Spiritual Armor - The Battle for Righteousness

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There is an old Proverb that says, “A half a fact is a whole falsehood.” Lasts week we talked about actively putting on the “Belt of Truth.” Truth being that which is in accord with fact or reality. We talked about the Battle for truth about Jesus, about the Bible, and some of creation. Today we are going to continue our series in putting on the spiritual armor and talk about “The Battle for Righteousness
.

The Battle for Righteousness

Paul uses the analogy of a Roman Soldier getting ready for battle. The second piece of armor that Paul talks about is the breastplate of righteousness.
The breastplate covered the body from the neck to the thighs. It was known as the “Heart-protector.” The front piece was strictly the breastplate, but a back piece was commonly worn as well.
Righteousness stands for uprightness and integrity of character. It is conformity to a certain set of expectations… It is fulfillment of those expectations in any relationship, whether God or other people. It is based on the righteousness of God. His standards and his expectations, that the Christian is to live by.
C.S. Lewis wrote: Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.”
Righteousness is moral and spiritual up-rightness such as is seen in the character of God. When the Scriptures speak of righteousness in relation to the Christian, it speaks of it in two different ways. It speaks of (A) imputed righteousness and (B) imparted righteousness.

Imputed Righteousness.

Imputed righteousness is the Divine righteousness of Christ Jesus which is given to us as a free gift when we are saved. You see, because God is holy, He cannot have a relationship with anyone who is sinful. Yet, by nature we are sinful rather than righteous. states the truth that "there is none righteous, no, not even one." Verse 23, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Our righteousness is not defined by what we say is right or wrong - it is defined by what God says is right or wrong; Not by our standards, but by his standards.
There was a survey done concerning righteousness with both religious and non-religious people; between conservative and liberals. They would send out text messages about various issues and ask them to report on their behavior. They both reported on good and bad behavior and they both reported doing more good behavior than bad. Their conclusion was that religion played no significant in their behavior, whether conservative or liberal. Their flaw in the survey was that each group of people defined good and bad according to their standards.
A Sunday School teacher taught on prayer, using the story of the hard heart of the Pharisee who prayed , Thank you Lord that I am not like the other man… and the tax collector who prayed, God have mercy on me a sinner. When the lesson was over, a young boy prayed, “God, thank you that we are not like the pharisee.” So we sometimes pray or act in that way?
Left to ourselves, we could never make ourselves acceptable to God. But, tells us the blessed fact that "while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly." Christ not only shed His blood to remove our sins, His righteousness - His record of perfect obedience to the Father - is given or imputed to us as a gift. When we are brought in union with Christ, by faith and repentance of sin, we are Baptized in Him; we have risen so to speak, from the waters wrapped in the robe of the righteousness of Christ. When God views us, He does not see our record of disobedience or sin but He sees Christ’s perfect record of obedience or righteousness. , "that no one should boast before God… by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, Who became to us…righteousness."
In NIV
5 Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
The person Isaiah is talking about is Jesus. He is righteousness. Also in Isaiah we read about the prophecy of Jesus:
NIV
17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
We have received ‘His’ Righteousness. It doesn’t come from our own set of standards or acts of good deeds; it comes from Jesus.
I mentioned earlier about my Nephew and what he wore into combat. He would put on a bullet proof vest. Also known as an (IOTV) Improved outer tactical vests. It provides substantial protection against small arms, shrapnel, and debris—but at the cost of weight. A full ITOV with side plate, groin, and collar weighs around 30 pounds.
We are commanded by God to put on the breastplate of righteousness. Righteousness is the act of doing what God requires. Listen to what the prophet Isaiah wrote concerning our righteousness:
NIV
6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
If our righteous acts - no matter how good they may seem, are as filthy rags, where does our Righteousness come from and how do we live a righteous life that is pleasing to God?
The Bible tells us… When we first believe we are given righteousness that justifies us, as if we had never sinned. (Imputed Righteousness) It comes from Jesus.
Paul also writes in NIV
8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
Our righteousness comes from God. However, even though we are sinners who have been saved by His grace, declared by Him to be his adopted Sons and Daughters, he calls us to live righteously! It is called a sanctifying righteousness, the product of the Holy Spirit living in us, leading us to live a Holy and righteous life. This is called ‘Imparted Righteousness...

Imparted righteousness

Imparted righteousness is the righteousness that the Spirit of Christ or Holy Spirit works in us with our cooperation. As we sincerely desire and strive to please the Lord, the Spirit imparts to us all that is necessary to be obedient as was Christ. We become Christ-like according to the will of God. We think, feel, speak and act correctly or righteously as did our Lord.
, , "put away, as concerning your former way of life, the old man, …and put on the new man, who in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth."
, "Thus also consider yourselves also to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore don’t let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. Neither present your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God"
, "being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."
We’ve all heard of godly men who have fallen morally and lost their reputation and godly influence. Does their sin mean that they are not saved? No… but it does mean that they took off their breastplate of righteousness and lost their way, which has destroyed their influence in godliness. Can they be restored? Yes, but they have been wounded and they have wounded others. They need to return to the Righteousness that God called them to.
In order for us to protect ourselves and others, we need to live righteously.
We are taught not to…
NIV
13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.
It has been said, “Righteousness is the fiber which holds society, religion, and family together. It enhances the welfare of the community.”
God made a covenant with us through Jesus Christ, that we would be declared righteous by faith in Jesus. It is up to us to appropriate that righteousness through right living. WE are to reflect the character of Jesus.
Summary … “Righteousness is a state of integrity in relationship to God and one’s fellow humanity, expressing itself in one’s acts and speech.”
Hosea 10:12 NIV
12 Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.
The Armor of God is not meant to be a passive application. It requires as we said in the beginning to “take up” or “lift up”
Our faith is a link that connects our breastplate with God’s infinite power (repeat)
Believing in Jesus Christ allows us to receive all the power and benefits of being righteous in God’s sight. (That is all that matters)
How to maintain the breastplate of righteousness
1. Keep your relationship strong with Jesus Christ.
I need to remind myself often each day, that I am a child of “The King”
I need to take time to read my Bible knowing that God has words of Wisdom, encouragement, admonition, and affirmation of His love for me.
No Christ- no righteousness
No Christ- no breastplate to spiritually protect our vital organs of heart and soul.
No shortcut- you cannot do this or have this without Christ.
2. By faith, you are righteous in the eyes of God. As long as Jesus Christ is Lord of your life. Don’t let the devil steal that away from you.
Another topic for another day, but one that is applicable for today and every day, is the LORDSHIP of Jesus in your life! Lordship means that his is over you and you willingly accept that he loves you, wants the best for you, and he will guide you into what is right, each and every day. We must simply be willing to follow His Lead!
3. Protect your heart- do not give the devil a foothold. Jesus bought you with His blood. The righteousness of God covers you and protects you from the enemy. Claim his righteousness over you; claim his rule and authority over you; knowing that he will protect you from the evil one.
4. Obey God’s commandments- this is how we exercise our faith and stay plugged into the power of God working in our lives.
God gave us the power to live obediently through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
There are benefits for living righteous
Protection
“The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the unfaithful will be caught by their lust.”
Proverbs 11:6 NIV
6 The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.
Prosperity and honor
“He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.
Proverbs 21:21 NIV
21 Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.
Peace
“The fruit of righteousness will be peace, the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.”
Isaiah 32:17 NIV
17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
When we realize that we cannot be righteous in ourselves and we begin to accept the righteousness of Christ in our lives, we begin to experience the armor of God protecting us with the peace and confidence that can only come through Christ.
Put on the breastplate of Righteousness so you do not give an inch to Satan in the areas of impurity, lust, greed, or injustice. Realize who you are in Christ - His Child! - Live life with the identity of being the child of a King who has blessed you with every spiritual blessing.
“Put on” the armor with this prayer based on Paul’s exhortation in , using God’s Word, the sword of the Spirit, as we struggle, “not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (v. 12)
Lord Thank you for the righteousness that you have given me through Jesus Christ. By faith I accept Him as my Lord and Savior. Help me to live each day in his righteousness and do that which he commands me to do in the power of the Holy Spirit and in his name, for you. Amen

Equip me, Lord:

With the belt of truth (v. 14). May your truth rule in my heart and be in my mind and on my lips today.
With the breastplate of righteousness (v. 14). Apart from You there is no righteousness, but through Jesus I have been “born again” and made righteous in Your sight. May I live as a righteous person.
With feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace (v. 15). May I reflect the Gospel in my words and actions, that through me, with my every encounter, others may be drawn one step closer to You.
With the shield of faith (v.16). May I take You at Your word concerning promises about the present and future—promises of everlasting love, abundant life, and so much more.
With the helmet of salvation (v. 17). Remind me that nothing can separate me from Your love and that I’ve been saved by grace. In Your grace, help me to say “no” to all ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live a self-controlled, upright, and godly life (,).
And with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (v. 17). May Your Holy Spirit reign in my life and bring to my mind just the right Bible verses to be in my heart and on my lips. May I be “filled with the Spirit” and ready with Scripture as You were, Jesus, when the devil tempted You.
Finally, keep me in an attitude of prayer (v. 18). Remind me to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions.” Cause me to be alert and always praying for the saints; to be joyful and to give thanks in everything (see ).
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