Ephesians Pt 21 Breastplate of Righteousness

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)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)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)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)For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 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.

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Willing and Able

You have been given one life to live. The question is “How will you live it?” The church today is facing a great enemy and soldiers are needed to join the battle. The kind of soldiers that God is looking for can be summed up in two words; WILLING and ABLE.

There are 4 types of Christians in terms of service:

1. Not Willing or Able – the crowd

Several nations that lived around Israel to the North in what is present day Syria came together to march out and destroy it. The army that came against them was massive:

Judges 7:12 (NLT)The armies of Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east had settled in the valley like a swarm of locusts. Their camels were like grains of sand on the seashore—too many to count!

To come against this vast army Gideon blew the trumpet and called all the Northern tribes of the Israelites to come together to fight:

Judges 6:34-35(NLT)34 Then the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon with power. He blew a ram’s horn as a call to arms, and the men of the clan of Abiezer came to him. 35 He also sent messengers throughout Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, summoning their warriors, and all of them responded.

There were 32,000 that responded to the call and came together to face the enemy. Certainly this did not represent all the men of fighting age that were available. Many heard the trumpet but did not respond to the call. They were part of the Jewish nation and like those who responded to the call they had everything to lose but they chose to stay home and let someone else fight their battle for them. They just did not show up.

It is interesting that in the Herodotus account of the Battle of Thermopylae, after Leonidas was defeated Xerxes asked why a larger army had not been sent. The answer given was that most of the Greek men were participating in the Olympic games. They were more interested in games than battle.

Likewise the church today is facing a great enemy. Just turn on the news and look at the world around you. Marriages are under attack. The liberal media is dragging the name of Jesus through the mud. There is a very real and clear agenda to destroy the church. The host of hell have gathered and God is sounding the trumpet and calling us to fight. Unfortunately, there are many who will just never show up. All around us we see this. Christians who just stay at home. They are part of the family of God. They have everything to lose by what is happening around them and yet they stay home with no interest or experience in worship or service.Too many believers today see their faith as a purely personal experience. They see involvement in the church as an optional part of their life. I sometimes here this attitude expressed; “If I have nothing better to do – I’ll go to church”. As long as worship does not interfere with my rest and recreation or challenge my convictions or cause me discomfort then I will participate.

2. Able but not Willing – the curious

The 32,000 that came to fight were no match for the huge army they faced but God wanted to make it very clear that it was in HIS strength and not the armies strength that Israel would be saved. When given the choice to stay or leave 22,000 (about 69% of the army) left for home immediately. Even though they had been summoned and had shown up for battle, their hearts were not in it. They were not really committed to what they had been called to. They had other things to do.

Can you imagine that! What if the marines on D-day had been given a choice not to get out of the landing boats? It reminds me of the paid expatriate soldiers who ran away at the start of the Kuwait invasions when they saw the Iraqi tanks – they understood that their paycheck was not worth dying for.

I am sure that within this group of 22,000 men that there were many warriors. There must have been many who had faced other battles in the past and knew combat well. They did not stay and fight because their minds and hearts were somewhere else. Perhaps they had things to do at home or perhaps they were just afraid. Perhaps they had been hurt in the past and did not want to be hurt again.

3. Willing but not Able – the committed

There were 9,700 who chose to fight but still did not experience battle. Much has been written about why God would have separated out the men that put their face down to the water to drink from the men that brought the water to their mouths to drink. I don’t think that this choice was arbitrary. I think that God was intentionally selecting the trained soldiers from the group. An experienced soldier is always on the lookout and keeps the battlefield in sight at all times. The 300 who brought the water to their mouths were the veterans and most experienced soldiers in the group.

Willingness is an essential element in Christian service but it must be tempered with ability. Training and equipping is essential. The Christian life is not about trying but about training.

4. Willing and Able – the core

The few that remained were both willing and available. They had shown this in action and attitude. With this small group God was able to defeat a mighty enemy and win the victory.

Judges 7:19(NLT)19 It was just after midnight,[c] after the changing of the guard, when Gideon and the 100 men with him reached the edge of the Midianite camp. Suddenly, they blew the rams’ horns and broke their clay jars. 20 Then all three groups blew their horns and broke their jars. They held the blazing torches in their left hands and the horns in their right hands, and they all shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”

21 Each man stood at his position around the camp and watched as all the Midianites rushed around in a panic, shouting as they ran to escape. 22 When the 300 Israelites blew their rams’ horns, the Lord caused the warriors in the camp to fight against each other with their swords. Those who were not killed fled to places as far away as Beth-shittah near Zererah and to the border of Abel-meholah near Tabbath.

The same is true today. The trumpet is sounding throughout our city and nation. A mighty enemy has marched out and declared war upon us. God is looking for a people who are willing to serve and able to be equipped for service. Let us join together in the fight.

The devil is the prince of the air. When you blow the shofar you release into the enemy’s camp the sound of the trumpet, which is like the voice of God. Each time the shofar is sounded it hammers holes into the enemy’s camp with the voice of God. That is why the whole atmosphere is changed when the shofar is sounded. You are clearing the air between you and heaven. You drive the enemy back with each blast of the trumpet. You are releasing Gods power and anointing into the air. It creates confusion in the enemy’s camp just as it did for the troops of Gideon. At Gideon’s command 300 troops went into battle blowing shofars , and it confused the enemy and they destroyed themselves.

Judges 7:8, 16, 20, 22

People are healed when the shofar is sounded.

Numbers 10:9 – when you go to war in your land against the enemy, who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God and you will be saved before your enemies.

Sickness is the enemy that oppresses you in you land (your body).When we blow the shofar in obedience to the Lord, God delivers people from the enemies that oppress them.

When a shofar is first cut off of the animal it has cartilage and flesh inside. The outside is rough. There is no hole or mouthpiece to make a beautiful sound that is pleasing to God. But by taking the horn and cleaning out the rotting flesh and smoothing and polishing the outer edges,  drilling a hole and making a mouthpiece to breath air into it, You create a beautiful sound that is pleasing to God, and disruptive to the enemy.

The making of the shofar is symbolic to the making of a Christian. When you are first saved you still have a lot of flesh inside of you. The outer edges are rough and there is no way for God to  breathe life into you. God takes all of the flesh (worldly nature) out of you, then he cleans up the edges, then He breathes the Holy Spirit into you and uses your mouth and actions as a beautiful sounding instrument that is pleasing to His ears and disruptive to the enemy.