Armor of God Bible Study: The Breastplate of Righteousness

Forestier, CC Image courtesy of Mike Bishop on Flickr.

After the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness is the second piece of armor listed in Ephesians 6:10-18.  It is an essential piece of the Armor of God in many ways, because it offers us a protection from evil.  It would not be a forgotten piece by an ancient Roman soldier, so it should not be something we forget to put on in our spiritual walk.  We must also remember that righteousness is something that, when practiced correctly, can be a strong protection.

Why the Breastplate Matters
The breastplate was an important part of a Roman soldier’s armor, for it covered some of the most vital organs. It was a piece of metal that covered the chest area, so it protected things like our heart and lungs, without which we could not survive.  The metal was designed to fit an individual soldier so when weapons like swords, daggers, or arrows flew toward the chest, the blows would glance off of the armor instead of piercing the body.  It prevented attacks from becoming debilitating at best and fatal at worst.  For a soldier to not wear his breastplate in battle, he was courting death.  It would not be a piece of armor any soldier worth his salt would refrain from wearing.

What Righteousness is Right?
Understanding the type of righteousness that makes up a powerful breastplate is important, because too many people, Christians and non-Christians alike, mix up righteousness with self-righteousness.

  To be righteous, we do good in God’s eyes.  We live by His rules, do His bidding, and do right by Him.  This is not the same as self-righteousness, which means we decide what we should do to please God, and we make up our minds about what He thinks.  People who are self-righteous often end up hypocritical and exclude those that might need God the most.

 

Yet how do we know what is God’s righteousness vs. self-righteousness?  It comes down to spending time with God.  We need to allow Him to speak to us in a variety of ways. This means actually reading our Bibles.  It means spending time in prayer.  It means having conversations with God, and even discussing our struggles with those who have powerful spiritual lives.  When we build up our relationship with God, we have a stronger understanding of what He wants from us and how He wants us to live.

The Spiritual Breastplate is Our Protection
Paul associates the breastplate with righteousness, because he understands that doing right in the Lord means protecting ourselves from evil.  We are sinners, and we sometimes do things that go against what we know God expects from us.  When we sin, we open ourselves up to the enemy so that he may jump in and take us down dangerous paths away from God.  We need to protect our heart spiritually, just as the breastplate protected the soldiers physically.  

The enemy doesn't always play fair, and sometimes we don’t even realize that we’re allowing little weapons to pierce our spiritual selves.  A breastplate didn’t just protect from big blows, it also protected soldiers from small weapons that might not do a lot of damage at first, but could fester into something bigger.

  When we put on the Breastplate of Righteousness, we’re putting on a protection from big and small blows from the enemy.  We protect ourselves from the things we don’t even know are coming at us but could end up leading us into a life of deeper and deeper sin instead of a life of peace and love with God.