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Youth Messenger Online Edition

July-September

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The Breastplate of Rightousness
Willy Acosta

From the beginning, since the fall of man in the garden of Eden, humanity has had a mortal enemy—an enemy that would take dominion of their world and turn it into ashes. As we open our Bibles during our daily meditation, we come to see that there is one common perspective all throughout its pages. It is a perspective that remains constant from Genesis to Revelation. Under every testimony written, under every page in which the word of God was transcribed, we can see a conflict that had been stirred much before our time. It is a controversy initiated by the angel Lucifer, our antagonist. The Bible narrative that pieces together this story shows how Lucifer’s ideas were to be expressed openly and naturally by humanity. Feeling touched by our defeated condition, and our need of help, Jesus came to heal our ailments.

Sin was at the root of every human interaction, ready to stain that which was created perfect. Our nature became infected by the disease of sin. In this dark moment of human history, Jesus shielded us. He covered us with His perfect sufficiency to counteract the claims Satan had over our feeble bodies. He became our safest recipient against sin. Jesus was willing to give us a chance by justification, if we would only accept it. In other words, Jesus has claimed us away from the potency of a fallen destiny. What I mean to say is that, we are free! All we must do is take the offer of justification, and live a life of obedience, a life like His.

How does this work?

Even though our token of freedom is a guarantee given by Jesus, freedom is not to be confused with liberation from our duty. Christians must show obedience under all circumstances. We are not called to be faithful at our own level, but we are called to be obedient just as Jesus was. Jesus was always faithful. The disciple Matthew heard Jesus uttering the words: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Yes, the requirement God has set for all Christians throughout history is perfection. When speaking of perfection, one must note that it is a term that refers to the immaculate condition expected from an individual’s present as well as their past. So here the issue stands: We have all made past mistakes in sin. Intentionally or unintentionally, our life has been stained. Our history holds our present accountable, our nature has held humanity hostage to sin, and temptation is knocking at our door. What should I do?

In the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul was very much aware that Satan was targeting the church in an incredibly unique way. The result of continuous sinning had made humanity unable to justify itself before the eyes of God and His holy law. Not only could they not justify themselves before the law, but they would be utterly incapable of saying no to sin! Temptation was the coercive method used by Satan to prove destruction to so many young Christians. In addition, the condemnation the “holy law” brought upon the sinner hinted hopelessness. Times have not changed. Four thousand years later, the enemy still continues to use temptation to break down spiritual principle.

The fight of your life

Viewing this within the landscape of a great spiritual war, the book of Ephesians describes our spiritual foe, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). The description given by Paul seems to show that we are unfairly matched in this war.

We are fighting against the same dark powers that have made it their life mission to make our story end in sadness. Our enemies are enemies of high intellectual caliber, with psychological tactics and advantages used for the destruction of the wisest and most faithful. Our war is with a countless number of seasoned officers of evil that have mastered the subject of human tendency and sinful propensities. Considering this, in what scenario are Christians to assert their confidence? The joy we have is in knowing that our Jesus was never prompted to provide a solution to this exact problem, yet He did. In Ephesians chapter 6, we see how Paul provides some simple steps given to him by God to help man defend himself from temptation.

Taking the steps

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. . . . Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:11, 13, 14). Paul stresses that we wear the armor of God so that we are able to stand. It is worthy to notice that there is so much urgency in this statement. When reading the verses, we cannot help but to feel the heart of Jesus urging us to protect ourselves with this protective equipment. Christ speaks to us in urgency so that we will take immediate action towards application and be found standing in the last day.

Deception has always been Satan’s most trusted method for the degrading of the human race. He has employed his highest mental capabilities to factor out the alarming appearance of sin. Skillfully re-crafting every temptation to unnoticeably suit every human tendency, Satan has brought the fall of humanity, and continues in constant progress. He has tried to engage youthful talent to reinvent sin in ways to conceal it under the pretext of youthful naïveté and self-exploration. As a result, our daily life is turned into a spiritual nightmare. Though the future may glare at us in a disapproving light, our hope stands in Jesus. Every piece of this armor is essential in order to overcome temptation and to protect your soul in this spiritual warfare. Yet there is one piece within this protective gear that should delight us all in a special manner.

Armor protecting the heart

In verse 14, Paul refers to a piece of armor known as the breastplate of righteousness. This piece that has lasted all of eternity is to be claimed by sinners in need. The breastplate of righteousness is a symbolic depiction of the righteousness Jesus wishes to provide us. He gives us the righteousness that we cannot claim anywhere else. It is the type of righteousness that completely reestablishes our spiritual qualification before the holy law. Seen in proper context, the breastplate of righteousness places us in a position to stand blameless before the law. We do not display our own imperfection. Instead, we shine with rays of Jesus’ holiness. The breastplate Paul mentions has attributes of self-sufficiency which trace back to the reality of Jesus being sufficient to atone for our sins. When wearing the breastplate, young Christians will not boast in their own spiritual accomplishments, but they will experience the sufficiency of Jesus in order to forgive their trespasses. The breastplate shows patterns of the perfect life you and I can live in Him. This righteousness is the kind that has been harbored eternally. It points only to one direction, Jesus! He desires to win us to Himself. When we take hold of the righteousness He offers, we are taken from our fallen nature and granted a position that holds us as forgiven before God. This forgiveness is the gift of God to us by His grace.

What happens when we wear this breastplate? Does my world change? Yes, the life of a young Christian changes, and a great potential to live a perfect life is realized. Jesus shows us our ability to be perfect only when we walk with Him. Daily walking with Jesus will enable us to turn from temptation when presented. Deception will no longer be Satan’s powerful asset, and the Spirit of God will reveal the path of liberty from falling into temptations.

By walking with Jesus, the young Christian notices a difference between his/her own worthlessness and the worthiness of Christ. Not only does this touch the heart of the believers but it also strikes up a curious spirit that leads them to discover why Jesus was so selfless. The pure, unadulterated love of God is revealed, and the stark contrast that exists between Jesus and the sinner will become clearer than ever before. Contrition is triggered within the heart, and the appeal for pardon is born. The power behind the reception of forgiveness from God will be a living experience for all those who seek to wear the breastplate. There, Jesus attributes His perfect character to the soul, as innate in the human heart. Our nature is changed, and we are ready to be sanctified.

Because it is a spiritual battle, God has provided nonphysical ways to defend against spiritual assaults. The breastplate of Christ’s righteousness is the means through which Jesus allows sinful men and women to stand as subjects of the sanctification process. His righteousness enables the young Christian to believe in a changed life. By tearing away our sinful record, it places us in a perfect position for further spiritual growth.

“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” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Available to each of us

In His providential effort, Jesus has brought this blessing to each individual. This truth is accepted beyond denominational jurisdiction and has proven to be a doctrinal pillar for all Christian religions. There have been many debates as to how this wonderful promise can be claimed and lived, but due to doctrinal inconsistencies found among Christendom, many souls have gone astray.

How can a young man or young woman accept and wear the breastplate of righteousness? This is the urgent question at hand. Since being young does not prevent us from accepting this breastplate—nor is it an excuse to reject it—how can I wear it?

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Profitability is the aim of every functioning business in this world. Naturally, our actions revolve around the potential of future profitability, and we spend our lives trying to make adequate decisions for ourselves.

Whether or not we live by such rule, the Bible is noticeably clear. We are instructed in righteousness within God’s word. Our daily impulse should be to search the scriptures in order to learn the proper way of righteousness. Would you like to know the true path to righteousness? The tool is readily available for all to use. The righteousness of Jesus is seen through biblical accounts of His journeying in Israel. The true Source of righteousness dwelt with the poor and the sick.

Jesus spent His life making the cares of others His own. He sought to comprehend human anxiety at an experimental level so that He may give us the formula for deliverance. Jesus risked His undivided relationship with His Father to carve a dangerous path of victory for you and for me. In the eyes of God, profitability was not a factor to consider. By wearing the breastplate, Jesus returns to us our intrinsic value as His chosen sons and daughters. Because of this, every Christian is to express gratefulness. Jesus has reinstated us as true sons and daughters of the heavenly kingdom.

In the life of Jesus, we see the presence of an archenemy constantly seeking to achieve his destruction, and we are to expect no less. The apostle Peter warns us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). This is a fact; we are being hunted by the enemy. Satan is seeking to claim us within our sin, constantly lurking to weaken the mind and stunt our faith. His first thrust of attack is directed at the young body of the church. Are we not to find profitability in wearing the breastplate of righteousness?

All throughout the Bible we read heavenly promises. Claiming the promises of God is perhaps one of our most desirable aspects of our relationship with Jesus. In fact, I am sure that our Saviour is joyous when we find in His Word precious assurances for our life. Our God would always be joyful to share these blessings with us, but we must learn to claim them all. Jesus promises to give us a breastplate that will bring freedom from sin. He desires to see youth who will claim this breastplate as their own. Are you one of them?