THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness”- Ephesians 6:14
Listed among the Christian armament we find another indispensable piece which every Christian should earnestly covet: the breastplate of righteousness. How does the Christian obtain this breastplate of righteousness, or, how does a person become righteous in the first place? There is only one way: by God’s grace. We can not become righteous by reciting scriptures, by ordinances of the church, by praying holy prayers or by kneeling on the prayer bench. God must come first and change the sinner’s heart. I have heard some say that the preacher can throw the gospel rope to the sinner and if the sinner will lay hold upon the rope the preacher can pull the sinner out of the dark pit. But we must ask, “Who got that first preacher out of the pit”. To this we must reply: the same one that got us all out of the pit: Jesus Christ. The preacher needs as much grace as anyone else! Jesus got every one of His children out of the pit in exactly the same way: by His cross! No, the sinner can not lay hold upon anything and get out of the pit because he is dead in trespasses an in sin. What can a dead may lay hold of? Until the nature is changed, the sinner hates the rope, loves the pit and everything in it. They love adultery, fornication, gambling, drunkenness, lying, cheating and etc., all tokens of the pit. All of humanity is in the pit together because of their fallen parent Adam. As Paul wrote, “There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” Left to himself, man is not righteous, can not get righteous, and will not seek God to become righteous. God, who loves His people with an everlasting love must and will call them, and change them for them to become righteousness. As Paul wrote, “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain”. If there were any righteous acts that man can do to become righteous, the Son would have been spared! It seems that we have many professors of religion today that pass out righteousness like the pharmacist passes out pills. Just take this, do this, and you will be righteous. Come, my friends, let us give Christ the glory!
The old writers used to speak of righteousness by the terms imputed righteousness and imparted righteousness. By this we may learn how we get this genuine breastplate. Imputed righteousness is the biblical account of how a person becomes righteous. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”-2 Corinthians 5:21. Jesus took the place of His people upon the cross. He was the scapegoat. Their sins were placed upon Him: he became sin for us. Why did He do that? So that we, His people, might be made righteous. The word might is used in the same sense as a person lets go of a book that it might fall to the ground. It is not a possibility, it is a surety! Jesus imputed His righteousness to His people freely, by His grace. Imparted righteousness is the free gift that every object of grace receives from the work of Christ’s cross. It is the act of God as He sovereignly places His spirit within His people, “For it is God whichworkethin you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”(Phil. 2:13). This imputation and impartation agree: to all that it is imputed, it is equally imparted. None are left out. It is as sure to the babe who dies in its mother’s womb, to those behind iron curtains, to the retarded and the illiterate. This breastplate we are to wear daily, giving glory to God for the free gift of His Son and using the righteousness imparted to us for our Christian battle! –Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor, Harmony Primitive Baptist Church.