When I started yesterday’s blog I hadn’t intended to work my way through all the elements of the armour. I was just thinking how good it was that in Jesus we have all the protection from the enemy that we need. Then when I started thinking about the ‘Breastplate’ it felt as if the Lord was highlighting that He wants His people to know, with certainty, that in this piece of armour He has given us the perfect protection for our hearts, and that we need to use it everyday.
When Paul encouraged the christians to ‘Put on the whole armour of God’ he gave them a reason why. He said it was ‘so that you can take your stand against the devils’ schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood (human beings) but against rulers…… against the spiritual forces in the heavenly realms.’ Remember also what John saw in heaven, he saw that the devil ‘who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down’, Revelation 12:10.
He may have been hurled away from the throne of God with His accusations, because our sacrificial Lamb is on the throne, Revelation 5:6, but he still ‘’prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’ on earth, 1Peter 5:8. I think one of the ways in which he ‘devours’ us is to keep reminding us of past sin and mistakes, heaping on us all the guilt, shame, blame and condemnation that he can. The amount he can heap on us will in fact be the amount that we let him dump on us if we don’t put on our breastplate.
The devil – being the master of half truths – will be only too pleased to remind us that you have to be perfectly righteous to come before the Lord, and of course he is right, but if we only get that half of the truth, if we haven’t fully grasped what Jesus has done for us, we may find ourselves feeling bad for not being perfect. We may even find ourselves trying to make up for mistakes made, and atone for sins committed, even though we know that ‘God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.’ 2 Corinthians 5:21.
Well Jesus didn’t go through all the agony of the cross, for us to give in to the accusations of the enemy and feel bad about ourselves or try to add our own efforts to his sacrifice. When He said ‘it is finished’ it was the same word as ‘completed’. He was the perfect sacrifice and we cannot add anything to it to make ourselves right with God. We need to join the Hymn writer who wrote ‘I have no other righteousness, I have no other plea. It is enough that Jesus died and that He died for me’. That is putting on the breastplate of righteousness, for which Jesus paid such a heavy price.
If we don’t understand just how perfectly righteous we are in Christ, then his accusations will stick to us as if we were made of Velcro. If on the other hand, we are clear about being clothed in the righteousness of Christ, then the devils’ reminders, smears and accusations will run off of us. We will be like the ‘Teflon’ pan, none of his accusations will stick to us. We will know that God sees us as completely clean, as ‘freely justified’, Romans 3:24. Just as if we’d never sinned. I believe that God wants us to know that we bring most honour to Jesus when we live guilt free, shame free and condemnation free!
So how do we make sure that we keep this breastplate in place, over our heart, protecting us from all accusations? Well it is held in place by the ‘belt of truth’, so here are some truths with which you can anchor your breastplate when under attack. 1 John1:9 ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness’. Romans 8:1 ‘Therefore there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus’. Psalm 103:12 ‘as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us’.
There are of course many scriptures we can use in this way. It’s worth compiling a list. Putting on this piece of armour is simply a question of saying “thank you” to God for these wonderful truths, thanking Jesus for what He has done for us, and then fully embracing it all for yourself. It’s agreeing with God and accepting His Grace. And as we do, like Godfrey Birtill in the words of the song he wrote in 2003, we will discover that it really is ‘Outrageous Grace’.