Spiritual Warfare Pt 3 Breastplate of Righteousness

Ephesians 6:10-14(HCSB) 10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest,

These passages exhorts believers to “put on the whole armor of God” in order to stand firm against the attacks of our enemy, Satan 2 Corinthians 10:3-5(HCSB)3 For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, 4 since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.

Ephesians 6:14(HCSB)14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest,.”

The imagery is of an armed Roman or Israelite soldier, prepared for battle. A typical armed soldier wore a breastplate made of bronze or chain mail. It covered the vital organs, namely, the heart, and was fitted with loops or buckles that attached it to a thick belt. If the belt was loosened, the breastplate slipped right off. When Paul compares the armor of God with military gear, each piece represents a part of God’s strength that He extends to us when we become His children. The breastplate of righteousness refers to the righteousness purchased for us by Jesus at the cross 2 Corinthians 5:21(HCSB)21 He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

At salvation, a “breastplate” is issued to each repentant sinner. It is specially designed by God to protect our heart and soul from evil and deception. Our own righteous acts are no match for Satan’s attacks. Isaiah 64:6(NET)We are all like one who is unclean, all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your sight. We all wither like a leaf; our sins carry us away like the wind.. The breastplate of righteousness has Christ’s name on it, as though He said, “Your righteousness isn’t sufficient enough to protect you, Here wear mine.”

We are separated from God. Sin caused man’s separation from God, however God Loves us so much, that He provides the Way back into fellowship with Him through Jesus Christ. His steadfast loving kindness leads us to repentance, His grace, and mercy, forgives us of all our sins, even though none of us deserves it. No one can earn forgiveness, and reconciliation to God, it is a free gift, to those who believe, and accept it by Faith.

   

The original sin of Adam and Eve brought devastation to all mankind and separation from God. All men and women are born with the same sin nature in their spirit. We all have impure spirits and we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Isaiah 59:2(HCSB) But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you so that He does not listen.
Romans 5:8 (HCSB) But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

Imputed righteousness is the righteousness of Jesus credited to the Christian, enabling the Christian to be justified. Justification – We are saved from the PENALTY of Sin. (Instant) Imparted

Imparted righteousness is what God does in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit after justification, working in the Christian to enable and empower the process of sanctification. Sanctification – We are being saved from the Power of Sin (Process)Imputed

Our sin has separated us from God, and the consequence of sin is death Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Biblical salvation refers to our deliverance from the consequence of sin and therefore involves justification from sin.

 

What does the term “Justified” mean? The Bible meaning of the word is to be totally blameless and totally guiltless–to be able to stand before God clean and pure in every way. A play on the word helps us to understand its meaning. If I am Justified, it is Just-as-if-I’d never sinned, and Just-as-if-I’d always been holy and done the right things.

Our Father, however, has devised a plan and made a way for us to stand righteous before Him. He has sent His own Son as a Sacrifice on our behalf, and those who believe in Him shall have everlasting life, and shall be seen as righteous in God’s sight.

Romans 3:21-24(HCSB)21 But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—attested by the Law and the Prophets 22 —that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

This righteousness we receive is imputed righteousness–that is a theological term which means removing the guilt and penalty of sin while at the same time declaring a sinner righteous through Christ’s atoning sacrifice. God legally declares us to be righteous because of Christ’s work on the cross.

This is Justification, to stand before God with all debts paid, and clothed in the righteousness of His only Son, Jesus Christ. To be able know that you have “peace with God”–there is no more war between you and the Almighty.

Romans 5:1(HCSB) Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Taken together, the concepts of Grace and Justification by Faith show the uniqueness of the Christian doctrine of Salvation. The message of Grace is God Saves Sinners. It is His Plan, it was His Son who died and rose again, it is His Spirit who enlivens the preaching and witness of believers to awaken sinners to their need of salvation and lead them to faith in Christ.

God’s grace is the determining factor in our salvation, even to include His working in our lives to develop a lifestyle consistent with salvation. Ephesians 2:8-10 (HCSB) 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

The grace of God is so simple, and so profound that most of the greatest minds don’t fully understand it. It stands in opposition to the ideas that most of us have about earning our way in the world, about people getting what they deserve, about “fairness,” and about the independence of human beings.

The meaning of grace behind that simple explanation is one of the most hated teachings in the world because it so totally undermines and removes all traces of human pride.

Ephesians 1:4-5(HCSB)4 For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love 5 He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will,

When Adam sinned it didn’t throw a wrench in God’s plan, He didn’t say”Wow I didn’t see that coming, now I have to devise a different plan for man, Wow that really threw me off.” He knew since before the foundation of the earth, who He would call into His army.

Romans 9:14-18(HCSB)14 What should we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not! 15 For He tells Moses:I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.16 So then it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture tells Pharaoh: I raised you up for this reason so that I may display My power in you and that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth.18 So then, He shows mercy to those He wants to, and He hardens those He wants to harden.

The Doctrine of Grace teaches that we are totally unable to save ourselves, to help in our salvation, to do anything to merit all or any part of our salvation, or to keep our salvation. We are saved totally as an act of God’s will, and we do not deserve it in any way. This is the most important first principle in understanding Grace–no one in the entire human race deserves any consideration from God, we are all rebels and sinners, and we all deserve Hell. Except for His own redemption plan, God could rightfully have sent the entire human race to eternal punishment long ago! The description Paul gives of believers before salvation fits the entire human race if they are without Christ:

Ephesians 2:1-3 (HCSB) And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. 

So if we were dead as the scriptures say, then what can a dead man do to save himself? Absolutely nothing. The dead man did nothing to earn being made alive. He was just lying there dead. He didn’t sign a release form saying, “Go ahead and bring me back to life.” He didn’t agree to it; he didn’t consent to it; he did nothing to earn being made alive, nothing to earn being rescued or saved from death. This is what God has done for you in Christ Jesus, giving you life you did not deserve.

In spite of us deserving wrath, however, God has exercised His Grace toward us in Christ.

Ephesians 2:4-10 (HCSB) 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, 7 so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Comparing two similar theological terms will help refine the definition of grace: grace and mercy . These terms are not interchangeable. Both seem to contain elements of God’s bestowing or granting something not earned, but they are not the same. In Ephesians 2:4, Paul describes God as being rich “in mercy.” The word mercy is usually defined as “punishment withheld (or, wrath withheld),” but mercy means more than that in Ephesians 2. In Ephesians 2:4, Paul says God looked at our pitiful condition, looked at our life characterized by “trespasses and sins,” and driven by his love, he withheld the punishment. So mercy in Ephesians 2 includes the ideas that God sees our pitiful condition, our misery and distress, that we were characterized by “trespasses” and that He loves us. That is the emphasis of mercy. Grace is not the withholding of punishment; that is mercy.

What is the meaning of Grace? Grace focuses on the forgiveness needed because of the current state we are in. It is a gift that is not earned, but it is more than that. We didn’t simply live in a way not to earn salvation; we lived in a way characterized by fighting, kicking, and screaming against receiving the gift.

Even our best efforts fall far short of the righteousness required by God Romans 3:23(HCSB)23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.). That’s why Scripture says that no one seeks God.
Romans 3:10-11(HCSB)10 as it is written:There is no one righteous, not even one.11 There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. We seek fulfillment. We seek pleasure. We seek escape from pain. But the pure motivation of seeking after God for Himself is a gift from God. We are not saved because we had the wisdom and insight to exercise our own faith and trust God. No one wakes up one day and, on his own, decides to seek God. That would be a salvation by our own works, and Scripture is clear we are saved only by the grace and mercy of God.Titus 3:5(HCSB)He saved us— not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 11:6(HCSB)6 Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace.

We are saved when God touches our hearts and prompts us to use the faith He gives to receive His gift of salvation.That is how our lives were characterized. God’s grace is absolutely overwhelming. The idea that we did anything to merit or earn salvation, the idea that we mustered up repentance or faith within ourselves, the idea that we worked with God in our salvation, is totally at odds with what grace truly is. And Paul drives this point home in Ephesians 2:9(HCSB)“Not from works, so that no one can boast.” It’s not of us; it’s not by us; it’s not for us! God is the initiator and the preserver of our salvation.

We were dead spiritually; we were fit for nothing but wrath; we were rebels and in bondage to sin and Satan. In the midst of that condition, God saved us. We exercised faith, which is itself a gift of God.

John 6:44-47(HCSB)44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draw him, and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: And they will all be taught by God Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to Me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except the One who is from God. He has seen the Father. 47 “I assure you: Anyone who believes has eternal life.

John 6:37-40(HCSB)37 Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

1 Peter 2:9(HCSB)But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

John 6:44(HCSB)44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.

Ephesians 1:11(HCSB)11 We have also received an inheritance[a] in Him, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will,

Romans 8:29(HCSB)29 For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.

Romans 8:30(HCSB)30 And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.

John 15:16(HCSB)16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.

John 6:37(HCSB)37 Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out.

Deuteronomy 7:6(HCSB)6 For you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be His own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.

John 10:4(HCSB)4 When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.

Matthew 22:14(HCSB)14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Deuteronomy 14:2(HCSB)2 for you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord has chosen you to be His own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.

2 Thessalonians 2:13(HCSB)13 But we must always thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

God is referred to as a potter and we humans are clay. Isaiah 64:8 says : “We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” A potter designs a pot according to its use. He chooses its size and its shape, its color according to his plan. God as a potter created us vessels according to His plan, and His desire.
Romans 9:19-23(HCSB)“19 You will say to me, therefore, “Why then does He still find fault? For who can resist His will?” 20 But who are you, a mere man, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” 21 Or has the potter no right over the clay, to make from the same lump one piece of pottery for honor and another for dishonor? 22 And what if God, desiring to display His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath ready for destruction? 23 And what if He did this to make known the riches of His glory on objects of mercy that He prepared beforehand for glory—

The Bible makes plain that the mysterious supernatural experience called the New Birth is an act of God.

John 3:3-8(HCSB)3 Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”4 “But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”5 Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. 8 The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

You did not and cannot contribute anything to your new birth, you contribute as much to your spiritual birth as you did your natural birth.

We are instructed to “put on” this armor, which implies that we do not automatically wear it all the time. Putting on the armor of God requires a decision on our part. To put on the breastplate of righteousness, we must first have the belt of truth firmly in place. Without truth, our righteousness will be based upon our own attempts to impress God. This leads to legalism or self-condemnation. We choose instead to acknowledge that, apart from Him, we can do nothing John 15:5(HCSB)5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. We see ourselves as “in Christ” and that, regardless of our failures, His righteousness has been credited to our account.

Romans 13:11-14(HCSB) Besides this, knowing the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.

Someone who is a Christian for 10 years is no more justified than when the first became a believer. After Justification begins Sanctification which is basically the process of our dying to self, dying to self means that the things of the old life are put to death, most especially the sinful ways and lifestyles we once engaged in. Galatians 5:24 (ESV)“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires”. Where we once pursued selfish pleasures, we now pursue, with equal passion, those things that pleases God.

And being obedient to the word and the Spirit that we are daily changed, in God’s eyes we are considered righteous and accepted because of our faith in Jesus’ work on the cross.

Imparted righteousness is what God does in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit after justification, working in the Christian to enable and empower the process of sanctification. Sanctification – We are being saved from the Power of Sin (Process)Imputed

We “put it on” by seeking God and His righteousness above everything else. We make Him and His ways our dwelling place. We delight in His commands and desire for His ways to become our ways. When God reveals an area of change to us, we obey and allow Him to work in us. At the point where we say “no” to God, we open a little crack in the armor where Satan’s arrows can get through.

Where justification is a legal declaration that is instantaneous, sanctification is a process.  Where justification comes from outside of us, from God, sanctification comes from God within us by the work of the Holy Spirit in accordance with the Bible.  In other words, we contribute to sanctification through our efforts.  In contrast, we do not contribute to our justification through our efforts. Sanctification follows justification. In justification our sins are completely forgiven in Christ. Sanctification is the process by which the Holy Spirit makes us more like Christ in all that we do, think, and desire. True sanctification is impossible apart from the atoning work of Christ on the cross because only after our sins are forgiven can we begin to lead a holy life.

As we wear Christ’s breastplate of righteousness, we begin to develop a change of mind that produces a purity of heart that translates into a change of actions. Wearing this breastplate creates a lifestyle of putting into practice what we believe in our hearts. As our lives become conformed to the image of Christ our choices become more righteous, and these godly choices also protect us from further temptation and deception.

Then it is up to us; Sanctification is not instantaneous because it is not the work of God alone, it is the God working His character in us. But it takes us to exert the fruits of the spirit.
Matthew 16:24 (ESV)Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Colossians 3:5 (ESV)Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Sanctification is the process of being set apart for God’s work and being conformed to the image of Christ.  This conforming to Christ involves the work of the person, but it is still God working in the believer to produce more of a godly character and life in the person who has already been justified.  Sanctification is not instantaneous because it is not the work of God alone.  The justified person is actively involved in submitting to God’s will, resisting sin, seeking holiness, and working to be more godly.

Sanctification has no bearing on justification.  That is, even if we don’t live a perfect life, we are still justified.  Our salvation is not that fragile, we don’t LOSE it when we sin.

Romans 8:9–11 (ESV)You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you

Romans 8 tells us the Spirit will help us stop sinning and do the things that please God.  Now, the Holy Spirit can’t do all the work for us. We’re still responsible to do our part—especially to consistently read our Bibles and pray, asking the Spirit to show us the truth and teach us how to live. It’s important to remember that the Spirit will not prompt us to do anything that goes against Scripture. People sometimes justify their actions by saying, “My conscience told me … ” We need to make sure we’re listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, not the voice of our own desires. And we know which is which by checking this voice against the truth of God’s Word.

We need our breastplate of righteousness in place in order to gain the victory specified in 2 Corinthians 10:15(ESV)“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” When we quickly reject heretical ideas, idolatry, and the “counsel of the ungodly” (Psalm 1:1) and instead Hebrews 12:2(NASB)fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God., we keep our breastplate securely fastened.

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