by Ella Corey
Photo by: Gisselle Trochez
Last week I reflected on the Belt of Truth, and how significant a role it plays when fighting the war of the insecure. We have to believe Biblical Truths over the lies the devil tries to sneak into our minds. Another key component to fighting in spiritual warfare is also found in Ephesians 6: The breastplate of righteousness.
When trying to collect my thoughts on this, I felt severely inadequate. I mess up all the time. I don’t feel anywhere near righteous. I constantly fall short of the high bar that is the “perfect Christian.” I even look at so many nonbelievers that I know. They see Christianity as a list of rules that demand to be followed. So when I mess up, I feel as if I am not accurately depicting how a Christian should act.
I then searched to define what righteousness truly is. Dictionary.com claims that to be righteous you must be morally right or justifiable. Some synonyms are good, honest, fair, and right. So what does this mean? In order to properly defend yourself against spiritual warfare you must always be morally good and right?
This righteousness is based on your actions: external righteousness. This is a scary thought to me. I, a sinner, don’t always have perfect actions. I’m not always fair, honest or right. In a sermon at The Village Church, Matt Chandler explains that the idea of righteousness is not bad news, because the righteousness mentioned in Ephesians is different: it’s an internal righteousness. “The good news is that the righteousness we find in Jesus Christ is not about external, moral conformity, but transformation of the inward man; that God is after not your disciplined will, but after your freedom…The gospel is after the freedom of heart that then transforms our external behavior, not the conformity of our external behavior by our will with no joy in our hearts.”
This new righteousness isn’t a scorecard. This new righteousness doesn’t keep track of everything you do and don’t do. This new righteousness lets you say “Okay, I messed up yesterday, but I’m going to change my heart today.” It’s a process and it’s forgiving. It doesn’t kick people out of the church for messing up, or judge others for not doing everything right. It starts in the heart, and works towards actions that follow.
Rick warren defines righteousness as “purity of heart and purity of motivation.” “That doesn’t mean you are perfect,” he says, “It means you are confessed up. You may not always do the right thing, but you want to do the right thing. Your heart really is pure, although you will still make mistakes.”
So how is this new righteousness to be a tool in defending ourselves in spiritual warfare? The more pure your heart is, the harder it is for Satan to tempt you. The more Christ-like your thoughts are, the easier it will be for your actions to follow. But when you do mess up, it’s not game over. It’s so easy to get discouraged and frustrated with yourself. It’s so easy to think you’re unholy and unworthy of God’s love. The devil will convince you of these things the more you listen to him. You might feel guilty walking into church on Sunday morning because what you did Saturday night was not “righteous.” But know that this new righteousness forgives you and allows you to get up after you fall down.