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You've got a Chest Protector

Body and Soul Armor – Piece Two. Ephesians 6.10-17  ‘We had gone to the marketplace very early in the morning as we usually did. My mother said it was the best time to get fresh goods and usually the safest for Jewish Christians in our small village. Yesterday whilst there, eight soldiers came through, taking what they wanted from the vendors. I hid behind my mother’s skirts, but could not help peeking around her to look at them. They seemed so big, so strong, and they frightened me. But I couldn’t take my eyes off their shiny chests—all of them wore this, this vest kind of thing made out of metal, and really, it was beautiful! Oh, they had other kinds of battle wear, but none of it compared. When they passed through, my mother hurriedly finished, and we went back home…’ What caught the young lad’s eye? Twas the breastplate of the Roman soldier. As Paul closes out his writing in Ephesians, he employs the armor of the Roman soldier to illustrate the strength believers have to stand against evil in this world. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place…” Why is Paul writing thus? What is he preparing the Christian to be able to do? To stand strong--no matter what comes our way. Four times, Paul wills the believer to be able to stand, rather than get knocked down when evil strikes. In the last briefing, I wrote about the belt of truth,1 the first item that Paul told Christians to don. Truth is fundamental, essential and foundational for you and I to be able to stand. Our faith is nothing if not true; and we are weak, if we do not know the truths of Christianity. We keep in mind this entire passage was written to empower believers in the struggle against evil in this world—the devil attacks our minds first--with lies intended to keep us defeated. In Jesus, in the Word of God … we have Truth. The second piece of armor the soldier donned was his breastplate. The breastplate was constructed of brass or bronze and weighed at least 40 pounds—it was a substantial piece of equipment! Its main function—to protect the heart of the soldier. Why does the Christian putting on Righteousness prepare him to stand against evil? Check it out: when we apprehend the work of Jesus on the cross by faith, inviting his forgiveness of our sins, we become righteous—not because of anything we have done, but because of what he did.2 God made Christ, "who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."3 And in terms of standing when assailed by evil, we are the strongest when the way we live matches what we say we believe—that is to say, when we follow and obey God’s Word, putting on righteousness.4 Therefore, to put on the breastplate of Righteousness means we have put on Christ’s righteousness and that we also adopt the highest character as well. Otherwise, we are something like the double-minded man who James describes, unstable in our ways—saying we are one thing, but living another. It leaves us vulnerable to doubt, guilt and insecurities. Rather the opposition to temptation is best carried on by the positive cultivation of good. A habit of righteous conduct is itself a defence against temptation.5 I love what Paul said a bit earlier in this letter, Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.6 The Roman breastplate guarded the heart of the soldier; the breastplate of Righteousness guards the heart of the follower of Jesus Christ, and makes it impregnable--by difficult circumstances, by lies in our culture, by the lies of the evil one. So let's daily get in the Word and get the Word into us, talk to our Father and grow in our character to become more like Christ - as the Holy Spirit continues to transform and reform who we are! This enables us to stand strong in his righteousness - no matter what comes our way. Our God is Faithful - Vertical Worship: Armor up, Christine

1 – Body and Soul Armor – If you want to be strong... 2 – positional righteousness 3 – 2 Corinthians 5.21 4 - practical righteousness 5 – Alexander Maclaren 6 - Ephesians 4.1

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