The Breast Plate of Righteousness
This is the fifth part (of six) of the Sunday School lesson I did based on Larry Richard's book The Full Armor of God;
Even though we have “new selves” when we are born again that want to do right, we still have our old selves that are pulled by the world. And in that old self that still loves sin, Satan has an ally. Satan directs his temptations to the old self.
Paul lists just some of the things we do when we aren’t living righteously and how we should be living. This isn’t the only list like this in the Bible so we can’t claim to know what righteous living looks like and what sin looks like!
Ephesians 4:17-5:7 17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. 5 1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
This section tells us we are called to true righteousness not just to be “good people”.
The Roman breast plate was essential. It protected the vital organs. In the 1st century it was a metal plate worn over a leather garment. The spiritual breast plate of the Christian is righteousness and the Christian is responsible to put it on himself.
In the Bible righteousness is the idea of conformity to a standard. Old Testament saints were considered righteous when their personal and interpersonal behavior conformed to the moral and ethical norms established by God.
Deuteronomy 6:25 And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness. But humans could only be righteous comparatively. Only God is righteous perfectly. Knowing no human could live up to the standard of God’s own righteous character demands has moved God to accept those who trust Him despite their flaws and failures.
Genesis 15:6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
The Jews however sought to establish their own righteousness. But just like Abraham God credits righteousness to us who believe. Jesus didn’t just die to take us to heaven though. He died to free us from the dark way we were living too. The Holy Spirit in us helps us live godly lives if we follow his guidance.
So the breast plate of righteousness we are to put on is to maintain a good, holy and righteous life style. Take off the old. Put on the new.
The author, from talking to other ministers, believes that demons enter through 4 primary doors.
1. Trauma. All of the armor we’ve talked about so far helps here, but especially the shield of faithfulness. Remember the faithfulness of God who protects us and stays with us.
2. A sinful life style. And this is sin that’s usually done knowingly and habitually.
3. The occult. Deuteronomy 18:9-12 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD; because of these same detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. It’s pretty clear what the Bible tells us to stay away from and the reason is that supernatural beings reached through the occult are in fact demons. Playing with the occult is inviting demons into your life!
4. Authority figures and the family line. This has to do with certain cultures where parents speak curses over their children or dedicate them to pagan gods.
The best way to get rid of the old self and put on the new righteous self is to take time for self-examination. Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart. What attitudes, habitual choices, habitual responses, addictions, do you have? And then acknowledge it as sin. Repent (make it right with someone if you can). Repudiate (meaning reject the sin and determine to do what is honoring to the Lord). Relate (tell 2 people close to you. Ask for their prayer support and encouragement.) And rely. (On the Holy Spirit to guide you).