The Full Armor of the Living God is an armor of light given to us by our Lord who is light within light. The wearing of this armor is imperative and is a matter of life and death in every way, for we are born on a battlefield. We are born both physically and spiritually and emotionally on a battlefield, and not merely on a battlefield, but that battlefield is in enemy territory. God has reclaimed that battlefield, but the enemy still thinks it is his. And we are in the cross-hairs. Thus, we MUST be armed for all out war.
This is not a war whose end is unclear nor up for grabs nor is a toss up. Rather, this is a war that is already won. Through the apparent weakness of the cross the greatest victory in the world was determined. Through the weakness of love, all evil in every way was completely and utterly defeated at the foot of the foolishness of the old rugged cross.
But the battle is very, very real, and is really, really dirty. The enemy has learned how to play us, and he plays us well. And we literally fall for it all of time.
But, God in His incredible victory has not left us powerless. No! Indeed, He has to powerfully equipped us with armor by His Spirit that if we could ever begin to fathom it, grasp it, or begin to tap into this power, we would be in awe as the enemy is blown away!
So, what is this armor that we are to don with confidence and the authority of the Most High? Number one, we are to snugly fit upon our heads the Helmet of Salvation which is all about having right, faith-filled, Christ-like thinking, Bible mindsets, with thoughts set upon things above and not on earthly things and on the incredible hope of eternal salvation in the presence of the Living God! Next we are to put on our dazzling Belt of Truth which holds it all together, the belt which we are to wear wherever we go and whenever we go there. We also lace up tightly the Shoes of the Gospel of Peace, an unshakable peace that the world cannot give nor understands; shoes that stabilize us in the slipperiest and bloodiest of battlefields and keep us firmly planted in the Word rather than circumstances. We are take up the body-sized Shield of Faith that covers us completely, successfully protecting us defensively and offensively, and if watered by the Word and oiled by the daily anointing of the Spirit will quench every fiery dart of the enemy. Then taking up the Sword of the Spirit that is the Word of God we are called to jab the very evil that would steal, kill and destroy us. With the truth of the Word of God supernaturally inspired by the Spirit through us in prayer deals a death blow to the enemy.
Indeed we have been dressed by God to kill a very real, demonic enemy.
But, there is one piece of armor…one more vital bit of equipment that cannot be overlooked, for to go into battle without it was beyond heedless and meant certain death. This life saving, undeniably important protection is the Breastplate of Righteousness.
The Roman Breastplate in Jesus’ Day
“The breastplate was a central part of the Roman soldier’s armor—it provided protection for the torso, which contains vital organs like the heart, lungs and so on. Without a breastplate, a soldier would be asking for death, as any attack could instantly become fatal. With a sturdy breastplate, the very same attacks become ineffective and useless, as blows glance off the armor,” (Bible Study Guides).
“The Romans had the ideas for armor design which provided light weight combined with ease of movement and protection from blows. This breastplate was attached to the belt by leather thongs passed through rings on the bottom to keep it solidly attached. It was anchored to the belt, and it was above the belt. Note: the belt had to be put on first, then the breastplate,” (The Christian Arsenal).
“The Roman breastplate was typically made of bronze, backed with leather. It was designed to protect the vital area. A blow through this was usually fatal,” (Chuck Missler).
The Biblical Breastplate
“The breastplate or heart-guard that Paul was recommending was not made of hard metal, but of something much stronger. It is made of righteousness. The Greek word used for righteousness is dikaiosune, Strong’s #1343, defined as “equity (of character or act); specially (Christian) justification.” Vine’s defines the word as “the character or quality of being right or just”; it was formerly spelled ‘rightwiseness,’ which clearly expresses the meaning.” (Dan Wesol).
Truly, righteousness is “the conformity to the claims of higher authority and stands in opposition to… lawlessness,” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, pg 458). Thus, righteousness is the crucifying of our way of living and the complete surrender to living life God’s way. This is our breastplate.
Man’s Righteousness Vs. God’s
Throughout the history of the world, individuals and people groups, false religions and cults of all kinds have sought to do good in order to please a transcendent being far beyond themselves in order to accrue enough credit in the heavenlies for the sake of their uncertain eternal security. Much has been done to appease countless gods and goddesses, and innumerable moments have passed as people do good for others simply because it makes them feel good to do so. The social gospel is highly active even today, and anyone and everyone can and does get caught up in the wave of it. “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away,” (Isaiah 64:6). “As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one,” (Romans 3:10-13).
Even Christians can get caught up in the “doing good” bug, and become driven by good works and achieving goals and seeking to look good in the eyes of others. But, “Putting on His breastplate of righteousness is not “putting on” your own good works, integrity, or honesty. It is not “putting on” Bible reading and prayer. It is not “putting on” church attendance. When we put on the cloak of His righteousness, it contrasts with our righteousness,” (Chuck Missler). For indeed, righteousness is all about God and not about us at all. The Lord is the source of all righteousness, even the very foundation of His throne is righteousness and justice and the heavens declare His righteousness and all people have seen His glory (Psalm 97).
Application: Being Not Just Doing
The greatest glory of God’s righteousness has been exemplified for all to see through Jesus Christ His beloved Son. As Ephesians 2:8-10 reads, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” The incredible magnitude of God’s righteousness superseding our goodness is apparent in this passage. On top of this is that undeserving as we are we have been made God’s righteousness (II Corinthians 5:21) and because of this, we have been empowered us to do righteous deeds the right way and for the right reason. This is righteousness.
“People have different ideas about righteousness. We must understand that righteousness is something we are, not something we do. Righteousness within us affects what we do, but what we do does not make us righteous,” (Chuck Missler).
Now that we have been made the righteousness of God in Christ, “let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love…” (I Thessalonians 5:8). Thus, the breastplate of righteousness is also a breastplate of faith and love: faith because without faith it is impossible to please God, and love because Jesus said that if we believe in Him we will walk in love. Righteousness, therefore, has everything to do with having faith in Jesus and walking in love.
In Job we see a picture of what righteousness looks like. Job 29:12-17 says, “Because I delivered the poor who cried out, The fatherless and the one who had no helper. The blessing of a perishing man came upon me, And I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; My justice was like a robe and a turban. I was eyes to the blind, And I was feet to the lame. I was a father to the poor, And I searched out the case that I did not know. I broke the fangs of the wicked, And plucked the victim from his teeth.” First John 3:16-17 also says, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”
God in all of His glory, seated high upon His majestic throne, perceived our dire need as we wallowed destitute and condemned in sin’s muck and mire. But… God so loved the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not parish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). And that same selfless attitude of Christ is to be in us (Philippians 2), for that is righteousness in action.
A vital part of our arsenal is the Breastplate of Righteousness. With righteousness our hearts, which are the well-spring of life, are guarded above all else. This righteousness is from God alone for only God is righteous, and He because of what Jesus did on the cross and in His resurrection has made us righteous and righteousness. Christ our great High Priest has made us a holy priesthood (I Peter 2:5) and as such we are to be “clothed in righteousness” (Psalm 132:9). Not only are we to be clothed in righteousness, but we are the righteousness of God in Christ. Thus, we no longer are to walk in fear, but in faith. We are no longer to walk in selfish impatience but in love. This righteousness that God has made us through Christ and that is exemplified through faith and love in action is what guards our hearts from the enemy’s continual attacks. Let us then put on the breastplate of righteousness. And having suited up in the full armor of God’s light, let us stand unwaveringly and unashamedly in this ever darkening, depraved, deceived world that is quickly passing away. Jesus is coming soon! Let us “gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” (I Peter 1:13), as we look for our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13).
Bible Study Guides, “Series 3 – The Great Teachings of the Bible and What They Mean for You: The Armor of God,” http://www.freebiblestudyguides.org/bible-teachings/armor-of-god-breasplate-of-righteousness.htm.
Margaret Minnicks, “The Whole Armor of God,” https://owlcation.com/humanities/Put-On-The-Whole-Armor-of-God.
Chuck Missler, “The Breastplate of Righteousness,” http://khouse.org/articles/1996/269/
Dan Wesol, “Putting on the Breastplate,” http://www.heraldmag.org/2009/09jf_2.htm
The Christian Arsenal, “The Full Armor of God,” http://www.christianarsenal.com/Christian_Arsenal/Full_Armor_of_God.html
Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament