“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness.” Ephesians 6:14
“…by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,” II Corinthians 6:7
Understanding figurative references in the Bible requires a bit of study. In the case of Ephesians 6:14 and II Corinthians 6:7 it is easy to see that the Apostle Paul used a military metaphor comparing a believer’s “righteousness” to a soldier’s armored “breastplate.” In these two verses the Greek term thorax is the word for “breast” and the translators rightly concluded from the context of the whole armor of God that Paul referred to the metal armor that covered a soldier’s torso. Whatever the design, whether mesh, small “scales,” plates, or a solid “heroic curiass,” the metal breastplate protected the fighter’s vital organs from arrows, spears, and swords.
How is righteousness like a soldier’s breastplate? Recall that Ephesians 6 began by telling us that we are engaged in spiritual warfare. So how does righteousness protect the believer like spiritual armor? Moreover, what does the Scripture consider our vital spiritual organ(s)?
Ancient peoples had a primitive understanding of the general placement and importance in the body of physical, anatomical organs. They knew that organs in the core of the body had to be protected at all costs to preserve life. They didn’t understand exactly how they functioned or how they depended on other organs. So, to explain the vitality of physical life, they thought of the heart and what they called the bowels (KJV) as the organs that made physical life possible.
According to Strong’s Concordance, the heart was the center of all physical and spiritual life; it was the home of the soul or mind, the fountain and seat of the thoughts, desires, affections, purposes, and the seat of intelligence, will and character.
Strong’s also points out that bowels were regarded by the Greeks as the seat of the more violent passions, such as anger and love; but by the Hebrews, as the seat of the tenderer affections, esp. kindness, benevolence, compassion.
The heart is the most vital “spiritual organ” in the believer’s life: “…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9-10
The apostle’s metaphor brings us to two important conclusions:
First, that our most vital spiritual organ must be protected at all cost. “Keep [guard] your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
Second, righteousness is our spiritual body armor. Only God’s righteousness that comes by faith can protect us from spiritual attacks. The arrows, spears, and swords of the enemy cannot harm us when God’s righteousness guards our heart. “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;” Romans 3:21-22
Stay alert! Put on your armor! March on!