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The Breastplate of Righteousness
Eph. 6:14 So stand your ground, with truth . . . and uprightness a breastplate . . ..
Isa. 59:17 17For he put on righteousness as a breastplate . . ..
2 Tm. 3:16-17 All scripture is inspired by God and useful for refuting error, for guiding people’s lives and teaching them to be upright. This is how someone who is dedicated to God becomes fully equipped and ready for any good work.
The chapter begins with a brief introduction. . . followed by. . .
As we have seen in our study of the character of the Warrior, there is a certain dependability of behavior, which can be expected from a well-trained Warrior. This is presented clearly when the Warrior is acting right, or correctly, displaying the full manifestation of his training. Uprightness or righteousness may be defined as acting in a just, upright manner; doing what is right, virtuous, and doing what is morally right. The full character of what constitutes uprightness or righteousness may be better understood if one considers nobility, fairness, honor, saintliness, devotion, reverence, religiousness, godliness, spirituality, zeal, and worshipfulness as well in the definition. For us, right living will mean this: to keep and observe all these commandments in obedience to Yahweh our God, as he has commanded us. Deut. 6:25. Your saving justice is for ever just, and your Law is trustworthy. Though anguish and distress grip me your commandments are my delight. Your instructions are upright forever, give me understanding and I shall live. Ps. 119:142-44. You see, there are a lot of requirements upon one to be truly upright or righteous. . . . The scriptures tell us that none are righteous; therefore, all are unworthy of God’s grace (Rom. 3:20). This being the case, you may wonder how any of us may claim this Breastplate of Righteousness to serve as any sort of defense. . . However, through confessing our sinful nature and accepting God’s love and grace through the sacrifice of His Son, our righteousness in His eyes is no longer a question. No distinction is made: all have sinned and lack God’s glory, and all are justified by the free gift of His grace through being set free in Christ Jesus. Rom. 3:23-24. Accordingly, what is of concern here is our acting correctly, or acting “right.” For a Warrior, this can be interpreted as simply following orders. To use this as an analogy, to do what one is told and expected to do, is, in a sense, acting right. As a Warrior in God’s army, we are expected to do as we have been instructed. As we will see, acting in such a manner, we become a “shining example” for all to see by our uprightness and the shining Breastplate we shall spiritually display.
Relating truth to correct action. . ..
The supportive nature of truth in the context of a belt and undergarmenst. . ..
Our imperfection and character weaknesses are shown to create chinks in our armor. . .. The relationship between character and our spiritual armor is continually linked and compared with the use of scriptures.
The role of Gods grace and forgiveness is discussed.
Paul's description of Faith and Love serving to protect us is elaborated on to gain a fuller understanding of how they combine to form protection around us not unlike chain-mail. Parallels are also drawn between right action and the armored cuirass. . .
Historical notes are discussed concerning the chaffing of armor and how properly belting and padding are required. The spiritual connotations of this are delved into, as well as the protective nature of this form of defense and the types of attacks we are liable to encounter today.
As mentioned at the opening of this chapter, the scriptures provide us with a clear set of guidelines that should stand as rules for living and acting “uprightly,” or right. The following scripture quote contains several admonitions concerning how we are to speak and act towards one another: Intellectually they are in the dark and they are estranged from the life of God, because of the ignorance, which is the consequence of closed minds. Their sense of right and wrong once dulled, they have abandoned all self-control and pursue to excess every kind of uncleanness.
Scriptures follow which makes the above pertinent to everyday life. The next section entails looking at the guidelines the scriptures give us for our behavior, and what protection acting in this fashion provides us.
1 Thess. 5:5-9 No, you are all children of light and children of the day: we do not belong to the night or to darkness, so we should not go on sleeping, as everyone else does, but stay wide awake and sober. Night is the time for sleepers to sleep and night the time for drunkards to be drunk, but we belong to the day and we should be sober; let us put on faith and love for a breastplate, and the hope of salvation for a helmet.
Rom. 13:12-14 The night is nearly over, daylight is on the way; so let us throw off everything that belongs to the darkness and equip ourselves for the light. Let us live decently, as in the light of day; with no orgies or drunkenness, no promiscuity or licentiousness, and no wrangling or jealousy. Let your armor be the Lord Jesus Christ, and stop worrying about how your disordered natural inclinations may be fulfilled.
“And stop worrying about how your disordered natural inclinations may be fulfilled.” That says it all. You see it is our natural inclinations, which if not controlled, will simply turn our life into that of an animal, rather than a thinking, caring, concerned and loving Human-being. Generally, it is our natural inclinations that form the root of many of our sins. Paul addresses this quandary well in this verse: We are well aware that the Law is spiritual: but I am a creature of flesh and blood sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand my own behavior; I do not act as I mean to, but I do things that I hate. While I am acting as I do not want to, I still acknowledge the Law as good, so it is not myself acting, but the sin which lives in me. And really, I know of nothing good living in me- in my natural self, that is- for though the will to do what is good in me, the power to do it is not: the good thing I want to do, I never do; the evil thing which I do not want- that is what I do. But every time I do what I do not want to, then it is not myself acting, but the sin that lives in me.
This leads to a study of what Paul has to say about the sinful nature we all have within us, and how to deal with this fact. Specific scriptures are cited which divulge the rewards we face for proper and improper behavior.
In effect, when we act according to God’s Law, we inflict terror upon the enemy, shattering all their weapons and leaving them defenseless, while being supported by the hand of God--not bad for a demonstration of power and protection to be found within the Breastplate of Rightness. Therefore, this acting enriches our life with the promise of joy, love, perseverance, gentleness, and eternal life. These are wonderful blessings; I know you will agree.
Equally as clear as the blessing derived from right action is the condemnation, that will be leveled upon evildoers. The following scriptures point this out as well as some more of the rewards for those acting right:
Prov. 12:21 No harm can come to the upright, but the wicked are swamped by misfortunes.
Prov. 11:8 The upright escapes affliction, the wicked incurs it instead.
Prov. 10:16 The wage of the upright affords life, but sin is all the wicked earns.
Right action serves to shore up the defenses of the heart, the center of our emotions, the target of deceit and lies. Guarding our center of being, our heart, can be just as difficult as not acting in a manner to wound another. This is due to the simplicity of the careless word, an unthinking act. The very nature of unthinking behavior makes for a very dangerous attack, and defending against it can be a daily endeavor because of its prevalence in our interactions today. This simple form of lashing out is easily perfected in our youth, and is as difficult to change in our behavior as it is to defend against. 29Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Eph. 4:29.
Specific character traits are compared to the actions required of us, and the reader is encouraged to consider how these traits function to manifest the protections of the Breastplate.
Bearing God’s Law in our heart is a great way to protect our heart and encourages the development of our “Breastplate of Righteousness.” This ensures our security, well-being, and serves to disarm our opponents. In a larger context, it should be borne in mind that the fully developed “breastplate” can be taken to cover the entire body, inclusive of the limbs, in one complete suit of protection.
Chapter nine will involve the crowning of our body armor with:
“The Helmet of Salvation”
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