THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
This is different from the jeweled breastplate of the priesthood. That was decorative and symbolic of the prayer ministry. The breastplate of our armor for spiritual battle is defensive protection from attack.
The word "breastplate" comes from the Greek word "thoraz". It was a two-part breast cover that protected the body on both sides from the neck to the waist. The breastplate protects the vital organs from attack.
Satan attacks our life, and past. He reminds us of all our sins. What protects us is not our righteousness, no, it is the righteousness of Jesus. Our righteousness is as "filthy rags." So, while the devil is trying to attack you, and your life, remind him that the righteousness of Jesus is your defense.
"NO WEAPON FORMED AGAINST YOU SHALL PROSPER, AND EVERY TONGUE THAT SHALL RAISE UP AGAINST YOU, THOU SHALT CONDEMN. THIS IS THE HERITAGE OF THE SERVANTS OF THE LORD, AND THEIR RIGHTEOUSNESS IS OF ME."
II Corinthians 5:17-21
"Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, old things are passed away; behold all things are become new. And all things are of God, Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."
When we are saved, we become "new creations". The literal Greek words for that phrase means "a new species which never existed before, completely re-created. In other words, we are completely reborn, and we are to appropriate the benefits of this rebirth.
"Ye have put off the old man, and put on the new man..."
This new person that we have become is clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We do not wear the old unrighteousness that we once wore. Righteousness is not something we have by way of our actions or course of living. If that were so, we all would be unrighteous. We all have sinned, and continue to fail. None of us are perfect.
There is in I John a verse that like the rest of the book is written to Christians.
I John 1:8
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
The battle with sin continues in this life till we are called home to heaven. Some want to claim a sinless perfection, but they cannot truthfully say that they do not occasionally sin. The Christian will sometimes still "fall short of the glory of God."
Yet, we can still be righteous.
Righteousness is not a goody-goody way of acting. It is not something we have to strive to get our works perfect enough to obtain. The Bible says that "all our righteousness is as filthy rags." (Isaiah 64:6)
The righteousness of God is given to us as a free gift. (II Corinthians 5:21) Too often, Christians have confused righteousness with holiness. They are not the same thing.
HOLINESS IS YOUR CONDUCT AND MANNER OF LIVING.
RIGHTEOUSNESS IS YOUR NATURE.
The word translated righteousness means "in right standing." When a person accepts Jesus, the person is moved into a place of right standing with God. We don't get righteous by our works, but by relationship with Jesus. He gives us righteousness in the process of reconciling us to God, and bringing us into a place of right standing with God.
II Corinthians 5:19
"...not imputing their trespasses unto them..."
When we become saved, God no longer holds our former trespasses against us. Because we have no sins being held against us - we have a position of right standing, i.e. righteousness with God. With this new nature that we have been given there are many benefits. We need to realize that righteousness is a free gift of God. He chooses to make us righteous, and all we have to do is accept this gift.
"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
Are you righteous? ? ? The answer should be "YES". The blood of Jesus did not simply cover your sin over when you were saved. No! Rather, the blood of Jesus remitted your sin. It did away with your sin completely. You, as a saved person, are RIGHTEOUS.
Don't try a false humility by defrauding yourself of what is rightfully yours. Righteousness is a free gift of God to you.
Too many have what we call a "sin consciousness." A sin consciousness produces defeat and a false sense of humility. Many Christians carry around a sense and burden of past sins that have been washed away.
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus."
So why do many, as Christians, carry around a "sin tag"??? Every time they start to feel the righteousness of God, the devil will jump upon their shoulder and remind them of all they ever did wrong. God cannot remember those sins, and it is not God who is reminding them of those sins. Yet, some think it is "spiritual" to berate themselves, and scold themselves over and over for sins that God won't even remember.
"But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that were past, through the forbearance of God, to declare, I say, at this time His righteousness; that He might be just, and the justifier of him that believes in Jesus."
Whenever the devil tries to remind you of your past sins, call him a "LIAR." He is the "accuser of the brethren." Tell this false accuser that the old sinful person that did those deeds is dead. Remind him that you are now a "new creation." This new person that you have become has been made RIGHTEOUS. You are, as a saved person, clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. To defeat the devil, we need the BREASTPLATE of RIGHTEOUSNESS, so that we can know of assurance, that his attacks on our standing with God are false. We are righteous due to what Jesus did for us, and our standing with God is without guilt of our forgiven sins.
"Even when we were dead in sins, (God) hath quickened us together with Christ, by grace are ye saved, and hath raised us up together, and made us to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
Instead of living a life that is constantly conscious of past sins and failures, a Christian should live a life of thankfulness to God for the position that He has given to us -- that is, the RIGHT STANDING with God that has been given to us - not for what we have done, but for what Jesus has done for us.
Learn to lean on your "right standing" position with God.
Righteousness becomes your driving force, and you can meet the devil face to face and triumph. When we are doing battle with the Wicked One, we are told to take the "breastplate of righteousness."
Yet, some try to go to battle with the "sin-consciousness". This lack of realization of your RIGHTEOUSNESS will allow the darts and attacks of the devil to hit you. Carrying into the battle, the breastplate of righteousness, will give you something the attacks of the devil will strike and be repelled. We do not have to allow the devil to constantly remind us of all our past sins. They are forgiven. They are forgotten by God. They are sins of a person who is now dead, for you are a new creation who is totally in right standing with God. This is the truth of righteousness that many a Christian has forgotten.
As you develop this RIGHTEOUSNESS CONSCIOUSNESS, your prayers will change. You will be able to pray without fear. You will be able to approach God easily. You will pray with confidence. You will find your prayers with God to be more intimate. You will pray brave prayers. This is all possible, because you will know that you are in right standing with God.
I Peter 3:12
"For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers."
"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
Realize this, those verses are talking about any person saved by the grace of God. We are RIGHTEOUS because we have been saved by the blood of Jesus. You were a sinner, now you are forgiven. You are God's workmanship. Forget the sins which are now behind you, and move into your new relationship with your Lord.
"I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in Me."
Paul, who spoke the above verse, had helped to stone Stephen. He had persecuted Christians. He had wronged, defrauded, etc. Yet, this same Paul was saved. He now had Jesus and all the righteousness of Jesus dwelling within him. Christ Jesus paid a high price for this righteousness. Don't underestimate this gift that you received at salvation.
Righteousness is a gift, it is not earned by us.
"For as by one man's disobedience, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous."
Because of Adam's sin in the garden, many became sinners. So, it is not by our own "good works" that we are made righteous. It is because of the obedience of Jesus, that we have the chance to have the gift of righteousness.
Praise God that we don't have to earn righteousness. It is given to us as a gift. We need to become aware of it, and enjoy its benefits. Many Christians have the gift of righteousness as an unwrapped present under the Christmas tree. As long as it remains unwrapped, and undiscovered, it is a gift that cannot be enjoyed.
I Corinthians 15:34
"Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame."
"Awake" means to become alert to this "righteousness". The lack of being aware of this RIGHTEOUSNESS does become sinful to many Christians. It keeps them from victory. It leaves them unshielded from the "fiery darts" of the enemy. It allows the devil to make you feel defeated and worthless. It makes the devil a victor over you.
Allow this truth of righteousness to fill your being. Praise God for this gift of righteousness. To dwell on our past sins and failures will lead us into sins.
"For they that are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh... to be carnally minded is death... the carnal mind is enmity with God... if ye shall live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."
We spend too much time attending after fleshly things. We think on weakness instead of strength! We worry about trouble instead of rejoicing in our victory! We think of the poverty of our wallet instead of rejoicing over the prosperity of our soul! We remember our past sins in place of enjoying the righteousness of our new person.
As RIGHTEOUS PERSONS IN CHRIST, we have complete and total access to the ministry of Jesus. Since we have His righteousness, we can do the works of His ministry. The breastplate of righteousness is defensive armor to ward off the fiery dart attacks of devils, but it also allows us to know we have right to charge forward in battle, worthy by His righteousness, to do the works of the Lord.
"He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also..."
Therefore, we can, with His righteousness upon us, do the same kind of ministry that Jesus did.
"...let this same mind be in you, which was in Christ Jesus."
Jesus knew that He was in right standing with God. We can also know that we are. We can have this same humble, but righteous mind in us. We can therefore go forth with a ministry for God. The righteousness of God is the driving force of the ministries that God gives us. If we sit back and try to just say - "we're sinners saved by grace" - we will never go far enough in faith to move mountains, or to triumph over the devil.
We need to claim our righteousness, and in it have confidence to cast out devils, lay hands on the sick, speak forth a brave witness for our Lord.
Saved people are the greatest creations of God in the universe. Before salvation, we were bound for hell. Then when we were saved, we became:
more than a conqueror,
able to triumph over the devil and his demons,
co-inheritors with Christ Jesus,
and able to go to God's throne of grace boldly.
So our righteousness is a relationship given to us at salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. IT IS TO BE PROUDLY WORN, CLAIMING OUR RIGHT STANDING WITH THE LORD.