“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. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness . . . .” – Ephesians 6:13-14
Battle preparedness required first century Roman soldiers to wear breastplates to safeguard their hearts, lungs, and other vital organs from swords, spears, and more. The protection was essential, whether it was made of one-piece solid brass; of chainmail; or of segmented leather and metal plates.
Today’s version of a first-century breastplate is the bulletproof vest worn by the military, law enforcement, and others. Modern body armor protects from a variety of lethal weapons, as reflected in the gear’s significant upgrades.
Guidance for Christians to put on the breastplate of righteousness in spiritual warfare (along with the belt of truth) reveals the wicked goal of dark “cosmic powers” (Ephesians 6:12) to destroy the physical and spiritual lives of believers. The Apostle Peter urged preparedness, stating: “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8).
Likewise, the Apostle Paul wrote from experience and understanding he had gained from his own spiritual battles, and he recorded these in Scripture. He was able to stand against these forces, and he testified in 2 Timothy 4:7 (NKJV), “I have fought the good fight. . . .”
Believers throughout the ages attained spiritual victory because the breastplates of righteousness protected them. Paul states in Philippians 3:9 that this righteousness is not “a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. . . .” (Undoubtedly, another piece of armor, the helmet of salvation, to be presented in coming weeks, is the greatest protection, however, because without salvation, the battle is lost.)
Christians are covered (breastplate metaphor) by the powerful “righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Romans 3:22). We also read that the kingdom of God is not “a matter of eating and drinking [physical life focus] but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit [spiritual life transformation]” (Romans 14:17). Moreover, right standing through Christ is the source of right behavior for believers. This Holy-Spirit-empowered righteousness of good works characterizes believers on their journey of living in the light.
Father God, we seek direction in your Word that will provide breastplate-like protection. Proverbs 11:19 tells us, “Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live, but he who pursues evil will die.” Our victory in spiritual warfare is affirmed in Proverbs 12:28 (KJV), “In the way of righteousness is life: and in the pathway thereof there is no death.” Amen.
Kay Henry is a columnist for The Claremore Progress. All Bible quotations are from “The Holy Bible, English Standard Version” (ESV), unless otherwise noted.