AGCC Sun. a.m. 7/4/99



TEXT: Eph. 6:14b, Isa. 59:16-17; II Cor. 6:14-7:1; Lev. 10:10-11


We live in a time when we feel helpless and vulnerable. So much has changed in the past 100 years: We've gone from horses to automobiles We've gone from walking to flying We've gone from millions to billions of people on the planet We've gone from huge tubes to microprocessors We've gone from the Earth to the Moon We've gone from harnessing the power of oxen to the atom We've gone from drawing pictures to broadcasting them in color We've gone from candles to incandescent light bulbs We've had many revolutions also in this time period: Civil rights revolution --------- Technical revolution Women's revolution ----------- Economic revolution Political revolution ------------ Medical revolution Sexual revolution -------------- Energy revolution But what the world really needs is not a revolution but a revelation - one of righteousness. We still need for our hearts to be protected from the onslaught of Satan's influences and the power of evil. The human heart desires to be safe, but in a world full of conflict, especially spiritual conflict, the only safe place is in Christ! ILLUS: A true story: A retired couple was alarmed by the threat of nuclear war so they undertook a serious study of all the inhabited places on the globe. Their goal was to determine where in the world would be the place to be least likely affected by a nuclear war. A place of ultimate security. They studied and traveled, traveled and studied. Finally they found the place. And on Christmas they sent their pastor a card from their new home--in the Falkland Islands. However, their "paradise" was soon turned into a war zone by Great Britain and Argentina. Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 402. PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that we are only safe when our hearts and lives are covered by Christ's righteousness, nothing else including our own righteousness is adequate to cover our hearts from damage.

I. PROTECTING LIFE Eph. 6:14b; Isa. 59:17

A. Vital Areas Eph. 6:14b 1. The purpose of the breastplate on a soldier was to protect all the major organs of the body, especially the heart. a. It covered the front area - thus protecting from a frontal assault. b. It covered the back area - thus protecting from a rear assault. 2. In the day we live there are plenty of ways Satan has to attack our heart to do damage to it. a. We live in a world that is destroying the sacred things. b. We need to know that our hearts have protection from the onslaught of Satan's attacks. 3. Nothing protects better than Christ's righteousness, it is indestructible! ILLUS:In The Encourager, Charles Mylander writes: "Sunrise was dawning when Los Angeles motorcycle police officer Bob Vernon saw a red pickup truck speed through a stop sign. This guy must be late to work, he thought to himself. He turned on his emergency lights and radioed that he was in pursuit. The pickup pulled over, and the officer approached. "Meanwhile in the truck, the driver thought, The cops already know! He was scared. He rested his hand on the same gun he had used a few moments before to rob a twenty-four-hour market. The sack of stolen money was beside him on the seat. "The officer said, 'Good morning, sir, may I see your--' "He never finished the sentence. The driver shoved his gun toward the policeman's chest and fired from just inches away. The cop was knocked flat seven feet away. "A few seconds later, to the shock of the criminal, the officer stood up, pulled his service revolver, and fired twice. The first bullet went through the open window and smashed the windshield. The second tore through the door and ripped into the driver's left leg. "'Don't shoot!' the thief screamed, throwing the gun and sack of money out the pickup window. "What saved the policeman's life was dozens of layers of Kevlar, the super strong fabric used for bulletproof vests. Only three-eighths of an inch thick, Kevlar can stop bullets cold." In Ephesians 6, the Bible instructs every Christian to put on the full armor of God. Simple qualities like righteousness and faith can deflect what the Enemy of souls may fire at us. -- Mike Neifert, Lynn, Indiana. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 3. 4. Since the Bible says that our "own righteousness is like filthy rags" (Isa 64:6) we must realize that such rags cannot stop the damage done by an attack of the enemy, only Christ's righteousness as a breastplate is strong enough to protect our heart and life! B. Vanquishing Attacks! Isa. 59:17 1. In protecting the soldier from a rear attack (the breastplate covered both back and front) the soldier was more secure in knowing that their back was covered from a sneak attack. a. The breastplate of righteousness also covers what is behind us, our past! b. Satan's attempts to use our past to attack us will fail to damage our heart when we have been clothed upon with Christ's righteousness. c. In Christ our past sins are forgiven and gone - not to be remembered against us any more. d. Satan's attempts to wound us by those things behind us cannot work if we rely on Christ's righteousness as our protection. e. "There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ!" (see Rom. 8:1) 2. Christ's righteousness will also protects our hearts and lives from future or frontal attacks. 3. Satan is always frustrated with his attacks when we are known to belong to Christ this is an impenetrable breastplate! a. When we are known by Christ's name Satan is already frustrated. ILLUS:In the town of Stepanavan, Armenia, I met a woman whom everyone called "Palasan's wife." She had her own name, of course, but townspeople called her by her husband's name to show her great honor. When the devastating 1988 earthquake struck Armenia, it was nearly noon, and Palasan was at work. He rushed to the elementary school where his son was a student. The facade was already crumbling, but he entered the building and began pushing children outside to safety. After Palasan had managed to help twenty-eight children out, an aftershock hit that completely collapsed the school building and killed him. So the people of Stepanavan honor his memory and his young widow by calling her Palasan's wife. Sometimes a person's greatest honor is not who they are but to whom they are related. The highest honor of any believer is to be called a disciple of Jesus Christ, who laid down his life for all people. -- L. Nishan Bakalian, Beirut, Lebanon. Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 2. b. Compared to Christ, Satan is weak and a loser! c. While Satan always likes to appear frightening, when viewed through Christ's righteousness which is from above he is small and weak! ILLUS:In his book Modern Times, Paul Johnson notes that Stalin was short--just five feet, four inches tall. Furthermore, a childhood accident had left his left arm stiff and his hand slightly misshapen. So when the dictator commissioned his portrait, he instructed the artist to paint him from his best angle--from below, a perspective that made Stalin seem to tower over the artist. To add to the image, Stalin folded his hands over his stomach, making them appear firm and powerful more like the pseudonym he had chosen: Stalin means "man of steel." It is human nature to put ourselves in the best possible light. But spiritual growth cannot come merely by adjusting the angle of view. God's Word is a mirror that shows our true condition. -- Lew Button Bedford, Pennsylvania. Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 4. 4. We can face our enemy with confidence when we are wearing Christ's righteousness as our breastplate. II. PURE LIVING Lev. 10:10-11; II Cor. 6:14-7:1 A. Values Acclaimed Lev. 10:10-11 1. Since our breastplate of righteousness comes from Christ's righteousness and not our own it is not our values that we choose to call holy that counts, it is His standards that we uphold. a. God has made certain things absolute in this world, it doesn't matter what society says is correct or false, it is what Scripture says that we declare. b. In a world of situational ethics we must stand for a holiness that the Bible defines, not what our culture defines. 2. The role of the Old Testament priest was to make clear those things that are profane and those things which are holy - in the New Testament we are all "priests unto God" - so this is a role we must accept in a world of moral ambiguities. a. Our children particularly look to us to define the holy from the profane. b. Don't let society teach your children what is holy and what is not! 3. Are we afraid to speak up in our culture, are our voices silent about what is "good" - what is "godly"? 4. If we don't define godly values the world certainly won't!! 5. We cannot compromise even a little in the area of godliness, or the results will be a rotting Christianity! ILLUS:On a recent trip to Haiti, I heard a Haitian pastor illustrate to his congregation the need for total commitment to Christ. His parable: A certain man wanted to sell his house for $2,000. Another man wanted very badly to buy it, but because he was poor, he couldn't afford the full price. After much bargaining, the owner agreed to sell the house for half the original price with just one stipulation: he would retain ownership of one small nail protruding from just over the door. After several years, the original owner wanted the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell. So first the owner went out found the carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from the nail he still owned. Soon the house became unlivable and the family was forced to sell the house to the owner of the nail. The Haitian pastor's conclusion: "If we leave the Devil with even one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it, making it unfit for Christ's habitation." -- Dale A Hays, Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 2. 6. God has something to say on every major area of life - and how often it is different from what the world would say on these subjects! a. sex b. money c. marriage d. work e. value of life and death f. eternity 7. Can we afford to take our Christianity and keep it only in our Church buildings? NO! B. Virtuous Actions II Cor. 6:14-7:1 1. Because Christ's righteousness does differ so much from what the world would call righteousness it is imperative that our relationships, especially those which are close, are built on equal ground with others who also are clothed upon with Christ's righteousness. a. Part of the problem in Corinth with the believers is that they often made close binding covenants with those who did not hold to their Christian values, the result: they were compromising their godliness. b. Hence Paul's warning to them to not become "unequally yoked to unbelievers" (1. The immediate context was in a business setting, but it applies to all close personal relationships. (2. Such things as business partnerships, marriage, best friends, etc. - anything that creates a powerful close personal bond. 2. What is clear is that believers and unbelievers are moving in two different directions, if we create an intimate bond between us there will be pressures and friction that build up that can lead to destruction - for both parties! ILLUS:Time magazine reported (1/22/95) that the earthquake in Kobe, Japan, occurred when two plates on a fault line fifteen miles offshore suddenly shifted against each other, violently lurching six to ten feet in opposite directions. The result was the worst Japanese earthquake since 1923. Thousands died. More than 46,000 buildings lay in ruins. One-fifth of the city's population was left instantly homeless. The destruction unleashed by those two tectonic plates depicts what happens when a Christian bonds unequally with a non-Christian. Two people committed to each other but going in different directions can only lead to trouble. -- David Farnum, Rochester, New York. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 3. 3. Our Christianity cannot be lived out in a compromising fashion. a. There is no power in a compromised faith. b. There is no witness in a compromising believer. c. We dare not take off Christ's righteousness at any time! 4. If Israel in the Old Testament was forbidden to have their sons and daughters marry the unbelieving sons and daughters of the nations around them knowing that such marriages would only bring idolatry home and corrupt the entire nation then how much more carefully should we be with intimate relationships today that could compromise our faith? 5. God's call on His people is not only to wear His righteousness, but to express it also in a world that sorely needs to see His righteousness at work. 6. Do not be afraid of heart damage if your have your breastplate of righteousness on! All the major areas of our life are covered by Christ's righteousness! CONCLUSION: A soldier without a breastplate was usually a dead soldier in short order! We cannot fight the devil or remain standing when he attacks if we are without a breastplate of righteousness. We must put on Christ's and not our own! The breastplate covered the soldier from sneak attacks from behind, our old sins Satan would throw at us, our past - and it also covered the soldier from frontal attacks, those things yet in our future. Keep your heart protected with Christ's breastplate of righteousness! PUT IT ON!