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We are to wear the breastplate of righteousness; but is it really our own righteousness, or Someone else's? Find out in today's sermon!
INTRODUCTION AND DEFINITION OF BREASTPLATE
Ephesians 6, verse 14 the second part says we're to have on "the breastplate of righteousness.” A couple of weeks ago, we learned about wearing the belt of truth and today we're learning about wearing the Breastplate of Righteousness as we put on the whole armor or God.
Now if you think about what a breastplate is and the armor, most of the time today you think about it and you think of a coat of chain mail. Before that, they had solid brass, sometimes copper. Maybe steel. Whatever they had. It was a solid piece of metal that covered the whole front of your body so that when you went out into battle, it would protect your heart, your liver, your lungs, your other vital organs from damage. It would really protect you from serious mortal injury. It was the last resort. They would always have a sword, they'd have a shield.
02:02 But if for some reason the person got past a sword and a shield, the breastplate was the last piece of armor that would protect you. But it served another purpose too. Really one that you don't really think about a lot. It'd give you a piece of mind. Just think about it. If you were wearing nothing, you would really be concentrating on your sword and your shield. Because you wouldn't have anything protected, you would really be concerned all the time about what's going on. It would really put you more on edge. But if you're wearing the breastplate, you knew you had this protection on and it gave you a peace of mind. It would give you an assurance that things were going to be all right. As you remember that the breastplate was there, it was going to protect you no matter what.
DEFINITION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
03:01 And hopefully it would. So that's the breastplate, and that's what they wore. But here, we are told to put on the breastplate of righteousness. Now, when we talk about righteousness, then we can be here all morning because there's just so much in scripture. Let me read what a commentator named Adam Clark said about it.
"The word of righteousness is a word of very extensive meaning and significance used in several different ways. It signifies the principle of righteousness. It signifies the practice of righteousness or living a holy life. It signifies God's method of justifying sinners. And it signifies justification itself."
So, if you're going to talk about righteousness, then we can be here for the next couple of hours covering all the different avenues. And we're going to cover a few of them. If I don't cover the one you think I should cover, it's done by design ... we don't have time. But, we're going to cover a few of them.
GOING TO HEAVEN REQUIRES RIGHTEOUSNESS
04:17 But there's a few things that we need to know about righteousness. If you're going to heaven, you need to be righteous. You need to have righteousness. But this righteousness is not your own. Righteousness that's your own comes from works, comes from following the law, comes from being a nice person. Unfortunately, there are so many people in this world who say, "I'm going to heaven because I've lived a good life." They're relying on their own righteousness. But if you try to take your own righteousness and use it for a breastplate, it's like wearing one of cardboard.
05:02 Yeah, it might look like a breastplate. You may think it is, but when it comes to the battle, it's not going to protect you at all. But instead, what does God say about our own righteousness? Philippians 3:9 says that we're “found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." So when we have faith in God, when we have faith that brings salvation, we have righteousness. Even the Old Testament saints, it was said of them that 'they believed God and it was counted to them for righteousness.' So, it's not our own righteousness, it's not what we think we can do. Jesus told His followers, 'Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.' (Matthew 5:20)
06:14 You won't be saved. And you're thinking, 'Wow. You mean there is a way of having my own righteousness?' No, in Jesus' day, the Scribes and the Pharisees, by following the law and even making sub-points to the law to make sure they got it all, they were more righteous in the law then anybody else. And what He was telling people is - you can be better than them. You could follow every one of the ten commandments, and that still wouldn't be good enough. So who's righteousness is it? It's God's, through Jesus Christ. And God actually had His own breastplate of righteousness.
06:59 In Isaiah, talking about the Lord God Jehovah and He prepares to deal with Israel, it's talking about how He's arrayed for this battle and it says in Isaiah 59:17 talking about God, "For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak."
God's righteousness is what we get. When we trust Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith, we have our sins forgiven, we are given the righteousness of Christ which is God's. Now, if you had your own righteousness and it was made out of cardboard, it wouldn't last very long. But think about having a breastplate made by God. God created the heavens and the earth, so His breastplate would be impenetrable. Perfect.
08:12 There are instances of breastplates being punctured by certain weapons. You know the enemy would always try to design weapons to puncture even the breastplate. God's won't. So when we put on the breastplate of Christ, our vital organs (remember, it's all spiritual), our spiritual vital organs, our heart, is protected. We need that protected. Why?
Because, first of all there is a thing called imputed righteousness. That's another name for justification. Justification, righteousness, they are kind of synonymous in this case. Listen to Romans 3:22. "Even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe, for there is no difference."
09:05 So when we believe, when we have faith in Jesus Christ for what He did on the cross (He died, shed His blood, was buried, and rose the third day), we are given the righteousness of God. You're saying, 'Well? What good is that?' You're not getting to heaven without righteousness. And you won't get to heaven with your own righteousness. But if you have the righteousness of God, you know the old thing, 'When you get to heaven, God's not going to look at you. He's going to look at you through Christ.' That's the righteousness of God. And that's what we need, that's what we get. When we're talking the righteousness of God, we're not talking about the breastplate of righteousness. We'll get to that in a minute.
09:59 We're talking about something that every believer has and cannot lose, the Breastplate of Righteousness reminds us of that. A little more about that in a moment.
But how do we get this righteousness, this justification? Romans 10:9-10, “9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.'
Many people say, "I've asked Jesus into my heart." They go, 'Well, that's stupid. How can you ask Jesus into that organ of yours?" Well you have to understand, biblical heart is not just that pumping organ within your body. Biblically, your heart is the seat of your will, the seat of your emotions, the seat of your mind. It's who you are.
11:00 So when we talk about, 'You ask Jesus into your heart', biblically heart is that part of you that's you. Not your body, the spiritual you. The motions, the will, the intellect. All that makes up the biblical heart, and that's what we do when we accept Christ. We ask Him into our heart. Romans 6:17, "But God be thanked that you were servants of sin, but that you have obeyed (you used your will), from the heart (uses our emotion), that form of doctrine which we delivered unto you (use our mind)." So in other words, we have faith by asking Christ into our heart. It's asking Him to be part of us; to repent of our sins. That's another mind thing. But, we need Christ in our life.
12:02 When we ask Jesus into our life, we get this righteousness of Christ or the righteousness of God. We are made holy, separated. That's why we're called saints, the chosen, the separated, the holy ones. So why do we need the breastplate of righteousness? Because the devil will want you to forget that! That's why we need the breastplate of righteousness.
THE DEVIL WANTS YOU TO FORGET YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD
You see the breastplate is a spiritual item. But the breastplate, really, is talking about using your mind to remember what Christ did with that righteousness. It's a way to remember what has been done because of salvation.
12:56 Illustration. Those of you who are married or have been married had a wedding ring. Does that wedding ring make you married? No. Does that wedding ring keep you married? No. What's the wedding ring for? To remind you, #1) that you're married. To remind you #2) of the love that you have one for another, #3) to remind you of the vows you made one to another. That's what a wedding ring does. It doesn't keep you married, but it reminds you that you are. It doesn't keep you loving the other person or even keep you following the vows you had. But it will remind you that you made vows. That's what a wedding ring does.
That's what the breastplate of righteousness does. It reminds us of what God has done for you. So when Satan starts to attack, you put on the whole armor of God including the breastplate of righteousness. You do that so you can remember what God has done for you. What has He done for you? First of all, we need our heart protected because of salvation. So we need to be reminded that you're saved.
14:15 Many times Satan will come to you and go, 'You're a failure. God doesn't love you anymore because of sin. You've lost your salvation.' Or maybe convinced you through some other teaching that you can lose your salvation. The breastplate of righteousness reminds you, when God puts His righteousness on you, you are His. You cannot lose that. We call it eternal life, we call it eternal security, we call it once saved always saved. The truth is, once you truly know (I use the word truly because some people pretend), once you truly know Jesus Christ as your Savior, once you have had your sins forgiven, you are born again. You have security.
15:09 You won't lose it. The breastplate of righteousness reminds you that when Satan comes to you and says "Hey, what you're doing or what you did, you've lost your salvation. You're going to hell now." You can put on that breastplate of righteousness and go 'No, this reminds me I have God's righteousness. This reminds me that I cannot lose my salvation, no matter what you tell me Satan.' And we need that sometimes. Because that's one of the ways Satan tries to tear you down is to say you've lost your salvation. That leads to discouragement and despondency, making you wonder how can I ever get it back? Well, if you got it, you can't get it back because you never lost it. That's what wearing the breastplate does, it reminds us that we have the righteousness of Christ.
16:08 It reminds us that nothing can separate me from our Lord. Nothing. John 10:28, "I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." That's what Jesus said. You know, if what He gives us is not eternal, He would have said, "I give you temporary life if you can keep it." But He never said that. He said "I give you eternal life." He says, 'You will never perish.'
Now if He didn't mean that, He would have said, 'And if you continue working hard, you'll never perish.' He didn't say that. He said 'I give you eternal life, and you'll never perish.' So when Satan comes and tries to convince you that you've lost your salvation, you can give him the old Bronx cheer and say no. The breastplate of Christ is on me, I have the breastplate of righteousness wearing it to fight you Satan and remind myself and you I am a child of God!
17:14 Now, sometimes he'll say, 'Yeah, but ... you know those sins you've done? The ones you forgot to confess? God's going to send you to hell for that.' Let me read you Romans 8:1-2, "There is therefore now no condemnation ..."
I like that word 'no. That means 'not now', 'not ever'. Condemnation; that means sins that will send you to hell.
"There is therefore now no condemnation." To who? "To them which are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus had made me free from the law of sin and death."
18:05 So when Satan comes to you and says "Listen, dude. You know those sins you've been doing? God's going to condemn you for that." You'll say, "No. I'm wearing this breastplate of righteousness that reminds me I am not under any condemnation." You will be judged for them at the Judgement Seat of Christ. But you will not lose your salvation because of them. You'll not be condemned because of your sin.
So, when Satan tries to remind you that you're a sinner. "No, I used to be. I'm a saint right now." Satan might say, 'You're living like you're wearing that old man again.' No. We may sin with the old nature, but the old man, Scripture says, is done away with. We have a new person now dwelling within us. You're sin nature, you're flesh, it may sin. But what happens when you do? He'll forgive you.
19:06 We always say, 1 John 1:9, " If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Notice that. Faithful and just to forgive you of your sins, and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. What? Cleanse you because you lost Christ's righteousness? No. You didn't lose that, you just tarnished it with your own works. Your own sinful things. But he says, no. You're not going to be condemned for that because He loves you and your His child.
19:46 I found a saying this week. I really enjoy this. It's an old Pastor, older than me. He passed away in '81, named Martin Lloyd Jones talking about condemnation.
"The wearing of the breastplate of righteousness is our one security. Keep it on. When the devil comes and says you have no standing, you are condemned, you're finished - you must say no! My position did not depend upon what I was doing or not doing. My position is always dependent upon the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Turn to the devil and tell him, my relationship in God is not a variable one. The case is not that I'm a child of God one day and not a child of God the next day. Then a child of God, then not a child of God. That is not the basis for my standing. That is not the position. When God had mercy on me, He made me His child and I remain His child. A sinful and unworthy one sometimes perhaps. But still His child.
"When I fall into sin, I've not sinned against the law. I've sinned against love. Like the prodigal, I'll go back to my Father and I'll tell Him, Father, I'm not worthy to be called thy son. But He'll embrace me and He'll say, don't talk nonsense. You are my child. He'll shower his love upon me. That is the meaning of putting on the breastplate of righteousness. Never allow the devil to get you into a state of condemnation. Never allow a particular sin to raise again the whole question of your standing before God."
21:37 And that's why we wear the breastplate of righteousness. To remind us who we are in Jesus Christ. We don't put it on and take it off as if we're putting on our own righteousness and taking off or putting on Christ's righteousness. Once you have Christ's righteousness, you are always have the righteousness of Christ. You can't lose it. But we can remind ourselves of it.
22:03 But what else does it to? Well, it reminds us that when things go bad, and they do, they're not as bad as we think they are. The Apostle Paul, that old boy had some problems. When he did the best he could for God, there was always somebody telling everybody he's just trying to take advantage of you. Always somebody trying to tear him down.
He was stoned, bitten by snakes, run out of town, accused of things he never did. Same thing can happen to any of us. But that Breastplate of Righteousness. It will remind us what Paul said. Listen to 2 Corinthians 4:8-10:
8We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
So when Satan tries to tear you down, you just remember that. Things may be going bad, but they're not really that bad. Not in the spiritual sense, you have on the breastplate of righteousness. You have the breastplate that reminds you of all of these things! But it reminds you of one more thing.
23:53 We do not work to salvation, amen? But we're expected to do works because of salvation and that is what the breastplate of righteousness will remind us of. When we're wearing that, we're reminded of what Christ did for us and what He wants us to do for Him. We are reminded that He wants us to live a life that's Christ like, that's godly, that's a life of righteousness. Not our own, but trying to emulate His.
How many times did Jesus sin? Zero. Did He get angry? Sometimes, but it was always a righteous anger. And if you notice, every time that Jesus got angry, it was always about something somebody did against somebody else. It wasn't what somebody did to Him.
25:01 I mean, they beat Him. Crown of thorns, everything else just before they crucified Him. Did He get angry at them for doing it? No. He never got angry for what they did to Him. But humbly He took it because that's what the Father wanted. But He got angry when people took advantage of the Father and other people.
So we're to live a life like Christ, but we have to be careful. You know we talked about this ‘once saved always saved’, eternal security. Those that don't believe that, they'll always come out and say, 'Okay, you believe that you’re saved and that you'll never go to hell. You can't lose your salvation. That just gives you an excuse to sin.' That's hogwash. That's ridiculous.They made the same claim to Paul. What did he say? They said 'so we can sin that grace may abound.’ Paul said 'God forbid.' We are not saved to sin, we're saved to give glory to God. We're saved to do the works that Christ has for us.
26:08 That means all the things from using your spiritual gift to do what God wants you to know. To serving where God wants you to. Not everybody can be a pastor or a teacher. You know what from my experience, you know what the number one gift I believe most believers are given? It's called the gift of helps. It's just helping out one another. We all need that.
Even James says 'If everybody was a teacher, you wouldn't have any students.' I summarized that, but that's what he said. But we have to be careful. The reason we wear the breastplate of righteousness is to remind us that we don't take our salvation as a license to sin. In Romans 13:13-14, Scripture says:
13Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
That breastplate of righteousness, you put that on, that will remind you that you don't serve your flesh. You serve the Lord. Galatians 5:13:
"13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."
So we are given this opportunity. That's why we have to put on the breastplate of righteousness. It doesn't save you. It doesn't give you more righteousness. But when you put on the breastplate of righteousness, it reminds you, it gives you a peace of mind. It gives you the knowledge that God has done some things for you.
28:10 God has given you salvation. God has given you eternal life. God has said you won't be condemned for your sins anymore. You're going to heaven! And Satan will try to tear you down, but when you're wearing that breastplate of righteousness, Satan can't say a thing. When he says 'You lost your salvation', you say, 'No I didn't, God says I'm his child, always be his child.'
Satan will say 'Yeah, but that sin is going to condemn you.' God says, 'There's no condemnation to them that love the Lord.' That's what the breastplate does. That's why we need to wear it everyday, because Satan never gives up. So put on the breastplate, protect yourself from Satan's lies. Remind yourself of all that God's done for you. Eternal life. No condemnation. Living a life like Christ.
Hopefully the Lord spoke to your heart this morning. Maybe Satan has been getting to you because you failed to put on this breastplate. But put it on. It will protect your heart, because Satan will go after and try to get your emotions and your will and your mind. That breastplate will protect it. The breastplate will give you a peace of mind knowing that everything will be all right eventually. Because you're heaven bound if you know Jesus Christ. It will remind you that you have been saved and that you have eternal life. Let's bow our heads.
Hopefully the Lord spoke to you this morning and reminded you that sometimes we do things and Satan convinces us of things because we fail to put on this breastplate of righteousness. We fail to remember all that Christ has done for us, and He's done a lot. Now what can we do for Him? Let's go to the Lord in prayer.
30:30 ”Heavenly Father. Thank you Lord for Your word. Thank You for what You've given to us. Lord, when we trusted You as our Savior and we had our sins forgiven, Lord thank You for making us Your child. Let us never forget that. Let us wear this breastplate of righteousness to remind us that we have the righteousness of Christ that will not be taken away. We have an adoption that will not be torn up.
“We are your child and forever we'll remain that way. Help us now Lord to live as a child of the King, to live a life that is holy and just and free from sin. Lord thank You in Jesus' name, amen.”