Protecting Your Heart from the Enemy

Like most writers, I am a lover of words and phrases. Thesaurus.Com is my number one writing buddy. A breeze of giddiness embosoms me whenever I search for the origins of common sayings such as, “It’s raining cats and dogs.â€

Despite my desire to master the English language, I still confuse some words now and again. For example, I often look up affect vs. effect. Stationary and stationery puzzle me at times, as do complement and compliment. Most recently, the word righteousness invoked many sighs as I dug deeper into studying “The Armor of God”, referenced in the book of Ephesians.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place.†(Ephesians 6:10-14)

Prior to this study, whenever I read the word righteousness, I believed it’s meaning to be what is found in The American Heritage Dictionary, “Morally upright; without guilt or sin.†Knowing this, and also reading in God’s word that I am to put on a breast plate of righteousness put me in a conundrum.

How can I, one who sins, put on a garment of righteousness? And not only a garment, but a piece of armor designed to protect the organs that my body cannot live with out; chief among those organs is the heart. It does not get more important than that. I want to be obedient in this, but I cannot, not if this is the definition is the driving force behind my desire. So why then would God ask the impossible?

And that is the beauty behind what I learned this week. Bear with me if this is old hat to you. But to me, it is as fresh as warm linens removed from the dryer. The definition we use today for the word righteous is not the same definition the Apostle Paul used 2,000 years ago.

According to the Holman Bible Dictionary, “Human righteousness in the New Testament is absolute faith in and commitment to God. The one who in faith gives oneself to the doing of God’s will is righteous, doing righteousness, and reckoned righteous by God. The focus of faith in God is the saving activity of God in Jesus Christ.â€

Honestly, that’s not much easier than living a sin-free life … but, it is doable because Christ lives in me. And, because God will not ask me, or you, to do anything that’s impossible for us. He’s not a God of cruelty. We’re not His sport. We were not made for His amusement. He’s the God of Love. We are His beloved ones, and we were made to return that love to Him.

How do I put on that breast plate of righteousness? Here is what I think I need to do. I need to continually turn over all my desires, both selfish and unselfish, to God. I need to submit those wants, dreams and desires to His will. I need to trust Him with every facet of my life and take Him on His word. I need to believe whole heartedly that His promises will be fulfilled; and also accept the beautiful truth that “no power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand.†*

And just like a solider in boot camp learning about his armor needed for battle, it takes discipline, study, and practice. Christ already did the hard work for me. All I need to do is believe He did it and live like I believe He did it.

*Lyrics from the hymn “In Christ Alone. Written by Keith Getty &Stuart Townsend

7 Responses to Protecting Your Heart from the Enemy
  1. Genny
    June 11, 2008 | 12:55 am

    This is beautiful! I love your analogy…”as fresh as warm linens removed from the dryer.” Thanks for the reminder to believe what Christ did, and to live like I believe it.

  2. Leslie
    June 11, 2008 | 2:17 pm

    Great post! Righteousness can be so difficult to explain sometimes. This is a good way of putting it.

  3. Tammy
    June 12, 2008 | 7:59 am

    Very insightful Angela, and a great way of explaining this difficult word. It takes the pressure off to know that it’s not my work, but the completed work of Jesus that protects me!

  4. Jaime
    June 12, 2008 | 11:01 am

    Thank you for this post. Accepting that righteousness is a gift is so hard, I agree. We want something tangible to work towards instead of recognizing that Christ did it all for us. Our “righteous” behavior is simply a way that shows our gratitude, a loving response. I so often get this all mixed up myself. Good thought-provoking, heart challenging devotional. Thanks for that!

  5. Amanda
    June 12, 2008 | 4:08 pm

    Man oh man… God must really have a message for me! I just started a Bible study where we read through this verse…it seems that the Lord is trying to “learn” me something! 😉
    This was so well written and important. What a wonderful example of Truth in writing!

    God bless-

  6. Shera
    June 13, 2008 | 11:31 am

    I love that you are a “lover of words” and are helping all of us dig just a little deeper into the Word of God and apply it to our everyday lives!

  7. John C. Capune
    June 29, 2008 | 10:31 am

    Great post! My biggest challenge is to give myself over to God each and everyday. Some days I make it some I don’t. I just pray that I don’t stop trying.