In this post we will look at the breastplate of righteousness (Eph. 6:14, see also Is. 59:17). A breastplate is essentially a shield attached to our body that moves where we move. It covers and guards important organs, the most important one being the heart. Significantly, it does not protect our heads, we will come to that piece of armour later.
Solomon places a great deal of importance on the need to guard our hearts.
23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV)
There are two key elements here, understanding the importance of protecting our heart and understanding righteousness. In the OT righteousness and justice are intertwined concepts, the very foundation of His throne (Ps. 89:14). You may have been told that righteousness is ‘right standing with God.’ That is a confusion of means and ends. We have right standing with God because we have been given Jesus righteousness. Jesus righteousness is an expression of His character so right standing is the result of having Jesus righteousness. The ends and means can be clearly seen in the following:
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)
Achieved by this means:
21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)
It is when we hold this truth in our hearts (with the heart one believes Rom. 10:9-10) that we can use the breastplate of righteousness. When we know and believe in our hearts we can stand in confidence and walk into battle protected by His righteousness. In spiritual warfare we are battling in the unseen realm but we experience the results in our day to day lives. Practically, using the breastplate means coming boldly before the throne of grace on behalf of ourselves and others, knowing that we are welcome in the throne room because we carry Jesus righteousness (Heb. 4:14-16).
So engage in the battle, embrace the truth of His righteousness and remember that the breastplate only provides protection when we are facing the battle, not when we turn away. Keep facing forward!