What is righteousness? Strongís defines it like this
1) in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be,
righteousness, the condition acceptable to God
1a) the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a
state approved of God
1b) integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness
of thinking feeling, and acting
2) in a narrower sense, justice or the virtue which gives each his due
I believe it is the same as "Right Standing with God" What does that mean? When God created man, he created him in right standing with Him. He fellowshipped with him, talked and walked with him and was free from sin. He was "Righteous". Then he sinned and all that changed. He no longer could fellowship with God because sin was in his life. His faith had turned to fear. He hid from God instead of meeting with him. His whole life was changed and he was driven from that place of fellowship and righteousness. No longer could he eat of the tree of Life. He had sinned and God could not allow him to live for ever. So he made him leave the place of righteousness.
BUT...when Jesus came and gave it all back to us. Because he died, we are now the righteousness of God.
Romans 5: 17, 18 For if by the one manís offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and or the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
Therefore, as through one manís offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Manís righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.
I Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed.
So Christ died for all. If we accept his sacrifice, we accept his righteousness. We are no longer sinners, we have been saved by grace and are now the righteousness of God in Christ. Not of ourselves.
Ephesians 2:8, 9 For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
So nothing we can do will make us righteous. Our righteousness is as filthy rags
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
But thank God, we donít have to go on "Our" righteousness. We are in Christ!
Romans 8:10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Romans 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
So in Godís sight, we are righteous, because he is looking at us through the blood of Jesus. We are no longer servants but sons.
Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
What is the Holy Spiritís part in this?
II Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Once again he is our teacher and our guide to show us through the Word, that even though we are flesh and blood, we are Spirit and live by the word of God. He shows us our right standing with God. And as we walk in that righteousness, we will be filled with the fruits of righteousness and it will become evident to others.
Philippians 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
Hebrews 5:13 For every one that uses milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
James 3:18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
We must learn to be skilful in righteousness. We must learn how to use it to protect ourselves. So since we now know what righteousness is, why is it referred to as a breastplate?
Ephesians 6:14 ...having put on the "Breastplate" of righteousness.
Isaiah 59:17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.
I Thessalonians 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
What is a breastplate and what does it do? A breastplate usually covered the entire upper body in the front and back. There was also a vest of male under it for extra protection. Itís purpose? To protect the vital organs including the heart. If an arrow managed to make itís way through the breastplate, it would be caught in the male and no damage would come to the heart. It is similar to the modern day bullet proof vest.
We are to protect our heart with all diligence. Why?
Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life
The issues of life! Youíre very life comes from your heart, both physically and spiritually. In the flesh the heart pumps the blood. It keeps you alive, if it stops, you cease to exist in this life.
In the same way the heart in the spirit realm is you Spirit. Out of it comes everything you will need to stay alive. It is a wonderful thing if we can only understand it. If Satan canít get your heart (spirit) he canít get you. He has no power over you, he cannot steal your "Life", both physically and spiritually.
Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace.
Our Breastplate of Right Standing (Righteousness) with God will protect us from all the fiery darts of the wicked one. He will not be able to get to your heart.
In the Old Testament, Absalom had sinned against God, and his father the King. He had left his heart bare and open for attack.
II Samuel 18:14 Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak.
If we do not walk in righteousness, we are not protected from the wicked one. He can pierce your heart and body with his darts and destroy you. Keep in right standing with God and protect your heart!
Donít let the devil come against your mind and tell you that you are a sinner and not worthy of Godís protection. He is a liar and the father of them!
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
I canít emphasize enough how important this is. We must protect our heart (Spirit) at all cost! Donít forget your Breastplate of righteousness. Keep short accounts with God and confess your sins and keep in right standing with Him!