What is the Meaning of Ephesians 6.14.Breastplate of Righteousness

“Put on God’s Breastplate of Righteousness” Deepen Your Commitment to Righteous Living

Ephesians 6:14

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 6.14.Breastplate of Righteousness

Ephesians 6 … Satan’s schemes are everywhere and are obviously affecting churches. Christians are far from immune. For example earlier this month it was announced that… “A prominent evangelical Christian church in San Francisco has announced it will no longer ask members who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender to remain celibate” begins an article on Huffingtonpost.com.

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Senior pastor Fred Harrell Sr along with the 6 board members say “We will no longer discriminate based on sexual orientation and [nor will we] demand lifelong celibacy as a precondition for joining.” The City Church, which has about 1,000 attendees, is one of the largest members of the Reformed Church in America denomination, which is represented in town here.

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These folks just want their equal rights! Well, how should we respond?

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Across the country and not necessarily in response to this…

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A Tennessee church posted a controversial message on its billboard over the weekend that said, “Remember, Satan was the first to demand equal rights.”

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The Knoxville Baptist Tabernacle removed the sign — and denied it was targeting any single group — but many who saw it were bothered by the implications.

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“It’s clearly a sign that was meant to offend a particular community — the LGBT community,” Andy Henry told WBIR [a local TV station]. “Because of (the church’s) lack of foresight, they ended up offending everybody who had ever fought for equality or civil rights in general.”

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Many also railed against the sign on social media. But the pastor says … “Our sign referencing Satan demanding his equal rights to ascend into the heavens and be God was simply ‘I’ and all about that individual,” Greene said. “It was not a statement against any one group in particular, you know what about the rights of the unborn babies, the rights of children, the rights of everyone?”

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Does the sign have truth to it? “Remember, Satan was the first to demand equal rights.” But was it a prudent move?

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Ok, but Satan is behind this acceptance of homosexual activity. So, how do we stand firm against Satan’s schemes? Satan and his minions are at work to destroy the foundation of righteousness in our churches, and our families and in our culture. So what is a Christian to do? Instead of being known for going along with Satan’s schemes and instead of posting inflammatory comments on church signs … Now more than ever, we must deepen our commitment to righteous living. We must deepen our own commitment to righteous living.

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We shouldn’t just stop with being shocked at the moral downturn of society. That’s too easy. We must receive the call to deepen our own commitment to and let it affect our hearts and homes. Today, you’re probably not personally debating doctor assisted suicide or abortion or accepting active homosexuals as born again Christians, but you’re own problem is whether or not you are going to care about your lack of conformity to Christ.

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Many times you will sit under a message or are exposed to God’s word and you will feel convicted or feel you need to respond. But you fail to act. And what can happen in a church is that the more you feel this way without responding to God’s word, the more you are training your conscience in a negative way. Be ever careful to respond.

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So are you willing to deal with your own lack of conformity to Christ? Your anxiety or frustration and your discontentment? What about your unthankfulness and pride and the retched selfishness that comes out of your mouth?

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Do you lose your self-control or are impatient and irritable and angry? Are you envious of others or jealously cutting others down or do you fail to encourage or are you caught up with the things of this world?

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Satan is alive and well in attacking in these areas of your life, too. It’s not just in the homosexual agenda … We easily give weight to the people’s sins down the pew or in those other churches and we easily think how our society is crumbling around us, and we fail to seek God to place his sovereign gracious hand into the depths of our soul and pull out the wretchedness of our own hearts.

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What do we need to do to stand firm against Satan’s schemes? This morning, what you need is a deeper commitment to righteous living. The power to do this is found in our text this morning. Let’s once again read together Ephesians 6:10-14.

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Ephesians 6:10–14 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

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Verse 11, we want to be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. And to do that, we must, verse 10, we must be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. We must pray for a deeper understanding of the glories of the resurrection and the power that was displayed there and that’s directed toward us.

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And to be strong in the Lord so that we can stand firm against the schemes of the devil, we must put on the full armor of God. And last time we were equipped with the belt of truth. Did you move that belt up a notch this week? Did you grow in this?

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Remember we discovered together that the truth in verse 14 refers to the gospel.

We saw that in earlier verses in Ephesians. And to put on the belt of truth means to grow in our commitment to the gospel. So we said we must praise God for the gospel, pray for more understanding of it, and study the gospel and its benefits.

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Now this morning, we’re focusing on the breastplate of righteousness. To stand firm against Satan’s schemes you must deepen your commitment to righteous living.

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Background: Breastplate protects vital organs

Once again, the Roman soldier is in view here in Paul’s illustration. A soldier’s breastplate was made of iron plates riveted to heavy leather straps, so they wouldn’t break easily during a fight. The breastplate or body armor consists of four parts. Two shoulder pieces and two body pieces that can be taken apart for easy maintenance and transportation. When it’s assembled, it is put on like a jacket. It’s fastened together with leather straps that run through hoops in the front and back.

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And since it is segmented and since it overlapped downward, it offers great protection against slashing and stabbing weapons.

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And unlike what you have probably heard, it actually does have protection in the back. I think men over the years misread some good old commentaries. It does have protection in the back. In face-to-face combat like the Roman’s experienced, the enemy would not just strike the front, but strike anything vulnerable. If there is a weak spot in the armor or if some of the body was revealed, that’s where the enemy would strike.

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And so like the belt of truth, you don’t go to battle without your breastplate or your body armor. The body armor would protect all your vital organs your heart and lungs and whatever else.

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So that if the sword or spear would would reach past your shield, you have another line of defense. The strikes from those weapons would glance off of the body armor.

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Now, the body armor for the Roman soldier is similar to what righteousness does for the Christian soldier. If you’re living righteously and uprightly, your protection in the spiritual battle is strong and there is no chink in it; there is no weak spot…and so you’ll be able to stand firm against Satan’s schemes.

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And to put on this breastplate of righteousness is a testimony of commitment. You are owning the cause; you are suiting up for battle. You must be committed. You are called to commitment.

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So I’d like to preach that we “Put on God’s Breastplate of Righteousness” which means to Deepen Your Commitment to Righteous Living.

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Similar format as last time…

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First, we’ll discover that the righteousness here is righteous behavior, or righteous living. It is a characteristic of the new man. Second, we’ll see that this is Jesus’ righteousness; it’s His righteousness that we are to put on. And finally, we will learn how to put on the breastplate of righteousness. What we’ll see here is that to put on the breastplate of righteousness means to deepen your commitment to righteous living.

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And this third point is where we’ll get into the applications and I’ll have 3 points of application in particular.

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  1. What is righteousness

    First, what is righteousness in this breastplate of righteousness?

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    Righteousness refers to a characteristic of the new man and it refers to our righteous behavior. That’s what we are going to find out.

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    To see this, we need to go back into our military training manual if you will, back a page or two to Ephesians 4:24.

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    In Ephesians 4:24, we have the description of the new man. This passage says that when you trusted Christ, you put on the new self, or the new man… This is simply the new you.

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    Let’s read this …

Ephesians 4:24 24 [at salvation, you] put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

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When someone comes to the end of themselves and trusts in Christ and God saves him, he puts on the new self. And this verse says that the new you is created by God and it is created in the likeness of God.

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There is something that happens at salvation that begins the restoration of the image of God within you. God creates in you a new nature, the new you. And the new you, it says here, “has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”

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In other words, if you were to simply describe the new you, it would be this: righteousness and holiness. And as we saw last time, it comes from the truth, the truth of the gospel. Righteousness and holiness describes the new you.

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So if you have trusted Christ, God has given you a desire for righteousness. The new you has been created and it lives in righteousness. And so you need to be what you were created to be; you need to live up to what you were made to be: righteous.

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But you could never fulfill your obligations to God and man apart from God giving you a new nature; apart from God dong a work in you!

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Ephesians 2:8–10 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for [the purpose of] good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

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God did the work; we are his workmanship, we are created in Christ Jesus for the purpose of righteousness.

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2 Corinthians 5:17 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

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Oh the glory of it, you’re new! And the new you has built into it the capability for doing right so that you can please God. This is the work of God in your heart. Never before did you have the capability for doing right to please God; but at salvation, God himself has made this possible.

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And so righteousness is a characteristic of the new man and it refers to our righteous behavior.

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APP: This is one way of knowing if you’re saved or not. Do you have a desire for righteousness? Do you grieve over sin, especially over your own sin? You’re new nature feeds on righteousness and doing right. And it’s this righteousness that is protective like a breastplate.

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God has given you a new nature and it’s been created for good works. If you fail to practice what the new you is made for, you won’t be protected. If you fail to practice what the new you is made for, you won’t be protected.

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ILL: It’s the same way with our muscles. On my day off tomorrow, my family knows what I like to do…I like to lay around and get fat … or at least try to get fat! It doesn’t always happen … if it does, you’ll know! But if I did that everyday, if every day I just laid around all day, never got up out of bed … my muscles wouldn’t work very well. And then if I call upon my muscles to do some heavier work, they wouldn’t be able to do it very well.

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It’s the same way with our new nature. If you in your new nature…if you fail to practice righteousness, the new you will not be protected. And we will have a chink in our armor and the enemy will be more likely to effectively attack us.

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You must deepen your commitment to doing right!

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But we can see that righteousness refers to a characteristic of the new man. God has created us in righteousness. It refers to our righteous behavior.

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And so because a your new nature is made in righteousness, you must do right and be more committed to doing right. This is what prevents the downgrade of moral living.

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TRANS: So we have learned the breastplate of righteousness refers to righteous behavior. And now secondly, this same breastplate Jesus Himself wears.

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  1. This is Jesus’ Righteousness

    If you’d turn back to Ephesians 6:14 at the end, you can see once again that Paul is referencing the Old Testament. You can see the letters are all capitals … Where it says “having put on the breastplate of righteousness.”

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    And you may have a letter or number next to that phrase and in the margin of your Bible for verse 14 you might see the cross reference there … and it’s Isaiah chapter 59:17.

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    And Paul is referencing this passage in Isaiah. So, I’d like for your to turn back to Isaiah 59:17 and like we saw with the belt of truth, here again we have the picture of the divine warrior when he returns. Let’s turn back there and the point Paul wants us to see here is that this is Jesus’ righteous behavior. This is Jesus’ righteous behavior.

    And to set the context here, the beginning part of the chapter is a confession of sin. For example in Isaiah 59:12, our transgressions are multiplied for you and our sins testify against us.” Verse 13, transgressing and denying the Lord and turning away from our God speaking oppression and revolt conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words justice is turned back and righteousness stands far away, truth has stumbled in the street and uprightness can’t enter.”

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    Isaiah is praying … You can see then that this is confession of sin.

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    And how is the Lord going to respond to this injustice? Middle of verse 15 now the Lord saw and it was displeasing in his sight that there was no justice. And he saw that there was no man and was astonished that there was no one to intercede then his own arm brought salvation to Him and His righteousness upheld him. He put on righteousness like a breastplate and that’s our phrase Paul wants us to see.

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    And this is all going somewhere. Verse 18 according to their deeds so he will repay wrath to his adversaries recompense to his enemies to the coastlands he will make recompense.

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    And now note these next two verses {RAISE IT UP!!}

Isaiah 59:19–20 19 So they will fear the name of the Lord from the west and His glory [from the east]…from the rising of the sun, {!!} for He will come like a rushing stream which the wind of the Lord drives. 20 “A Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” declares the Lord.

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So you can see where this is headed. It’s all headed until the time that the name of the Lord from the west and from the east will be feared and when the Redeemer will come to Zion, to Jerusalem.

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And so the setting is the second coming of Jesus Christ when the whole world …from east to west…is fearing the name of the Lord. This is when Christ comes back at the end of the tribulation. When He does, He will have annihilated his enemies and the righteous alone will survive. Here again then we have the Divine Warrior who comes back… and as a breastplate he has put on righteousness.

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In other words, when he comes back all of the wrongs will be made right. And he will see to it that righteousness prevails. He has set his face with strength on doing right and no one will stop Him… Those still intent on doing wrong at the end of days will be utterly destroyed.

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Doing right is a showing of great strength, like a breastplate, like body armor. To faceup when friends or family may tempt you to do wrong… To resist temptation in the face of much pressure and to complete the task to do the work and to do right when most choose to do wrong … this is a strength that will protect your heart and conscience.

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Are you committed to this? The divine warrior will come back one day showing forth his rock solid impenetrable righteousness, his breastplate shimmering in the sun and he will slay his enemies with the sword that comes from his mouth.

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And it’s this righteous behavior that we are to put on. The same commitment to standing up and standing firm in the evil day just like the divine warrior, Jesus Christ when he returns in all his splendor and glory. Will you rise up and fight … fight the battle for righteousness now? Resist temptation, stand firm!

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And so when he comes back will you look upon his breastplate his body armor with honor … and recognize that he is coming with righteousness. Will your righteous behavior today reflect his very righteous when He returns? You are called to this very purpose!

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Jesus demonstrated his righteousness when he came the first time. He was entirely without sin. 1 Peter 2 says that though he was threatened, he did not threaten in return. The Pharisees were always accusing him and he could have annihilated them, but he didn’t. In Matthew 4 and Luke 4, Satan tempts him with everything he’s got and Jesus perfectly resists. His disciples are disowning his cause and they are not understanding his words, but he does not get frustrated with them.

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Let us put on Jesus’ righteous behavior and become more like Christ. We must be committed to this this spiritual battle today.

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ILL: Now, let’s put this together. At salvation, God created us in he’s likeness. He created us in righteousness. This new nature is described as righteous and the new you desires righteousness and is designed to produce righteousness. We are designed to imitate God’s righteousness. As we’ve seen God has put his glorious righteousness in us. And now we are called upon to live out that righteousness. We’re called to spiritual growth.

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And so what God has done in creation was to put his glories in us, his righteousness in us to act out. The artist has put himself in the art. God has put himself into us.

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ILL: A human artist is doing just this, Liu Bolin, a Chinese artist. Bolin stands before various backgrounds and paints himself to look like those backgrounds. And so the result is that he is camouflaged in and you can see him, but only a little.

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For example there is one photo where he is standing in front of the soda aisle. You guys call it soda or pop…?

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Anyway, he paints on himself with others helping him … he paints on himself the shelves and the soda cans that he is standing in front of. Even the floor is the color of his shoes. His face and his hair is all painted to look like the soda cans. And they take a picture of him and as you look at the picture you can make out his outline and you see the various waves in his clothing. But he’s really camouflaged in there real good.

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The artist has put himself …and qualities of himself in the art….And similar to that, God has put qualities of himself into us. Just like the artist put himself into his artwork, so also God has put His righteousness into us. And he has so created us in Christ that he and his righteousness would be made visible through us to all who would look at our lives. Others need to see the artist in us the art. They need to see Jesus in us.

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This righteousness of his is built into us to practice. But we must practice righteousness. And so because our new nature is made in God’s righteousness we must do right to protect ourselves from the enemy. We must practice righteousness to stand up and stand firm against the schemes of Satan.

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TRANS: Righteous in the breastplate of righteousness is righteous behavior. It is Jesus‘ righteousness that we are called upon to put on. We are to be like Christ.

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Now, how do we put on this righteousness?

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  1. How do we put on righteousness?

    Putting on the breastplate of righteousness, as for all of these pieces of the armory, is a deepening of our commitment. To put on truth or righteousness or to take up the sword of the spirit… This is all an expression of commitment.

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    Why else would he be asking us to put it on? Not to be looking at it from afar not to be giving it to the next guy so that he can have it… no, you are to put it on …you are going into battle and you are in it to win it.

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    This is a military context. There is intensity. Palms sweating, heart thumping, adrenaline pumping action every day and there is no real rest until … until the One who’s breastplate it is comes again! So put it on and fight His battles…

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    And so strengthen your resolve to do right! If you have put on the belt of truth and you are saved and you are seeking to understand the gospel and you want to grow and to live out the truth in your life, you’ll begin to understand the calling in the battle.

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    Do you understand your mission do you know where your commander is leading you, do you know what he is doing in the earth… He has gladly given you the kingdom!

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    He is calling out a people for his name today and He is strengthening them to become like his son.

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    But the enemy is alive and active. And he has plans to attack you at your most vulnerable spot in your breastplate, in your body armor. He is going to try to get you to do evil and to sin.

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    Like lying or stealing or being angry at your brothers and sisters, … he’ll tempt you to exasperate your children or to dishonor your parents or to be poor stewards of the things that God has given to you, to misuse your body or to take advantage of others.

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    He will tempt you to do the right thing in a sinful way. He will make it look like it’s right and he’ll give you all the reasons why it is and you will strive and strive in your spirit to be able to do this or that, but the whole time it’s wickedness.

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    Evil is a trap. And the one who sets the trap knows your nature. He has had thousands of years of observing human nature. His reconnaissance missions over these years has yielded to him much information on how to get God’s people to do wrong.

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    He knows your weaknesses and he knows what direction you are tempted to lean and he just pushes you that way.

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    But if you are practicing righteousness and you are growing in Christ and you are seeking to live out the truth, Satan has less opportunity to penetrate the breastplate.

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    He knows if your greatest temptations are with your temper or with worry or with your appetites or with the things of this world. Don’t be ignorant of his devices. Where is your weakness? Fix that part of your breastplate! Get that part of your life right with God!

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    Satan is the accuser; he’ll try to accuse your righteous character. But he will have a much harder time accusing you if you are growing in righteousness and godliness.

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    So the way that you have been living, righteous or not, has either strengthened you against Satan’s attacks on your character or it has made it easier for him to get you down.

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    To effectively stand firm against Satan’s schemes, you must deepen your commitment to practicing righteousness. Your life, the lives of your fellow soldiers in your family, and the life of this church off into the future for generations to come, is at stake.

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    If you don’t hold the line and you don’t resist temptation, then there might not be anyone.

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    And so how exactly are we going to deepen our commitment to righteous living?

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    First, put off old man habits and put on new man habits. This is what we’re doing on Thursday nights. Our study is designed to help us to get serious about putting off certain sins and putting on other characteristics.

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    ILL: CS Lewis in his Screwtape Letters quotes the demon Screwtape writing to his demon-in-training Wormwood. And the demon Screwtape writes to Wormwood, “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.”

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    “…You don’t need to read the Bible, you don’t need to have fellowship with other believers at church, you don’t need prayer, you don’t need to get some good sleep on Saturday night, … So life changing truths are kept out of our minds.

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    Learn to put off and put on. And second … repent. You need to get right with God. Repentance of sin strengthens your breastplate. You are recognizing a desire and in need to get right and to do right when you repent. Pray to God and tell him that you hate your sin and you want to turn away from this sin or that sin.

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    ILL: [1]Trooper Daniel Griffiths was shot by insurgents while on Operation EAGLE’S SHADOW, a two-day operation targeting known insurgent ‘safe havens’ in Afghanastan.

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    The operation’s mission was to disrupt insurgents’ ability to attack or lay improvised explosive devices against Afghan security forces and soldiers from the International Security Assistance Force.

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    23-year-old Trooper Griffiths … had been working to identify an insurgent firing point after another part of his patrol came under fire from AK-47 assault rifles. But, as he moved to try to see where the insurgents were, another group opened fire from another location, pinning Trooper Griffiths and two more soldiers under fire. He said:

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    “I was at the front … and as we turned the corner of the compounds we were opened up on from another firing position. We all hit the deck as the rounds pinged all around us.”

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    As British soldiers returned fire Trooper Griffiths moved for cover – and was hit in the back by a round, square in the middle of his body armour plate. He continued:

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    “It felt like a sledgehammer blow and knocked me to the ground. I kept heading for cover…

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    “Once in cover my section second-in-command checked me for wounds and gave me the all clear. I felt angry and wanted to get back into the fight, but the guys calmed me down and we got back into formation to patrol.

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    When we got to a safe compound I checked my body armour and found the bullet had gone through my day-sack and hit my back plate in my body armor. I was pretty relieved, and felt a bit light-headed.

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    Trooper Griffiths ignored the bullet and bravely carried on with the mission, later escorting insurgent detainees to a helicopter and swapping his damaged plate for a new one before carrying on with the mission.

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    There was a chink in his armor; is there one in yours? The battle is raging, you need to get that fixed. Repent! If Griffiths had gone back out into battle without a new armor plate, he may not have made it if he got hit again. But since he swapped it out for a new one, he could have confidence.

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    Repent, get right with God; regain confidence in the battle. Make sure there is no weak spot in your armor. Check yourself over, search your heart. Repent and work on overcoming temptation.

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    And third, get help. You may be going through a particular battle and you need more of a battle plan to resist Satan’s schemes. You may need some back up. Ask your parents or, ask me, as well. The door is always open and help for you in the spiritual fight is always available.

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CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 6.14.Breastplate of Righteousness

You are on the front lines. Your breastplate of righteousness is being attacked.

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But we don’t go alone against the foe. Christ and his glorious righteousness is all our own. Though you feel the love for Jesus in your heart, Satan will tempt you Laodicean lukewarmness. You must never let down in the fight because Satan is always active. But the Lord is ever near always on guard for us and with him and His righteousness, we will always escape from the schemes of the devil.

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600 we rest on thee, we trust the captain of our salvation, Jesus Christ.

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  1. Modified from https://www.gov.uk/government/news/body-armour-saves-british-soldier-from-taliban-bullet–2

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