In my previous post, I started explaining how the armor of God from Ephesians 6 is vital to our personal victories in our spiritual battles. I wrote at length about the belt of truth. This blog post is a second in this series on the armor of God and it continues where I left off on the previous blog. I recommend that you read part 1 before you proceed. Part 2 will, however, stand on its own fairly well.
First, Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 to put on the belt of truth. The next piece of armor is called the breastplate of righteousness. We are to put on Christ’s righteousness.
Paul wrote, “Take up…the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14). Similar to the first piece (belt of truth), this means embracing our identity in Christ. Putting on Christ’s righteousness means that you believe that when God looks at you, he sees Jesus’ perfect record in your place.
This is also referring to obedience. Being covered in Christ’s righteousness means we work to conform our lives to Christ’s righteousness - with the power of God to make it possible. Satan will focus the point of his attacks on whatever part of your life that isn’t fully surrendered to God and conformed to God's truth. This may be a sinful habit, a bad relationship of which you won’t let go, or just an area of your life that you haven’t put totally under God’s control. Wherever you close yourself off to full and complete obedience to God, you leave an open door for Satan to attack. Once you put off the sin onto which you’re holding, you can put on the righteousness of Christ and be guarded against Satan’s attack.
For the Roman soldier of Paul's era, the breastplate was a vital piece of his armor that protected his heart, lungs, and vital organs from injury. Just as that breastplate protected the soldier's heart, righteousness protects the heart of a Christian.This makes it vitally important that we understand righteousness and how to put it into practice in our lives so that we can live in spiritual victory and not languish in defeat.
Righteousness simply stated is right living. God sets the standard of right living because He alone is righteous. Apart from Christ we will never attain the righteousness God requires. Our best attempts are like dirty rags (Isaiah 64:6), falling way short of what’s needed – namely perfection.
Because God knows that we cannot attain his standard of righteousness on our own, out of his love for us, he put forth a different way. Instead of requiring us to attain righteous through religious actions or self-willed adherence to rules and regulations - do this, do not do that - God instead chose to impute His righteousness to us through our faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22). 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” When God looks at us, he doesn’t see our dirty rags—He sees the righteousness of Christ. In short, our righteousness wasn’t good enough, so Christ said, “Here, have mine.”
Our goal then as believers is to live in accordance with our imputed righteousness. “To walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Eph. 4:1). This means we have as our goal and our desire to live according to God’s ways instead of our own. When we don’t walk as we’re supposed to, that is according to God's ways, our enemy will use it for his advantage. When we as believers practice unrighteousness (not living according to God’s way), it’s like standing up before a hungry bear and yelling, “Hey, I’m over here!” It is an open invitation to spiritual attack from the adversary, Satan. Through faith in Christ we’ve been gifted with His righteousness, but it’s our responsibility to live like it. This means that we should remember who we are in Christ, remind the enemy of our standing before God when he seeks to call us unworthy, and remind ourselves of God’s truths in such a way that our hearts are protected.
Obedience is not optional for the follower of Christ. On the contrary, it’s crucial. It's life-giving. It protects us from the flaming arrows of the enemy directs always at our heart. So put on your God given armor and stand firm, for there is nothing Satan can say against the righteousness of Christ. God’s way is the right way and the enemy knows it.