Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 32 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House.  This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes or so we are going to look into the second piece of the Armor of God Paul lists in Ephesians 6.  It’s Ephesians 6:14b, “righteousness like armor on your chest.” Or more popularly coined as the breastplate of righteousness.

 

In episode 22 of season 2 we talked about the individual in Alaska who dressed as the Grim Reaper and stood across the street from a High School holding a sign that read the first part of Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death,” but leaving off the most important part of the scripture; the part that gives hope and speaks to the Gospel, “but the gift of God is eternal life.”  Sometimes it is beneficial to highlight half of a scripture so that you can dig deeper and then bring in the other half to finish the dig, or as part of ministry to use half a scripture to grab attention and then when they come up you give them the rest of the verse. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened in this scenario. They gave them the first half of the scripture and then when they were approached there was no unveiling of, “but the gift of God is eternal life.”

 

We’ve created this dichotomy in Christianity where we’ve elevated the advisements in scripture on living a healthy spiritual life to the requirements of salvation.  We post memes on Facebook that read, “We are made righteous before God through faith, not what we do.” back to back with ones that read, “When Jesus is your Lord you don’t get to pick and choose what sins to give up.”  It truly can’t be both ways; either it’s your faith not your actions that bring salvation, OR it’s taking/abstaining from certain actions that brings salvation. The confusion is understandable, given that it’s not actually as simple as all that.

 

When we turn to scripture we find that faith alone leads to righteousness, Philippians 3:8b-9 reads, “Because of (Christ) I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ [9] and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ— the righteousness from God based on faith.” And Romans 4:4-5 says, “[4] To the one who works, pay is not credited as a gift, but as something owed. [5] But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declares the ungodly to be righteous, his faith is credited for righteousness.”  However, Romans 10:9-11 reads, “[9] If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. [10] One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. [11] For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on (Christ) will not be put to shame,” Last I checked confessing with your mouth was indeed an action, but we need only turn to James 2 to learn that… well that long and short of it is that faith is in fact a verb not a noun.

 

Starting in verse 18 we read, “[18] But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith by my works. [19] You believe that God is one. Good! Even the demons believe-and they shudder. [20] Senseless person! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?”  True faith, the kind that credits righteousness to our account, undeniably leads to action. Not always the same actions, and there’s no cookie-cutter requirements on the actions that have to be taken after righteousness and salvation, but faith leads to action.

In the last episode we talked about the belt of truth or verity; sincerely held beliefs that drive your actions and influence the way you see the world.  In 1 Peter 5 we’re told that the Holy Spirit IS verity. We didn’t talk about it, but that identification as the Holy Spirit is truth, specifically verity, is a common theme through the Gospels and on throughout the New Testament.  More importantly we talked about the belt of truth holding on the breastplate making it useful and its wearer effective. Here we not only need to identify what the righteousness is that we wear like a breastplate, which we have positively identified thanks to Romans 10 as faith in Jesus as Lord, the son of God whom was raised from the dead.  Now we are tasked with needing to draw upon scripture to prove the analogy that the Holy Spirit is the belt that holds that breastplate, that righteousness, that faith, tight to our bodies making it effective and by extension us as well.

 

If we return to Romans 4 picking back up in verse 6 we read, “[6] Just as David also speaks of the blessing of the person to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: [7] Blessed are those whose lawless acts are forgiven and whose sins are covered. [8] Blessed is the person the Lord will never charge with sin. [9] Is this blessing only for the circumcised, then? Or is it also for the uncircumcised? For we say, Faith was credited to Abraham for righteousness. [10] In what way then was it credited-while he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? It was not while he was circumcised, but uncircumcised. [11] And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while still uncircumcised. This was to make him the father of all who believe but are not circumcised, so that righteousness may be credited to them also.”  So for Abraham that breastplate of righteousness that was accredited to him because of his faith in God it was held tight by a belt of… well, circumcision.

 

If the first covenant with God through Abraham required a “seal” then it’s reasonable to ask if our covenant through Christ might also require a seal.  I’ve got three scriptures for you to look up that indicate just this; 

Ephesians 1:13, “In (Christ) you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed.”

Ephesians 4:30, “...don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him for the day of redemption.”

and

2 Corinthians 1:21-22, “[21] It is God who strengthens us together with you in Christ, and who has anointed us. [22] He has also put his seal on us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a down payment.”

My takeaway is that we are made righteous by our faith in Jesus as the son of God which is our breastplate and the infilling of the Holy Spirit is in fact the belt of truth that seals that righteousness and holds it tight to our heart protecting what is among the most vulnerable of our personhood.  Take some time and look up these scriptures in context for yourself.

 

This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”

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