The more I step into my prayer closet and grab a hold of the Armor of God, equipping my kids’ piece by piece for the battle of life, the further intrigued I am with Ephesians 6,
Why is righteousness being described as a breastplate?
What is this breastplate of righteousness protecting us from?
“10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:11-17 NIV
In verse 14 Righteousness is described as a Breastplate. The breastplate is an important piece of protection, made of heavy leather with metal disks. The soldiers would dampen their breastplates with water to protect themselves from the fiery arrows that were shot by the enemy soldiers.
When we think of men and women in battle today, we often visualize them wearing a bulletproof vest. That’s how our modern day Breastplate protects the soldier’s vital organs. This Breastplate that God has provided for us to put on is for safeguarding our heart. We should never enter a war zone without our bulletproof vest in place, but there are times we step into this world leaving our protection on the bedroom dresser. Proverbs explain just how important it is to protect your heart,
“Above all else guard your heart; for out of it are the issues of life”
Proverbs 4:23 NIV
I had a young friend in Beijing that kept his breastplate of righteousness in place constantly. One Mother’s Day, he went to the flower market to purchase a bouquet of roses for his Mom. After buying the roses the son hoppeds back into the car and traveled to a few more destinations. Then suddenly the young man realized that he had walked out of the market without paying the vendor. He insisted that they return to the market to make things right. The driver didn’t share his ideals he said that,
“The mistake was the vendor, you’re in the clear, you don’t have to pay for the roses.”
Because the young man’s breastplate was in place, his automatic response was one of righteousness, he insisted that they turn the car around and go back to the vendor. A few months later the driver gave his life to Jesus. The final deciding factor, the breastplate of righteousness worn by a young man who insisted on paying for his mother’s roses.
His choice to do the right thing not only kept his breastplate in place so his driver could see the glory of God, but it also better protects him from future temptations of the heart. Every time we make a right choice, it guards our heart against temptation. We experience the blessing of right relationship with God and become more aware of the negative consequences of sin. Our armor is fortified against that area of sin when we resist the devil.
What a relief to know that it’s called the Armor of God and not the Armor of self. If I stood against the enemy with a breastplate of my own righteousness, it would be nothing more than rotting leather and rusty tin. We are reminded in Romans,
“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Romans 3:22 NIV
We are not wearing self-righteousness, we are wearing the righteousness given to us by believing in Christ. That’s a righteousness of humility, constantly aware that we are nothing without our Savior’s righteousness. It’s because of his great love that we naturally live out a sanctified, righteous life.
edited by Lydia King