“…having put on the breastplate of righteousness…” Ephesians 6:14b
The soldier’s breastplate was constructed of leather covered metal and shaped like a sleeveless vest. It protected his vital organs from both the front and the back. Again, in Isaiah 59:17 it speaks of the clothing of the Messianic King: “He put on righteousness like a breastplate” (Isaiah 59:17). This is a frequent theme in the Psalms. A king did not feel free to go into battle unless his relationship with the Lord was on a solid footing. Often, that relationship came under attack. If difficult circumstances were causing the king to suffer, he could be open to ridicule. In such times he would pray…”The Lord judges the people; vindicate me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me…my shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart” (Psalm 7:8,10). Here, the king would be saying in effect, “God, I have done right by you. Will you now do right by me? Take up my cause and vindicate our relationship.”
We too, come under attack and ridicule. The devil will question our relationship with God and accuse us before we even reach the battleground. We must pray, “Vindicate me, O God, before the accuser, according to Christ’s righteousness.” We can pray this with confidence because we know that we are accepted in the Beloved. If we lack a clear conscience, of course, we are paralysed and unable to fight. Satan is a liar and an accuser. He loves to destroy our Christian witness to the world with his accusations. He torments our minds with our past mistakes and sins. If we dwell on them, then we forget the forgiveness we have received and feel unworthy and miserable…and once again, Satan has defeated us. God has given us the armour we need to silence the accuser, and it’s called the breastplate of righteousness.
When we put on the Breastplate of Righteousness we are remembering who we are in Christ and then seeking moment by moment to honour and obey Him, in all areas of our life. “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to fulfil its lusts” (Romans 13:14). We need to understand, that even though Satan is our accuser, he does not accuse us face to face. His strategy is more deceptive, so he accuses us before God and accuses God before us. When he talks to God about us he tells the truth. When he talks to us about God he lies, twists the Scriptures and blurs our circumstances. How does he bring the accusations?
We are accused by ourselves through perpetual introspection or ‘navel gazing.’ We dwell on past sins, memories of failures, regrets and in so doing, we sideline ourselves for effective living! If we do this for very long it sucks the life out of us to where we are reluctant to even try. Our feelings accuse us. This happens most often when we are run down, lack sleep or experience poor health, eating habits and we’re physically out of shape. This can cause us to give into feelings of depression, self-pity, irritability, or anger. The devil says:‘That’s right you’re…’ Though feelings are important, they are not to be relied upon…so don’t give them more than they are due. God knows our struggles better than we do and He puts these memories under the blood. He buries them – “He casts all our sins in the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). He blots them out – “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions and your sins” (Isaiah 44:22). Which simply means, He takes them off the record and remembers them no more. If God remembers your sin no more, why should you? Nothing Satan can ever say or do will change our position in Christ. We are accused by others. Just about everyone in the Scriptures was falsely accused. Nehemiah was accused of trying to become a king and usurp the authority of others. David was accused of doing things he never did. Moses was accused of being a dictator and his own siblings said he misused his authority. Jesus was accused of gluttony, being demon possessed and even blasphemy! But Jesus never worried about what others said, because He knew the truth. Finally, we are accused by circumstances. There are times when we think, something must not be right, otherwise I would not be going through this hassle, difficulty or dry spell. Satan can get us to think that God is against us, holding out on us or even punishing us! We don’t walk by sight, but by faith. No matter what the circumstances, God will not forsake us, (see Romans 8:35-37). While some difficulties may be the result of our actions, God does not use these circumstances to desert us in our hour of need.
Satan stands ready to resist and accuse us, but Christ stands at God’s right hand to intercede for us: “If anyone sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). Remember the armour is symbolic – figurative. The first three pieces of the armour are symbolic of who Christ is and what He is to us and what He’s prepared to be for us. Whatever form the attack may take, we are to remind ourselves of these great truths, for this is the ground upon which we stand. We must remind ourselves that Christ is the truth, the key to all of life. Christ is our righteousness, it is not our behaviour which makes us acceptable to God. God accepts us not because of what we do or have done, but because of what Christ is on our behalf and the work He has done for us. We stand in His righteousness: ‘accepted in the Beloved.’ Christ is our peace, and this is the confirmation of the claim that He is our righteous. This proves that the cross really did do something, because the experience of it in our life now is that we have a sense of peace. We have a solid rock on which to stand, an anchor of unchanging certainty in the midst of a constantly changing world.