Stand firm then… with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
In the account of the wicked King Ahab, 1 Kings 22:31 – 35, the armies of the the king of Aram were instructed to only fight the king of Israel. The mistakenly pursued Jehoshaphat but as soon as they realized their mistake, they began to withdraw. The random arrow of a stray bowman was released and found its mark in a chink of King Ahab’s armour (the breastplate).
The breastplate was designed to protect the torso. It covered all of the vital organs and although it came in many designs over the centuries, the mandate was the same – no holes. King Ahab was defeated and ultimately killed because there was a hole in his breastplate of righteousness. This was a king who murdered a man because he coveted his vineyard. He was a bully and he was, in many ways, subject to his wife who was an even bigger bully. This pair did evil in the sight of the Lord.
1 Kings 21:25
There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife.
Not the epitaph that I’d like to have as my legacy!
In forsaking righteousness, King Ahab also forsook his God. Satan is always ready to attack us. His arrows are not random and he knows exactly where to find the chinks in our armour. When we remove the breastplate of God’s righteousness or we fail to work on protecting the chinks, we can be sure that Satan is eagerly awaiting his opportunity to strike at us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Jesus prayed this very deliberately. He knew the danger that awaited all those in this world. God knows how frail we are. He knew even before the Garden of Eden that we would sin and fail. He loves us anyway. His desire for us is that we will desire Him.
And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.
Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.
So what is righteousness and why is it important? I found this answer in another study on the Armour of God.
My tongue shall speak of Your word, for all Your commandments are righteousness.
Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.
Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.
Scripture tells us that God knows our righteousness…
1 Samuel 26:23
The LORD rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness.
Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.
When we choose to trust and obey God, we are choosing to be righteous. To obey God, we need to know what He is saying to us which means we need to be in His word and join with Him in prayer.
In order for God to be able to lead us, we need to be willing to follow Him.
Lead me, LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies— make your way straight before me.
Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.
Ultimately, righteousness is the condition of our hearts. It is our willingness to let God be God – putting our faith in Him and loving Him with all our hearts.
Faith and love also protect our hearts. It’s interesting to study how faith and love relate to righteousness. Faith works “through love” (Galatians 5:6) and Abraham’s faith (which was shown by his doing what God said to do) was “accounted to him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3; Genesis 26:5)