Preaching About the Breastplate of Righteousness

Preaching About the Breastplate of Righteousness

We are considering how to go about preaching on Spiritual Warfare.  Here’s a link to the first post in this series.   In this series we are focusing on the defensive weapons that are mentioned in Ephesians 6:10-18.  The last post explored the significance of the belt of truth.  In this post we are going to explore the significance of preaching about the breastplate of righteousness to your people.  

The Breastplate

Stand Firm, then with belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place.   Ephesians 6:14 

The Roman breastplate was made either of bronze or of iron.  It was usually lined with leather in order to keep the metal from chafing on the skin.  It was attached to the belt, and fitted around the neck (see pictures).

The breastplate for a Roman soldier was an essential part of what made him successful in battle, particularly in the kind of battle mentioned in this passage.  The kind of fight that Paul is describing here is hand to hand combat, or mano a mano.  The breastplate protected some essential organs in the body, particularly the heart and the bowels. 

The Heart

The world of Paul’s day looked at the function of the heart differently than our world.  We tend to see it as the center of emotions.  So, in the United States, on Valentine’s Day, people send cards, and students hand them to other students in school, that feature a heart.  In one way or another, the message is giving:  “Won’t You Be My Valentine”.  Stay tuned—in a moment we’ll look a where the ancient world thought those emotions came from. 

The heart, in a more biblical sense, was thought to be the center of a person’s values and attitudes.  Jesus put it this way in Matthew 15:9: 

For out of the heart come evil thoughts.  

In other words, what you think about other people, what you’d really like to get away with, is in the heart.  The great psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, would have said that this is the ego, the part of us that controls our decisions.

The Bowels

The emotions, the writers of the Bible thought, were centered in the bowels.  When you read in the Bible that someone was moved with compassion, the phrase could be accurately translated, moved with the bowels of mercy.

36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Putting on the Breastplate of  Righteousness

So, how do you go about putting on the breastplate of righteousness?  I am deeply indebted to a preacher named Pat Damiani who preached an excellent sermon about this.  You can find that sermon here.

There are three possible meanings here of what we are to have in place before meeting the Enemy.

  • Personal Righteousness
  • Positional Righteousness
  • Practical Righteousness

Personal Righteousness

Did Paul mean that you have to be righteous, avoiding sin, and that’s how you repel the attack of the enemy?  This could be part of what Paul means.  After all, when you choose to go to or be in a place where the Enemy thrives, you are much more likely to come under attack.  But, if we depend on our righteousness to keep us from the Enemy’s attack, we are in deep trouble.  As Isaiah noted:

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.   Isaiah 64;6

Or, consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:20:

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 

Or, consider the statement of Paul in Romans 3:23:

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

So, it is unlikely that Paul is talking about our being good as the protection of our heart and emotions.

Positional Righteousness

The second kind of righteousness refers to the fact that the righteousness is imputed, or given to us.  This is the way Paul put it in his second letter to the church in Corinth:

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”   2 Corinthians 5:21.

And this reference in Romans 3:21-22:

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness is gien through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference between Jew and Gentile. 

This is it!  We claim the righteousness of Jesus when we face the enemy.   This is important when preaching about the breastplate of righteousness to your people.  70% of Americans believe that they are good enough to get to heaven.  Can you believe it?

Practical Righteousness

This doesn’t mean we go and do whatever we feel like.  We still need to live as righteous a life as we can.  But we know we will fail, and the enemy will seek to attack is with guilt and doubts at that time.


So preaching about the breastplate of righteousness is necessary for your people to be prepared.  Preach it!