Keep your hearts safe! Put on the breastplate of righteousness as part of the armor of God
The physical breastplate defends all the vital organs that are contained in the thorax. In the same way, the breastplate of righteousness defends everything on which the man’s spiritual existence depends.
The word righteousness signifies four things. All four of these are exemplified by the breastplate of righteousness.
1. The principle of righteousness.
True righteousness is the character and nature of God. It means to be right and to be in a right relationship with God. This righteousness refers to true holiness implanted in the heart. While we possess this principle, our eternal spiritual lives are secure.
“For the Lord watches over the righteous and listens to their prayers.” (1Pe 3:12)
Righteousness is a condition that pleases God.
“When good people pray, the LORD listens.” (Pro 15:29)
My righteous people, however, will believe and live; but if any of them turns back, I will not be pleased with them.” (Heb 10:38)
This condition is provided by the breastplate of righteousness.
2. The practice of righteousness.
Righteous practice is to live a holy life. It is to think right, to speak right and to do right. A life regulated by the word of God shall inevitably lead to works of righteousness that will form a fence against the attacks, reproaches and accusations of the enemy.
Let no one deceive you, my children! Whoever does what is right is righteous, just as Christ is righteous. (1Jo 3:7)
For it is not by hearing the Law that people are put right with God, but by doing what the Law commands. (Rom 2:13)
Righteousness is a fruit of the Spirit.
“But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control. There is no law against such things as these.” (Gal 5:22-23)
A life without righteousness is an indication of spiritual immaturity.
“Anyone who has to drink milk is still a child, without any experience in the matter of right and wrong.” (Heb 5:13)
The breastplate of righteousness is not just about being righteous, but about doing righteous deeds, as the Holy Spirit empowers you.
3. God’s method of justifying sinners.
God imputes faith and love to us, and we receive righteousness by faith.
“Abraham believed God, and because of his faith God accepted him as righteous.” (Rom 4:9)
The words “he was accepted as righteous” were not written for him alone. (Rom 4:23)
“All who receive God’s abundant grace and are freely put right with him will rule in life through Christ.” (Rom 5:17)
The breastplate of righteousness can never work independently of the shield of faith.
4. Justification itself.
God is just. Justification through the blood of the crossguards against the accusations of Satan and is a security from all wrath and condemnation. Where there is righteousness, there is no condemnation.
“There is no condemnation now for those who live in union with Christ Jesus.” (Rom 8:1)
Our righteousness is to be found in Christ. He is our true Breastplate of righteousness.
“Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with him we might share the righteousness of God.” (2Co 5:21)
“I no longer have a righteousness of my own, the kind that is gained by obeying the Law. I now have the righteousness that is given through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and is based on faith.” (Phi 3:9)
The breastplate of righteousness, just like the rest of the armour of God, is Christ himself, our righteousness.