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Christ Lutheran Church of the Deaf
Silver Spring, Maryland

The Armor of God:  #3 - The Breastplate of Righteousness

Signed Version
Ephesians 6:10...
Finally, let the Lord make you strong.  Depend on His great power. Wear all of God's armor.  Then you can stand strong against the devil's terrible plans.

Our fight is not against people.  
We are fighting against
    many spiritual rulers,
    authorities,
    and many dark powers in this world.  
We are fighting against
    the evil forces in the spirit world.

So put on all of God's armor.  Evil days will come.
And after you did everything you can [finish], you will still stay standing.

So stand strong.  
[1] Wear the belt of truth around your waist.  
[2] Wear the chest protector of holy living.




Today we continue our study about the Armor of God.

First we learned who is our enemy, and what is his plan, his goal.

Then we learned about the Belt of Truth, meaning God's Word is true.

Now we learn about the chest protector.

This part of the armor can be a large metal plate, shaped to cover the soldier's body front.

Another kind of chest protector is named "chain mail."  No, not Post-Office mail.  Mail is metal cloth, made with very-small chain.  Today we call chain mail a "bullet proof vest."

The chest protector can guard the soldier's body against swords, spears, and arrows.

The Bible says that for Christians, our chest protector is what?  Holy living.   And the old English Bible uses the word RIGHTEOUSNESS.

For example, holy living means:
    good actions,
    holy attitudes,
    clean thoughts and words.

Remember our Lord Jesus said:
“You must be perfect, same-as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  (Matthew 5:48)  

But we have a problem:  We are not perfect.  We are not almost perfect.  Perfect is far, far above us.  Our best attempt(try) to become perfect will always fail.  

Only God is perfect, and we are not God.

PAUL, in the Bible, said,
    “The good things I want to do, I fail, I don’t do.  
    And evil things I don’t want to do, that's what I do.” (Romans 7:21)


In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah said,
    “Our holy living is as dirty stinking rags." (Isaiah 64:6)

A more exact translation can say:
    “Our holy living is as menstrual* rags."
        [*Menstrual means a woman's monthly period.]

That's how our "good works" seem to God.

People who don't know Jesus, they have hope that they are "good enough" for God to let them into heaven.  

Sorry.  No one is good enough for heaven.


I told the young students in confirmation class one day, "God will not let sin into heaven."   

One boy suddenly looked scared.  He raised his left hand, while he signed with his right hand, "Why not!?"   He seemed to be a good boy.  But inside, the boy knew he had sin.  And if God will not let sin into heaven, that boy knew he is stuck!


We are not holy.  And our enemy, the devil, enjoys telling us about our failure.   The Bible has stories about the devil stands in-front-of God, the devil telling God that we are terrible sinners. (Job 1 & 2; Zechariah 3)   Really, God doesn't need the devil to tell Him about our sin.  God already knows.  And God already solved our sin problem.

In Ephesians, chapter 2, Paul says:
In the past you were spiritually dead because of your sins and the things you did against God.  Yes, in the past you lived the same way the world lives, following the ruler over evil powers in the spirit world... We tried to satisfy our sinful desires, doing all the things our bodies and minds wanted. We earned God’s anger.
But God’s mercy is great, and He loved us very much.  In-the-past we were spiritually dead because of the things we did against God. But that-didn't-matter.  God gave us new life with Christ... And God raised us with Christ.  God gave us a seat with Christ in heaven...
God saves you with His grace through faith.  You can't save yourselves; that is God's gift, not from your own works.  No one can brag.  [Ephesians 2:1-9]

In another verse, Paul says,
Christ had no sin, but God made Him become sin for us.  Now in Christ we can become right [and holy] with God.  [2 Corinthians 5:21]
We, Christian soldiers, put-on the chest-protector, meaning we get covered with Christ.  His holy life covers us.   We are not holy.  But Jesus is holy.   His holy death on the cross saves us.  And now His holy life protects us against the devil.   

If we don't have Christ covering us, we have no protection.  
If we don't have Christ covering us, we are open for the devil.



Now, remember one-week-ago we saw the Belt of Truth had two meanings.
[1] OBJECTIVE TRUTH: God’s Word is true.  And
[2] PERSONAL TRUTH: our honesty - our words are true.

Also, we see two meanings for the Chest Protector of holy living.

[1] OBJECTIVE:  Christ's holy life covers our sin.  We stand holy in-front-of holy God, because God our Father sees Jesus' holy life covering us.
 
[2] PERSONAL:  Christ continues His holy life now through us.

Continue reading Ephesians, chapter 2:

God saved you with His grace through faith.  You can't save yourselves; that was God's gift, not from your own works.  You can't brag.  God made us in Christ Jesus. God made us for doing good works, that God planned in advance [before] for us to do.  [Ephesians 2:8-10]
Ourselves, we don't live holy,  But God wants to change the way we live.
Our attempts to improve ourselves end in failure.  But Jesus sends His Holy Spirit to come live inside us.  The Holy Spirit helps us
    think same-as Christ
    act same-as Christ
    talk same-as Christ
    love same-as Christ
    give same-as Christ  
    forgive same-as Christ
     [Ephesians 4:17-32]

Christ changes the way single people date and marry.
Christ changes the way married people talk and act together.
[Ephesians 5]

Christ changes the way parents and children relate.
Christ changes the way workers and bosses do their business.
[Ephesians 6:1-9]

Our chest protector is really important in our fight against the devil.   

If Satan's first attempt to make us remove God's Belt of Truth fails, then the devil will aim toward our moral life.

If Satan can't make me change my faith and teaching,
    he will try to make me weak with habitual secret sin.
He will shoot me with  continuing bitter anger
    against people in my family
    against other members in our church
He will distract us with the world's pleasures:
    money, having things, popularity.

Example:
If a famous Christian leader falls into adultery, or
if a TV preacher shows more love for money than God's mercy,
the world laughs and mocks all people following Jesus,
and we grieve about the shame caused to the name of Christ,

Sin is never private.  
My sin damages not only me,
my sin also hurts my family and my church.

Here we see the Chest Protector of Christ's holy life is-really important in our fight against the devil.

Remember from our first study about the Belt of Truth:  A soldier's belt holds-down his chest protector.  Those two armor parts are connected -- the belt and chest protector, together.   If the belt becomes loose, the chest protector also becomes loose.

We see the same happen with Christian people and with church.  People who remove the Belt of Truth - God's Word - they don't-care about sin any more.  They can do anything they want, and not worry about feeling guilty.  Why?  Because the Bible has no more authority for them.



[Story]
A famous Greek emperor long ago was named Alexander the Great.  He became king over Greece when he was age 20.  Ten years later, Alexander also ruled over all the Middle East (Iran, Iraq, Israel, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, etc.). He ruled over all the land between Greece and India.

Alexander was very cruel to anyone trying to resist.  He controlled his army with strict discipline.   Any Greek soldier who feared his enemy, had worse fear for his commander, Emperor Alexander.

One famous story is about one young soldier caught sleeping on duty.  The young soldier was taken to Emperor Alexander for punishment.  The soldier knew that the Emperor will order his death.  The soldier hoped for death quickly.  

But before ordering punishment, the Emperor asked the soldier, “What is your name?”

Very afraid, the soldier answered, “My name is Alexander, Sir.”  (The same name.)

The Emperor became very angry, and faced the young man, and screamed, “Soldier, either change your conduct (action), OR change your name!”



What about us? 
The world is same-as that mean/cruel Emperor.  The world watches us, to see if our actions match our name:  "Christian."

Thank God because God doesn't act same as that Emperor. True, our sin makes God both sad and angry.  But He loves us.  He feels pity for us.  He forgives us.  And
    with the power in His Word, the Bible,
    with the guiding influence from His Holy Spirit,
    with the love and care with other Christian people,
God helps us to stop sinning, and proceed to do the good works that He already prepared for us to do. And because we can't do those good works ourselves, He works through us.
    Our hands become His hands.  
    Our feet become His feet.
    Our time becomes His time.
    Our lives become His life.



We Pray:

Lord Jesus Christ,

We Christians have Your name.
    But we have more than Your name.
        We have You.

Come, Lord Jesus.  
    Live in us.  
        Live through us.

Come, Lord Jesus.
    Help our lives
        agree with our words.
no... better:
    Help our lives
        agree with Your Word.

Help us always keep
    The Belt of Your Truth
        and The Chest Protector of Your Holy Life.

Amen.

Part 4 - Shoes for the Gospel of Peace

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