Ephesians 6:11–18 discusses the whole armor of God in order to fight the attacks of Satan. (2 Corinthians 10:4).
“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 6:14–17
The imagery is of an armed Roman or Israelite soldier, prepared for battle. A typical armed soldier wore a breastplate made of bronze or chain mail. It covered the vital organs, namely, the heart, and was fitted with loops or buckles that attached it to a thick belt. If the belt was loosened, the breastplate slipped right off.
When Paul compares the armor of God with military gear, each piece represents a part of God’s strength that He extends to us when we become His children. The breastplate of righteousness refers to the righteousness purchased for us by Jesus at the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). At salvation, a “breastplate” is issued to each repentant sinner. It is specially designed by God to protect our heart and soul from evil and deception. Our own righteous acts are no match for Satan’s attacks (Isaiah 64:6). The breastplate of righteousness has Christ’s name figuratively stamped on it, as though He said, “Your righteousness isn’t sufficient to protect you. Wear mine.”
We are instructed to “put on” this armor, which implies that we do not automatically wear it all the time. Putting on the armor of God requires a decision on our part. To put on the breastplate of righteousness, we must first have the belt of truth firmly in place. Without truth, our righteousness will be based upon our own reasoning not Gods. This leads to legalism or self-condemnation (Romans 8:1). We choose instead to acknowledge that, apart from God, we can do nothing (John 15:5). We see ourselves as “in Christ” and that, regardless of our failures, His righteousness has been credited to our account.
We “put it on” by seeking God and His righteousness above everything else (Matthew 6:33). We make Him and His ways our dwelling place (Psalm 91:1). We respect in His commands and desire for His ways to become our ways (Psalm 37:4; 119:24, 111; Isaiah 61:10). When God reveals an area of change to us, we obey and allow Him to work in us. At the point where we say “no” to God, we open a little crack in the armor where Satan’s arrows can get through (Ephesians 6:16).
As we wear Christ’s breastplate of righteousness, we begin to develop a purity of heart that translates into actions. Wearing this breastplate creates a lifestyle of putting into practice what we believe in our hearts. As our lives become conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), our choices become more righteous, (which is to be in right standing with God) and these choices also protect us from further temptation and deception (Proverbs 8:20; Psalm 23:3).
When armor is abused or worn incorrectly, it can malfunction. Likewise, there are several factors that can interfere with the effectiveness of our spiritual breastplate. Carelessness (1 Peter 5:8), unbelief (Hebrews 3:12), abusing grace (Romans 6:1–2), or disobedience (1 John 3:4; Hebrews 4:6) can hinder our ability to stand firm and defeat the enemy in our lives. When we tolerate sin, refuse to forgive (2 Corinthians 2:10–11), rely on personal righteousness (Titus 3:5), or allow earthly concerns to crowd out time for an intimate relationship with God, we, in effect, take off the breastplate of righteousness, minimizing its power to protect us. This power is manifested when we resist the devil or rebuke him and he leaves, when we pray and exercise faith in God and receive answered prayer. When we learn how to see God in our circumstances, when the Holy Spirit speaks to our mind and gives us guidance and correction and so on..
We need the breastplate of righteousness in place in order to keep perspective of ourselves as we grow in Christ. Those without this attribute forget themselves, and take the glory from the Lord, puffing themselves up leading ultimately to being lead by ego, chasing praise, money and all manner of pleasures of the flesh. A common discourse of man in leadership roles of the church. It becomes about them, using scripture to manipulate the people to their own ends. It is the spirit of Lucifer. (Isaiah 14:12–15)
“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you. For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ: Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly,” 2 Corinthians 10:12-15
When we quickly reject heretical ideas, idolatry, and the “counsel of the ungodly” (Psalm 1:1) and instead “keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), we keep our breastplate securely fastened.