“Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” (Ephesians 6:13-18a).
We need the full armor of God if we are to walk in victory. In our first article we considered the famous verse: the belt of truth. The belt holds together the rest of the pieces of armor while readying us for battle.Today, we dive deeper into another piece of armor: the breastplate of righteousness.
The Breastplate of Righteousness
Within a set of armor, the breastplate is that which protects a soldier’s heart and lungs. These are incredibly vital organs, and Paul’s would immediately recognize the folly of a soldier going out to war without a breastplate. This would make one vulnerable to deadly attacks from the enemy. Paul doesn’t speak in riddles here; the implication is clear: righteousness is that which guards our heart.
Proverbs 4:23 emphasizes the importance of guarding our hearts. It says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life” (HCSB). If we look deeper in Proverbs 4, we will see that these verses stand in agreement with Paul’s assertion in Ephesians. The verses surrounding verse 23 speak of communicating honestly, keeping one’s feet from evil, the dangers of the ways of the wicked, and the beauty of the ways of the righteous (Proverbs 4:10-27). Clearly, there is some relation here between maintaining a life of righteousness and having a guarded heart.
The issue then stands for us that “no one is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:11). If righteousness is that which guards our hearts, and yet we are incapable of embracing it, are we not doomed to fall victim to the attacks of our enemy? Thankfully for us, we have been gifted the very righteousness that we need. 1 Corinthians tells us that “because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Christ became our righteousness. Christ became your righteousness. Christ became my righteousness. Thankfully, Christ is the protector of our hearts. He keeps us safe by giving us righteousness and the ability to pursue and delight in righteousness. As another clearly states, “righteousness comes from giving Jesus our heart. When He has control, our heart is protected from attack. When we are in control, we leave ourselves vulnerable to the enemy.”1
There is responsibility here on our part, however. We are encouraged to put on the armor of God, which means there is a conscious action on our part of deciding to live in the righteousness that He has given to us. Romans reminds us that even though Christ’s gift is free, that doesn’t give us an excuse to continue living in sin (Romans 6:1-2). “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (v. 2). We must live in the righteousness that we have been born into by Christ’s amazing grace. It is in this way that we keep our heart safe. It is in this way that we are protected from anything the enemy might throw at us.
This is part of our armor. This is part of what it means to follow Jesus. Wear your belt: be fastened and readied by the truth. And be plated with righteousness: guard your heart by receiving and walking according to the righteousness of Christ.
All Scripture is quoted from the ESV unless noted otherwise.
- D’Alessandro, Lauren. “The Breastplate of Righteousness.” The You Are Project. http://www.theyouareproject.com/your-heart/walk-with-god/armor-of-god/armor-of-god-the-breastplate-of-righteousness/