And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
Romans 13:11-14, NKJV
This is the second blog in my series on the “Armor of God.” You can follow the link if you missed the first message “The Belt of Truth.”
Ephesians 6:14 instructs us to put on the breastplate of righteousness. The Amplified Bible explains righteousness as: integrity, moral rectitude, and right standing with God. Job said he put on righteousness as his clothing (Job 29:14). When we receive Jesus His righteousness is imputed to us. We then can continuing wearing His righteousness or return to wearing our unrighteousness.
Isaiah 61:10 says, “I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
Most of you’ve probably heard of the movie, “Annie.” Annie was an orphan who lived a poor, miserable life under the control of the evil Miss Hannigan. Annie’s life changed when she touched the heart of the wealthy Oliver Warbucks.
At the end of the movie, Mr. Warbucks adopted Annie and welcomed her as his own. Annie was set free from captivity and orphanhood and welcomed into a loving family. She went from rags to riches, from barely enough to more than enough, from being despised to being adored, and from wearing clothes covered in filth to being arrayed in beautiful clean garments. She had been given everything a child could desire.
But what if the movie had a different ending? What if Annie decided after a few months to give up her new inheritance and put back on her filthy rags and return to the control of the evil Miss Hannigan? That wouldn’t make sense. Why would she give up her freedom, her riches, her beautiful garments, and a father who loved her, to return to captivity and serve the one who despised her?
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Our Heavenly Father doesn’t force us to do anything. He’s given us free will. We have the choice to receive or not to receive what He’s given us. We can put on His righteousness and live out our inheritance with Jesus. Or we can strip it off, leave our inheritance, lay down our authority, and go back into captivity serving the one who despises us.
Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.
Romans 6:16, NLT
I know a woman who accepted Christ a few years ago. There was a noticeable change in her almost immediately. A light turned on inside her and she finally saw the Truth. However, it didn’t last long. It was no sooner she turned to Christ, she returned to her old ways, choosing to live in the darkness instead of the light. She chose to return to her filthy rags instead of wearing the righteousness Jesus died to give her. She left her inheritance and returned to captivity, serving the one who despises her. Today, you wouldn’t even know she accepted Christ. She’s the same as before, if not worse.
Luke 11:24-26 says, “When an evilspirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”
When we accept Christ’s atonement for our sins, we are washed clean. But if we don’t continually put on righteousness, by welcoming God into our homes (hearts) daily, the door will be left wide open for the devil.
God instructed us to put on the “breastplate” of righteousness. The breastplate protects our hearts. When our hearts are undivided toward God, His righteousness covers us and guides us into holiness. Then, nothing the devil throws at us can harm us. The doors of our hearts will be guarded and sealed shut. The devil can’t come in when our hearts are filled with God and His righteousness.
You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
Let us put on righteousness. Let us give God our whole hearts, and live each day drawing closer to Him. God is not expecting perfection from us. He wants our hearts. When He has our hearts, He can perfect us!
We praise You for giving us the breastplate of righteousness to guard our hearts. Keep our hearts filled with Your love. Help us to strip off and put to death the things of our flesh, and to live by Your Spirit in holiness. We joyfully wear Your righteousness through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen!
Light is sown for the [uncompromisingly] righteous and strewn along their pathway, and joy for the upright in heart [the irrepressible joy which comes from consciousness of His favor and protection].
Psalm 97:11, AMP