Week 17: Breastplate of Righteousness
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.12 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. 13 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. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness… Ephesians 6:11-14
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. Luke 15:20-24
So many Christians these days have a truncated view of the gospel. When asked why Jesus died on the cross and how that impacts us as believers, the most common response is that when Jesus died and we surrendered to Him that our sins were forgiven.
While that is true, it just isn’t the complete truth. When we as Christians see our salvation as merely the forgiveness of sin or the cancelling of our debt, then that leads us to the mindset that we had better get to work. If our slate has been wiped clean, then now it’s our job to fill it back up with good works.
And the gospel teaches us, that not only have our sins been forgiven at the cross, but also the perfect record of Christ, His righteousness, is imputed to us. The implications of this are enormous. This means that God delights in you because you are in Christ. This means that we respond in obedience of faith NOT an obedience for faith. It means that God sees you as holy and righteous, because the righteousness of Christ has been imputed unto you and our sin was imputed or counted unto Jesus.
When Paul, in Ephesians chapter six, instructs us on how to stand firm against the enemy and his evil schemes, he tells us to remember our righteousness found in Jesus. A breastplate obviously covers the chest and heart. In multiple places throughout the scriptures, it encourages us to guard our hearts. Paul is saying that reminding ourself of the truth of Christ’s imputed righteousness through the cross will guard you at your core when the enemy speaks his lies to you.
A breastplate is also a great picture of imputed righteousness. You’ve seen a breastplate in the movies, right? Have you ever seen a chubby breastplate? NO WAY! Every Roman breastplate is shaped with great pecks and abs. So when you put on that breastplate it appears that you have a perfect torso regardless of what it actually looks like underneath the piece of armor.
I hope you can you see the picture? Though you and I are far from perfect, when we are imputed with the righteousness of Christ, that means when God looks at us He sees the perfect life of His Son.
This reality is a major truth of one of the most popular stories or parables in the New Testament. In the parable known as “The Prodigal Son” when the rebellious kid comes to his senses and is ready to return home, his father’s response is a picture of the heart of our Heavenly Father.
The Bible says that the father sees him from a long way off, has compassion on him and runs to him. Then that father wraps his arms around his boy. Now, the boy is covered in filth. He has come directly from the pig farm. And he’s not only physically unclean, but he’s religiously unclean as well. So what does the father do? Does he give him a lecture? Does he tell him to clean himself up? Does he punish him? NO!!! He calls for his robe to put on the boy. Why? Because this father wants to cover his son’s filth with his perfectly clean robe.
This is a picture of what God does for us at the cross. He covers our sins with His righteousness. And I pray, that you would constantly remind yourself that in Christ, you are righteous. The lies of the enemy have no power over you. When God sees you, He sees His perfect Son.
And may the truth of the imputed righteousness of Christ guard your heart and drive you deeper and deeper and deeper into your relationship with Jesus Christ.