“The Breastplate of Righteousness” – Part 2 of a 7 part series on the “Armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-18)
When I was young i was always conflicted when I read James 5:16 – “….The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” I found myself being glad that prayer contained such power, but at the same time, discouraged that, due to what a mess my life is, I wasn’t in a biblical position to offer that kind of prayer.
Then the book of Romans showed up. And I was, in the words of C.S. Lewis, “surprised by joy.”
Continuing his description of the “armor of God,” Paul describes the second piece of armor as “the breastplate of righteousness.” (Ephesians 6:14) For a soldier, the breastplate protected the vital organs, specifically the heart. Spiritually, “heart” denotes the center of a person. Jerry Bridges puts it this way: “The mind as it reasons, discerns, and judges; the emotions as they like or dislike; the conscience as it determines and warns, and the will as it chooses or refuses – all are together called the heart.”
Prior to reading the book of Romans I lived most of my life in perpetual guilt i.e. “As hard as I try – I’ll never be ‘righteous’ enough.” The devil continually rubbed my face in my daily failures. Then, through His Word, Christ shouted truth so loudly into my life I could hear it echo through 20 centuries all the way back to the cross at Calvary. He held me close and said, “Although you fail/sin, ‘there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.’ (Romans 8:1) When the devil points his accusing finger at you, you should say with the Apostle Paul, ‘Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:33-34) (Brian Borgman & Rob Ventura)
This truth remains beyond my grasp. I believe it by faith.
Christ’s “perfect merits are ours by faith alone apart from our works (Romans 4:1-6). His life, death, and resurrection are the complete and final grounds of our acceptance before the Father. We are accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6). When God looks at us, He does not see our filth and sin; rather, He sees the beauties and perfections of His Son that have been credited to our [formerly bankrupt] account. As Christians, our standing before the Almighty is not only ‘just-as-if-i-never-sinned.” Because of Christ’s righteousness, which God reckoned to us, it is ‘just-as-if-i-lived-a-perfect-life.”
So, now – when I pray fervently, I know my prayer is “powerful and effective” – because i am righteous, because of Christ Jesus.
Soli Deo Gloria, nw