No matter how tough we try to be, underneath, we are all soft, squishy people.

I remember being a little kid thinking my rough-n’-tough dad was literally impenetrable. It took me a while to realize that as stern stuff as my dad is made of, he bleeds like anyone. And the same is true for all of us. Roman soldiers, by the way, were no exception; so a vital part of their armor was the breastplate, which covered the torso and protected the squishiest bits we all have: the vital organs.

We also have a breastplate—one of righteousness. This piece of spiritual armor is crafted from two different kinds of righteousness: right living, and the righteousness inferred on us by the blood of Christ covering our sins. And we must have elements of both in our breastplate of righteousness, or else we leave different parts of ourselves exposed.

When we neglect the righteousness inferred by the blood of Christ and instead choose to dwell on our sins or our own works, we become vulnerable to blows of shame and guilt that cripple us to our innermost being.

When we neglect the righteousness of right living, we expose ourselves to egregious consequences both spiritual and physically. Unrestrained behavior and living in sin of any kind—consumptive, sexual, spiritual, etc.—leaves us exposed to attacks of every sort that can pierce our softest parts.

An added danger in both of these is that when we neglect one, we tend to eventually neglect the other. Those victimized by shame often turn to vices to numb the fiery darts that have pierced their hearts, which then leads to more shame, which leads to more numbing—and on and on.

We must belt our breastplate of righteousness to us with truth—the truth of our place with Christ, our sins forgiven, our souls washed white as snow; and the truth of our duty to honor him as our Lord through upright and exemplary living.

When we are aware of the righteousness that protects our softest parts, and when we allow Christ’s sacrifice to spur us on to a more righteous way of life, we are better protected against the enemy’s attacks—and better able to stand firmly for God.

Lash on the truth. Strap on the righteousness.