In Scripture, we’re told to put on the full armor of God. That means it’s a choice I have to make. The first thing we need to understand is what this righteousness is.
In the Bible, we’re told about two kinds of righteousness and both of them are important. First, there’s the position of righteousness. That means I’m declared righteous simply because I’m in Christ and He’s my righteousness.
Because of this position of righteousness, I can go into the presence of God whenever I want. Whether I need forgiveness, or simply want to praise and worship the Father, I have 24/7 access to God’s throne.
I praise God for the position of righteousness that we’ve been granted in Christ. However, that’s not the righteousness that protects our ground. The breastplate speaks of the walk of righteousness.
How does the walk of righteousness protect my heart? In the natural, Scripture talks about the enemies that invaded Israel and ruined their fields. Fire, drought, foxes, stones, salt, weeds, locust, and hail were all causes of crop failure.
In our walk with God, we’re warned to be careful not to form intimate relationships with unbelievers. We’re told that bad companionships corrupt good character (1 Corinthians 15:33). By becoming intimate with the world you’re opening up yourself for a broken heart – rocky, stony soil.
When your walk is not right before God, you have an open, unprotected heart. If you remember, a few posts ago I showed that the armor wasn’t Paul’s invention. There’s a word picture of God wearing His armor in the Old Testament.
Knowing this, Paul described what the breastplate consists of.
But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
1 Thessalonians 5:8
The first thing Paul talks about here is self-control. You may not want to hear this, but it takes self-control to put on the breastplate.
The word, self-control, in this verse, is not the same as the fruit of the spirit. This Greek word means to be sober, not drunk. We can’t be so intoxicated with the world that we miss God’s best.
Then, Paul gives us a closer look at this breastplate. He tells us that it’s comprised of a combination of faith and love. Walking in faith and love is the completion of your righteousness before God.
It should be obvious how this works. I must choose to trust God. I must choose to love God. This is a daily choice, to walk in righteousness. It’s a faith-love walk.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
In the New Covenant, circumcision is all about the rules of men. The reality is that in Christ rules don’t count for anything. Only a walk of righteousness matters.
This verse talks about being in Christ Jesus. That’s where you have to be to use the armor. This passage literally says that in Christ…the only thing that has force is faith, energized and made effective, through love.
How does this protect my heart? When you walk in the combination of faith and love, you’re placing a “force field” of righteousness around your heart. Your ground is protected, and you can expect your spiritual seed to grow unhindered by the enemy.
Question: What evidence do you see of faith and love working together in your life?
© 2019 Nick Zaccardi