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The Strategies of Satan and the Armor of God
The Breastplate of Righteousness
Ephesians 6:14
We began a few weeks back a study of The Believer’s Armor from Ephesians 6.  Let’s refresh our memory a little by re-reading the text
Ephesians 6:10-24
There is one primary summation statement that is repeated twice in the text:  verse 11, put on the whole Armor and then he repeats it in verse 13, take unto us the whole armor.
If we are to be victorious, this is a critical passage in the life of a Christian. No matter how adept your theology is, no matter how much you know about the Scripture, you are still potentially a loser because this is a war that is won and fought really on a day to day basis.
And Paul is reminding us that we must be very much aware that the Christian life is war, and the sooner we learn it the sooner we will experience the victory that God has for us.
Now we saw last time, if you'll look back at verse 14 the first piece of armor. Paul says as he envisions a Roman soldier in his full battle regalia, "Stand, therefore, having gird your waist with truth.”
And primarily we said he has in mind here truthfulness or an attitude of readiness, commitment without hypocrisy.
The term here, having your waist girded is associated in Hebrew thinking with the idea of readiness or preparedness. This is a very common phrase in Jewish thought. The Apostle Paul is calling for the very same thing in a spiritual sense.
And what Paul is telling us is that we must a have a readiness for the battle, we must be prepared and committed for it. And so we suggested to you the idea here is commitment.
Tonight, let’s look at the second piece of equipment: 
You'll notice in verse 14 that he mentions a breastplate, and Paul calls it the breastplate of righteousness. No Roman soldier in his right mind would ever go into a battle without his breastplate. 
Even if he could fight off the personal foe that he was fighting with he might get shot through with an arrow coming from the other forces and be hit a vulnerable area.  So he would always wear a breastplate.
Now Roman soldiers had different kinds of breastplates.  Some of them were made out of linen, a very heavy linen that was covered with the hooves or horns of animals.  They would slice them into thin slices and then cover the linen with them. 
They sometimes used a covering of metal pieces in the same way.  The most familiar one that we know about are those molded metal chest plate that goes all the way from the base of the neck to the top of the thighs, covering all that vital area.
Now when I began studying the armor, one of the things I wanted to see was if there is a prioritizing of the armor; any reason they are mentioned in the order they are.  And I will tell you, that is very difficult to do.  It’s hard to determine if one piece of the armor is any more or less important than the other. 
After all, the instruction is to put on the “whole armor of God”.  So we cannot say that one is specifically ranking first another second, another third. And yet it seems to me that, that the key to all of this is the breastplate of righteousness.
Listen:  if there is not righteousness in your life, chances are you're not going to have commitment, if there is not a genuine righteousness in your life you're not going to have the shield of faith or the shoes of peace.  Nor will you have the helmet of salvation and you're not going to wield the sword unless you are committed to righteousness in your life.
So the breastplate of righteousness is just a way of saying a right relationship to God.  Things must be right between you and God and that seems to me to be the bottom line. Commitment actually is born out of that, it's when you get right with God that the commitment takes place.
So what I want to do is talk about this concept of the breastplate of righteousness for a minute.
1.  The Image of the Breastplate
Obviously you know that in a battle the area you've got to protect is right in here. The helmet would protect the head area. 
But in the kind of battle that Paul seems to have in mind, hand to hand combat, they were using a short sword and it wouldn't be the kind that you could cut somebody's head off with. 
So this was the vital area here. And what they were endeavoring to protect was the heart and what the Jews referred to as the bowels. 
In other words, the mid-section where all of the other organs are, the functional organs of the body. And so a breastplate covered two vital areas, the heart and the bowel area.
Now to the Jew this had a great significance.
Symbolically the heart represented the mind. The Bible says, "As a man thinks in his (what?) heart so is he." "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts-"The heart is the thinking aspect of life.
We are reminded that "The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked." Thinking is associated with the heart.
The bowels, on the other hand, are associated with feelings and emotions. It talks about the bowels of compassion or shutting up the bowels of love and not loving someone properly. And this is because emotions give us feelings in our stomach.
Emotions hit us in the stomach; we ache in our stomach when certain emotions are felt and so to the Hebrew this is a good way to demonstrate it. The heart then means the thinking process and the bowels refer to the emotions.
So take that and apply it to what Paul is saying here about the armor.  He says you must protect your heart and your mind.  Why?  
Because Satan wants to attack a believer in two areas primarily, one, in his thinking, two, in his emotions. We need the protection that righteousness provides because Satan is attempting to feed your thinking and emotions with false information.
He wants to cloud your mind with false doctrine, lies, religious untruth, anything he can, and he wants to appeal to the wrong parts of your emotions.  He wants to illicit evil emotional responses, he wants to twist and pervert your affections.
And so the sum of it is if you protect your thinking and your feeling from the attacks of Satan you're impregnable. He'll try to confuse your mind with false doctrine or he'll try to confuse your emotions to make you long for, lust for, feel after and have affection for the wrong things.
Now, if you just take the mind and the emotions together they encompass everything that causes us to act.  For instance, that would include the concept of knowledge.  That's the first key to battling against the attacks of Satan.  You've got to have a certain amount of knowledge and understanding that is protected by the breastplate of righteousness.
You must have your emotions under control.  Otherwise, Satan moves into your life with the things he wants you to do and if you are not protected emotionally, you’ll respond wrongly. 
So Satan is constantly seeking to snatch away the Word of God from your mind and fill it with lies, fill it with perversion, fill up your mind with garbage, fill up your mind with a morality that isn't God's, fill up your mind with a theology that isn't God's, fill up your mind with all kinds of untruth and half-truth, so he attacks the mind.
He wants you to wrongly understand things, he doesn't want you to interpret things rightly.  He wants you to say about sin, oh it's not so bad, so he literally drowns you in a sea of it so you become very tolerant of it and he entertains you with it so that you don't think it's as evil as it really is.
So he has you laughing at sin on your television or in the movies, he has you hearing it put to beautiful tunes in music so that it clouds and confuses the clear thinking of your mind. From there he moves to destroy your conscience, to get you to do. things that you shouldn't do.  He wants to sear a conscience that once warned you that soon will not warn you any longer. 
He tries debilitate your will, breaking down your will, he wants to confuse your emotions by causing you to feel wrongfully toward things, he wants to corrupt your desires, he wants to draw your affections to the wrong things. And all of this attack comes by Satan in that vital area.
So Paul underscores the significance of the breastplate of righteousness.  The protection against those attacks is righteousness.
If you will protect your thinking and your feeling, you're impregnable against Satan.
Now what is the righteousness of which Paul speaks?
2.  The Significance of Righteousness
There are three possible things to consider:
One would be self-righteousness, two would be imputed righteousness, and three would be practical righteousness.
Either he's talking about our own self-righteousness, he's talking about the righteousness of Christ given to us or he's talking about living out the righteousness of Christ given to us.
We'll look and see which is the case.
Let's look first of all at the concept of our own righteousness.  There are some people who think they're all right, just because they're good folks.
Now why would we possibly be tempted to think we’re “good enough” on our won without Christ?  Because ultimately Satan wants to send us to hell and if he can just convince us we’re alright on our own, he wins.
Our own righteousness will not be sufficient to get us to heaven so obviously self-righteousness is not the breastplate of righteousness.
What about “imputed righteousness”?  If I get to go to heaven, it won’t be by my own goodness, so how do I get there?  I must have the righteousness of God which is by faith in Christ.
And when you become a believer you reach out your hand of faith, take hold of the hand of God through Jesus Christ, at that moment the righteousness of Christ is imputed to you. God clothes you in the righteousness of Christ. God puts over you as it were a canopy of the absolute holiness of Jesus Christ, and from that moment to the eons of eternity when God looks at you He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ. "He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." God puts a veil over you and every time He sees you He sees you as righteous in Christ.
That's what the theologians call imputed righteousness.  Your own is useless, so God shares His with us. 
But that’s still not what we have here in Ephesians 6. 
There's even another step. We certainly aren’t covered and protected by our own righteousness, but do you want to know something?  Even the righteousness of God granted to you in salvation is only the basis of your breastplate. It just tells us about the nature and  character of the breastplate, but it's not the breastplate itself.  You must take it a step further.
Getting saved is not the end of the journey, but the beginning.  It’s the starting place.  Paul talked about “pressing on toward the mark”.  He knew he was saved by the imputed righteousness of Christ, but he also knew there was more. 
Philippians 3
And what he is really saying is imputed righteousness is that which makes practical righteousness possible.
Listen, when you were saved you were given the righteousness of Jesus Christ and that righteousness will cover you for all eternity.  But in order for you to live the kind of life that wins the battle over Satan you must apply righteous principles available to you in His righteousness to the matter of your daily living.
There are Christians who think that because they have the imputed righteousness of Christ it doesn't matter what they do.
Listen:  just because we are covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ doesn't guarantee that we live every moment as we ought to.  It only guarantees that we can if we choose to. 
There's a difference between position and practice.  Your position is secure forever but your practice doesn't always match up.  So we seek to develop a lifestyle of righteousness through the daily discipline of our Christian walk.  And that’s when you get the breastplate. The breastplate is on when we are living a righteous and holy life.
This isn’t human righteousness, and it’s not even imputed righteousness that Paul is majoring on here.  It's a matter of daily, moment by moment choices. Practical righteousness puts the armor on. Holy living is the breastplate.  It’s when the practical matches the positional. 
And somewhere along the line we’ve forgotten to teach and expect that Christians are to be different.  If you don't live a holy life you lose. You say, well what do you lose?
Number one, you're going to lose your joy, I'll promise you that. If you do not live a righteous life God withholds from you His blessing. First John says, "These things are written, that your joy may be full." But the idea is they're written so that in obeying them your joy will be full.  And if there is no obedience, there is no joy.
You want to know why so many Christians are sad and depressed and unhappy?  It is a lack of personal holiness.  They don’t need counseling and pills.  They need to get on their knees, confess their sin and get up and live for the Lord. 
Listen, if you've got problems in your life the first place to look is at your own holiness. If you've got problems in your marriage that's the first place to look, and I'll guarantee you right now if you're not living a holy life you'll have problems because God withholds His blessing.
And as a result of our lack of righteousness we lack protection.  Instead of the breastplate of righteousness we are wearing a paper bib like a baby. 
We tie on the breastplate of counseling or programs or some church activity, and it’s nothing more than paper armor.  And it is absolutely useless unless it points you to the requirement of personal righteousness.  Personal happiness is a matter of personal righteousness. 
Our family is having problems.  Well what you need is 10 or 12 sessions with a counselor. So they put on the paper breastplate. That's not what you need.  What you need is about 10 or 12 hours in the presence of God until you sort out the unholy characteristics in your life and get right with Him.
Listen:  we don't need any more programs or methods.  What we do need is holiness in our lives. 
We’re about to drown in a sea of Christian activity and programs and techniques and methods.  But it is just stuff that has no ultimate effect on the real issue  if it does not have as its destination practical righteousness. 
Look at your own life, do you have problems in your family? Check your own holiness. Are you faithful in reading the Word of God?  Is your prayer life what it ought to be?  Are you loving your family the way you should?  Are you sharing your faith consistently and passionately? 
Are you giving to the Lord what you ought to give sacrificially and taking care of the stewardship of all the rest of it that you keep? Because if you're not why would you expect your life to go well?
Refuse to put on the breastplate of righteousness and you’ll lose your joy and protection
Another thing that's going to happen is you're going to lose your fruitfulness.  You’ll become non-productive. You're going to shrivel on the vine.
And I'll give you a third thing: you're going to lose your reward. Some of you are going to diminish the capacity for service to God throughout eternity in heaven.
And I'll add one other thing and I think it is the saddest of all:  you'll bring reproach on God's glory.
Why would you want to live like that? Are you so ungrateful to God that you would number one, live a sinful life, an unrighteous life and forfeit the joy that He wants to give? Would you say no to His gifts?
Are you so ungrateful to God's potential in you that you would live an unrighteous life and say no to the thing that He wants to produce through your life?
Would you say no to God in terms of what He wants for you to enjoy throughout all eternity in His heavenly Kingdom by restricting yourself?   Would you say no to God who seeks glory in the midst of men by living an unrighteous life that brings down His name? See how foolish it is? And it's all an affront to Him.
God as it were stands on the end of heaven the edge of heaven, His hands are filled with blessing.  Those blessings include joy, fruitfulness, rewards and glory for Himself and would you turn your back and chase your own sinfulness?
So here’s what it boils down to:  Get your armor on.  This is war. Don’t give Satan any chance to get a hold on your life.  All he wants is to find one little opportunity in your heart and mind to attack. 
The key to defending against it is personal righteousness.  And let me remind you:  in the end, we win. 
In the end you're going to be victorious.  There is no sense in forfeiting all of the great things that God has for you now. He wants you to know joy, and fruitfulness and productive ministry and reward in glory, and I know it'll all happen when we're committed to real righteousness.
In closing, listen to the words of John Newton:
"Though many foes beset you round, and feeble is your arm, your life is hid with Christ in God beyond the realm of harm.
Weak as you are you shall not fade or fainting shall not die, Jesus the strength of every saint will aid you from on high.
Though unperceived by mortal sense, faith sees Him always near, a guide, a glory, a defense, then what have you to fear?
As surely as He overcame and triumphed once for you so surely you that love His name shall in Him triumph too."
Let's pray.
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