|Breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS
The Breastplate of Righteousness
The next piece of armor Christians should wear is the breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:14).
The chest, with its encircling ribs, protects the most vital organs in the body, the heart and the lungs. Always, soldiers in battle in ancient times sought to pierce the chest with their lances, spears, swords, or arrow. Such would usually be a fatal wound, as opposed to wounds on the arms or legs.
What is the Bible definition of "righteousness?"
Obviously, it comes from the word right. Right is the opposite of wrong. God is perfect righteousness. He is flawless, holy, just, perfect, RIGHTEOUS. Jesus Christ lived a perfect, righteous life.
But is "righteousness" defined as a series of "don'ts," such as "don't drink, don't dance, don't go to movies, don't smoke"? Millions of professing Christians have various concepts of righteousness.
Some believe it is righteous to wear a thick beard. With millions, there is something holy about human hair. Hair styles, hair lengths, the manner of braiding, curling, twining, piling, or dressing the hair becomes a laborious religious duty in various religions. Some women believe they should never cut their hair.
Other religious groups define "righteousness" as various restrictions on hair length, facial or bodily hair, various types of headgear, or clothing. The "righteous" uniform of some might be all black, with a severe hat for men, a bonnet, veil, scarf, or hat for women. To some, long, bushy sideburns (a perversion from General Burnside of the American Civil War, who effected generous hair growth along the sides of his face below his ears) are sinful, and should not be worn.
"Righteousness," to some, is the difference between a jacket and a necktie, or a casual shirt. It is the difference between being bareheaded in church, or wearing a hat or veil. It is the difference between driving an automobile, or plodding along behind a horse in a carriage.
It is sheer nonsense to believe God requires His people, no matter in what climate, geographical location, or ethnic background, to wear a uniform! God is not sitting in heaven, in His "heavenly armchair," looking down to check out whether this or that person has the right hair length or the correct skirt length. No, God does not judge by appearance, but by what goes on in the human heart, or conscience.
What is the Bible definition of righteousness?
David said, "My tongue shall speak of Thy word, for all Thy commandments are RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Psalm 119:172). The Ten Commandments of God are, by biblical definition, "righteousness."
God is Righteous. David prayed, "Righteous art Thou, O Eternal, and upright are Thy judgments. Thy testimonies that Thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful" (Psalm 119:137,138).
The Ten Commandments comprise God's most basic laws. The first four tell us how to love God, while the last six tell us how to love our fellow man. The "testimonies" of God spoken of by David comprise every word God ever spoke. The Bible itself is the "testimony" of God.
Jesus said, when defeating Satan by using God's armor, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God!" (Matthew 4:4). Satan had just asked Jesus, Who was on the brink of starvation, to miraculously turn stones into warm, fragrant bread to eat. Christ countered Satan's evil thrust into Christ's mind, trying to tempt Jesus to give in to the power of the devil, by the Word of God. Christ, through forty days and nights of fasting and prayer, was heavily armored against Satan's darts and spears.
"Every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" means the entire "testimony" of God. It means all the Bible.
Modern philosophers sneer and scoff at God's laws. To millions, moral relativism is the order of the day. To them, every conceivable human situation, from murder to rape, from lying to abortion, "depends" upon circumstances.
But they are merely educated fools, without the knowledge of God, and with no fear of God.
Millions of humans, in dozens of societies, know the difference between "right" and "wrong." Hundreds of human societies know it is wrong to steal from one another, wrong to murder someone, wrong to be disobedient to parents.
Lacking God's law, they are a "law unto themselves." Paul wrote, "For when the Gentiles [nations], which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another" (Romans 2:14,15).
God has given to humanity a conscience. It is a part of human nature, when living together in a community, to seek the most functional method of harmony, mutual protection, productivity, and happiness. Therefore, many human societies, "do by NATURE the things contained in the law."
This is merely to illustrate the point that all human societies, to some degree or other, recognize the difference between right and wrong. By no means is this biblical righteousness, but it certainly gives the lie to "situation ethics," and the simpering excuses of liberal extremists who would make sodomy an act of love, and the murder of millions of the unborn a "choice" for young mothers.
God's Word clearly points out what is "righteousness." It is living by every word of God (Matthew 4:4); living according to God's perfect law; living the life of Christ; living a life of faith, of love, and of obedience!