Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he describes the Armor of God. The second piece of armor Paul talks about is the Breastplate of Righteousness. The imagery Paul was calling on when he wrote to the Ephesians would have been
the type of armor the Romans soldiers wore during that period.
The breastplate was a piece of equipment afforded the soldiers by their army to protect their chests. In their chests, like you and I, lived their hearts. I suppose if Paul were writing to a church in our time he would have told them to put on their bullet-proof vests. The bottom line is, God knew we needed protection. He conveyed that message to Paul and through Paul we find this same message of protection regarding our hearts.
Why would God be so deliberate and serious about protecting us? How many times have asked God to protect us? How many times have we felt His protection or how many times have we asked for His protection, but felt in the end we did not get it?
These are all fantastic questions. Not sure I’m qualified to answer all of them, but I’ll reach into my own experiences and give them a shot.
First off… We have an enemy. One that prowls around like a hungry lion waiting to devour us.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8, 9 NIV)
If you are reading this series, chances are, you already know we have an enemy.
For the questions about God protecting us we must guard our hearts. God has provided us with His righteousness through His grace. We, being of the flesh, are not capable on our owns to have true righteousness and therefore we need his. True righteousness, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, is our protection. When we act in His righteousness we have put on the protection of the Breast Plate of Righteousness.
A fantastic resource for prayer, protection, and basically grounding us in the Righteousness given to us by the Grace of Jesus is St. Patrick’s Breastplate. Here it is for you.
I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;*
I bind unto myself today.
I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet ‘well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the Prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.
I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.
I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.
Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.
Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.
God has granted us His Righteousness. We must invoke it through a choice. We can choose to do wrong, to do right, or to do nothing. In either case, we choose something. Righteousness is the place where God requires us to decide to do what is right. God does not need us to be righteous. He allows us to be righteous with Him and through Him.
Someone I know recently said it was like a dad building a deck and asking his little boy to “help” him. The father doesn’t need the boys help, but rather enjoys teaching the boy through working together to build the deck. In doing so, there is more than a deck built. There is also the transfer of something. The essence of the dad is transferred to the boy through the boys learning. Learning how to act, to think, and to respond to situations they’ve encountered together.
Will you choose to step into the righteousness that God has provided for you? If you make the choice to step into Jesus and the protection acting in His Righteousness provides, you will learn that it is a daily choice. Sometimes even a moment by moment choice.
Will you choose Righteousness? Or will you step into something else?