As we embark on the 2nd item listed within the armor of God, we are met with a miraculous example of the grace and mercy of God. This insight is imperative for understanding righteousness, and how we are to wear it as a breastplate. This blog post covers a lot of information (some that wasn't able to fit into the video) and hopes to offer you an in-depth expedition into the reality that we are faced with about ourselves and our relationship with the Creator of all heaven and earth. Continue reading and discover how truth and righteousness and fit into the lives of us all.
AN ARMOR RECAP
Just like with the belt of truth, it wouldn’t be right to talk about the armor of God without first looking at the verses in the Bible where it is written. It’s important to remember that Paul wrote this while sitting in prison, most likely with a wonderful glimpse at one or more of the Roman soldiers standing guard. He could see their pieces of armor, and therefore was given an incredible analogy by the Lord of how we, as true believers in God, should be spiritually dressed at all times. Here is what the book of Ephesians says about the matter:
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, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith, with which to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.Ephesians 6:10-17
THE PROBLEM STARTS WITH ME
It’s easy to talk about strapping righteousness on like a breastplate. It’s easy to think that I can just step up and be righteous if I just put my best foot forward. Perhaps that means I try to be nicer to people. Or maybe that looks like me going to church more. However, the fact of the matter is very simple. We as people are not righteous. We are innately evil and selfish.
“But people can change!” you might say in rebuttal, using an age-old statement. However, if the saying had been, “But people can change themselves into righteousness,” then the saying would be incorrect.
What does that mean?
Simply put, if we are naturally born into sin, and steeped in sin and wickedness from birth, there is no way we can put on our own righteousness. As it is clearly stated in the Bible,
As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”Romans 3:10-12
As we can see clearly from this section, we are all sinners. Not one of us is righteous. What does that mean? If we dissect those verses just a little more, and even the verses that proceed it (Romans 3:13-18), we see a very clear definition:
- We have no understanding of God because we do not seek God (vs 11)
- We have turned away from God and thus have become worthless to God (vs 12)
- We do not do good (vs 12)
We could spend quite a bit of time on each one of these, but I think from a high-level perspective we can get a good understanding that we are the problem. We enter this world and immediately seek our own desires, flex our own wills, plan our own paths, and the list goes on. To help flesh out this concept a bit more, it’s good to look at a contrast situation. Jesus!
Jesus was born into this world. He too, had flesh and blood and a human nature just as we all do (Romans 1:3). The difference however, was that he committed no sin (Isaiah 53:9; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22), meaning that – unlike us – he did understand God because he constantly was seeking the will of God. Because he was constantly seeking the will and plan of his Father, he clearly did not turn away from God. Therefore, Jesus was not found worthless in the sight of his Father as we are, but was rather found to be worthy by his Father (Revelation 5:3-5). Therefore, that gives us a pretty clear definition of what it means to do good; it means that Jesus was constantly seeking to bring all glory to his Father and not himself. He wasn’t walking around trying to gain the most followers, like we tend to do with social media. He wasn’t doing miracles for popularity and to be “cool”. He was seeking the Father’s will 100% and concerned himself with nothing more. He was full with the glory of the Lord from birth and never turned from it. He was tempted in every way as we are, yet he committed no sin. He was mocked, ridiculed, attacked, arrested, beaten, humiliated, and murdered in a painful and torturous way, yet he kept his heart and mind always on his Father.
And we think we have it bad?
What an incredible illustration for us! Jesus gave us the example of what you and I were designed to be. As it says elsewhere in the Bible:
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ JesusPhilippians 2:5
Okay, so we’ve made the case that we are all sinners. Every one of us. The question still remains then: “How does something unholy and evil put on a breastplate of righteousness when we are the furthest thing from righteous?”
WHAT IS IMPUTATION?
We’ve just established that all of mankind is sinful, but it’s important to understand why that is. And that is where the word “imputation” comes into play. To be imputed to something is to have something charged to your account; to have something credited to you from somewhere or someone else. I know that seems like a bit of a mouthful, but let’s use God’s Word to help us understand it a bit better, especially in lieu of the what we spoke about in the previous section.
If we have any basic knowledge of the Bible, then we are familiar with the fact that sin entered the world from the Garden of Eden. Adam – who was created from the dust of the ground, and who had the breath of life breathed into him by the Lord – was placed in the Garden of Eden to work and take care of it (Genesis 2:15). And then the Lord God gives a command to Adam:
And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good an evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”Genesis 2:16-17
If you remember the story, you know that Eve was later tempted by the serpent to eat from the tree, and both Eve and Adam ate from the tree that the Lord God had commanded them not to eat. This is where the problem began. A holy God, now had two people in his presence that were not pure and holy. And as God wrote from the very beginning of the Bible:
God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.Genesis 1:4
Light and darkness cannot mix. Oil and water. Holiness and evilness. Paul expounds on this for us in a very famous section of Scripture, in which he gives us a practical example that we can apply in our every day lives:
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?2 Corinthians 6:14-15
With that being said, we now see why the Lord God did what he did next. Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden and from the presence of the Lord. In doing so, Adam and Eve got to taste the worst kind of death there could ever be; not only were they going to have to suffer a physical death, but they now had been removed from the presence of the Lord!
I have to pause at this moment to just say that this would be the worst thing imaginable! The heart of every true believer seeks the presence of the Lord God. We long for it. Without his presence, heaven would be hell. So where are you at today? Are you seeking the presence of friends, family members, lovers, pastors, church congregations, etc? Or are you seeking to dwell within the glorious presence of the God who created you and loves you beyond what you can imagine?
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.1 Peter 1:8-9
What is that you find inexpressible and glorious? The joy knowing that your soul will be held in the protective presence of the one true God, or something else? What do you set your heart and mind on when you open your eyes in the morning until you close them again at night? It’s time for those of us who claim to call on the name of the Lord Jesus to actually put the rubber to the road and get our business straight with him. We’re not here to be politically correct? This community is not about building a woke agenda, but we are trying to wake up and make a stand in truth and for truth:
For it is the light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”Ephesians 5:14
Even though it feels like I might have drifted off on a tangent there for a moment, it should all make sense now when Paul writes in the book of Romans, yet again:
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinnedRomans 5:12
At this point, hopefully this is making sense. Sin entered the world through one man (Adam). Once Adam and Eve began to procreate, they started populating the earth with more people under Adam’s account. And anyone in his account is credited to everything in his account (this is where the word “imputation” comes into play). Anyone born in a sinful account is also credited to that sinful account. Evil man plus evil woman equals an evil child. A bad seed does not produce a good tree, it produces a bad tree. And a bad tree doesn’t bear good fruit. That’s common sense and Scripture (Matthew 7:18)! This is why it is written, “…in this way death came to all men, because all sinned”. We are born into a sinful account and therefore are slaves to sin, which leads to death (Romans 6:23).
So, why is this “imputation” thing so important to understand, and what does it have to do with righteousness?
THE BATTLE BELONGS TO THE LORD
Okay, I think it’s fair to say that we have good evidence to see how we as sinful people cannot produce anything righteous. Therefore, we can not produce the righteousness that Paul is talking about when he says to have the breastplate of righteousness in place. So if we cannot, who can?
Enter Jesus into the scene!
As we mentioned earlier in this blog post, Jesus was born of flesh and blood just as we all were. Which means that he too came through the same account that stems all the way back to Adam. However, he was conceived with the fullness of the glory of the Lord within him and – because he kept his heart and mind focused on maintaining that relationship – he was able to overcome the things of this world; the same things that try to tempt you and I all day long.
Because Jesus led a perfect existence, he was able to be a worthy sacrifice. A sacrifice for what? For us. For you and I. For me.
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.Romans 8:3-4
The law of the Old Testament was not able to pay the price of my sin. Offering lambs and bulls and goats can not take away the sins of man. It was a shadow – an example set by God – to show his chosen people that a perfect, unblemished lamb would be sent to them in the Messiah. That this chosen servant of God be found worthy to do what the law could not. The law points out our sin. The law is a constant reminder that we are lawbreakers – each one of us. The law reminds us that we need a savior because, without one, we would be forced to pay the price for our sin. Death. Not just a physical death, but a spiritual one in hell…which we mentioned earlier is a place absent from the presence of God. A place that does not yoke with His presence and therefore is filled with nothing but wickedness and evil of all kinds. So, it doesn’t really matter if you’re not a murderer like someone else, or a rapist, or a bully, or a terrorist, or someone that we tend to look at as being the definition of “evil”. We all deserve death. Sin requires death to satisfy the requirement of the law just as the above verse was talking about. And this is why the gospel is called the “good news”. As Paul also wrote in Romans:
For in the gospel a righteousness from God is being revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”Romans 1:17