“For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one Man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:19
This week we studied the breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:14). I love this week because it explains to us the freedom that we have received through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. I really started to understand this back in June of 2014 when I shared with you about how He was changing my life, but the Holy Spirit is continuing to reveal deeper levels of understanding as I go through this study.
Here are the highlights from our week 3 study! Hope you enjoy!
1. There are 4 different types of righteousness.
Perfect Righteousness– God’s standard for righteousness that we are not capable of attaining because we are all sinners and fall short (Romans 3:23) This is what leads some christians, myself included, into perfectionism; striving as though we have to work for or attain this righteousness on our own. And then we feel constantly guilty when we can’t achieve it.
Comparative Righteousness-Measuring our righteousness against the levels of appeared righteousness in other people, thus either making ourselves feel better because we are doing better than they are or disappointed because we are doing worse than they are. The problem is that neither of these match God’s standard. Basically comparison is deceiving by allowing us to justify our sinful actions since we are still better than the next guy or discouraging us by making us feel we are not adequate.
Thankfully there is a better way than striving for the unattainable “Perfect” or dwelling in the deceitful “Comparative”!
Imputed Righteousness– Jesus came to earth, lived as a man, perfect without sin and then suffered death as payment for our sins. When we receive Jesus Christ as Savior, the righteousness of Christ is credited to our “spiritual bank accounts”. “The perfection and holiness of God Himself has become yours in Christ.” So when God sees us, He no longer sees a sinner. He sees us through His perfect son and we are now made righteous. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” So, the cross didn’t just take something from you. It gave you something miraculous. Righteousness!
Practical Righteousness– So now that I have the righteousness of Jesus, does that mean I have no responsibility of my own? No! Positionally, we are declared righteous in Christ; but now we have to work out that behavior. Now, because I have given my life to Christ I want every part of me to be a reflection of Him in me. “Putting on the breastplate of righteousness” means I am making a conscious decision to get rid of the old parts of me and replace them with new attributes that align with Christ. (Ephesians 4:22-24) This is not a one time deal. It is an everyday, lifestyle choice and action kind of thing. And we do this by allowing God to constantly renew our mind, by submitting our will to His.
2. Unrighteousness is the enemy’s invitation into our lives.
When we create an inviting environment in our life we are basically opening the door for the enemy’s attacks. By making poor choices, by choosing disobedience and doing what we want to do instead of what His Word says to do we are stepping outside of the protection we have been provided. We are not using the armor He has given us. If you are praying against the enemy, and then choosing to live in unrighteous choices your prayers will not be effective. You can go to church, and you can read all about the truth in God’s Word, and agree with it, but until you are actually willing to do it you will not see the effectiveness. You may still be saved but instead of living victoriously you will be living a powerless crippled life.
3. It is ultimately our choice.
God has chosen not to force our decisions. And no matter what the enemy throws at you, it is your choice which direction you take. God has given us His Word and has made all of these resources available to us. He has given us these pieces of armor to use for protection and for defense, but we have to choose to put them on. The enemy can put the temptation in front of us and whisper thoughts into our minds at strategically timed moments, but we are the ones to give in to the temptation or thoughts or to take them captive and instead submit our weakness to God.
5. “The Holy Spirit of God takes up residence in you allowing you to do what you cannot do in your own power.”
1 Corinthians 3:16 “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” We are not capable of successfully making the changes on our own. Believe me, I have tried. I have tried to be more patient, to be less stubborn, to be more compassionate, to not get offended so easily. And I fail every time. I didn’t start seeing lasting changes in myself until I started daily spending time with the Lord, reading His Word and praying. Our focus needs to be on developing health and wellness with Christ and the growth and change will happen as a result of that by the power of the Holy Spirit.
6. Change is a process.
I am a firm believer that God still works miracles today. But I also know that internal change involving mindsets, attitudes, and habits developed over time, takes time to correct. First you have to plant the seed; read the Word, pray, seek godly counsel, and study. Once that seed of the Word has been planted in your soul, then it has to be watered before roots start to grow. And once it has strong roots, then it will sprout where it can be seen. And as it starts to grow, eventually there will be fruit. But that fruit doesn’t just appear after the seed has been planted for only a week and just because you don’t see the progress doesn’t mean it isn’t taking place under the surface. It is progressive work done in you by the Holy Spirit day in and day out, and over time you will see the fruits of that labor. Over time you will see the answered prayers, you will see the deliverance. In a year or so you will look back and see that you are no longer the woman you were back then and you are no longer in the situation you were once in. You will have grown. You will have overcome. Because He first overcame. And He first triumphed.
So accept that imputed righteousness given to you by Jesus! And then work out that faith through daily choices standing firm in who He calls you to be in His Word!