THOUGHTS FROM EPHESIANS

43 THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

A meditation on Ephesians 6:14

 

The breastplate covered the soldier's heart and lungs - his vital organs - and so was a really important part of his armour. Without it he was utterly vulnerable to enemy attack.

Many commentators understand the Christian’s ‘breastplate of  righteousness’ to refer to our own personal righteousness or goodness. Again, we must ask the question here: if this personal goodness is what is meant, how strong is our armour? And is that what will protect us against the hot and heavy attacks of the evil one? Is that what will deliver us from him? Do we depend on our own righteousness to deliver us from him today, when it took the righteousness of God in Christ to deliver us from him on the day we were saved? What does the Scripture say?

The Scripture teaches that gospel righteousness, the righteousness that saves and delivers us, is God’s gift of the righteousness of Christ, his declaration of legal acquittal on the basis of Christ’s fulfilment of the law’s demands on our behalf. The same word translated 'righteousness' is also translated 'justification'. Both refer to the one action of God by which he acquits sinners on the legal basis of the sin-bearing, substitutionary death of his Son.

This righteousness, this justification, is a key focus of the first eleven chapters of Paul's letter to the Romans, where he describes it as:

From God [1:17; 3:21,22]

By or through faith [1:17; 3:22; 5:1]

Apart from law [3:21,30

Free [3:24]

Apart from works [3:6; 9:30 - 10:4]

In Romans 8 he exalts this righteousness, this justification, this legal acquittal, in the questions ‘Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Jesus Christ, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.’ (Romans 8:33-23).

Satan can bring his worst accusations and condemnations against the Christian believer, but they are powerless. No accusation can hold water. No condemnation can be legally put forth. Not because they are not true, but because the legal requirements of God’s law concerning those accusations, and the appropriate condemnations and judgment, have all been met and fully dealt with by Jesus Christ our substitute.

There is no condemnation left. There is no judgement left. Jesus Christ took all of our guilt and all of its punishment. And we who believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, go free.

It is this grand and glorious righteousness, this full and free declaration of acquittal, freely given by God, which protects us and delivers us in the presence of the evil one’s attack. And it is this righteousness of Christ, rather than any supposed righteousness of our own, in which we each must place our full confidence [Philippians 3:1-9].

 Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2006, 2011