy the effectiveness of the body of Christ.
We are called to stand against Satan’s schemes – our spiritual enemy who wants to steal, corporately and individually, from our life of faith. This requires discernment to recognize the spiritual battle, beyond what may be happening in front of us, and to put on the breastplate of righteousness.
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place.”Ephesians 6:14 NIV
Breastplate of Righteousness Meaning
Each one of us as part of the body of Christ has accountability to defend the truth of the gospel. This should be more by our actions, than by our words, in the way that we love and support one another.
To put on the breastplate of righteousness is at times a conscious decision. This is the recognition that sometimes we have to choose to co-work with the Holy Spirit. It is that eternal dilemma that the things we want to do, we don’t do, and the things we don’t want to do so often fall easily into place.
Put on the Breastplate of Righteousness
The instruction ‘to put on’ implies an action reminding us that we are righteous in Christ Jesus. That is our position our standing before God because of Jesus’ sacrifice – the penalty for our sin has been paid in full. We have been credited righteousness before God and are reconciled to Him.
Our behavior now needs to reflect our position, we need to do all that we can to keep that right relationship with God. We see this in everyday life, if we are married that is our marital status, our position, but then our behavior needs to match our position. We cannot carry on behaving as if we were single without jeopardizing our marriage. Or if we have a position of respect within the church or community, our behavior must match that position. If it doesn’t, then we bring dishonor to the position and to God.
The young shepherd boy who had so boldly stepped out to slay a giant became David, king of Israel. But later in life, David made mistakes, with huge consequences. But once he was confronted with his sin, he prioritized restoring his right relationship with God. He acknowledged the wrong that He had done in God’s sight and the righteousness of God’s judgment.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.”Psalm 51:10-12
Bible Gateway: read psalm 51 in full, HERE.
Why is the Breastplate of Righteousness Important?
It is our righteousness before God, won for us by Jesus, that will protect our hearts, the area where we are most vulnerable. Everything that we do in life flows from the condition of our hearts!
Related Post: Guard Your Heart Above All Else
The knowledge of how much we are loved by God has the power to bring healing and transformation. When we know our value and worth to God this brings an inner peace and security to be who God created us to be.
To be able to stand through difficult times, and to live in the fullness of what Christ has won for us, we need to put on the breastplate of righteousness. We need to remind ourselves of the faith and hope that we have in the love of the Lord Jesus and to believe that He is more than enough!
Related Post: Spiritual Armor, Do We Need All Seven Pieces?