THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 7-22-07
LESSON TITLE: "THE ARMOR OF A CHILD OF GOD: HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS"
What a privilege we have this morning to join together in the study of God's Living Word. We welcome you to our program and we thank God that you have chosen to be with us today. We are excited about this opportunity we have together this morning to glorify our creator. May we each do our part to make this time acceptable in His sight and according to His Will. Now, let's approach our Father's throne in prayer.
This morning we want to start our songs of praise with a hymn that reminds us of the suffering of our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemene. So, wont you join in with the congregation at this time as we together sing, "Night With Ebon Pinion!"
(SONG # 1)
Living in a world that is full of so many people, we are reminded every day how different everyone is. Think about how hard it is, at times, to get along with everyone and to overlook each others imperfections. Probably everyday, whether it is at home among family, at work among coworkers, or at school among peers, we are faced with getting upset about something that has been done to us or something that offends us in some way. Maybe the comments made are not even to us or about us, but still they often bother us enough, for us to put them in the back of our mind, so that we can remember them on a regular basis.
For the next few minutes we want to consider something that my wife has learned to be really good at - forgiveness. One of the most fundamental social principles found in the Bible is forgiveness. In fact, we can quote scripture after scripture, that reminds us of the need to be a forgiving people.
However, we must remember that at the heart of it all, God was first willing to forgive. We must remember that god first gave his own son to die on the cross to pay the price for our sins. Thus, we read, "in him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins," Ephesians 1:7. As Christians, we are not asked to be a forgiving people because we are special or different, but we are asked to forgive because God first forgave us. In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus said, "for if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses." Here we learn that the only way God will forgive us, is if we learn to forgive others.
The lesson of forgiveness is a hard one for us, but nevertheless it is important to understand because the unforgiving will not be forgiven. Paul put it well in Colossians 3:13, where he said, "bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do." We must be patient with each other in this life, realizing that we all have faults and shortcomings. So, we must learn to forgive others, as God has forgiven us.
Isn't it the golden rule that adds another aspect to this study? "do unto others, as you would have them do unto you." If we want to be forgiven by God and others, we must learn to be forgivers of others faults. This is the will of God.
Finally, let me ask you a question, "Did Jesus have to be asked before he forgave others?" What about on the cross, Jesus was asking the father to forgive those who had not even asked for forgiveness yet. Are you striving to follow this example of Jesus? Or do you keep thinking, he/she never asked me for forgiveness or said they were sorry! Let's learn to be better Christians, but learning to be more Christ-like. Isn't that what being a Christian is all about?
Today we will again study God's Word by focusing on things related to the armor of a Child of God! This morning our specific topic of study is entitled, "Having Put On The Breastplate Of Righteousness!" So stay with us after our next song and in a few minutes I will return with this lesson from God's Word. It's now time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, "O The Depth."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
Several weeks ago, we began there in Ephesians chapter 6 looking at the armor of a child of God. As we considered there, we have already found that there were several things referred to as armor by Paul that are used for Christian's sake that they might be strong, that they might be able to stand as the scriptures say against the devil. I might recall on your minds there to verse 11 as it speaks specifically of putting on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the whiles of the devil, the schemes, those things that he might set in our path, in our way that might sometimes lead us astray, that we might allow our own desires to conceive and bring forth sin. And so the Christian armor is certainly important as we know that it is required, that we might be able to live in this life in a way that is truly pleasing to God.
But if you'll look last week then we also considered together the concept there in verse 14 of "girding the waist with Truth." Certainly there the gird or belt was something that would contain or control the rest of the armor that would be placed on the soldier. So therefore, we saw the centralized part or the important part that everything else was built upon and held in place by. And so the Truth very fittingly is that, for it is the Truth that makes us free, the Truth that gives us the knowledge of what God wants and in the end Truth that will save us if we have been obedient to what God requests. But then if you'll also look with me there in the same text, verse 14, it tells us, "after girding the waist with Truth to put on the breastplate of righteousness."
If we can imagine again what a soldier might look like in those days, we would see that not only would there be a belt, but also a breastplate, something that would be over the most important vital organs of an individual. In that day, certainly without the medical care that we have today, they may have been able to be hurt in the arm or the legs or to bear some wounds, but the most vital organs, the most important parts of our body were covered either with helmets or with breastplates. So therefore, if struck with an arrow or struck with a sword, it was able to be deflected and when deflected the individual was able to be found and cure and save. So as we read here, besides this belt, then there is a breastplate, something that protects as we might often refer to in scriptures, the heart. How could one live without the heart? How could one live without your lungs or some of those most vital organs once again? So the breastplate would protect these. Besides the shield that we'll discuss later such as the shield of faith, the breastplate was there covering their main part of the body of the soldier and therefore protecting that soldier.
If we want to understand what righteousness is all about though, it again would be a very fitting part on top of the Truth. The Truth then being the Word of God again, John 17:17, that which was the center-part of the soldier's armor especially spiritually so that everything else might be built upon it. But then also as we look here this righteousness. Well, what does this Truth produce in our lives? Well righteousness. What is God? God is righteous. What is it that we strive to be as we learn His Word, as we study it and as we implement it in our lives? Well, we strive to be righteous.
If you'll turn there in the book of 1 John, we begin finding there in chapter 3 some very important passages that help us to understand what it means to be righteous. If you'll look first of all with me there in verse 7 of chapter 3, the Bible says this, "Little children..." and certainly John is speaking here from a spiritual sense. "Little children, let no one deceive you for he who practices righteousness is righteous." First thing we learn here is that one must practice, must act out, must carry out righteousness if they are to be found what? Righteous. But then I want you to notice with me the second part that is said here in the same verse. Not only is he who practices righteousness righteous, but He is righteous. Who is the He here? Well, God is righteous. So as God is righteous, as He is one who is without sin and things like we would say pure and holy and perfect, we also must strive to be righteous. Now what does that tell us about God? As God practices righteousness, He is righteous. So therefore, if we practice righteousness, we also are righteous. And if we are righteous, and God is righteous, then who are we striving to be like? Our God.
It might be even better described in the same passage a few verses back beginning in verse 4. We read, "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness for sin is lawlessness and you know that he was manifested to take away our sins and in Him, there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin and whoever sins has neither seen Him nor knows Him." So here we have the opposite side of the coin if you will. We have God. We have righteousness. We have those who strive to be righteous and therefore they have righteousness in their lives, but then we find here the opposite, sin. That sin is a transgression of the what? The Truth, the law of God. Now what did we say was girded about the waist of the soldier? The Truth, the standard, the Word of God. So God is that standard, that Truth, has given it to us in the Bible, and it is the central focus on the life of a Christian. But then that righteousness is what pours out of the obedience of that Truth. And so we see here that sin has no part in it, that we cannot be partakers in sin if we are to be righteous. In fact, if we claim that we are of God and we sin, what we learn here is that we've not actually seen Him and it is if we do not know God for we are not practicing righteousness.
Then the next verse, verse 8, goes on to say, "When we sin, we're of Satan. Those who sin have manifested the works of the devil."
So we have these two extremes here. The soldier, the spiritual soldier of God that has the Truth as the foundation of his life, as the center on the throne there where God is. And then we have that righteousness that's pouring out of the obedience of that Truth, and that righteousness that has separated itself from sin completely. For what does sin do? It keeps us from God. It will destroy us. It can even pull us away from God that we might no longer serve Him as commanded.
I want you also to notice with me there in the same passage, how that as we look at the concept given in verse 9 that whoever is born of God does not sin. Why? The person born of God is righteous as God is righteous and therefore does not sin. But the one who sins cannot be born of God, cannot be a child of God, cannot claim righteousness, so therefore they have not acted on the Truth around the waist and had the breastplate of righteousness and that breastplate that protects the heart. What does Jesus say in Matthew 5? "The pure heart will see God." Well certainly if the Truth is the foundation and our hearts are pure and the righteousness of God is encompassed all about us to protect all of our bodies in a spiritual sense, then how much God loves us and cares for us and how easy it will be for us to endure until the end.
To also further understand that, go a few chapters over to 1 John 5. Notice the wording that he uses here in verse 17 about sin. He says, "All unrighteousness is sin." Then he goes on to say, "And there is sin not leading to death." You see, here he uses the same thought, the same concept, the same idea. He says, "There is righteousness as God is righteous and God practices righteousness and shows that purity and holiness," and then there is with us the same. But on the other hand, there is sin. If you get involved in sin, sin is unrighteousness. Then he goes back in verse 18 to say again, "Whoever is born of God does not sin, is not unrighteous for those of God do not sin and are righteous." And so John helps us a lot with our discussion and understanding what the armor was all about that Paul spoke of there to the Ephesian church in Ephesians chapter 6.
But no doubt we can find other places that the idea of righteousness is commanded in scriptures. One such place that we might look at is when Paul also wrote to the young evangelist there in 1 Timothy and chapter 6 and in verse 11. Notice what he tells this young man to do as he is going to do the Will of God and strive to accomplish those commandments that God has given him. There in that verse, we read together, verse 11 of chapter 6, "But you o man of God, flee these things." He says to flee what? If you go back in the context, the snares, the sin, the harmful lust, the foolish things, anything that is sinful or unrighteous. But then what does he say after he says to flee these things? He says, "Pursue righteousness." Pursue godliness. In fact, he goes on with a long list there of..."Pursue faith, pursue love, pursue patience, pursue gentleness, fight the good fight."" You see, he says here that righteousness is something that must be pursued, that we must strive for. Now what element does that add to our discussion? It means that when we become a Christian, all of a sudden we're not just automatically righteous and there is no way we can sin. It means when we become a Christian, we have begun the pursuit of righteousness, and every day that we live we fight the good fight, we struggle, we beat away sin and we keep it down and we even put that sin away that gets in our way and we sometimes are enticed and we sin, and then we strive to time and time again be like God and be righteous. That's a pursuit. It's a daily work. It's a daily thing that we strive to accomplish.
And no doubt that's what Noah did. Do you remember what it said there about Noah in 2 Peter 2 and verse 5? It said, "Noah in his day was a preacher of righteousness." You remember in his day all the wickedness? What did he tell people? Stop sinning! Stop doing the will of Satan and rather follow God. And so what did he preach? Righteousness. Put away sin. Follow God. God is righteous. You be righteous.
So we see just as John, just as others and Peter talked about righteousness, we have examples of those who were righteous in the scriptures. Wasn't it the familiar verse there in the Words of Jesus in Matthew 6:33 that He said to us, "Seek first the kingdom of God." But then what does it add? "And His righteousness." You see, seeking God's kingdom, seeking the Will, seeking the Truth, standing on it, obeying it, learning it and putting it into practice is all about becoming righteous, is all about becoming like God and striving to be found then in pleasing ways before His sight not in ways that are unpleasing before Him. Yes, God loves the righteous. (Hebrews 1 verse 9)
Besides the fact that we are commanded to be righteous however, we also see there are some outcomes of a true faith, of striving, if you will, for that righteousness. A few such passages that might help us with this concept are such as is found in the Hebrew letters there in Hebrews chapter 11. We find together that in verse 7 in the great faith chapter that Noah is said and spoken of in this way. It says there, "He prepared an ark and he condemned the world by obeying God." But then hear the last part of the verse. "And therefore became an heir of righteousness according to faith." Here we see the outcome of this righteousness is an acceptable faith, a faith that caused Noah to be seen as righteous and therefore to be rewarded by God and how? Salvation. What does that tell us? If we strive for righteousness, if we strive to obey the Will of God, we are heirs of righteousness by our faith and then what are the results? Salvation as well. We'll be given the same gift, the same promise.
As well in the Hebrew letter a few chapters over, in Hebrews 13 and verse 21, we read there that, "We should make ourselves complete in every good work and do the Will of God." Then he says, "That which is pleasing." Well, what do you think that means? Being righteous. What do you think it means in the context of all that we've discussed and even what he was speaking about earlier in the book of Hebrews, the great faith chapter, Hebrews 11? He says here, "Righteousness is being perfect or complete in obeying the things of God."
Then another passage to help us understand this thought of what comes out as a result of righteousness is 2 Timothy chapter 4. There beginning in verse 6, Paul talks of his departure being at hand. He is ready to be poured out. He says, "I've fought the good fight. I've finished the race. I've kept the faith." In verse 8 he proclaims this. "Finally, therefore is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." But then I like how he continues on. "Because the reward is not just the crown of righteousness as God is righteous, which the Lord, the righteous judge will give me in that day and in all those who love his appearing." So those who are righteous will receive a righteous crown from the righteous judge and receive an eternal reward of righteousness. Perfection. Completeness. Forever and ever we will be with God.
So no doubt, that's why then Jesus, even before the church was established, spoke to the Jews. That's why in Matthew 25, He said, "Some would be put into everlasting punishment, but those who were righteous into eternal life." (Verse 46) And that's why there He says there to Christians in the great Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 that "we should hunger and thirst for something." If we want to know God, if we want to be pleasing in His sight, we read there in verse 6 of chapter 5 that we must, "Hunger and thirst after righteousness."
So that's the question that I leave you with this morning. Do you hunger and thirst after righteousness? For if you are of God, you cannot sin and should not strive to sin, but you should strive to be righteous for God is righteous. Those who are righteous have been born of God and are known to be of God and those who are of God will receive the great reward of Heaven someday that we might live eternally with our God forever and ever.
(SONG # 3 - "O Worship The King!")
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. I hope and trust, that together we have all benefited from this service to our Lord. Let me also invite you to join us every Lord's Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.
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Are you striving to be righteous in your life? For as God is righteous we must try and exemplify everything in our lives that He would have us to be!