Tuesday, May 3, 2022
Tuesday, May 3, 2022
We ended yesterday’s devotional with a thought about integrity. I would like to continue that thought today as we consider the breastplate of righteousness.
Ephesians 6:14 “Stand firm then, … with the breastplate of righteousness in place,“
For many, righteousness would be defined as doing the right thing. However, most of those people would reserve the right to define right. The standard for right has become self-generated. Many of the standards are based solely on one’s own personal opinion, preferences, and desires. Some of the standards are modeled after other people. Few of the standards for right today are modeled after absolute right, which is found only in God the Father and are possible to achieve only through His Son Jesus Christ.
The relationship between righteousness and integrity is significant. First, in its broadest sense, righteousness means to be in a state that one ought to be. People who live according to their own passions like this definition because they can convince themselves that they are as they ought to be. But when defined from the spiritual perspective, according to Scripture, the definition deepens. Spiritually, righteousness means to be in a state that God accepts. Paul declares the possibility of this when he says, “God made him (Christ Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” In Jesus we have been given the gift of God’s righteousness so we are acceptable to Him. Hallelujah! In Romans Paul says it this way: “The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over us, but all who receive God’s wonderful, gracious gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. Yes, Adam’s one sin brought condemnation upon everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness makes all people right in God’s sight and gives them life. Because one person disobeyed God, many people became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many people will be made right in God’s sight.”
But there is yet a deeper meaning to righteousness that brings integrity into play. Once we know we have been declared righteous by God from His perspective, we must then become righteous from our perspective so that we know we are in the state we ought to be. This is integrity. I was telling a group of young men that the most frustrating part of a Christian’s life – at least it is for me – is to be fighting to overcome fleshly desires that contradict God’s righteousness. The seventh chapter of Romans is all about this conflict within us. In a nutshell, it frustrates me to know what is the right thing to do, but then to have to fight against other desires in my heart that contradict that right thing. On the outside I may make the right choice, but on the inside I wish I could have done something else. For those who are in Christ Jesus, this battle can become so frustrating that we would join Paul in saying, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
The reason that we are frustrated is this – we have been born of the Spirit of God into His family, and the Holy Spirit is working to create the activity of righteousness that stems from our heart of righteousness so we will be people of integrity. But the transformation of our mind takes time and effort. So there is tension. But the goal of the work of the Holy Spirit in us is this – to bring us into the likeness of Christ. Jesus didn’t do the right things because He had to, but because it was His nature to. The Holy Spirit is working to bring that nature to the throne of each one of our lives so that who we are results in what we do. As we go through the process of renewing our mind (Romans 12:2), we obey because we have a goal of righteousness. The more we put on this breastplate and obey, the more our hearts will be transformed by our choices so that the flesh and its desires are overwhelmed by the nature and character of Christ already in us. Then we will be people of integrity, because our hearts and our actions will be in agreement. We will know that we are in the state we ought to be.
For encouragement, read Romans 8:1-17, where Paul gives his answer to the question “Who will rescue me from this body of death?”