THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Chapter 1: Matters of the Heart
The second step in the freedom process is RELATIONSHIP. Countless books and articles have been written about the subject of Relationship, but I’m going to keep it simple. Above all, we must keep the main thing the main thing—and the main thing concerning Relationship with Jesus Christ is getting your heart right, not getting your life right.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. — Matthew 11:28
Jesus invites us to come to Him as we are. Specifically, He speaks to those who are “heavy laden,” or burdened down with the cares of life—those carrying some baggage. He does not say we must free ourselves from our emotional baggage first, nor does He demand that we get our lives in order. He says, quite simply, just come.
Our God is a God of Relationship. Relationship comes first. It is paramount. Genuine Relationship takes precedence over all else, because everything we need flows from it: blessing, intimacy, joy, purpose, responsibility. Not much in your spiritual walk really matters much if the Relationship is unplugged.
Yet when I speak of Relationship, I’m not referring to a legal claim. Relationship is often established by kinship, either through blood or marriage. The legalities of Relationship can offer the benefit of inheritance, even if the two relatives never knew each other well—or perhaps not at all. At the reading of a will, those present may inherit a fortune from a great-aunt they never even met. It is entirely possible for one to receive a rich inheritance from someone who never influenced them on a personal level.
Born-again believers and followers of Jesus Christ do have a legal claim to Relationship. Our standing as a child of God is official and foundational, but there’s so much more. Not only do we stand in the position of sonship, we can relate to God on a personal level. We can have an emotional connection with our Heavenly Father that is dynamic, intimate, and fulfilling—even life-changing.
Our identification with Christ is founded upon our legal Relationship with Christ. But a deep and genuine Relationship with God is vital to spiritual and emotional growth. In this step, we will explore what it means to be in right-standing with God, and why the condition of the heart is relevant to Relationship.
The key element associated with Relationship is position. We will be using the word position as a reference to a class or a particular stature, as in rank, standing, status or station. Words associated with position are dignity, prestige, benefits, importance and responsibility.
THE ARMOR: THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Let’s look again at the full armor of God as presented in Ephesians chapter 6. The Apostle Paul lists the Breastplate of Righteousness as the second item in the list of seven.
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness…— Ephesians 6:14
Using the breastplate of a warrior, the apostle Paul makes an analogy, or comparison, with the believer’s position of Righteousness in Christ.
The Roman soldiers of Paul’s day wore several types of breastplates. The most common was made of metal, molded to fit the chest and torso of the warrior from the base of the neck to the upper thigh. The lower portion of the breastplate was held in place by the warrior’s belt, which kept it snug and prevented it from banging around during times of movement. The purpose of the breastplate was to protect the vital organs of the body, including the heart and lungs.
No other single piece of the warrior’s armor was more important than the breastplate. If the warrior’s arms and legs were to be injured or if he were to break a bone in battle, he might survive—but protecting the heart and vital organs was critical. In that same way, the condition of the believer’s heart is critical to spiritual and emotional health and should be protected above all.
The breastplate was a defensive piece of armor. It was not used as a weapon, but for protection only. And just as the metal breastplate protected the heart and lungs of the warrior, the believer’s position of right-standing with God is all about guarding and protecting the heart.
Righteousness refers to right-standing with God. The Breastplate of Righteousness is a symbol of that position of right-standing. A believer gets into the correct position through Relationship with the Father. We put on the Breastplate of Righteousness through our Relationship with Christ.
Relationship is about getting your heart right.