Friday, January 30, 2009

The Truth about the Breastplate

The second piece of armor is equally important, but can be put on only after the truth is accepted and believed. It's called the "breastplate of righteousness." What exactly is this? This is righteousness that Christ has given to us through His own perfect life. (Theologians call this "imputed righteousness.") The breastplate wards off the accusations of Satan. If the enemy is not foisting some lie off on us, he takes a second stance in which he accuses us. He tells us we're "vile," "foolish," "rejected," and even "hated by God" because of our sin, bad attitudes, and evil actions. He says we're "not worthy of God's love" and that God Himself has given up on us." These are both lies and accusations meant to destroy our confidence and hope in God. Sins and failures provide Satan with much ammunition. God's constant assurance, though, is that if we will confess those sins, He will cleanse us. How can that be? Because of Christ's righteousness. Jesus lived a perfect life in our place. When God looks on us, if we are His children, He sees Jesus and all His goodness, wondrous deeds, and perfection. We are covered with the robe of His righteousness (Zechariah 3:1-5). That is what it means to put on the breastplate of righteousness. It's not our personal goodness and "perfection" that makes us acceptable to God; it's Christ's. Therefore, when we put on this piece of the armor, we protect ourselves against Satan's accusations. We are righteous in God's eyes because of Christ, not because of our keeping the rules, great acts of mercy, or giving to the church. What does this righteousness do for us? Ultimately, it means there is no death sentence hanging over us. We are not condemned by God because of our sin, but forgiven and completely accepted by Him (see Romans 8:1). And as Paul wrote, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). I saw the power of the breastplate of righteousness in Kendra. When I first meet her, I thought, "This woman really has her act together. She is single, in her thirties, has a master's degree in psychology, and is the director of a progressive woman's ministry." I really wondered what she was doing in my office. As her story unfold, she shared with me that she felt "emotionally crippled." Through a veil of tears she explained, "I accepted Christ in my mid twenties. During my high school and especially my college years I was extremely promiscuous. I've received the Lord, and He is changing my life. Yet I still feel defiled and dirty. I often ask how He can use me. I know the Bible says I am forgiven of my sins, but I don't feel clean." With tears, she listened as I shared the truth of the breastplate of righteousness and told her, "Today you are righteous. You are as pure and clean as Jesus Christ, because He was the One who cleansed you." Working deep inside her, the Holy Spirit opened Kendra's heart to receive that truth. She wrote to me later, "That day in your office was the second most profound day in my life. On that day I received in my heart the truth about the breastplate of righteousness, that I have been declared righteous and made, through the blood of Christ, as pure and clean as Jesus Himself. I now know I am clean and I feel clean. The devil has no right to use my sinful past against me, because in Christ I have no sinful past; I am redeemed." It's a powerful, emotion-filled truth. We are righteous, pure, and clean in God's eyes, now and forever. If I could instantly impress this on all my clients, I would be out of business! Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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