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Part Eight

The Believer’s Armor and the Spiritual Battle

Eph. 6:10-20: (v.14, “Breastplate of Righteousness”)

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

Verses 11 and 13 both tell us to take the whole armor of God so that we will be able to stand in this spiritual battle.

The second piece of armor that we are to appropriate is “...having on the breastplate of righteousness.” The word “breastplate” (Greek, thorax), refers to the area between the neck and the visceral area; the chest and back. The Roman soldier used two different types of breastplates, one was of heavy linen covered with thin slices of animal hooves or horns. The type more familiar to us is the molded metal chestplate that covered the vital areas of the torso from the base of the neck to the top of the thighs. They were in two pieces and covered the front and the back. Injury to these protected areas could be fatal to a soldier in combat. God intended for this spiritual “breastplate of righteousness” to be part of our protection during our imminent battle with our spiritual foes.

In application to us we will discuss three aspects of righteousness:

1. Righteousness in Premise. Already established in Jesus, who is the basis of all righteousness.

2. Righteousness in Position. Required for salvation. The new birth is necessary before one begins to grow (John 3:5; I Pet. 2:2).

3. Righteousness in Practice. The command to and the responsibility of the believer.

Righteousness in Premise

We are told “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ...” (Romans 13:14). Each piece of the armor has some reference to Jesus. He is sufficient. I Cor. 1:31, tells us, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption.” In I John 2:1, He is called “Jesus Christ, the righteous.” I Pet. 2:22 tells us that Jesus, “...did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” He was the only One who has lived a perfect life and He was the only One who could make a perfect payment for our sin (Heb. 10:10-14). The very basis of our righteousness, either in position or practice is in the One who was perfect in our place.

Righteousness in Position

We cannot properly apply the commands that God gives to a believer (much of the New Testament) until we receive His righteousness by faith and, in fact, become a believer. II Cor. 5:21 explains the process of our salvation. It can be summarized in one word — substitution. He took our place. “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” (II Cor. 5:21).

This is not a new idea. The Old Testament affirms the same principle of substitution: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Abraham was justified in the same manner as we are, by faith (Gen. 15:6). Jesus has paid for all our sin (Titus 2:14) and has taken our place in order that we may stand before Him in His righteousness, not our own. Isaiah 64:6, graphically portrays God’s assessment of our righteousness; “...all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags...” There is nothing of our corrupt works that we can add to God’s perfect payment for our sin. Our “righteousnesses” (filthy rags) can only corrupt that which is perfect. God tells us that “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

The one who applies the truth of this passage and believes in Christ is now eternally saved (I John 5:13; John 10:28; I Pet. 3:1-5) and can now fulfill his purpose as a believer stated in the next verse: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” This leads us to the aspect of righteousness that we as believers are commanded apply.

Righteousness in Practice

Having on the breastplate of righteousness” does not refer to the imputed righteousness of our justification. The ones who are exhorted here already have “the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil 3:9; also II Cor. 5:21). We have been saved because of Christ’s righteousness (Rom. 5:17; 10:4,6; Gal. 2:21).

I believe that “having on the breastplate of righteousness” is referring to the sanctifying righteousness of Christ in the believer’s life; obedience to God, being Holy Spirit controlled. This manner of life would present a proper example to others. The world frequently expects a Christian to act like one. Our God who redeemed us also does (Eph. 4:1; Phil. 1:27; II Cor 6:17).

Our eternal life is sure and secure through God’s power (I Pet. 1:3-5). Our salvation rests upon what God has done for us, not upon our works that we are trying to do for Him: (Titus 3:5) “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us...” “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of your­selves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph. 2:8,9). The Bible is very clear that salvation is received by faith, plus or minus nothing. Eph. 2:10, adds, in relation to our Christian life, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (“ordained” is not the Greek word which refers to God’s divine decree. In this passage it means to “prepare or make ready beforehand”) This verse does not say or mean that we are not saved if we do not fulfil God’s purpose for us as believers. Those to whom it is speaking are already saved, (v.8).

What do we do about unrighteousness in the Christian’s life? This pattern of compromise and worldliness is prevalent in Bible-believing circles today as it has been in the early church. See the Corinthian letters. The action of the majority does not make it right. God is the Authority, not our humanistic and selfish philosophies.

If this pattern prevails in our own life, it is prudent to heed God’s admonitions; judge our own sin so that God will not have to (I Cor 11:30-32), confess our sins for cleansing and forgiveness, then start walking in the light (I John 1:6-9). This verse has nothing to do with obtaining salvation. It is speaking to those who are saved concerning their walk with God.

It must break the heart of every sincere Pastor when he sees many in his flock living in various states of rebellion against God. The response to this problem by some Christian leaders is to start preaching a “gospel” message that contains some sort of “discipleship” commands as a requirement for salvation. This doctrine is commonly called, “Lordship salvation” or “discipleship salvation.”

One line of reasoning that is frequently used to justify this line of teaching is to quote verses having to do with discipleship and misapply them as a requirement for salvation. The following are examples: Jesus said, “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33), and “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:8). A disciple is one who learns from someone, with the implication of following after him. This is not salvation, but service. Judas was a disciple but was not saved. Salvation and service should come together but they are two entirely different things. Why impose a requirement upon an unbeliever that even those with the Holy Spirit’s indwelling find to be difficult.

Error cannot be corrected by more error. Salvation is either by God’s grace or we earn what we deserve. The issue in salvation is either grace or works, but cannot be by both (Romans 11:6). If we choose to be justified by our works, we get what we deserve (Rom.4:5). We cannot "turn from sin" to be saved. How many sins would we have to turn from? Have those who teach this been able to accomplish this themselves?

What about repentance? Isn’t that required for salvation?

Many claim that it is. The Greek word (metanoeo, ) means a change of mind. If we use the correct meaning of the word we might grant that a change of mind is necessary in order to believe in Jesus. Today, the word is often defined as “turning from sin” or “sorrow for sin.” The act of repentance may or may not include these responses but the word does not mean that. This may surprise many who have heard a plethora of modern-day “evangelistic messages, but of the sixty-six times the word “repent” (or variations) is used in the New Testament, not once is an unbeliever told to, “repent of sins” to have eternal life. In spite of how often it is taught, the term “repent of sins” is not even found in the New Testament. This fact should cause us to question why we even use such terms in evangelism.

Although the term “repent of sins” is not found in the New Testament, the principle is found, but is primarily directed to those who already have eternal life in order to correct a sin and fellowship problem. (1)

In Acts 8:22, a believer (v 13) is told to “repent of this thy wickedness,” referring to a particular sin in which he had just participated. In II Cor 12:21, Paul laments that the Corinthian believers may not have repented of several sins that he lists. In Revelation 3:19, the lukewarm believers are told to repent, by implication, concerning their prideful and materialistic attitudes. These are all believers who are being exhorted to change their mind about their sin and start living an obedient life.

The Gospel of John is sometimes called, “The Gospel Tract of the Bible” because of its very purpose, “But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” John 20:31). The word, “repent” is not even mentioned in John. The Gospel of John repeatedly states that the one requirement for receiving eternal life is belief (John 3:16, et al). It never says to belief and repent or to believe and anything else to be saved. If that be so, and it is, how can we go beyond God's word and add other requirements for eternal life? If repentance is necessary in order to receive eternal life then John and the Holy Spirit sure missed a great opportunity to let us know about it.

 Why make the word “repent” (or any other addition) an issue if it only confuses the one who is already blinded by Satan? He needs to understand and accept the Gospel in order to be saved, and then hopefully, to grow as an obedient believer.

The New Testament is replete with exhortations for the believer to be a disciple, to submit to Jesus’ Lordship. Let us not resort to unbiblical means in an effort to stem a common problem. Let us use God’s Word in an honest and profitable manner. (I Tim. 1:8; cf. Rom. 3:19,20; Gal. 3:24,25).

Some Reasons To Obey God And Do Good Works:

Eph. 2:10; Titus 2:14. It is one reason that God saved us.

Matt. 5:16; I Pet. 2:12. It Glorifies God.

Titus 3:5-8. It is good and profitable to men.

II Cor. 5:10; I Cor 3:11-15. We will be judged by our works for reward or loss of reward.

II John 6. It shows our love for God.

Titus 3:14; Col. 1:10. It is essential for our fruitfulness, reproducing new believers.

James 2:17,18; II Cor. 3:2. It is what others see to know that we have faith.

James 1:25. It is a way to being blessed (happy).

II Tim. 3:17. It is one object of God’s revelation to us.


(1) An excellent and in-depth study of this and related issues is found in the book "Harmony with God, A Fresh Look  at Repentance," by Zane Hodges, available for purchase from or can be read online at:

Part 1

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