The Breastplate of Righteousness: The Ultimate Protection

breastplate of righteousness
Detail of a medieval knight armor, the breastplate.

Up until this point, we’ve talked about identifying and escaping abuse, praying about offenses, and being healed by God, but it’s just not practical to get repeatedly injured just to have to return to God for healing.

While God is our healer (Psalm 107:19-21), he’s also provided a protective covering for our souls called the “breastplate of righteousness.”

Imagine being struck with accusation, betrayal, rejection, disdain, yet walk away unharmed. Things that would typically cause a wound would not even effect you. You would be like Iron Man in your soul, this is what the breastplate protects us from. Today we’ll learn how to put it on.

Put on the full armor of God

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:12-17)

We’re all in a war, not just the saints of God, but every soul on earth. Satan and his minions declared war on humanity every since the beginning of our creation. Sadly, the only ones privy to this war are the children of God. The rest of humanity are totally asleep and defeated.

As the Body of Christ, we understand the majority of barriers, friction, and conflict we face, where ever it’s coming from, is originating from Lucifer. Therefore we’ve been given a spiritual suit of armor for protection. While I talked about the helmet here, I want to speak on the breastplate of righteousness.

How I learned about this breastplate

About eight years ago, after coming home offended from being treated like a suspected thief in a store I shopped quite frequently, I asked God why it hurt so bad?

Here I was, a righteous man (in my mind) patronizing their store on a regular basis with my hard earned money, a regular giver to the poor, a man of God, one who despises stealing; and yet I’m treated like a shoplifter?! All because of the color of my skin?! How absurd and insulting! Especially from a group of people notorious for stealing entire lands and families.

I told the Lord how much I hated that. I asked him, “But why does it hurt so much? Why can’t I just shake this off.” It was like a deep open cut, throbbing with pain. The Holy Spirit responded after a short wait saying, “You’re hurting because you don’t have the armor on.” I knew about the armor of God, but it still wasn’t clear to me, so he immediately elaborated as I took notes.

He said, “The breastplate protects you from the body shots of the enemy. That false accusation against your character was a strike.” Body shots come as offenses of all kinds: disrespect, maltreatment, rejection, etc. They’re intended to kill us spiritually.

Every day, people, inspired by devils, are led to do things to injure people, especially the saints. But we don’t have to take it. There is protection. It’s the revelation he gave me next that blew me away.

But why does it hurt so bad?

He said because I was wearing my righteousness and not his. My righteousness was equivalent to wearing a white T-shirt to war. The best my armor could do is highlight the blood splattered across my body from defeat.

My righteousness consisted of my honest work, abstinence from sex, loving others, giving to the poor, etc. These all equated, in my mind, to deserving respect. Subconsciously, I’d considered myself righteous, but apart from God; this was the sin of pride.

It was revealed to me, by being proud of my works, I was unknowingly wearing armor of flesh which was insufficient protection from the enemy.

It hurt so bad because I was naked, and more importantly, it hurt so bad because it was true. While I was accused of being a thief when I hadn’t stolen anything, stealing exists in my flesh. There is no good thing in my flesh, as God keeps telling us. Paul kept it real when he said:

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. (Romans 7:18)

Even though we’ve read that many times, our flesh walks in perpetual denial believing it’s not as pathetic as it really is. Most people won’t say they’re perfect, but they will say, “I’m not that bad, I’m good enough, and I’m certainly better than that person over there.” Our flesh is self-delusional, and we must keep this in mind.

On top of that, good works, and being used by God, tend to strengthen this false belief even more. But in response, all Satan has to do is accuse us of something wrong, whether true or false, and it awakens the flesh out of its fairy tale dream. It’s at this point we get offended. We think we’re mad at that offender, but it’s really the ugliness of our flesh exposed at that moment.

Back to my shopping experience. Yeah, I wasn’t using the five-finger discount, but because I wore my own righteousness, I was hit nonetheless. If I were walking in the righteousness of Christ, that incident wouldn’t have bothered me as much.

With the armor of Christ, when someone falsely accuses us of something, in our hearts we can say, “Yeah, you’re right. My flesh is entirely capable of that, but I’m in Christ, and I walk in his righteousness; therefore that doesn’t apply to me.”

Dressed in God’s armor, we can’t be offended because we already agree with our actual state. We accept it for what it is, yet we take on the righteousness of Christ, and that keeps our head up. We then become righteous because we’re connected to the source of righteousness—Jesus Christ himself.

When I say we won’t be offended I mean: we won’t take it personally, and it won’t damage our souls. However, sin will always be offensive as long as we’re in Christ.

How to wear the breastplate

First, every righteous deed must be led by the Holy Spirit, or it’s a dead work (I talk all about dead works here). Dead works are good deeds, which aren’t inspired by the Holy Spirit. Doing nice things, patting yourself on the back, and thinking you please God is self-deception, the Bible is clear about this:

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

We can’t continue to operate in dead works, but more on that after this. Second, we mustn’t take credit for the work God does through us, but give the glory back to him. We must remember, we are merely extensions of God, nothing more. He’s the source of righteousness, we’re just the vessel:

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Pride is always the problem

Regardless of the fact that we’re nothing but branches extending from the Vine of life, how many saints do you know still boast about their achievements and good works?

A well-loved and respected pastor posted a picture of him, his wife, and his grown children with the comment, “This is the result of years of warfare.” The spirit behind his message was: “Because of the years of work I put in—praying, fasting, etc.—I’ve reaped this beautiful, stable family.”

Immediately, the Holy Spirit pricked me and said, “He’s taking my glory. He did nothing. I did that. I got him, and his family where they are today, not him.” God hates when we take his glory (Isaiah 42:8), but we keep doing dumb stuff like that because we’re walking in the flesh.

Yes, we as saints, pray and war in the Spirit, but it’s God that does the work. It’s God that saves us. For us to take the credit is a misunderstanding of how his kingdom works and just another expression of pride.

Pride was found in Lucifer when he looked at how smart, beautiful and talented he was; and figured it was all because of him. He forgot about the God who made him, ceased from giving him the glory, and became Satan.

Paul showed us how to wear the breastplate

Paul learned to discard the weak armor of the flesh and stay protected behind the breastplate of righteousness. He said this in a letter to the Philippian church:

1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. 3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death (Philippians 3:1-10)

In verses 5-7, Paul lists all the good works he used to put his confidence in—which was his self-righteousness—his flesh of armor. He says in verses 7-8, that he gave those things all up for Christ, and counted it as dung, that he may win Christ.

We have to give up thinking we’re righteous, apart from God. We must especially stop taking his glory. We must see ourselves as nothing but extensions of God, and our flesh and its work, as worthless. With that daily mindset, we can wear the breastplate of righteousness with comfort.

Self-righteousness of the law

Notice how Paul brings up trying to keep the law as walking in our own righteousness too? When you live in the Old Covenant, you work in your flesh to please God, which is, as God just said, is like a nasty menstrual pad (Isaiah 64:4). Trying to keep the law provides no protection from the enemy in the spiritual realm.

Many Christians think the works they do on Sunday makes them righteous. Many Hebrews think keeping the Mosaic Laws will make them righteous. They’re sadly walking in their own armor, and this is why they’re spiritually defeated.

Christians will never please God through regular church attendance and good works. Israelites will never please God by keeping his law because the flesh is incapable (Philippians 3:9).

While the law is good, we cannot measure up to that standard apart from the Spirit of God. Therefore, faithful saints walk in the Spirit, and his power flows through us. Thus the law is fulfilled. Not by us, but by Christ flowing through us.

Why do people then insist on self-righteousness?

People pursue good works because of one word: Pride. People want to be honored so they can stick their chest out and said, “I did it.” They want to be their own god.

When God empowers a man, he receives no credit and must acknowledge the Potter’s hand. When a man does the work himself, he can boast in himself and say, “I’m righteous in my own right.” But this practice is unacceptable to the Most High (Ephesians 2:9-10).

If you want to please God, you must have faith and allow his Spirit to empower you to do so (Hebrews 11:6, Galatians 5:16). And at the end of it all, you will have to say, “It wasn’t me, but God’s power the whole time.”

Therefore all the glory rightfully goes to God. And man is seen for what he is, merely a vessel and extension of God—that’s how the program works. If you don’t like it, you can go to hell—and many men will because they want to be their own god which is disruptive to the kingdom of the true God.

Persecution in other countries

Have you ever noticed in countries outside of America, the saints are usually being physically persecuted? They’re beheaded, tortured, beaten, blown up, killed, etc.

The Lord said the reason why the enemy attacks them physically is because he can’t do it spiritually. Spiritual abuse has no effect on them because they’ve learned how to wear the armor of God. They know how to keep their souls protected and stand firm in the face of adversity.

So all the enemy can do is physically abuse them because he can’t get to their souls. This is maturity at a higher level. Our brothers and sisters over there are “grown,” and way more mature than us.

Here in America, someone can make a tweet against homosexuality, receive a hailstorm of angry responses, and by the end of the day, they’ve retracted their statement and made an apology.

Many American’s are weak and easily deterred by the words of men. Most so-called Christians don’t even speak out against sin. We’re easily offended, and destroyed by just a little verbal push back all because of our pride. We have no protection, we get hit once, and we fall. Therefore we’re not useful for the kingdom.

So we must walk in the armor so we can stand firm against the enemy, and become “ride or die” saints. The enemy’s first assault is usually spiritual abuse through words. If he can’t use circumstances, mistreatment, false accusations and insults to stop us, he’ll finally resort to physical violence.

When the enemy get’s to that point, just know that God has matured you. God has strengthened you, and your soul sits purified behind the fortress of God, powering you to stand against the wickedness of this world.

Now that’s power! A power which only comes from God. Therefore, rejoice when you go through physical persecution because you’re spiritually maturing. You’re almost done with the perfecting process, and then you can leave this place and be with God for all eternity.

So we put on the breastplate of righteousness by doing three things daily:

  1. Humbling ourselves
  2. Discarding our fleshy achievements as dung
  3. Looking at ourselves as nothing but extensions of God

With a proper perspective of our sinful state, while remaining connected to the Spirit of Christ, we can walk in his righteousness, and be protected from the jabs of the enemy.

People can falsely accuse us, bring up our murky past, reject us, but it will never penetrate our souls because they’re hitting Christ—he’s taking the hits for us. Let’s put on the breastplate of righteousness. Amen.

This article is part of the series, "Freedom from Abuse"

  1. Abuse: Identifying physical and spiritual abuse everywhere
  2. Abuse: Why people accept it, but how to escape and live in freedom
  3. The Breastplate of Righteousness: The Ultimate Protection

Written by Neal Chester (Nealreal) and published February 11, 2017. If this was helpful, share it using the buttons below. If you'd like to redistribute this article in other ways, visit our terms for more information. For other inquiries, please contact us.