Putting on the Breastplate of Righteousness – The Armor of God | Kyle Winkler

– After battling for years with issues that I didn’t like, I protested to God, Your Word promises I am made new, but I don’t feel so new. What more do I have to do? Now understand, my argument came nearly a decade into my Christianity. Perhaps you can relate. Are there issues that
you still struggle with, even though you’re well into your faith? Or maybe you’re new in the faith, and while yes, certain qualities about you have definitely changed, do you wonder why others haven’t? Shorty after my complaint to God, He directed me to the
foundation of what makes us new. Becoming His righteousness. Maybe that’s not what you expected. But as I discovered,
this isn’t a new concept. It’s encouraged all
throughout the New Testament. Still, many of us don’t
know what this means or really how to do it. For so long, I definitely didn’t. But as we’ll learn why in this session, God showed me becoming His righteousness is the crucial component for
victory in our lives today. In Ephesians 6:14, Paul continues in his list of the articles of the armor. He encourages, “Stand therefore, having put on the breast
plate of righteousness.” The Roman soldier’s breastplate was one of the most identifying
pieces of his armor, it couldn’t go unnoticed. As you see here, it covered the shoulders, the chest, and the sides of the soldier with plates of bronze or iron. Scaled with these plates, it was also one of the most
beautiful pieces of the armor because it reflected the sun and glistened as the soldier marched about. Paul uses the breastplate
as an elaborate illustration of the righteousness we have in Christ. Now, I know righteousness
is a big theological word, and I’m gonna use it a lot I this session, so let’s take a moment
to explore what it is, what it means, and how we
apply it for victory today. (soft music) Most simply put, righteousness is right-ness. It’s the quality of being
innocent, good, acceptable. In fact just before he
writes about the whole armor, Paul teaches that this is the very quality of who God is. In Ephesians 4:24, he says, “Put on the new self created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” This idea of the new
self, is what you heard that I grappled with for
like the first decade of my Christianity. I complained to God that
I didn’t always feel new. Old struggles, feelings, emotions too often plagued me even
though I was a Christian and made me feel like I
was someone who was wrong. God answered my grapplings with 2 Corinthians 5:21, which says, “For our sake, God made Jesus to be sin who knew no sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Through this single verse, God showed me the two components that make our new life possible, and the key in it to experiencing it right here, right now on this earth today. The first component to the new life is the first part of that verse, that God sent Jesus to
be sin who knew no sin Believing this truth marks the moment of salvation. When you understand that Jesus became your sin on the cross to crucify it, once and for all. At that point the old is gone, it’s dead. Heaven is then your home. But too often we stop right there, and go on to try to
live our Christian life from there, I know I certainly did. What God revealed to me is the key to victory in this life
is the second component, which is the second part of that verse. It says, “so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” You see, after you give your old identity of sinner to Jesus, you then have to take on His identity, and see yourself in His identity, which is righteousness. This is the great identity exchange. When Jesus takes your old, and you receive His new. When I finally got this, I saw that for the first 10 years of my Christian life I was constantly trying to fight the
old, to try to feel new. It was all about what I could do. When in truth is the big idea, that we’re exploring
throughout this study, I didn’t need to fight. I simply needed to learn how to stand in the
identity I already had, (soft music)
because of Jesus’ victory. This is precisely what the breastplate in the whole armor is designed for, to help you stand in
your rightness in God. Though the breastplate was beautiful, don’t discount as
something for mere vanity. The soldier certainly felt it’s weight which was probably 40 pounds or more. Still, the protection that it offered over the vital organs,
especially the heart, was certainly worth it’s heftiness. Throughout scripture the word, heart, rarely refers to the blood pumping organ, that we know of it as today, but rather, heart often indicates the core of a person. The biblical heart
consists of the thoughts, the emotions, the spiritual parts, the inner being of who they are. It represents identity. Think about what this means for some of the famous Bible verses that we know, use the word, heart. In Psalm 9:1, David exclaims, “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.” Basically David boasts
that I will thank God with everything that’s in me. God, I will use my emotions, my thoughts, even the things in me that I don’t like, to praise You. We should ask ourselves
what it would look like, what it would mean for
each of us to do the same. Understanding heart as who you are also dramatically changes what we do with Proverbs 4:23, which says, “Keep your
heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” The instruction here is to protect your belief about yourself, because what you believe about yourself, influences how you behave, which then dictates what you become. This is how the enemy uses definition to lead to defeat. Righteousness is the primary identifier of our identities is so important because Satan seeks to
assault us at our cores. Sure, he’ll inflict
pain and grief at times, but he gets so much more mileage out of going after our thoughts and our beliefs with his
whispers and accusations. He seeks to get at who we are, in order to steal our identities and replace it with any
number of his defeated ones. Just as we observed through the story of Adam and Eve’s fall, he often gets our attentions with a question to get us to doubt God’s word. Something like, did God say? Ever hear one of these, did God say that you’re
really forgiven of that past? Did God say that He loves
you, despite that issue? Did God say that He’ll provide for you? Did God say that He has a plan for you? Just as we saw with the first couple, he then follows his questions with a lie. He pointed them to fruit, and he’ll point you to
all the filthy fruit of your life to suggest
why God shouldn’t love you, why God shouldn’t provide for you, why God shouldn’t forgive you, why God shouldn’t heal you. These might sound like,
look at what you’ve done. Look at how you still fail, God can’t love you, God can’t use you. You’re the exception to His promises. These are the lies that provide
the defeated definitions that many of us have about ourselves. They influence our behaviors and then they work to transform us into something that God never intended. What lies have you heard? What have they made you
believe about yourself? Where has all of that lead? As we saw with the first couple, the enemy’s lies led them to hide from God out of the belief that they were wrong. But God came pursuing them. And He came pursuing them with a covering that made them right, again. That’s how Jesus’
righteousness works for us too. In putting on righteousness we become the righteousness of God. Now, that doesn’t mean that all feelings, all memories, all symptoms go away. But what it does mean is
that you don’t have to fear or be ashamed of what those things might mean about you. It means that, despite wrong feelings, (soft music)
you are a right person. Despite a wrong history
you are a right person. Despite wrong symptoms
you are a right person. Despite wrong memories
you are a right person. It mean Christ rights you, despite you. (soft music) Allow me to hone in on what I just said for a moment, because so many people misunderstand righteousness
as something they do. But that’s why we often feel so defeated, because you can never do enough. And certainly you can never
do it perfectly enough. And the devil is always there to remind us that we can’t do it good enough. But rather, as Paul
teaches, God’s righteousness is an identity that He freely gives us as a gift that we simply have to put on. You see, throughout the Old Testament, God established hundreds
of laws that His people needed to perfectly satisfy in order to be right with Him. But they always fell way
short, they couldn’t do it. But God knew this. He established those
laws only as a temporary demonstration to them and us, that you can’t achieve your way, you can’t work your way, you can’t behave your way to Him. It was all meant to point to Jesus who He sent to do the
achieving, the behaving, the working for us, and then allow us to share in His credit. Think about it like one
of those school projects, where you team up with the smart kid and get him to do all the work and then allow him to have
you put your name on it. Anybody want to admit
to that in your youth? Well, Jesus is kind of
like that smart kid. He did all the work of satisfying all the requirements
for rightness with God. But the cool thing is, is we
don’t have to twist His arm, but rather, He wants us
to share in the credit. He wants us to put our names on His work, so that we too, are considered righteous. Hear this, helping 100 old
ladies across the street won’t work your guilt away. You can give all your money to the poor, and it won’t convince God to accept you. You can write 100 books,
preach 1000 messages, climb the ladder of corporate success, and none of that will add one
iota to your significance. In Christ, you are already guiltless, you are already accepted,
you are already significant. You are right. Not because of what you do for Him, but because of what He did for you. The breastplate was tightly
fastened to the soldier which made it one of the
most immovable pieces. Nobody could take it off
except for the soldier himself. Your righteousness in Christ is the same. It’s not just a quality about you, but it becomes who you
are, which is immovable. Think of it this way, the theological term for when old becomes new
is called regeneration. Now, I know that’s a big word. So don’t get caught up in that. But I like regeneration, because inside of it is another word which provides a great word picture for what happened when
you became a Christian. The first six letters of
regeneration, spells regene. Think about that, our genes
dictate so much about us. The shape of our features, the color of our eyes, our hair, our skin, some of our personality predispositions. Some of us have skinny jeans and others of us, a
little more loose fitting. My point is, is that we get our genes from our parents and in the natural they make up who we are, they’re unchangeable and immovable. It’s the same in your spiritual life. When you became a
Christian, the Bible says that you were born again, as God’s child. That literally means that you were regened with characteristics of who Jesus is. This is why old became new, dirty became clean,
and wrong became right. At your salvation, you became
the righteousness of God. Nobody and no battle can take that away. (soft music) See yourself adorned in the beauty of the breastplate of righteousness, protected by its weight. Go about your everyday life knowing that you reflect the Son. Not the S-U-N but the S-O-N. Yes, you look like Jesus, because you’re covered in Jesus. Being convinced of your
righteousness in God is one of the greatest
ways to win your battles. Because, when the enemy
comes with all his attacks, his threats, his lies, and
his accusations saying, look what you’ve done,,
you’re not good enough, you know that they have no merit, because you’re covered
in Jesus, after all. You have an identity in
Christ that the devil cannot accuse because it’s not about you. It’s about the identity of Jesus, the one in whom the
devil can find no fault, and that’s victory. (soft music) Made new and made right. These aren’t merely external
attributes about you. But they’re truths about
who you are in Christ. As we just explored, the
soldier’s breastplate was the most beautiful piece of the armor. Each of it’s scales glistened
as they reflected the sun. In the same way, your righteousness in
Christ covers who you were, with perfect reflection of who He is. As the breastplate,
protected the soldiers heart, so Jesus’ righteousness
protects who you are. As one adorned in Him, accepted, valued, whole, and holy. Finally, it’s so crucial to remember, just as the soldier’s
breastplate was the most immovable part of his armor, so is your rightness in Jesus. You were regened with who He is. Nobody and no battle can take that away. So, “Stand therefore, having
fastened on the belt of truth and having put on the
breastplate of righteousness.”

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