The breastplate is an extremely important piece of armor. It protects our heart and other vital organs. So when Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 to put on the breastplate of righteousness, he was indicating the importance of righteousness in our lives. In Christ, righteousness is granted to us as believers because of our faith. Righteousness can’t be earned. Our own attempts to be righteous will always fail.
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The Bible is pretty clear that man’s attempts at righteousness will always fall short of God’s standard, but there is hope!
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. – Romans 3:23-26 (NLT)
Before Jesus came and died, we had the Law of Moses. This law outlined a standard of holiness that was impossible for any man to achieve on their own. But God had a plan.
Jesus came and died so that we could be declared righteous before God. He fulfilled the law on our behalf. All we have to do is surrender our lives to Him.
Our own attempts at righteousness will always fall short, and they will always fail to protect us from the schemes of the enemy.
For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. – Romans 10:3-4 (ESV)
We only have access to the breastplate of righteousness through our faith in Jesus Christ.
Our good deeds are not able to make us right before God, but that doesn’t mean we should continue in sin. The righteous live by faith, and faith without works is dead. (Galatians 3:11, James 2:17) So even though our works don’t make us righteous, they do build our faith.
Our faith is what makes us righteous. And as we mature in our faith, the Holy Spirit transforms our lives and we begin to look more like Christ.
In other words, we grow in His righteousness.
Ephesians 6 describes the breastplate of righteousness as something we as believers need to deliberately put on. It is secured and held in place by the belt of truth.
In order to put on the breastplate of righteousness we must do two things:
1) Choose faith in Christ. – It is through His death and resurrection that we are able to be declared righteous before God. His blood alone can cover our sins and make us right with God.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness… – 1 Peter 2:24 (ESV)
2) Surrender our lives to God and live a life of obedience to Him. – As children of God, we are no longer slaves to sin. Instead, we have the freedom to choose righteous living.
We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. – 1 John 5:18 (NIV)
It is through Christ that we have access to the breastplate of righteousness, but it is up to us to put it on and wear it.
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.