The Breastplate (08-08-20)
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. Stand firm then, with the breastplate of righteousness in place. (Ephesians 6:10, 14)
Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.
There are times in all of our lives, probably in all of our days, when we feel like a complete failure, times when the enemy whispers in our ear ‘And you call yourself a Christian!’ Sometimes this happens when we are just feeling disheartened, but at other times he has a point, we’ve messed up ‘in thought and word and deed’. He knows it and we know it. How should we deal with these times? According to Paul, we should put on the breastplate of righteousness.
In Paul’s day a Roman soldier would wear a breastplate of iron or bronze, front and back, to protect his heart and other vital organs from attack. Today he might talk about a Flak Jacket or a Stab Vest.
To be righteous means to obey God’s commandments and live in a way that is honourable to him. This is our goal as Christians; indeed Peter, in his first letter, reminds us of God's word to Moses ‘Be holy, for I am holy’. This is our goal, it is a tall order, and we will fail. So, what is the answer? The answer lies in the source of our righteousness. The breastplate of righteousness that Paul tells us to put on is not our own ‘self-righteousness’, but the righteousness that God gives us.
Paul gives an example of this when he talks about Abraham, one of the great forefathers of the Jewish faith, a man revered as righteous in God’s eyes. But Abraham was far from perfect; he had a son by his wife’s servant girl and twice he deceived his enemies by passing his wife off as his sister in order to save his own skin. In spite of this, God counted Abraham as righteous because he believed in God. The overall direction of his life was to believe in God and to follow God’s call, despite the odds against him. It was a simple transaction: Abraham believed in God and God counted Abraham as righteous.
The same is true today, we are called to be righteous in God's sight, but our righteousness ultimately comes through Jesus. He was righteous in God's sight and, when we put our faith in him, he gives us his righteousness as a free gift.
So, protect your heart from attack, put on the breastplate of righteousness that Jesus gives you, and when the enemy reminds you of your failings, when you feel disheartened, remind yourself and remind him that, in spite of everything, God counts you as righteous because you believe in Jesus.
Lord Jesus, help me to live each day in a way that honours you. And for the times that I fail, thank you that you forgive me and that you count me as righteous in your sight.