Ephesians 6:14-17 (NIV) 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.
“Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until He comes and showers His righteousness on you.” Hosea 10:12 (NIV)
The breastplate of armor covers and protects the heart. Righteousness is purity of heart. Our righteousness is truly not our own. It is Jesus’ righteous covering. Through Him, we receive full rights as children of Father God. As such, Jesus transfers God’s righteousness, the breastplate of armor, to us (Rom. 5:1-5).
How does this happen?
In Hosea 10:12, we have the instructions:
“Sow righteousness for yourselves” When our actions are pure of heart, morally grounded, not just doing good or right things, we plant God’s presence on earth. Our motivation is God’s love. When we accept Jesus into our hearts, the heart is transformed or purified to be more like Jesus’ heart.
“reap the fruit of unfailing love” When we share with others the unconditional love Jesus gives us, we have heart growth. By treating others as we would treat Jesus or as Jesus would treat them, we become His hands and feet on this earth. Bitterness and resentment will fall away. The fruit of joy and peace will take up residence.
“break up your unplowed ground” If you have ever tried to plant a garden, you know that it is nearly impossible to dig a hole in hard, dry ground. Ideally, you need to prepare the soil by watering and tilling it and adding compost or fertilizer. We need to prepare our hearts for growth by asking God to reveal and remove bitterness and resentment, anger and hatred, and any other hinderances to growth.
“He comes and showers His righteousness on you.” Jesus’ gift of salvation and atonement is a pardon once for all, a transfer of righteousness from Father God to followers of Jesus. In the Old Testament (prior to Jesus’ birth), appointed priests offered sacrifices and atonement for the sins of the people yearly. This seemed to be a never-ending process. Priests entered the Temple (originally built by Solomon) and petitioned God to pardon sins on behalf of the people. Only the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, and then only once per year on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. No other priest dared to even look into the Holy of Holies. Every year, the High Priest would petition for the forgiveness of the people’s sins.
When Jesus died on the cross, the veil between the Holy of Holies and the rest of the temple was torn from top to bottom. There was no longer a need for the High Priest to petition God by offering sacrifices. Now, we approach God directly without a priest to mediate and He bestows His righteousness, purity of heart, on us.
Romans 5:1-5 (TPT) Our faith in Jesus transfers God’s righteousness to us and He now declares us flawless in His eyes. This means we can now enjoy true and lasting peace with God, all because of what our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, has done for us. Our faith guarantees us permanent access into this marvelous kindness that has given us a perfect relationship with God. What incredible joy bursts forth within us as we keep on celebrating our hope of experiencing God’s glory! But that’s not all! Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!