Breastplate of Righteousness

Lately my family and I have been enjoying watching Major League Baseball games on TV. No chance of this ever happening with my boys a few years ago but now that they play baseball, they have shown interest in watching the game on TV. With my husband a baseball coach and having been a baseball fan for many years myself, there’s definitely no complaints here!

The one position that always amazes me is the catcher with all his protective gear. He voluntarily places himself in the path of a 95mph fast ball headed right towards his chest and catches it without flinching!

This most certainly is not the case with my boys when they play this position on their little league teams…the catching part I mean…well and of course the 95mph fast ball part too!

I remember the first time I watched my 5-year old little guy Bryce put on these large pieces of catcher’s equipment. Not only was it entertaining but so stinkin’ cute!

He could barely walk…let alone see a baseball coming towards him! Since kids at his age tend to miss so many balls thrown to them behind the plate, they sure get hit a bunch…pitch after pitch…in the chest. Thank goodness for all their protective gear especially the chest plate!

And interestingly, leave it to us women to get into the act of making catching a safer profession! Legend has it that the wife of Detroit Wolverines catcher Charles Bennett devised a chest pad to protect her husband during games. He wore the creation outside his jersey in 1883. Prior to her creation, catchers did not wear chest protectors outside their uniforms.

She clearly saw the potential for injury or may have already seen her husband injured which prompted her to create this protective chest pad. She wanted to protect her husband from getting seriously injured. I can’t blame her. After all, the chest plate protects the most vital organ in our body…the heart.

As women, we may see the need to protect our husband as did Charles Bennett’s wife… and see the need to protect our children with a chest plate in baseball…but what about you?

Now I am not saying you need a chest plate…well unless you play baseball or softball or another sport requiring it. But what are you doing to protect your own heart?

The Bible instructs us to guard our hearts. Why? Because the heart is the inner being of man (and woman). Our emotions and desires dwell in our heart. Our actions flow out of our heart. We do what is in our heart.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23 NIV

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…Proverbs 23:7 KJV

So how can we protect (guard) our hearts?

In the Bible, Ephesians 6:10-18 specifically describes a “spiritual” chest plate…the breastplate of righteousness…as one of numerous pieces of protective armor that we as Christians are to put on.

This passage uses the imagery of each piece of armor that Roman soldiers put on to represent each piece of armor we…as Christians…are to put on too.

From the belt of truth to the breastplate of righteousness…from fitting our feet with the gospel of peace to the shield of faith…from the helmet of salvation to the sword of the Spirit…we are to put on these pieces of spiritual protective gear…the armor of God… in order to stand firm and fight against the devil’s schemes. (For more on who the devil is and his schemes, check out my previous blog called Your Daily Armor.)

Just as the chest plate protects the baseball catcher’s heart…so too is the purpose of the breastplate worn by the Roman soldier.

The breastplate of the Roman soldier is actually more elaborate covering the front and back of his chest.

The soldier’s breastplate was made of either bronze or brass, usually brass and started from his neck and went all the way down to his knees. It was composed of two different pieces of metal… one went down the front while the other down the back with the two pieces being held together with brass rings on top of the shoulders.

This breastplate is the heaviest piece of the Roman soldier’s armor weighing 40lbs or more. FYI… In the story of David and Goliath, Goliath’s breastplate actually weighed approximately 125lbs!

In order for the soldier to be able to carry this heavy breastplate, the breastplate had loops or buckles that attached it to the soldier’s thick belt. Thus, the weight of the breastplate was held up by the belt.

NOTE: Keep this picture of the breastplate being held up by the belt in your mind as a very important and interesting point will be made later.

And so just as the breastplate “physically” protects the Roman soldier’s heart…the breastplate of righteousness “spiritually” protects our hearts.

Why is it called a breastplate of righteousness and what does righteousness have to do with protecting our hearts?

Righteousness means being or doing what is right in God’s eyes. God’s commandments are righteousness. (Psalm 119:172)

When Paul compares the armor of God with the armor of a Roman soldier, each piece represents a part of God’s strength that He extends to us when we become His children. The breastplate of righteousness refers to the righteousness purchased for us by Jesus at the cross. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, a “breastplate of righteousness” is issued to each of us. It is specially designed by God to protect our heart from the devil’s evil schemes and deception. Because if the devil has access to our hearts…he will have access to our emotions, desires, and actions.

We are instructed to “put on” this armor…which implies that we do not automatically wear it all the time. Putting on the armor of God requires a decision on our part.

In order to put on the breastplate of righteousness, we must first have the belt of truth firmly in place. Why?

OK…so remember how the Roman soldier’s breastplate of righteousness is held up and in place by his thick belt?

Well so too with the belt of truth in our spiritual armor! The breastplate of righteousness is held up by the belt of truth!

The truth is that when Jesus died on the cross, he made a way for all people to be free from the power of sin.

Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6 NIV

Without the belt of truth, our righteousness will be based upon our own attempts and deeds to impress God. This leads to legalism or self-condemnation (Romans 8:1). Our righteousness would never measure up and is even referred to as “filthy rags!”

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6 NIV

We must choose instead to acknowledge that…apart from Christ…we can do nothing (John 15:10). We must see ourselves as “in Christ” and that… regardless of our failures…His righteousness has been credited to our account.
It is God’s righteousness…and not our own…which must serve as our breastplate against the devil and his schemes. And so when the breastplate of righteousness is held up by the belt of truth, we won’t feel burdened by righteousness.

So how do we “put on” this breastplate of righteousness?

By seeking God and His righteousness above everything else. (Matthew 6:33)

By making Him and His ways our dwelling place. (Psalm 91:1)

By delighting in His commands and desiring for His ways to become our ways. (Psalm 37:4; 119:24, 111; Isaiah 61:10)

By obeying and allowing God to work in us when He reveals an area of change to us.

Without the breastplate…a Roman soldier would be asking for death as any attack can instantly become fatal. Without the breastplate of righteousness, we leave ourselves open to death as well.

Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, But righteousness delivers from death. Proverbs 11:4 NASB

Whenever we say “no” to God and “yes” to sin, we open a little crack in the armor where Satan’s arrows can get through. (Ephesians 6:16) As we wear Christ’s breastplate of righteousness, we begin to develop a purity of heart that translates into actions.

Wearing this breastplate creates a lifestyle of putting into practice what we believe in our hearts.

As our lives become conformed to the image of Christ, our choices become more righteous. And consequently, these Godly choices also protect us from further temptation and deception.

It would be silly for a catcher or a Roman soldier to say they don’t need to wear their protective gear…so why would we as Christians think that we don’t need to put on the breastplate of righteousness to protect our hearts…especially when it has been given to us freely?!

Are you using your breastplate of righteousness? It’s never too late to put it on.

Reflection Points:

  1. How are you protecting your heart?
  2. Why is it important for us to protect our hearts?
  3. What does the Bible say about protecting and guarding our hearts?
  4. Did you know that when you accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, that you were given a breastplate of righteousness to protect your heart?
  5. How do we “put on” this breastplate of righteousness?

Action Points:

Refer above to the list of ways we can “put on” this breastplate of righteousness.

 

 

 

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One thought on “Breastplate of Righteousness

  1. I needed this so much, right now. Thank you so much, Taleen. I love the depths that you go to research the backgrounds and how it applies to today. I especially appreciate you talking about the weight of the Romans armor – and that it was on both sides. I never liked it when people say it’s only on the front, so we’re on the offense. Which we are to be, but God still protects us from so much we don’t even know about.

    Love you!

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