In part 3 of our study on Righteousness - A basic foundation for effective prayer and fasting, we will discuss the following topics:
The armor of righteousness
When righteousness is missing
In our previous discussions, we have discussed that righteousness is a free gift of God which is earned by faith in Jesus Christ. We studied that righteousness is an aspect of salvation or part of what salvation did for us. It is a means by which we are redeemed, justified and set free from our debt to death because of our sin and sinful nature. It is a divine exchange in which our imperfections, sinful nature, sin, poverty, infirmity, and rejection were exchanged with Christ’s perfection, sinless nature, rich, health, and acceptance. It can be likened to a condemned criminal who was condemned and was at the point of execution by death and suddenly, one-second before the execution, a voice was heard: “Let that man go, let me die his death and let him live my life. Have my freedom”. The man was untied from execution and the other man went in his place and was executed. That is exactly what happened at the cross.
Now we are going to see how powerful righteousness is when we are equipped with the knowledge of it and commit ourselves to its instructions to live a life that harmonizes with its principle. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:7: “By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left”. Paul likens righteousness as armor, just like in Ephesians 6:14: Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness. Here righteousness refers to as one of the armors of warfare which is used in covering our heart. We are going to see more on this as we discuss “the armor of righteousness”.
The armor of righteousness
I use the term “armor of righteousness” from Ephesians 6:14 in which righteousness is described as one of the weapons of warfare, which verse 11 describes as an armor of God which we could put on. Verses 11-13 explains why we should put on the armor.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. If you read further, you will find the armors to put on and how they should be put on. But we shall limit our discussion to righteousness as one of the armors. If you read the last statement of verse 14 it says “having on the breastplate of righteousness”, in other words it means to put it on. Another interesting thing about this verse is that there is a specific place it should be put on. Not on the head, hand or leg but on the breast or chest. It describes righteousness as a plate for the breast, known as a breastplate. Breastplate is common attire put on by Roman soldiers. The breastplate covers the body of the Roman soldier from the neck to the thighs. It is normally made of strong material to protect the heart.
Why is Paul requesting that we should put on the breastplate of righteousness although we have received it at spiritual birth? We received it as free gift on the day we gave our lives to Christ. Just as I described on one of our previous topics that it is not enough to receive the righteousness by faith but we have to put it in use by living a lifestyle that is in harmony with it. Paul is conveying the same message - the need for our righteousness to be put into use. Just as we may have a beautiful cloth, as long as we do not put it on, it remains un-used and will never serve the purpose for which we bought it - likewise is our righteousness. Unless we put it into use, we may not enjoy all the resources of blessings God offers through it.
Likewise, as the breastplate protects Roman soldiers, so does righteousness protect us and when attacks come, they should be thrown off by our righteousness. It is interesting to know that God designed the breastplate of righteousness for the heart, against the deadly arrows of the enemy. The Bible tells us to guard our heart with all diligence because our life source flows from it (Proverbs 4:23: Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life). The state of our life, both physically and spiritually, depends on the condition of our heart. As a result, it needs to be guarded.
Our heart is one of the most important parts of our body, both spiritually and physically. Physically, it is the powerhouse of a man. It is a place where blood is pumped to our entire body in order to keep us physically alive. Without it, we are dead. Spiritually, it is the living room where God lives. It is a place where our inward man, who is born again, resides. It is an altar of God, which determines the state of the temple. If God is allowed to be in the altar, the temple will then be holy but if not, it will be un-holy. When we first accepted Christ into our lives, it was our heart that we gave Him to come into and live, not our brain. Jesus Christ is not in our brain because the inward man, our spirit, is in our heart. It is a place of communion with God through prayers and through the time we spend in studying the Word.
Our righteousness is made as armor by putting it on, by activating it and/or by revelation knowledge of the worth of righteousness to us personally and all that it offers! Just as you will not be able to have access to a new bank account without activating it first and then continually put it to use. Similarly, when we fail to put on the breastplate of righteousness and put it into use, our heart will remain unprotected. We will discuss this in the next section “when righteousness is missing”. Please refer to our previous discussion under the section “how we should walk in righteousness” for better understanding on how to put on righteousness. This will clarify the meaning regarding how we should put on our righteousness. Please take note that the righteousness is already ours by reason of accepting Christ into our lives. It needs to be put into use for us to enjoy the abundant blessings it has.
When righteousness is missing
The term “when righteousness is missing” is simply meant when we do not put on the breastplate of righteousness. It may be ours, but it is the same as if it is not there because it remains un-activated and un-used.
When we do not put on the breastplate of righteousness, our heart is exposed to the enemy Satan and brings us into many painful experiences. In addition we will not be able to access so many blessings which are associated with righteousness.
The armor of righteousness is one of the weapons of our warfare armors which we need to put on for protection of our heart against the wiles of Satan. Again, when we do not put on our righteousness or live life that harmonizes with its principle, we will not be able to access the blessings associated with it.