The Breastplate of Righteousness
Written by Tim MacGowan
"Having on the breastplate of righteousness." Eph. 6:14b
From the head, we move down to the chest and torso region that are covered by a breastplate of righteousness. This piece of armor protects our vital organs, particularly our heart – the center of our affections.
Righteousness is an interesting concept as it pertains to the Christian life. It is a characteristic of someone who does the right thing for the right reason. Someone who was righteous all the time would be perfect and we know that perfection is an impossible standard for humans to attain. Galatians 2 and Romans 4 both teach us that when someone believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and puts their faith in him, God bestows the condition of righteousness that properly belongs to the sinless Jesus Christ to the one who is not perfect. That concept is called imputed righteousness: imputed meaning credited or assigned. The breastplate that we wear to protect our heart is not the right things that we do without God but our understanding that we accept what Jesus has done on our behalf and that we receive freely by faith, without cost to us.
We might be tempted to think that if righteousness is a credited gift that our actions and behavior have no bearing on our breastplate. But another part of righteousness is our response to this gift. Art Katz wrote that, "righteousness in the Old Testament is the fulfillment of the demands of a relationship, whether that relationship be with men or with God." The righteousness we have been freely given by faith in Jesus calls us to righteous behavior in response. When we choose disobedience, our breastplate become "hole-y" rather than "holy". Holes that allow those fiery darts access to us. Thankfully, forgiveness is readily available to plug the holes and keep us properly equipped for battle.