Section One: The Spiritual Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic Four: Being A Warrior.
Our reading for today: Romans 3: 25-26 (MsgB)
God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in Him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with Himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins He had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it’s now—this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in His rightness.
We now come to the second tool of discipleship that Paul describes for those who desire to live for the glory of God, through Jesus the Christ. In Ephesians 6: 10-18, Paul used the language of a common Roman soldier, describing the six pieces of armor a man would put on as he prepared himself for battle. The Belt of Truth was the start. The Breastplate of Righteousness is the second.
In the days of ancient battles, a breastplate was not so much an offensive weapon, but one that kept a soldier safe from swords, knives and spears that might be used against you. Like a suit of armor, but much lighter and much more mobile, the breastplate strapped around a man’s chest, protecting his heart and lungs from mortal danger.
Righteousness is a pretty big word, and quite honestly, one that needs a bit of explanation. And Paul, a man of many words, did write a lot about this word, including the text we’re reading today from his letter to the Roman church. In verse 26, Eugene Peterson, in his Message Bible, translates Paul well, summing up a pretty good working-definition of righteousness…
God sets things straight. He also makes it possible for us to live in His rightness.
Righteousness, you see, is God’s work, not ours.
Some confuse the idea of holiness and right living, with righteousness, but it’s very important to distinguish these two aspects of Christian discipleship. Roy Comstock, author of the guidebook we’re using on this blog journey (Mentoring His Way), offers a great way of explaining that difference:
“Righteousness is our position that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Holiness is our pursuit of Christlikeness that comes through obedience to God’s Word.”
I like that.
You see, as a follower of Jesus, it’s truly important for me to pursue obedience in all the things Jesus asks me to do. Remember, it was the Master Himself who said, “If you love me, you’ll obey My commands.”
But righteousness is not our pursuit of the godly life, but a position that has been securely established for us by God, Himself, through the shed blood of Christ on the cross.
So when I slip on the Breastplate of Righteousness, I’m not thinking about all the good works I’ve done for God so that He might protect me from the fiery darts Satan and the world will throw at me. That line of thinking is preposterous and leads to a lifestyle of religious legalism. The Breastplate of Righteousness has been purchased for us by the work of Christ on the cross and it fits on us, not because of our goodness or pursuit of holiness, but because God has already determined to protect us! Why?
Because of His great love for us as a precious son or daughter of God!
So excuse me now, my friends. Before I go out into this rough-n-tumble world today, I’m gonna slip on this very important piece of armor that has been purchased for me by Poppa.
Thanks, Dad…I really needed that!
My prayer: Father God, I must fully understand that the Breastplate of Righteousness is a powerful piece of personalized armor that has been secured for me by the merciful love of Jesus as He died upon the cross. My position in Him, as a precious son or daughter of God, has nothing to do with my behavior, but has everything to do about Your amazing grace. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: Is my discipleship in Christ being lived out in a complete awareness of the major difference between righteousness and holiness? Am I trying to earn or improve my position with God through my good works? If so, how can I replace that striving for good behavior with a better understanding that my position of acceptance with Jesus comes to me completely by the grace of the Lord?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live the Christ-centered life?
Over a thirty-six week period, you and I will take a deeper look into twelve key characteristics of a godly life. In other words, we’ll take A Journey into Christian Discipleship. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Journey home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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