~from Chuch Missler’s study, Armor for the Age of Deceit:

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“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God… Having put on the breastplate of righteousness…” Eph 6:10, 11, 14

Most of us don’t wear battle armor today. Yet here is a command in God’s Word to appropriate for ourselves the weaponry to protect ourselves, or else we are sitting ducks in conflicts which we cannot avoid. What is the “breastplate of righteousness?”

The Roman Model:
The Roman breastplate was typically made of bronze, backed with leather. It was designed to protect the vital area. A blow through this was usually fatal.

What is your most dangerous vulnerability? Or, alternatively, What is your most important stewardship? There are many good answers: your family, etc. However, I suggest that your most critical area is your heart. The breastplate covered the heart. (A concordance search on “heart” can be very instructive.)

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are (all) the issues of life.”  -Proverbs 4:23

National Righteousness:
Alexis de Tocqueville, in his famed analysis of America, summarized, “America is great because she is good. If she ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” – Proverbs 14:34

During Israel’s conquest of the Land of Canaan, personal sins resulted in national defeats. Joshua’s tragic defeat at Ai is but one example (Josh 7).

When asked, “What is the biggest problem in America?” General Norman Schwarzkopf replied, “Lack of integrity.” When asked the same question, author Larry Abraham answered, “Lack of justice.” And he subsequently relocated himself outside the United States.

The increasing evidence of corruption in government, in business, and in personal lives continues to propel us toward God’s judgment on our land.

Personal Uprightness:
It is easy to point the blame at other people, but the truth is we need to start with ourselves. Walking in righteousness means that we actively tell the truth and do what is right. David was heavily concerned with integrity and uprightness in his personal life (Psalms 7:3-5). 

Our own commitment to personal integrity needs to extend to a fiduciary loyalty to our employer (1 Cor 4:2; Eph 6:5,6; Col 3:22), staying current on our payables, and maintaining the sanctity of all of our commitments. But rather than dwell on our own inept pursuit of personal righteousness, I believe that there is an even larger issue involved here.

True Righteousness:
People have different ideas about righteousness. We must understand that righteousness is something we are, not something we do. Righteousness within us affects what we do, but what we do does not make us righteous.

In Matthew 5:20, Jesus said, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

What a blow for the Jew! They looked up to their professional law-keepers-men who dedicated themselves to keeping every yot and tittle of the law! And even that wasn’t good enough! [They have been much maligned in modern NT viewpoints, but they were, indeed, a dedicated lot. They fasted at least one day a week and gave their savings to the poor, etc.]

“Pharisee” means “separated.” Separation from the world does not mean salvation as far as God is concerned (John 8:44). Jesus called them liars, vipers, and hypocrites.

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men’s] bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” – Matthew 23:27, 28. 

What a stinging rebuke to the religiously righteous individuals of that day. (Jesus, whenever encountering sinners of almost every kind, was kind, caring, and forgiving. There was only one group that invariably encountered His ire: the religionists pandering their own ritualistic righteousness.)

These were not the last group of individuals to develop a destructive system of self-righteousness in the name of God. There are many “very righteous” religions. They always include steps to entering the kingdom. There are sacraments to be kept. Certain prayers prescribed to be offered regularly. Special forms of communion and confession which are mandatory. There often is a specific dress code and other expectations of social and dietetic performance.

This all started when Adam and Eve attempted to cover themselves with aprons of fig leaves(Gen 3:7).  God replaced them with coats of animal skins (Gen 3:21), teaching them that by the shedding of innocent blood they would be covered. This was, of course, already pointing to the Cross.

Religious righteousness can save no one. God says that this type of righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). External forms of righteousness have always competed with the true faith in Christ as the means of salvation and security.

[This article was excerpted from Chuck Missler’s study, Armor for the Age of Deceit. ]

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