Ephesians 6:10-14(ESV) 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
These scriptures inform believers to “put on the whole armor of God” in order to stand firm against the attacks of our enemies. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5(ESV)3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
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(ESV)21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
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 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. We all have impure spirits and we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Isaiah 59:2(ESV) but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
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(ESV)5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. We see ourselves as “in Christ” and that, regardless of our failures, His righteousness has been credited to our account.
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. (This is Instant)
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 (This is a Process)
Our sin has separated us from God, and the consequence of sin is death Romans 6:23(ESV) 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in 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(ESV)21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
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(ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified 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.
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.
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 (ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, 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(ESV)4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us[a] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his 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(ESV)14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
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: This is what God has done for you in Christ Jesus, He gave you life you did not deserve. He gave you life you did not earn, because it would not be a gift if you did something for it. However the Bible calls us to repent. God calls everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and trust in Christ in order to be saved
Mark 1:15(ESV)15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.
Acts 3:19(ESV)19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,
Acts 7:30-31(ESV)30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
1 Corinthians 12:3(ESV)3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
Romans 10:9-10(ESV)9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
Acts 13:48(ESV) And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.
It is crucially important that we understand repentance is not a work we do to earn salvation. No one can repent and come to God unless God pulls that person to Himself.
John 6:44(ESV)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.
These indicate that repentance is something God gives—it is only possible because of His grace. No one can repent unless God grants repentance.
Romans 6:23(ESV) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
2 Corinthians 9:15(ESV)15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
Ephesians 2:8(ESV)8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
If you ask for a gift is it still a gift?
All of salvation, including repentance and faith, is a result of God drawing us, opening our eyes, and changing our hearts. God’s longsuffering leads us to repentance as does His kindness. (2 Peter 3:9(ESV)9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Romans 2:4(ESV)4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
The Bible makes plain that the mysterious supernatural experience called the New Birth is an act of God.
John 3:3-8(ESV)3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is 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.
In spite of us deserving wrath, however, God has exercised His Grace toward us in Christ. Ephesians 2:4-10 (ESV)4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
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(ESV)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(ESV)10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for 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(ESV)5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
Romans 11:6(ESV)6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer 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(ESV)9 not a result of works, so that no one may 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.
There is no precursor to our salvation, God is not in heaven waiting for us to get our act together for him to save us.
Romans 8:6-9(ESV)6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
The most important thing to say is that the christian life is one of confidence in God. And the foundation of our confidence is this promise: That God saved us, He is Sanctifying us and He will Glorify us when we get to Heaven. It is all of Him and nothing of us. That does not mean that we will not face trials. Trials help us to build Godly character, that is the basis of sanctification, to remove our old character and for the Holy Spirit to work our Father’s character into us.
Proverbs 17:3(NLT)Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart. For Godly character to be in us HE has to work our fleshly character out of us. God doesn’t change our personality, He changes our character.
Character is what you are behind closed doors, when no one is watching, when your all alone, when you don’t have to wear the “mask” in front of people.
Character in the believer is a consistent manifestation of Jesus in his life. It is the purity of heart that God gives becoming purity in action. God sometimes uses trials to strengthen character:
Romans 5:3-5 (HCSB)3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. 5 This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
There is a difference between continuing to sin and continuing to live in sin. No one reaches sinless perfection in this life, but the redeemed Christian is being sanctified (made holy) day by day, sinning less and hating it more each time he fails. Yes, we still sin, but unwillingly and less and less frequently as we mature. Our new self hates the sin that still has a hold on us. The difference is that the new creation is no longer a slave to sin, as we formerly were. We are now freed from sin and it no longer has power over us. Now we are empowered by and for righteousness. We now have the choice to “let sin reign” or to count ourselves “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus”
Romans 6:11-12(ESV)11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Best of all, now we have the power to choose the latter. Holy Spirit makes us more like Christ in all that we do, think, and desire. Jesus meets us where we are but His goal is to never leave us where He met us, We are to follow Him and strive for holiness AFTER He meets us where we are.