PART 19 – PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (28/1/19)
During this week’s devotionals, we will be considering how David fell into sin with Bathsheba, and how we can protect ourselves. Each day we will look at a different piece of the ‘Armour of God’ (Ephesians 6:10-20), which is God’s power and wisdom on how to overcome temptation and evil.
The process of David’s defeat
David went through a process that led to his defeat. This process was:
Passivity + Seeing + Asking + Inviting + Acting
Yesterday we saw how passivity - being complacent, and therefore, ill-prepared for the assault of temptation - started David on the trajectory toward serious sin. the next step is ‘Seeing’. We read,
‘One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful’ (2 Samuel 11:2).
Temptation suddenly strikes - whether it’s anger, jealousy, covetousness, self-pity…or sexual temptation - we suddenly ‘see’ it. David suddenly saw Bathsheba. Seeing is not sin! Recognising someone’s attractiveness is not sin - it’s a God-given appetite. However, it becomes sin when we take that initial attraction, meditate on it, with a longing for what is contrary to God’s truth.
The breastplate of righteousness
Today we will consider the second piece of armour that will help us to stand against the assault of temptation - the ‘breastplate of righteousness’. Paul writes,
‘Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place’ (Ephesians 6:14).
Righteousness, put simply, is doing the right thing. When someone is righteous, we mean that they have done the right thing.
So, The breastplate of righteousness, firstly, is to seek to do the right thing as God sets out in His word. This will protect us and the church from the harm that sin causes.
Secondly, it means to put on God’s righteousness - to receive the gift of righteousness through faith in Christ.
The ‘Breastplate’ guards the heart - our centre from which our thoughts, feelings and actions flow. To put this piece of armour on is to cherish doing what is right and to revel in the gospel through which we are forgiven when we fail to live up to God’s righteousness - and we all fail!
Fight at first sight
David is not dressed in the breastplate of righteousness, he’s in the dressing gown of complacency. At first sight of temptation, he should have bounced his eyes off of her. He, like us, needed to ‘fight at first sight. We will only have the resources to do this if we love righteousness and hate wickedness, which is the essence of today’s piece of armour.
RESPONSE - PUT ON BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Each response this week will be around putting on each part of the armour of God.
Are you dressed in the ‘breastplate of righteousness’? Is your heart ‘covered’ and filled with a love for Jesus’ gift of righteousness, which is yours through the cross? Secondly, do you love righteousness - are you seeking to live a righteous life that is pleasing to God?
Take a moment to ask God to fill your heart with amazement at the gospel, through which you and I are made perfectly righteous - as holy as God himself! Perhaps you might find it helpful to meditate on this text from Paul,
‘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 given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe’ (Romans 3:21-22).
2. PUT ON THE ARMOUR BY MEMORISING THE TRUTH
Let’s put on the breastplate of righteousness by making a commitment to memorise the armour of God this week.
‘Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.’ (Ephesians 6:14-17)
3. BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR STRUGGLES
It’s easy to live and struggle in silence. A key to freedom is confession - bringing things into the light. A couple of specific questions for you:
1. If you are married - Have you ever spoken to your spouse about struggles that you have with temptation? Will you make some time to talk this week and answer this question: Where, if at all, are you being unfaithful in action or thinking, or being tempted to do so?
2. If you are single - Will you make some time to talk to a friend (of the same sex) and answer the following question: Where, if at all, are you being sexually impure in action, thinking or feeling tempted to do so?
TIPS ON MEMORISING SCRIPTURE
We will only do this, and persevere in doing this, if we believe that it's truly important to hide God's word in our heart. So get faith!
Don't disqualify yourself if it's hard - it is hard!
Write the text somewhere that's easy to find and use
Include the reference throughout the process
Read it slowly and carefully x 10 (Don't rush or dismiss this accurate repetition)
Recall it, without looking as much as possible x10
Do this a few times through the day
Revise regularly (and revise previously memorised verses)
Make it a habit to learn new verses - skill comes over time