The Armor of God, Part 2: Righteousness

Posted on 06/14/2009 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

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TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


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THERE IS A RIVER

There is a river whose streams
     make glad the city of our God
There is a river whose streams
     make glad the city of our God

I will rejoice, I will rejoice
     and be glad
I will rejoice, I will rejoice
     and be glad

There is a fountain full of grace
     and if flows from Emmanuel's veins
It came and it healed me, it came and refreshed me,
     It came and it washed my sins away!

HOW GREAT THOU ART

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES

Jesus, name above all names
Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord.
Emmanuel, God is with us.
Blessed Redeemer,  Living word.

I EXALT THEE

For thou O Lord art high
above all the earth
Thou are exalted
far above all gods

And I exalt thee
I exalt thee
I exalt thee O Lord


*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***


Last week we started a series on the armor of God, and we talked about the first piece of the armor, Truth. I'd like to take a moment to apologize if a particular part of my message came across as arrogant, when I mentioned the doctrine that women should be quiet in church as an example of an unfastened belt of truth. My point was not that you must agree with me or your belt of truth is loose, but that all of us, myself included, should be open to seeing things in the Word of God that challenge what we think it says, and when we see things that seem to contradict other passages we think we understand, we should remember that a fastened belt is a continuous circle, and we may need to revise what we think is clear, since the Bible does not contain one single contradiction or doctrinal error.

That being said, I absolutely stand on the fact that women were ordained of God in Scripture to hold positions of authority over men, called at times to rebuke men and demand they come back in line with what God is commanding them to do; so we must examine the writings of Paul in this light, digging deeper than what seems obvious, researching history and culture, and perhaps indulging commentary that is contrary to what we may have previously believed.


To summarize some of what we talked about last week, it is vital that we put on the whole armor of God, because every single piece is vital if we are to stand against the deceitful trickery of the devil.

Ephesians 6:10-13 says this:

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, so you may be able to stand against the deceitful trickery of the devil.
12 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.
13 For this reason, put on the whole armor of God, so you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
(KMV)

So our fight is not against other people, but against spiritual forces, and putting on the whole armor of God is the only way we can withstand in the evil day, and it is the only way we can stand against the deceitful trickery of the devil.

Last week we talked about the first line of defense, the belt of Truth. We talked about how important it is that we don't abandon having a doctrinal statement for fear of offending someone; that we don't redefine truth as something that changes with the person, the circumstances, or the times; and that we keep our belt firmly fastened in a never-ending loop, daily studying, meditating upon, and memorizing the Holy Scriptures so our firm roots in the Word of God continue to grow deeper and stronger.

This week, let's continue talking about the armor of God, moving on to the second piece. And the title of today's message is "The Armor of God, Part 2: Righteousness."

13 For this reason, put on the whole armor of God, so you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

In a battle, the breastplate is a very important part of the armor. It protects your heart and your lungs, two organs which are both vitally important; if one of them is damaged, you may very well be permanently out of the race.

Of the heart, the Bible says this, in Proverbs chapter 4 and verse 23:

"Keep watch over your heart with all diligence, for out of it flow the springs of life." (KMV)

The physical heart is vital because "out of it flow the springs of life," as the Scripture says, "the life is in the blood." And the spiritual heart is also vital, for "out of it flow the springs of life," that which circulates through your whole being and ultimately determines your actions, your interactions, and your choices.


Not only does your life flow from your heart, but it is the one thing by which God judges us.

1 Samuel 16:7 says this:

7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD does not see as man sees, for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
(KMV)

This was referring to King Saul, who was a tall, regal, impressive figure of a man. But God wasn't interested in all that. God wasn't insterested in what he had accomplished, or even any of the good things he had done. Instead, God was interested in Saul's heart. And because Saul had not kept watch over his heart with all diligence, it had become corrupt and full of darkness, and God rejected him.

Of course the king was still not to be disrespected or gossiped about, but the prophet of God spoke the words of the Lord to him, telling him of his fate because he turned against the commandments of the Lord.

Today, we still look on the outward appearance, and upon the height of a person's stature. Take, for example, our U.S. president. He can talk. He can persuade. He can make people feel confident that no matter how backwards his choices may seem, he will take care of everything and will make it turn out right.

Some voted for him because of the color of his skin. Some voted for him because of the feeling they got when he talked about hope and change. But regardless of how we perceive him judging by the outward appearance, God looks upon the heart. And I would like to encourage all my brothers and sisters in the Lord to pray every day for Barack Obama, and for our country; for just as King Saul disobeyed the Word of the Lord and did not rule according to God's precepts and was destroyed, so it is today. We cannot turn against Israel and expect good things to happen in our nation, for we read this promise to Abraham in the context of his offspring, in Genesis chapter 12, verses 1 through 3:

Genesis 12:1-3

1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, "Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father's house, unto a land that I will show you.  
2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you will be a blessing.  
3 And I will bless those who bless you, and curse the one who curses you, and in you all families of the earth will be blessed."
(KMV)

And if you question whether this applies to Israel, consider those who have blessed her and those who have cursed her, taken from one of Dennis Prager's articles at wnd.com.

Consider America, who has been Israel's strongest ally, and has become the greatest, most powerful and prosperous nation on earth.

Consider Spain, who was one of the world's mightiest powers and most developed cultures in the 15th century, until it expelled all its Jews and intensified the Spanish inquisition against them, plunging it into 500 years of being called "the sick man of Europe."

Consider Germany, who was the cultural and intellectual center of Europe, and perhaps of the whole world. Then they murdered millions of Jews. They were then divided for over a generation, and have become culturally irrelevant.

Consider the Arab world which curses the Jews, rivaling the Nazis in their hatred for the Jews. According to Arab scholars appointed by the United Nations to report on the state of Arab society, that part of the world lags behind the rest of humanity in virtually every social, moral, and intellectual way.

If you lead a country and want to destroy it, start comparing Israel's settlements to Hitler's mass murders, and quote the so-called "Holy Qur'an" as you falsely attribute the advancements of the world to a religion which calls Jews "pigs" and instructs you to kill them if they don't convert to Islaam.

All this while saying Israel's enemies who have vowed to wipe them off the map should be allowed to have nuclear technology, and made it clear in no uncertain terms that an attack on Iran's nuclear weapons by Israel would be unacceptable to the United States.

That's what our U.S. president has done. And God have mercy on those of us who still love, support, and defend Israel and stand up for the truth of our founding document, the Holy Bible, for Obama has spit in the face of God, calling this one of the largest Muslim nations while saying we are no longer a Christian nation and refusing to participate in the National Day of Prayer; and by turning against Israel with his words while pretending to still support her, he has pronounced the curses of Almighty God upon the United States of America.

If you don't believe this is true, just wait and see what the months and years to come will bring. But I hope you don't just wait and see, but that you get on your face before God and cry out for mercy and for righteous leaders who will uphold our constitution, completely and honestly support Israel, and embrace the Word of God instead of a Jew-hating book inspired by demons.


But this is what happens when we do not dilligently keep watch over our hearts. For out of our heart flows the springs of life. And our heart affects everyone around us, and those under our authority.

This is one reason the Breastplate of Righteousness is so vitally important. Our nation has compromised it, weakened it, and taken it off. And we have elected someone based upon his appearance and the hight of his stature. And we have already fallen, as a nation, to the deceitful trickery of the devil, because we are not wearing the whole armor of God.


So, if righteousness is so vitally important, what is it? Let's search the Scriptures and find out.

In Galatians chapter 3, verses 5 and 6, we read this:

5 Therefore, he who ministers the Spirit to you, and works miracles among you, does he do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?  
6 Even so, Abraham believed God, and it was counted for him as righteousness.
(KMV)

So Abraham's believing God was considered righteousness by God. Now, we realize that Jesus is our righteousness, and we are made righteous, as John 3:16 says, by believing upon Him.

But let's take another look at this idea of belief that is counted as righteousness. What specific instance of belief is mentioned in Galatians chapter 3? Hebrews 11:19 says that Abraham believed God could raise his son Isaac from the dead, for he believed the promises of God that a great nation would come through Isaac.

You're probably already familiar with the story. God, testing Abraham, told him to sacrifice his son Isaac. And Abraham obeyed. Right before plunging the dagger into his son's heart, the Lord stopped him, and provided a substitutionary sacrifice, a profound picture of things to come in the person and calling of Jesus Christ.

And THIS belief, the belief that would cause Abraham to give up his son, his heir, after being childless for over 90 years; THIS belief, that God's promises are all true and that only good will come from obeying the Lord in all things; THIS belief, that would sacrifice even the most treasured and dear thing, that closest to his heart; it was THIS belief that was counted for him as righteousness.

We, on the other hand, think that we can say "Yes, I believe," and then refuse to give up anything we hold dear to obey God, and we are somehow considered righteous.

Just as abiding in the Vine Christ Jesus is required for wearing the Belt of Truth, so it is required for wearing the Breastplate of Righteousness.

We must live inside the Word of God, Jesus the Messiah, walking in his ways and staying yoked with him, coming back any time we stumble or stray.

Even when it hurts. Even when it costs us something. Even when it requires we crucify our flesh and go through withdraws from a sin from which we have turned.

And it's important to note here that our observances and good deeds are not considered righteousness, for as Isaiah 64 and verse 6 says,

6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteous works are as filthy rags; and we all wither and fall as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have carried us away.
(KMV)

You see, we cannot be rooted and grounded in religion, or in having said a sinner's prayer, or in doing good things and being good people. If our heart is not humble and pure before God, then we will wither and fall like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, will carry us away.

Abraham's action of obeying God in the sacrifice of his son was not credited as righteousness itself, but the underlying condition of his heart which resulted in his obedience.

You see, if you really believe, you will obey. Obedience is the result of belief, and disobedience is the result of unbelief. Do you want to get a glimpse into the true condition of your heart? Do you want to know your level of belief, which is often hidden even from you? Then take a look at how obedient you are to the word and the voice of God.

You are not made righteous by your righteous works; but if you are righteous, the works will follow.

James chapter two says that faith without works is dead. It states that Abraham was considered righteous because he believed God, and that this tells us that it is not faith alone, but also works that justify us.

And when we read that faith without works is dead, we can reason that if we don't have works, we don't really have faith. And if we DO have faith, the works will automatically follow.

For righteous works are the fruit of faith. Just as obedience is the fruit of belief. And it is this belief that God considers righteousness.


The word "righteous" is rooted in the word "right." It can be thought of as doing the right thing, but going a level deeper than that, it can be thought of as being right with God. And to be right with God, we must believe him. And if we believe him, we will obey him.

Righteousness is right standing, or standing upright, walking in integrity, demonstrating a depth of character that has been fashioned within us by God, showing forth both love and justice that comes from loving the character of God, radiating a strong and true love that comes from embracing the nature and person of God.

Righteousness does not and can not be produced by us, it is something that comes from God, it is his perception, his proclamation.

You see, righteousness is being right in the eyes of God. And we are righteous in his eyes as we abide in the vine, believing his Word and both demonstrating and strengthening that belief by obeying it.

And this goes back to last week's lesson, Truth, that a fastened belt is not a line, but an unending circle. God's righteousness strengthens our belief; our belief results in obedience; obedience strengthens our belief; and belief is counted for us as righteousness.

We tend to want to know which thing or things make us righteous. But it is not a series of actions or deeds that can make us righteous, but the unending circle, the unending lifestyle of depending upon God and believing his Word, of spending time in his presence so he can strengthen our belief, of studying his Word so we can apply it to our lives, and of applying it to our lives by obeying it, which is the end result of our belief, which is counted for us as righteousness.

The Bible says that the righteous shall live by faith. Two weeks from now, we'll talk about the shield of faith; but just as last week's armor piece of the Belt of Truth is related to the last piece which is the Sword of the Spirit, so the Breastplate of Righteousness is related to the Shield of Faith.

In fact, as we'll talk about more some other time, there is an interesting pattern in the Ephesians passage concerning the whole armor of God.

First and last is Truth, the Word of God, Jesus Christ, the beginning and the end.

Second and fourth are Righteousness and Faith, working together as we'll see in the weeks to come.

And third and fifth are The Gospel and Salvation.

The Belt and the Sword; the Breastplate and the Shield; the Helmet and the Shoes. These are all counterparts, and work together in intricate ways. One without the other is incomplete and ineffective, and any of them without all of the rest is inadequate.

And we'll go into this in more detail before these lessons come to an end.

But let's finish examining today's piece of armor, the Breastplate of Righteousness.


In the Church today, many of us have replaced righteousness with faith. Some teachers and preachers imply that you are automatically righteous if you just have faith in Jesus. And while this ultimately is true, faith and righteousness work together; true faith produces belief, and true belief is counted for us as righteousness.

If you are not obeying the Word of God, you are lacking in belief, and therefore you are lacking in righteousness. If you are not obeying God, then you can remember that is a spotlight into your heart, revealing the fact that you have unbelief, and you are not completely righteous in the eyes of God.

This goes back to the condition of your heart, and before we close this morning, I'd like for us to consider the passage we read earlier in Proverbs 4:23:

23 Keep watch over your heart with all diligence, for out of it flow the springs of life.
(KMV)

If you want to strengthen your belief, if you want obedience to flow from your heart, and if you want to be truly righteous, you must develop a lifestyle of keeping diligent watch over your heart.

Jesus rebuked the religious leaders because they were concerned with outer cleanliness, but were unclean and defiled on the inside. He told them to first clean the inside, and then the outside will be clean as well.

And in Matthew chapter 5, verses 20 through 22, Jesus says this:

20 For I say to you, unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will certainly not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

What does this mean? How can our righteousness exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees? Remember what he said about cleaning the inside of the cup as we read the next two verses, verses 21 and 22:

21 You have heard that it was said of them in times of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.'  
22 But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother without a cause will be in danger of the judgment; and whoever says to his brother, 'Raca,' will be in danger of the council; but whoever will say, 'You fool,' will be in danger of the fire of hell.
(KMV)

You see, Jesus was getting to the heart of the matter of true righteousness. Righteousness is not in refraining from committing murder; rather, true righteousness is in the attitude of your heart toward your brother.

You may not have much of a problem not killing someone, but to not hold resentment in your heart against him is quite another matter.

Jesus goes on to mention calling him "raca," which was a term of reproach in those days, meaning empty headed or senseless, similar to our term "idiot" today, or calling him "fool." But these insults don't begin on our lips, but come from our hearts. Just as murder does not begin in an outward action that takes their life, but in a state of the heart, which takes our own life and renders us unclean in the eyes of God.


So, righteousness is a matter of the heart. The Pharisees thought they could earn righteousness with outer works, but Jesus declared that righteousness begins in the heart.

But it's important to remember the unending circle of the Belt of Truth, for all the pieces of the armor depend upon all the others, and the Breastplate of Righteousness depends upon Truth.

You see, when we say that righteousness is a matter of the heart, some would take that to mean that it doesn't matter if we stay away from sin and live a holy life, for it's "only the heart that matters." But let's not forget that, no matter how close we feel to God, if we are not obeying him and his Word, then we have unbelief in our heart, and we are lacking in righteousness.

In 1st Corinthians chapter 6, verses 9 through 10, we read this about unrighteousness:

9 Don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,  
10 Nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
(KMV)

So, outward acts are called "unrighteousness" by the Word of God. But this isn't a list of things to avoid to be righteous, for if it were, we could simply commit the sins not listed here and think of ourselves as righteous, because we think our heart is good and we're not committing any of the acts mentioned as being unrighteous.

But unrighteousness is not defined by the acts, but rather these acts are simply some of the fruits of unrighteousness. And the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

So while refraining from these these things does not make you righteous, doing these things is evidence that you are definitely not righteous, and are far from being in right standing with God.

Do you see the connection? Can you see the unending circle of truth? We are called to be holy, set apart, for God is holy. And we are called to walk humbly before our God, loving mercy and doing what's right.

In 1st Peter chapter 1, verses 13 through 16, we read this:

13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;
15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."
(NKJV)

"Gird up the loins of your mind" sounds a bit like "Gird your loins with the belt of truth," and verse 15 tells us to be holy in all our conduct.

And then we read in Micah 6:8,

8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

You see, righteousness is not found only in faith, or only in salvation, or only in belief without fruit; but it is all-encompassing.

This part of the armor is made up of doing what's right; loving mercy; walking humbly with God; living holy lives; believing God, as evidenced by obeying him.

As we read his Word daily and diligently, learning about the nature of God and embracing that nature by emulating it, our hearts will begin to change, and our belief and its righteousness will grow.

Righteousness is a lifestyle. And the more of our life is consumed by righteousness, meaning the more of our life is considered righteous in the eyes of God, the more fully we are covered by the Breastplate of Righteousness.


Are your loins girded with the Belt of Truth?
And are you wearing the Breastplate of Righteousness?


The ministry team can come to the front now.


All God wants is deep, unbroken fellowship with us. And he hates anything that comes in between us and him. That's why he calls us to purify our hearts, keeping diligent watch over them.

What happens when you keep diligent watch over your heart? You carefully guard what goes into it. How do things enter your heart? Through the eyes. Through the ears. Through the senses.

The messages and world views behind the music we listen to goes into our hearts. The same is true for what we watch, and what we read. On what do you feed? What do you allow into your heart?

Fill yourself with the Word of God. Listen to music that glorifies God and speaks the truth of his Word. Watch things that are consistent with the nature of Christ. Read things that glorify him and that don't feed or glorify the flesh.

"Isn't that going to bit of an extreme?" Well, you might look at it that way. Or you might look at it as diligence. You're not just supposed to watch over your heart. You're supposed to watch over it diligently.

Jesus said that "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." And in Matthew 12:35 he says, "A good man, out of the good treasure of the heart, brings forth good things; and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, brings forth evil things. (KMV)"

So keep watch over your heart with all diligence, for out of it flow the springs of life.


This altar is open for prayer and ministry, and if you hear God speaking to you through his Word today, or if you just want to spend time in prayer and worship, you're invited to get out of your seat and come gather at the altar.

If you recognize some unbelief in you today, maybe evidenced by a lack of obedience in some area, then come kneel before God, and just as the man cried out to Jesus, ask him to help your unbelief.

And if you don't know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then I'd like to invite you to accept him right now. Just ask him to forgive you for your sins and to be the Lord of your life. And he will wash you whiter than snow and give you a brand new beginning.

If you need to go, you're free to do so, and if you can stay after this time at the altar, you're invited to meet us in the room to your left near the back for a time of fellowship.

Let's all gather at the front, and spend some time in the presence of the one who makes us righteous by his blood. Come.