We stand on a battlefield daily. We are faced with challenges from work, family, friends, and life itself. In the midst of tragedies, the battle is more prevalent and God’s armor is in more need than ever. In Ephesians 6, Paul describes the battle with the enemy as not a battle against flesh and blood but against the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces. When Hurricane Harvey hit the coast of Texas on August 25th, communities were destroyed and families were uprooted from their homes. Disaster struck at the heart and souls of millions. In the aftermath of Harvey hitting Houston, a slogan hit the pages of newspapers and websites, “Houston Strong”. Proverbs 10:25 says when the storm has swept by, the righteous stand firm forever.
How can we, as Christians, stand strong and remain righteous in our faith? Paul tells believers to stand firm with the breastplate of righteousness in place. This breastplate is what protects our vital organs and keeps us alive in a frontal attack. The breastplate rests on the belt of truth so the weight will not be so heavy to carry. It protects our hearts and allows us to make good choices throughout the day that honor God. Righteousness comes from our faith in Jesus Christ. Romans 1:17 says the righteous will live by faith. We have the belt of truth that alerts us to the battle and our knowledge of Jesus Christ as our savior. When we add the breastplate of righteousness, we gain a strength that keeps us going forward against the enemy. We can be bold in asking God for help and pray to him daily.
Imagine receiving a call that your family was just killed in a car accident. The sorrow and devastation is indescribable and it feels like your heart was just ripped from your chest. You have a choice to either abandon your faith and fall away in anger, or continue your life and find your purpose to serve God. Righteousness would allow you to choose to trust in and obey God and pray to him for strength to make it through this storm. Righteousness is a gift from God and received through faith in Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit working in us. Which choice do you anticipate making?
When I lost my brother to suicide in 1996, my choice was to fall away with anger. I cursed God and turned against him for taking my brother. I took the loss of my brother as a personal attack against me and stopped talking to God. I thought at the time that God was unworthy of my love and obedience. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It took an awakening to pull me back into the race, to throw off everything that hindered and the sin that so easily entangled me (Hebrews 12:1-2). I realized that God IS love. His purpose for me was not to fall away from him but to grow stronger in my faith, which I eventually did. God placed people in my life years after my brother died that would bring me back to Christ and to learn the truth and how to be righteous in God. The enemy wanted me to fall away from God and think selfishly. As my faith becomes stronger and my relationship with Jesus grows, so does my righteousness.
When I lost my mother in 2016 to cancer, I was tested again. Instead of pulling away from God and being angry with him for the sudden pain and loss, I clung to him. I prayed every night and day for my Mom and her improvement. I prayed for strength to continue to be there for her. I prayed that God would be there with me in my despair. And He was. In the most exhausting moments, God provided the extra boost to stay attentive. He provided miracles almost daily because I asked Him for protection and was obedient to Him. After my Mom’s death, I still stand strong in my faith and know God had a reason for taking her and his timing is not for me to understand.
So how can we put on the breastplate of righteousness in today’s invisible war? Romans 3:20 says no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. Be aware that you have a choice. Be obedient to God daily, pray to Him, ask for protection in fighting these battles against sin, and trust in Jesus. Do not live for the sins of the flesh and worldly desires. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).
The book of Romans is the best book of the Bible to instruct Christians about righteousness. Romans 3:10 tells us there is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Have you ever questioned whether you’re a good person? Have you compared yourself to someone else and thought yourself a better Christian than they are? Many believers do this and it helps them justify their actions and set their own standard for behavior. For example, society’s standard may compare theft to murder, one being ‘less bad’ than the other. God has his own standard though. Only He is good and all of us are bad. Romans 3:22 says the righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. When we give our lives to Christ, our life is supposed to change. Believers should be living for Christ and their faith allows for a change in their thinking and their behavior and actions. Christians are to be slaves of righteousness, which means obedience to God. Instead of living for the pleasures of this world, live for the obedience of God who brings eternal life.
Reading the Bible and staying connected to God will allow you to be renewed. Consider reading the book of Romans to learn the truth of righteousness. Dive into a Romans study through VersebyVerseMinistry.org that dissects the meaning of righteousness and many Christian beliefs. We cannot expect to wear only one or two pieces of God’s armor and win the battle we face daily with the enemy. We need every piece to be fully armed against the strength and power of the evil forces that work at pulling us away from God. Build your relationship with Christ and your eyes and heart will be open to a stronger faith and be your key to righteousness.