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God’s Armor – Using the Breastplate of Righteousness

In my last post, I showed how the Breastplate of Righteousness was given to us to protect our hearts.  That’s the good ground of our life.  It’s where we plant the good seed of the Word of God.

In Scripture, we’re told to put on the full armor of God.  That means it’s a choice I have to make.  The first thing we need to understand is what this righteousness is.

In the Bible, we’re told about two kinds of righteousness and both of them are important.  First, there’s the position of righteousness.  That means I’m declared righteous simply because I’m in Christ and He’s my righteousness.

Because of this position of righteousness, I can go into the presence of God whenever I want.  Whether I need forgiveness, or simply want to praise and worship the Father, I have 24/7 access to God’s throne.

I praise God for the position of righteousness that we’ve been granted in Christ.  However, that’s not the righteousness that protects our ground.  The breastplate speaks of the walk of righteousness.

How does the walk of righteousness protect my heart?  In the natural, Scripture talks about the enemies that invaded Israel and ruined their fields.  Fire, drought, foxes, stones, salt, weeds, locust, and hail were all causes of crop failure.

In our walk with God, we’re warned to be careful not to form intimate relationships with unbelievers.  We’re told that bad companionships corrupt good character (1 Corinthians 15:33).  By becoming intimate with the world you’re opening up yourself for a broken heart – rocky, stony soil.

When your walk is not right before God, you have an open, unprotected heart.  If you remember, a few posts ago I showed that the armor wasn’t Paul’s invention.  There’s a word picture of God wearing His armor in the Old Testament.

Knowing this, Paul described what the breastplate consists of.

But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
1 Thessalonians 5:8

The first thing Paul talks about here is self-control.  You may not want to hear this, but it takes self-control to put on the breastplate.

The word, self-control, in this verse, is not the same as the fruit of the spirit.  This Greek word means to be sober, not drunk.  We can’t be so intoxicated with the world that we miss God’s best.

Then, Paul gives us a closer look at this breastplate.  He tells us that it’s comprised of a combination of faith and love.  Walking in faith and love is the completion of your righteousness before God.

It should be obvious how this works.  I must choose to trust God.  I must choose to love God.  This is a daily choice, to walk in righteousness.  It’s a faith-love walk.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Galatians 5:6

In the New Covenant, circumcision is all about the rules of men.  The reality is that in Christ rules don’t count for anything.  Only a walk of righteousness matters.

This verse talks about being in Christ Jesus.  That’s where you have to be to use the armor.  This passage literally says that in Christ…the only thing that has force is faith, energized and made effective, through love.

How does this protect my heart?  When you walk in the combination of faith and love, you’re placing a “force field” of righteousness around your heart.  Your ground is protected, and you can expect your spiritual seed to grow unhindered by the enemy.

Question: What evidence do you see of faith and love working together in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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God’s Armor – The Breastplate of Righteousness

I’m now in a series where I’m going through the Armor of God in detail.  We’ve already seen how the Belt of Truth protects your store of spiritual seed.  Today we’ll move on to the breastplate.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place…
Ephesians 6:14

The first thing we need to recognize is the placement of this piece of armor.  It should be obvious that this breastplate protects your heart.  That’s an important point.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Proverbs 4:23

Scripture tells us that the most important thing to guard is your heart.  It’s where your life springs from.  Why is that?  And if life flows from the heart, where does that life come from?

If we read the few verses preceding this one, we’ll get the answer.

My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words.  Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.
Proverbs 4:20-22

It’s clear that everything I need for life and godliness springs from my heart.  That even includes healing for my body.  But that’s all based upon the assumption that I’m placing God’s Word in my heart.

We need to get the seeds from the storehouse (our mind) and plant them into our hearts.  Jesus taught the same thing to His disciples.  We find it in the parable of the sower.

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
Luke 8:15

Without question, your heart is the good soil of your life.  Whatever you plant in it will grow and bear fruit.  The real question is; are you planting wheat or milkweed?

When we come to Christ, our life is a mess.  The Lord comes in and the Holy Spirit begins the process of cleaning us up.

The good soil of my heart is cleared of weeds.  Through repentance, I turn the soil over regularly.  Soon I have a heart of rich, nutrient-filled ground.  It’s ready for planting.

The problem is that you can only plant what’s readily available.  That’s why in my last post I talked about the importance of filtering what we place in our minds.  Too often we allow the enemy to plant his seeds in our soil.

Then we get into the cycle of planting, letting the weeds grow, pulling them up, and then starting again.  Instead, we should be getting God’s Word planted in our hearts.

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalms 37:4

Most people don’t understand what this verse is really saying.  It’s NOT saying that if you delight in the Lord, He’ll give you whatever you want.  It DOES say that if you delight in Him, He’ll put His desires into your heart.

As we place God’s Word in our hearts, His desires spring up.  Then, we’ll bear the fruit of that Word.

That’s why we need to protect our good ground.  This is where the Breastplate of righteousness comes in.  In my next post, I’ll talk about how to use the breastplate to protect your ground.
Question: What have you planted in your heart that you desire to see bear fruit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Faith + Love = Righteousness

Stream 2I’m posting about the parable of the Ten Virgins from Matthew 21. In my last article we saw that the light is our righteousness shining into the darkness around us.

If righteousness is our light, then what constitutes the oil and the lamp? It’s the combination of the two that brings light. The relationship between them is what’s important.

Both must be present to produce light. You could have 100 lamps, yet with no oil, there’s no light. Conversely, you could have barrels of oil, yet with no lamp to burn it, there would still be no light. It’s only the combination of lamp and oil that will produce light.

You could say that the light is the oil expressing itself through the lamp. If the light is the manifestation of our righteousness, then we need to discover what the Scripture says about the source.

First, we must see how righteousness is described in the Word of God.

The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
Isaiah 59:15b-17

Here we see God Himself putting on the breastplate of righteousness. Most Christians don’t know that this armor was first seen in the Old Testament. It was not something that the Apostle Paul came up.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place…
Ephesians 6:14

So we can know for a certainty that righteousness is our breastplate. This is important, because Paul also described it to the Thessalonian church.

But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
I Thessalonians 5:8

In this verse Paul is clearly referring to our spiritual armor. He even makes mention of the helmet of salvation. But instead of assigning righteousness as the breastplate, he says that faith and love are used in that role. Paul is telling us that it’s the combination of our faith and our love working together that completes our righteousness.

I believe that the lamp and the oil represent the operation of love and faith in our spiritual walk. In my next post I’ll show how they work together in both the natural and the spiritual.

Question: How does the absence of either faith or love affect our walk with Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2014 in Return of Christ, The Church

 

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