I remember as a kid my mother was very adamant about us always going to bed with a clean kitchen. Leaving dishes in the sink overnight was not an option. As much as I wished she’d let up at times, I must admit that, in hindsight, I appreciate her firmness. I now know her primary goal was to minimize the likelihood that we would have creepy crawling visitors in response to the presence of the dirty dishes. Wiping down countertops, sweeping and mopping the floors, and taking out the trash regularly was not just her being extra after all. She was being a mother. She knew that leaving a mess was one thing but that the mess itself was, by nature, an invitation for additional issues. If a mess is left unchecked long enough, not only would we need soap and water, we would also need an exterminator!
And so it is with our lives!
When we accept Christ as our Lord, we are, in that moment, called to live a life that pleases and honors Him. The good news is, He blesses us with His Holy Spirit who prompts us and empowers us to carry this out. The interesting thing is, we don’t always do what it is the Holy Spirit prompts us and empowers us to do. The question, then is, why is that? Followed by, what can we do about it?
Here is why: If we are Christians, the devil knows he can’t rob us of our eternity in Heaven, so he sets out to stifle our growth and effectiveness here on Earth. When the Holy Spirit prompts us and empowers us to do God’s will, our enemy is right there to tempt us to do just the opposite.
Here is what we can do about it: “Stand firm then . . . with the breastplate of righteousness in place . . .” (Ephesians 6:14). Once we have found out what God’s will is, i.e. the truth, the next step is to apply that truth. The application of the truths outlined in God’s Word is called righteousness. In this passage of scripture, Paul is saying that we are to put on this righteousness so that we can “stand firm against the devil’s schemes.” God is not being extra. He is being God. He knows that without righteousness, we lose close fellowship with Him and are left with wrongness. Wrongness is bad enough in and of itself. It is also an invitation for the devil to wreak havoc on our lives.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” When Solomon refers to guarding the heart, he isn’t talking about that organ housed in our chests. He, like Paul, is telling us to protect our inner core which houses our thoughts, feelings, desires, will, and the choices that make us who we are.
Just as our physical hearts are responsible for pumping blood to the rest of the body, and therefore sustaining life, our spiritual hearts are able to pump the victorious life gained for us on the cross by Christ into our spirits, souls, and bodies. We go from wondering what’s right, to knowing what’s right, followed by being right. I’m not speaking of perfection but of progression—the very thing the devil would love to stunt.
When soldiers put on their breastplates, it protects their physical hearts. When we put on our breastplate of righteousness it protects our spiritual hearts.
We “put on” this breastplate by reading our Bibles daily and doing what it says; by replacing worry with meditation on the promises found in His word; by worshipping Him; by connecting with other believers regularly. Every time we do the right thing we “put on” the breastplate of righteousness and facilitate the flow of God’s love and spirit throughout our lives.
. . . and why is this righteousness stuff so important again?
Because, remember: If sin is left unchecked long enough, not only will we need to repent for the sin, we will need to recover from the infestation that accompanied the sin.
Take some time to think about an area where you are currently struggling with sin. By sin, I mean wrongness, the opposite of righteousness. Consider some scriptures that relate to the issue. Google it. Read at least two of them every day for a week. Write down your thoughts. Pray. Share the issue with a trusted Christian friend or counselor. Watch Youtube sermons or download podcasts related to the issue. Research testimonies someone who can relate and has experienced freedom in that area. In other words, drive the truth of God’s Word related to the issue deeper and deeper and deeper into your spirit and soul until it begins to affect what it is you do (or don’t do) with your body.
THAT’S how we “put on” the breastplate of righteousness!
. . . and who doesn’t love being RIGHTeous?!