This article continues an eight week series on the armor of God. A very important part of being prepared spiritually for the “End Times” is being dressed in and utilizing the whole armor of God for Satan will be extremely powerful and even more deceptive because he knows that his time is short. The breastplate of righteousness is the next piece of armor to be put on by the Christian soldier. Many Christians suffer defeat on a daily basis because they have some chink in their armor, which allows the enemy to drag them down to what feels like the pit of hell. Most Christians know that they have been saved by grace, and whatever righteousness they have has been given to them through their faith in Jesus Christ. There is no question that this righteousness has been imputed to them, which allows them to stand in the presence of God and His holy angels. However, it is God’s plan to continually grow us from one degree of glory to another to make us into the perfect image of His Son Jesus Christ. This goes well beyond behavior modification to a miraculous transformation making us into a new creation. It is clear from scripture that the “how to” manual for obtaining righteousness is having faith and being obedient to all of His commands. The Bible says, “This is love for God: To obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). It does not take long before the Holy Spirit writes these commands on our heart where we know what is right and what is wrong. This is all a sure defense against the devil who constantly accuses us before the Lord.
We know the righteous thing to do, but many times we simply ignore it, or we know the unrighteous thing not to do but do it anyway. There is one thing to fall into sin by accident, repent, and ask forgiveness but something entirely different to purposely ignore what is right or to do what is wrong. To do the later leaves our armor lying on the shelf and makes us vulnerable to attacks from the devil. An unrighteous deed or an evil thought will open the door to the enemy to have his way with us, leading us into even more evil and away from God. Experience proves that sin begets sin. Once you start down that slippery slope of sin, then it’s always more difficult to turn it around. On the other hand, if we walk in righteousness, then our armor becomes stronger protecting us from the Evil One.
Evil thoughts are another wile of the devil that can be fought off by putting on the breastplate of righteousness. I would say that nearly every evil action begins with an evil thought. Some say it’s what you do with that evil thought that counts as if we have it in our own power to think evil thoughts and not act on them. But I believe common sense, life experiences, and the Bible proves otherwise. A man will eventually do what he thinks, especially if he dwells on it long enough. And the devil knows it, that’s why he keeps bringing up those evil thoughts, putting them into your mind, and hoping that you will dwell on them long enough to put them into action. Now some say that’s not a problem for me because I just cast out the evil thought and all is well. I would be the first one to commend such an action, but there is no guarantee that the thought will not come back again and again when you least expect it.
So what are we to do? What can we do to keep those evil thoughts out of our mind? Once again, the Bible gives us the answer by telling us what thoughts we should be thinking, which is our breastplate of righteousness. Jesus Christ said it is not what goes into a man but what comes out of a man that counts. Whatever comes out of the evil intentions of his heart or what a man is thinking is what counts (see Matthew 15:16-20). We know from Scripture we must put off the old life, but we need to put something in the place of it, namely the new life in Christ. Well it’s the same way with our mind. When we cast out an evil thought, we must put something in the place of it; otherwise, what we have left is a void that is ready to be filled by the devil.
The Bible says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). So how often do we think on such things? The short answer is all the time! Life experience proves that when a man thinks on something often enough, it will get to a point where it is most difficult to stop thinking about it. This is seen in obsessive and anxious people whose thinking can get stuck on the same thought over and over again like a record getting stuck in a groove. Moreover, to think or reflect on something long enough will shape your conduct and promote certain behavior. Therefore, it is imperative to think on those things that engender actions that demonstrate Christian righteousness and morality. As you advance in the Christian life you begin to learn what is true, noble, right, pure, and lovely. We have all in times past looked at many of the beautiful commands of God which has allowed you to taste what is truly good. Like the Psalmist you have learned how to delight in the law of the Lord, and on his law you meditate day and night. (See Psalm 1:2). You have learned what is excellent or praiseworthy so you allow these positive thoughts to occupy your mind. To do so then you will need to guard your eyes and ears from the many evil things in our society. I cannot overemphasize how important it is to turn away from evil immediately; don’t look at it, don’t listen to it, and don’t embrace it. If it is false, unrighteous, impure, and unloving you must turn away from it. You learn that much of what is in the world today is not excellent, nor is it praiseworthy. This is why it is so important to dwell in His Kingdom—a most excellent way where all is praiseworthy. The sure proof of your thinking is to invite God into your mind and allow Him to listen to your thoughts. Are they fit for Him to hear?
Some say that this text simply teaches the power of positive thinking, which is far from the truth. The power of positive thinking goes well beyond the text by teaching that you can have whatever you desire simply by thinking about what you want over and over again until your receive it. But that is not what the text teaches. It does teach, however, that this kind of thinking, which is positive in nature, seeks no selfish advantage or material gains but only a positive attitude about everything in life. Clearly positive biblical thinking is always other centered instead of self centered. No matter what comes at you, you always seek what is best for others and the satisfaction of God’s holiness. So the point is, you always eliminate negative thoughts about others and replace them with positive thoughts about their good points and how you can best serve them. To do so will always render a blow to the enemy I’m reminded of the lyrics of that old song “accent the positive and eliminate the negative,” an excellent motto for the end time saint.
When you fill your mind with positive and beautiful thoughts, then it keeps the breastplate of righteousness in place. It is your sure defense against the fiery darts of the Evil One who wants to fill your mind with all manner of wickedness. Simply stated, God cannot dwell in the presence of one who has his mind filled with evil thoughts. This is the secret of the indwelling presence of the God of Peace. He abides where the heart is kept free from evil thoughts and filled with the Spirit of the Son. In our struggle against the enemy, we must keep the breastplate of righteousness firmly in place along with the rest of God’s armor. Remember that each piece of armor works together as a whole to keep the Christian soldier safe from the arrows of the Evil One, which also allows us to become an effective soldier in the Lord’s army.
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