As I prepare to continue teaching on the full armor of God, this week I want to explain the importance of the breastplate of righteousness. Last week we took a look at the belt of truth, the key piece to the full armor of God. The belt is what every other piece of equipment attached to as well as provided stability and balance for the soldier. Without the belt, the soldier was doomed to a quick defeat. The belt of truth is the Word of God which teaches us about all of the other pieces of armor and enables us to use them. As believers, we must keep the belt of truth, the Word of God with us at all times by meditating on the Word of God day and night. We study It, think about It, and talk about It. The Word of God corrects us and keeps us on the right path. Now, I want to shift our focus to the righteous lifestyle that God gives us and why it is so important.
I. Important info about the Roman soldier’s breastplate
The breastplate attached to the belt to protect the front side of the soldier’s body while in battle. It was important that the soldier attack moving forward so that he would be protected. If turned to the right or the left, or, if turned around, the soldier would be vulnerable to the enemy’s attack. Paul uses this idea to explain and important truth to us. Paul says the breastplate that we have to protect us is our righteousness. The word righteous literally means being right with God according to His standards. We cannot make ourselves right with God. He must make us right. He has to give us His righteousness and cause us to become the way that He wants us to be. Living right before God protects us from the enemy. During the last lesson, we learned that God uses His Word to teach us, to show us where we are wrong, to correct us, and to train us in obedience. This is the path to righteousness. As we are on this path, we must be aware that there are enemies who want us to turn aside from the right path, making myself vulnerable to the enemy’s attack.
II. Be careful of idols
The enemy wants to use idols to turn you aside from God’s path so that he can attack you and be victorious. An idol is anything, whether good or bad, that takes the place of God in your life. God demands to be number 1. An idol is something that replaces God’s position, taking your focus off of God’s path and leading you astray. This is a dangerous place to be in because you become exposed and an easy target for the enemy. Paul explains this to the believers in the city of Thessaloniki.
People tell us about what sort of welcome we had from you and how you turned to God from idols. As a result, you are serving the living and true God (I Thessalonians 1:9)
Idols turn you away from God. God wants us to say no to idols and yes to God so that we can serve Him. In the Old Testament, God says that idols become a snare to you and turn you away from Him. If you give idols a foothold, they will grab you and drag you away from God so that you become exposed to the enemy’s attacks. As you walk with God, He makes you and keeps you righteous yet you have to choose to say NO to idols, knowing what they will do to your relationship with God, which leaves you exposed to the enemy’s attacks.
III. Know your calling
If you know what God has called you to do and you focus on that, you will be less likely to be turned away by idols. Although they will be all around you, begging for your attention, you keep your focus like a laser beam on the calling that God has given to you. As you attempt to accomplish this calling, your breastplate of righteousness will protect you from the enemy. The question is, “what is that calling?”.
Accept your share of suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Nobody who serves in the military gets tied up with civilian matters, so that they can please the one who recruited them. (II Timothy 2:3-4)
As a believer, you are called to be a good soldier and you do this by pleasing the one who enlisted you, Jesus Christ. In order to do this, you cannot get trapped by idols and you cannot get entangled in every day matters of life. These things may be good but if they take your focus off of your calling then they can become idols. What is your calling?
Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
God has called us to be disciples, people who learn from the Lord and obey what He says and He calls us to make disciples by teaching other people God’s Word, so that they can learn from Christ and obey Him. In order to do this effectively, I cannot be turned aside by idols and I cannot get entangled in the affairs of every day life.