Armour of God Part one, Part 2a, Part 2b, Part 2c
I doubt a week ever goes by without the enemy wagging his boney, little finger of condemnation in my face. he usually doesn’t have to wag it very long, though, before I take over condemning myself – a consequence of having removed my breastplate of righteousness.
“and having put on the breastplate of righteousness..” (Ephesians 6:14b)
The enemy loves to bring up our past sins, whether it was 20 years ago or yesterday, and shoot his arrows directly at our hearts –
Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!
If we’ve taken off our breastplate of righteousness – our claim to righteousness through Jesus alone - we are completely open and vulnerable to those attacks. The arrows of guilt sink deep into our hearts and we stumble in the knowledge that we have sinned against our beloved God. We condemn ourselves and our usefulness is lessened because we aren’t standing in the righteousness that is ours. Many times we will then try to earn our righteousness back by – performing this good work or being “perfect” - then we’ll be made right before God, we reason.
“But Jesus said, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)
Today, that’s kind of like saying, unless you’re more righteous than the Pope, you’ll never get to heaven. So many people look at that statement, and because their idea of righteousness is being a religious leader, or serving at church, or feeding the hungry or being a missionary, or any other type of work, they think they’ll never make it.
But Jesus boldly made that statement because the scribes and Pharisees were missing it. They thought it was all about their own self-righteousness rather than a righteousness that comes through faith in God.
Even Christians, knowing they have been justified through Christ alone, can try to earn God’s love and favor through good works. We couldn’t earn righteousness through good works before salvation, and we’ll never be able to earn it that way after.
“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
Did you suffer so many things in vain--if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith-- just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’?
Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’
So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.’ (Deut. 27:26) Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith." (Galatians 3:1-11)
It is by your faith in Jesus Christ that you have been made righteous. We can so quickly forget that we haven’t been given a second-class righteousness that works sometimes and sometimes doesn’t; we have the righteousness of Jesus Christ that we now claim by faith through His precious blood that was shed on Calvary. If you have that faith in Him, you have been justified and are no longer guilty of even one sin you committed. God has declared you to be innocent of all charges.
So, let us add to our royal armour the breastplate of righteousness, along with our belts of truth, so that when the enemy tries to dredge up the past to condemn us, our hearts will be defended as we boldly stand in the righteousness that is ours through faith in our everlasting Lord, Jesus Christ.
Once we’re saved we will still sin, but there are still no works we can do that will erase the guilt. There is only one thing to do: fall into the waiting and loving arms of the Lord, asking for forgiveness. The enemy’s arrows can no longer touch you as you remember that even before the words, “I’m sorry” are uttered from your lips, you’re already forgiven and have been since that day on Calvary.