The Breastplate of Righteousness

When we put on Christ at salvation, we were justified before a Holy God (see Romans 5:1). It is not our righteousness that saved us, but Christ’s righteousness (see 1 Corinthians 1:30). When we put on the armor of God, we are putting on the breastplate of righteousness, which is our defense against Satan’s accusations.

Every believer has struggled with condemning thoughts, because Satan is the accuser of the brethren “who accuses them before our God day and night” (Revelation 12:10). When he reminds God of your past, you can remind him of his future. However, it is better to respond with Paul, “who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33). The breastplate of righteousness is the Lord’s righteousness bestowed on us. This righteousness is imputed at salvation. “Imputed righteousness” means that something that belongs to one person is put on the account of another.

God also imparts His righteousness within us. The Puritans called this “imparted righteousness.” Because we have become partakers of God’s righteous nature, we can live a holy life. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). Even though we stand in a righteous position in Christ, we should not commit or excuse any deeds of unrighteousness. We are saints who still have the capacity to sin, and we will if we believe a lie or choose to live according to the old nature. Putting on the armor of light means that we walk in the light as God is in the light (see 1 John 1:6-7).

John wrote, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Walking in the light is not sinless perfection; it is simply agreeing with God. It is essentially the same as confession, which is taken from the Greek homologeo, which means “to acknowledge or agree.”

In Paul’s defense before Felix, he appealed to his orthodox beliefs and then said, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts 24:16). That is good advice for all of us. When we realize that we have done something wrong, we confess it. We don’t have to ask for forgiveness, because we are already forgiven. Any residual guilt is a false guilt or Satan’s accusations, because “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

You can walk in the light because you are already forgiven. You are the righteousness of God in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). Your relationship with God and your eternal destiny are not at stake when you sin, but your daily victory is. Your confession of sin clears the way for the fruitful expression of righteousness in your daily life. “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).

Dr. Neil

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