Our text from Ephesians 6 reminds us that ours is a righteousness that must be put on. That is, when you are standing, you should already have these on; you should have started before you go out of your tent, before you face the enemy, you should already have put these on. Breastplate is the word; 'thoraka' in Greek. Do you know what 'thorax' means? Thorax means the trunk; from our neck right down to our waist, that's the thorax, the trunk. And in the thorax are found all our vital organs apart from the brain; the heart, the lungs, the liver, the stomach; all are found in the thorax.
The breastplate for the soldier of those days, was something that came from under their chin, right down to their hip, and it was front and back cover. So they were covered front and back, so that if any arrows came that missed their shield, they had this protection. It's like a bullet-proof vest that we speak of today, only more efficient because it covered more. 'Thoraka' from the neck to the thighs, it was a protection for the heart, and for the other vital organs, and the Word of GOD says,
'Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.' Be sure to protect your heart, because the Bible says,
'The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.' If we trust in our heart, we are going to be led astray.
Job says that one thing I didn't allow my heart to do, I didn't allow my heart to go after my eyes. He was very careful guarding his heart. And, of course, that involves relationships too. We must make sure that we are not carried away by our heart.
I fell madly in love with a young woman; she was the only one, I could never be happy with anybody else. But the LORD said, 'No, she's not the one for you!' I was brokenhearted. I thought my world had come to an end, but the LORD knew better; and Judith and I have just celebrated our 39th Anniversary. The LORD knows how to make the choice! And that's one of the most difficult things for us. The matters of the heart. To allow GOD to say, 'Yes,' or 'No' to the one we wish to marry. That's one of the crises that every young person faces. But the LORD knows best, and He will do that which is right.
'having put on the breastplate of righteousness.' The breastplate of Aaron, the high priest, was a kind of a double-square of linen fastened in front, and inside it was a kind of a pouch; inside were two articles called 'Urim' and 'Thummin'. 'Urim' means lights; 'Thummin' means perfections. That's as far as we can go in our description of them, because the Bible doesn't tell us whether they were jewels; whether they were anything – we don't know. We just know them by their names: lights and perfections. But what do they symbolize? The lights symbolize good conscience, an enlightened conscience. Perfection symbolizes a holy life; an enlightened conscience and a holy life, that's what Aaron was bearing in his heart before GOD. It is called here,
'... the breastplate of righteousness;'and by 'righteousness' we mean, not only the righteousness the LORD bestows upon His saved people, but, also, the righteousness that He's working in you and me. It's not only imputed; it's also imparted.
When you and I come to trust in Messiah, GOD accounts us righteous, just as Abraham, our father,
'He believed in the LORD, and it was accounted to him for righteousness,'that is, justification – you are justified before GOD! GOD accounts you a righteous man! We are not, but our GOD accounts us for Messiah's sake.
But He's not just satisfied with imputing Messiah's righteousness; He's working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. And that's what I mean by imparted righteousness. We are told to
'grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our LORD Messiah, YESHUA the Messiah.' Sanctification! We are not meant to stand still. We don't say, 'I'm saved, therefore I can live as I please.' On the contrary;
'He that has this hope in him, purifies himself, even as Messiah is pure.' So it is faith and a good conscience; that's what Shaul said to Timothy:
'Holding faith and a good conscience.' We seek to measure up to the standard that is set before us. That's why this Book of GOD is full of exhortations to holiness. From one end to the other, It tells us two things: trust and obey. It sounds deceptively simple; but those are the two main responsibilities of every Believer. To believe GOD and to obey GOD! It all boils down to this, and the whole message of the Scripture is: Believe in the LORD and obey Him; serve Him; holding faith and a good conscience.
1st Timothy, Chapter 1, verses 18 and 19:
'This charge I commit to you, son, Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them, you may wage the good warfare; having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected concerning the faith, have suffered shipwreck.'