Armor of God Part 2: The Breastplate of Righteousness
This is part 2 of our 5-part series on the armor of God, focused on equipping yourself for spiritual battle.
“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.”
—Ephesians 6:14-17 (ESV)
Whether you realize it or not, you are involved in a spiritual battle. An invisible war between good and evil is happening every day. The evidence is on the news and in our hearts. The question is, are you battle-ready?
To quickly recap the heart of this series, the Apostle Paul—a man who had a life-changing encounter with Jesus after He rose from the dead—wrote a letter to the fledgling Christian community in Ephesus in the time of the Roman Empire. Paul told the early Christians to put on spiritual armor so they could “stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
We need that armor today just as much as the Ephesians did thousands of years ago.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 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. —Ephesians 6:12-13
A Bulletproof Vest for Your Soul
After instructing Christ followers to fasten the belt of truth, Paul told them to put on a “breastplate of righteousness.”
(adj): acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin
These days, you probably don’t know anyone who wears a breastplate, but you’ve likely seen a bulletproof vest.
The breastplate Paul mentioned would have guarded a warrior’s heart the same way a bulletproof vest protects soldiers or law enforcement officers today. But what does it mean to be protected by “righteousness”? Can we be righteous through our own efforts?
The Bible’s answer is a resounding “no!” God’s Word makes it clear: no one on earth is righteous.
As it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands; no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good, not even one.” —Romans 3:10-12
In Romans 3, Paul was quoting the Old Testament of the Bible. Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden—choosing to listen to Satan instead of trusting God—every human being on earth has been guilty of sin. We are still guilty today.
“We know that by nature we are sinful, unholy and ungodly. The Bible sums it up with these words: ‘For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). So whatever is done to change our condition must be done by some power outside of ourselves.”
The Only Way to Be Righteous
Maybe you’ve tried to work your way to righteousness in God’s eyes. That’s how most of the world’s religions work: it’s about what you do—or don’t do. But Christianity says you can never work your way to heaven. The only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ, God’s Son, who died for the sins of the world—including your sins.
When Jesus died on the cross, he took our sins onto Himself. In exchange, those who believe in Him received His perfect righteousness. Billy Graham spoke about the mystery of Jesus transferring His righteousness to us—which is known as “imputed righteousness.”
“My finite mind cannot comprehend all the complicated workings of redemption,” Mr. Graham said. “But through faith I can grasp the simple fact that Christ died for me. I have God’s word that He became sin for us, and I can even make it more personal by saying I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Wearing Jesus’ Armor
Ephesians 6 isn’t the first time a breastplate of righteousness is mentioned in the Bible. In the book of Isaiah, written long before Jesus was born, we get a glimpse of how God feels about the sin that has overtaken the world—and His answer for it.
The Lord saw it, and it displeased him
that there was no justice.
He saw that there was no man,
and wondered that there was no one to intercede;
then his own arm brought him salvation,
and his righteousness upheld him.
He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
and a helmet of salvation on his head. —Isaiah 59:16-17
Those ancient words pointed to Jesus, the Savior of the world. It’s His breastplate of righteousness we wear when we put on the armor of God. He is the one who guards our hearts from evil. And that is Good News.