Throughout our SWAT series, we are learning from the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6 about how to fend off spiritual attacks from our Enemy, the devil. The Enemy attempts to attack us through invitation or invasion... and sin in our lives can be like rolling out a welcome mat for him at the front door of your soul! But, with the belt of truth strapped around your waists, you can then add to your Armor with the Breastplate of Righteousness.
In Paul's day, Roman soldiers put on the breastplate - which acted as a metal shield - to protect the heart. See, the breastplate represents righteousness in the Armor of God, which Prescilla Shirer defines as "upright living that aligns with God's expectations." It's obedience. It's intentionally choosing a lifestyle that aligns with God's standards! But, you may be wondering... why is righteousness so important?
GUARD YOUR HEART
Guys, the Enemy loves to attack us at our weakest moments... he probes for areas in our lives where we mess up. We can pray in our battles, but if we're living in unrighteousness, our prayers will not be effective! The breastplate of Righteousness is what guards our hearts in battle. See, when the Bible speaks of your heart, it's referring to the intersection of your mind, your will, your emotions, and your conscience. All of the "little sins" we tolerate represent dangerous holes in our Armor... and if you ignore your heart for long enough, it will grow numb!
FLESH VS SPIRIT
So, in our battles, what does putting on the righteousness of Christ even mean? It's not striving for perfection... people who strive for man-made perfection typically wind up prideful or in despair. See, the world doesn't need another perfect person... Jesus Christ lived the only perfect, obedient life in human history and he died on the Cross to pay for our sins! We can't exhaust ourselves trying to reach an unattainable goal.
CARRYING THE WEIGHT
Remember... The breastplate came after the belt in the Armor of God, and the belt carries the weight of the breastplate. Likewise, we were never meant to carry the weight of perfection on our own shoulders - that weight was carried by Jesus at the Cross. Not only did Jesus pay the debt of our sin, but he exchanged our sin for his life and credited us with his own righteousness... this is called the imputed righteousness of God. Now, when God looks at you, he sees a perfect person... His son Jesus in You!
YOUR SECRET WEAPON… THE HOLY SPIRIT!
The moment you trust Jesus Christ as your Savior, the Bible says you receive a new power for living... His Holy Spirit living inside of you! It's the Spirit's job to sanctify you, which is the process by which you are molded into the image of Christ. As you open your heart to God, the Holy Spirit changes you and starts guiding your conscience.
A NEW CREATION
Whatever you do, don't resist this change... While the Spirit's work might feel like harsh chipping and chiseling at times, let the Spirit do his work so you can stand strong with the Breastplate of Righteousness in your spiritual battles. This week in your Small Groups, be open, honest and vulnerable. If you're struggling this week, let others encourage you... pray for you... and hold you accountable so you can walk strong in the Spirit and not gratify the desires of the flesh!