Knowing How to Use the Breastplate of Righteousness
Knowing How to Use The Breastplate of Righteousness helps us use it for our heart, for our innermost being. Our weapon against arrows and swords which come to pierce our heart and stop the flow of life. Now we continue with how to use the Breastplate of Righteousness.
In the first of this series, we talked about the Belt of Truth and began the process of looking at each piece of the spiritual armor of God and how to use it. The Belt of Truth is the first piece mentioned by Paul. It is a powerful weapon. We need truth in our lives every day. Not only in what we hear or read but in what we think and speak. One of the ways to use the armor of God is through speaking. It’s the same principle for all of God’s gifts to us.
The Abundance of the Heart
Jesus said in Luke 6:45 that our words reveal what is in our hearts. Whatever is in our heart, in abundance, flows over and out through our speech. If we are excited about something, we want to tell somebody! We have a need to share almost everything in our lives with others through words and actions and we can also talk to ourselves! By speaking the Word out loud to ourselves repeatedly we can change our own heart. People need to say something a minimum of three times to begin to remember it. Actually, we need to do it far more than that in order for it to change us.
We need to speak affirmations to ourselves and others. For instance:
- I have the mind of Christ;
- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me;
- I am made in the image of God;
- I have His power;
- and, I have put on the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness because I live in Jesus’ truth and righteousness.
Purpose of the Armor of Righteousness
In Paul’s day, the soldiers wore breastplates. They were heavy – made of bronze, later of steel and also from boiled leather. They covered the front and back upper torso of the soldier. Isaiah 59:17, says, “God’s armor was no ordinary armor and He strapped on righteousness as His breastplate.” Thus, the breastplate covered your heart and other vital organs, repelling arrows and swords aimed there. It guarded their hearts.
Guard Your Heart
Our heart is the subject of hundreds of scriptures in the Bible. We are told in Proverbs 4:23 and Luke 21:34 to protect or guard it. We are not just guarding it against physical arrows. Usually, we have to guard it against words. Words from others and words coming from our own mouth which are initiated by the enemy of our souls. When we are under assault, we need protection. We need a breastplate. Since the words coming against us are negative, tearing us down mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically, we need Righteousness as our shield.
What is the Definition of Righteousness?
What is righteousness? I have heard it defined this way – rightness. A condition of being right with God through Jesus Christ. Here is one definition from the Ancient Hebrew Research Center. It is, “A righteous person is not one who lives a religiously pious life, the common interpretation of this word, he is one who follows the correct path, the path (way) of God.”
The Online Dictionary gives this definition: the quality of being morally right or justifiable.
Synonyms: goodness, virtue, virtuousness, uprightness, decency, integrity, worthiness, rectitude, probity, morality, ethicalness, high-mindedness, justice, honor, honorableness, innocence, blamelessness, guiltlessness, irreproachability, sinlessness, saintliness, purity, nobility, noble-mindedness, piety, piousness.
Does God See Me as Righteous?
Absolutely. We are the righteousness of God. Do we believe that? We probably do in principle but not always in practice. I know myself really well and am fully aware that I fall short of some always being the ‘best’ me. You do too. We all do. We tend to believe what we know of ourselves rather than what God believes of us.
The point is, we are covered every moment of every day, no matter what, with the righteous blood of Jesus. His righteousness has been imputed (Attributed or assigned) to us as His children, made in His image, and living through and in Him. God only sees us that way. He is the ultimate optimist! At the same time, He knows everything about us. To us, that sounds like a huge contradiction. To Him, it is not. We have a hard time understanding and accepting a love so unconditional that it assigns something to us we have not earned through our own efforts. In truth, our value is based on Jesus value because we are IN Him. So, whether we believe it or not – we are righteous.
The Armor of Righteousness Assists Our Faith
When we are having difficulty in believing we are righteous, we have the armor to assist us. Then we can check our heart and our words. What have I been saying to myself about myself? Have I allowed negative words spoken by someone else about me to enter my heart and spirit? What has been the result? Have those words wounded me? Have I inflicted wounds on myself?
There is healing and remedy for those words. If you are the one speaking them, you must stop and change your words. If they are deep in your heart, then you need to make a concentrated effort to speak the truth about yourself over and over and over until your heart is changed along with your mind and words. Remember your picture of your ‘best’ you!
Accusations and Condemnation
If someone else says something hurtful to you, you don’t have to strike back. Instead, get away from that person and begin to speak the truth about yourself. Ask God to disable the power of the other person’s words. These words are accusations. Accusations are usually some form of condemnation.
“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.” 1 John 3:21-22 NASB
This scripture connects our heart and condemnation. If our heart does condemn us, we lose confidence.
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 NASB
Yet here in Romans we are told that we have no condemnation if we are in Christ. If any condemnation or accusation pierces our heart, we lose confidence. We lose hope. If we guard our heart, we will have no condemnation and will have confidence before God.
Effects of Accusations
Accusations are such a part of the world around us that we can easily become numb to them. An accusation is a charge or claim by one person that someone else has done something wrong, immoral or illegal. It does not have to be true. There is no requirement for facts supporting it because it is simply an accusation. The problem is that once we hear it, we tend toward believing it to be true. When it is an accusation made by someone else toward us, it is a poisonous arrow aimed straight at our heart. It’s a lie. However, we must know the way to fend off and be healed from those arrows. It happens. When we accuse ourselves, we must know how to find healing.
There is a booklet written by a very close friend which addresses all the steps to deal with Accusations (ADD LINK). It is for sale on my Homepage in the sidebar and I highly recommend it. It is an excellent tool for finding freedom and release from the power of accusations and judgments. As my friend Tami Gaupp has said, “There are three areas that create an unhealthy dynamic for us. It becomes a vicious cycle that brings destruction to our relationships and our well-being. We feel it from others, and we feel it towards them:
I am adding one more aspect to Offense – fear. I have had the experience of being wrongly and falsely accused by another Christian friend. It hurts. It hurts deeply. The accusation came and with it came fear. Fear of how this would affect my life. Afraid others would believe it. Also, fear because someone I trusted, a close friend, stabbed me with an accusation. Fear is part of offense. Maybe for some, that is not true but it is for most. Fear is the opposite of love. These are two extremely powerful emotional forces. Fear can destroy us. Fear doesn’t always mean you are cowering in a corner. It means you are not operating out of love. If you were, you wouldn’t be offended! It might be hard to admit that.
When this happens, the object of our energy should not be the person who made the accusation. It should be self. We must immediately, take control of this spiritual moment, this battle. When I was attacked and wounded – a stab in the back I didn’t see coming – I wanted to immediately defend myself. I was right. The other person was wrong! They had lied about me. Regardless, I had to take control of my side of the battle and treat the wound so that it did not become inflamed, destroying me from the inside out. I had to focus on me. What is my response? What should it be biblically? How do I deal with my emotions or with the betrayal?
How to Use the Armor of Righteousness
I do it by taking my thoughts captive. My thoughts feed my emotions and so I must fill my mind with beauty and truth as we discussed in the first lesson (ADD LINK). Do I want to? No. I’m hurt, angry and afraid. I’m right. The thing I had to realize is that I can be right and still be very wrong. While the facts may support my innocence, I must measure myself against the Word and example of Christ. So, while I may be innocent of the accusation, I must be careful not to react in a way that tears down the ‘best’ me I can and want to be. So, I had to begin thanking God. No matter what this one situation brought my way, I still had a thousand other things to be thankful for.
When David was attacked, he often whined for a little while. But, he always ended up in a stance of Thanksgiving and Worship to His God and creator. God understands if we whine a little. He’s big enough to handle it! We just can’t stay there. Read through the Psalms and look at David’s example. He was very imperfect – an adulterer and murderer. However, he was a man after God’s own heart! Plus, he was quick to confess, quick to worship, quick to move on.
Another resource for you in regard to betrayal and loss in ministry is my book, “How to Win When You Lose.” It is available on the sidebar and tells my story of winning after multiple betrayals and loss in ministry and life.
The Value of the Breastplate of Righteousness
Perhaps now we can embrace the value of the Breastplate of Righteousness. It is deeply important that we guard our heart. Of all the attacks of the enemy, one of the most subtle is accusations and offense. I have spent my entire life in ministry and offense is one of the most successful tools the enemy has used to divide the body of Christ. Offended Christians are everywhere; people who have been hurt and believe they are justified in what they feel. The issue is not whether they are right or wrong. The problem is what is happening inside them as offense grows like a cancer feeding off of accusations and emotions. Another book I highly recommend is “The Bait of Satan” by John Bevere. It addresses the cancer of offense. Offenses eat away at our heart.
“Above all else, watch over your heart; diligently guard it because from a sincere and pure heart come the good and noble things of life.” Proverbs 4:23 The Voice
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NASB
“So be careful. Guard your hearts. They can be made heavy with moral laxity, with drunkenness, with the hassles of daily life. Then the day I’ve been telling you about might catch you unaware and trap you.” Luke 21:34 The Voice
“Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap;” Luke 21:34 NASB
The Breastplate Stops the Arrows and Swords
Solomon and Jesus each spoke on the subject of guarding your heart. The wisest man in the world and the Man who created the world seem to be in agreement as to the necessity of this action. Again, this emphasizes Paul’s teaching on the Breastplate. The whole purpose of a breastplate was to guard the most important organs in your body. Keeping arrows and swords from piercing through.
Speak to yourself in words that agree with the Word of God. Keep that image of your best self in your heart and mind – the one that looks like Jesus. I know that we have overused this term – What Would Jesus Do? – but it’s still a good one to ask ourselves. What words did Jesus use? How did He speak about those who were His? We need to do what He did and is still doing.
Living in God’s Truth and Righteousness
So, with the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness, we should be reminded of how highly He regards us. We should be rejoicing in a perfect love that has the power to make us clean and pure, being made ready to be His bride.
Embrace the process of refining, growing, putting on and putting off and using the full armor of God. Participate with God in keeping your heart pure and free of accusations and condemnation. Believe and live in what He knows is true of you.