The Armor of God: The Breastplate of Righteousness

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, April 11, 2014 2 comments

This is the second post of my series on the Armor of God. To refresh, the six pieces of the Armor of God are the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, Feet fitted with the Gospel of Peace, the Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation and the Sword of the Spirit. Last week, I wrote about The Belt of Truth. I wrote about how the Truth is our source of balance, what holds us together, and what carries our tools of our trades and our weapons of our warfare. This week, I will discuss the Breastplate of Righteousness. The context of the Armor of God is found in Ephesians 6:10-18.

So what is a Breastplate and what is Righteousness? Let us break that down. The Breastplate was a solid metal plate that covers the chest from frontal attacks. But too often, we tend to picture medieval knights with their full body armor that make them equivalent to walking tanks. This is not the image that Paul had. The Roman breastplate only covered the front. It did not cover the back. Why?

The smaller plate would deflect all but straight and piercing weapons. Arrows could only penetrate it if it was a straight on hit. Swords would have to hit straight on as well, but the swords the Romans used in battle and often faced were not often used for thrusting due to their fighting style and due to fragile bronze they were made of. Any straight-on attack would be handled by the shield, and that I will address later. The Breastplate was light-weight which enabled the soldier to be able to move with much greater speed and agility. They could cover more attacking distance and close in on the enemy quickly without tiring. A third reason is that the Romans did not intend for their soldiers to retreat from battle. They expected their backs to be covered by the soldier behind them who was also not retreated. And Paul makes this point by using this piece of armor: we are not called to run away from the spiritual battles we face. God does not send us out to war to lose. He sends us out to win. So instead of hunkering us down with armor to protect an area not meant to be exposed to the enemy, God gives us armor that protects what will be exposed and enables us to be quick and agile.

What does the Breastplate protect? By its name, the Breastplate protects our breast, namely our internal organs: heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, intestines, etc. The organs that keep our bodies functions. Without them, we die. But here is a very interesting fact. The organ with which we put the seat of our emotions is located here and is protected by the Breastplate. In western civilization, the seat of the emotions is the heart. What do I mean by the ‘seat of the emotions’? Love the Lord with all your heart… I love you with all my heart. My heart is not in it today. You’re breaking my heart. Create in me a clean heart, O God. It goes on and on. Everything that we associate with our emotions is represented by our heart. But other cultures don’t do it that way. Some of them use the kidneys. Some of them use the liver. The Old Testament uses the bowels. No matter which organ is used to represent our emotions, it is protected by the Breastplate. And what protects our emotions? The Bible says that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. That is because it did not have protection from the poison that is sin. But when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ covers our sin with his blood. What is more is that Isaiah 1:18 says “Though our sins are like scarlet, they will be whiter than snow, though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.” Now get this. Our sin is red as scarlet or crimson. The Blood of Jesus covers us and that is red covering red. But did you know that if you look at a red object through a red lens, that object will appear white? When God looks at our sinful, wicked heart through the lens of the Blood of Jesus, our hearts appear pure and white. Just think about that for a minute.

Hebrews 9:22 tells us that without the shedding of blood, there can be no remission of sin. Jesus’ blood does more than cover our sin. It removes it. Ever tried to remove corrosion from your car battery? That corrosion is caused by the acids in the battery. To neutralize an acid, you need a basic material. This is covered in standard chemistry. When the acid and the base mix, you often get a substance that very easily washes off and leaves the battery clean. The same idea here. Christ’s blood mixes with our sin, detaches the sin from us, and washes off, leaving us with a clean heart. And the Breastplate of Righteousness then protects our clean heart from any further oncoming sin.

As we live in accordance to God’s commands, sin cannot affect us. I am not calling for legalism and rule-keeping. In several places in Scripture, it says Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as Righteousness. That is all it is. That is all it takes. Believe God and obey. All we have to do is believe God and act on what he says as though we know it to be true. That’s faith in a nutshell. Act on faith, believing that it will be so, even if what we hope for is not made manifest in our lives yet, and it will be credited to us as Righteousness. And it starts by believing in Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, so that we may bear his righteousness. Then let us stand with that Righteousness on as our protection from that which seeks to lead our hearts astray and corrupt it. We do not have to live in sin any longer. Block it out by wearing the Breastplate of Righteousness.

Next week, I will discuss the Feet of the Gospel of Peace.


Anonymous said...

I still need to know' why the armor only cover the view front of the body.

Charlie said...

Anonymous, I actually explained this in this post. The Roman Breastplate only covered the chest. That was their design. For several reasons: To increase speed and agility. Because their fighting style depended upon fighting as a unit, not individuals. Your fellow soldier was meant to cover your back. And because to flee in battle and expose your back was greatly frowned upon to a Roman and at times came under the penalty of death.

This is the picture Paul used to help us understand our armor and is what his initial readers would understand. I did not design this armor, but I can understand how it is used and why it was designed that way. I hope that helps.