Paul’s Breastplate

“I told you I am He,” Jesus replied.—John 18:8

A feeling, which Satan can arouse in a heart that is unprotected by a spiritual breastplate, is that of a subtle form of discouragement, in which he draws our attention to what other Christians may be saying or thinking about us.

The Apostle Paul was a particular target of Satan in this respect, but see how he used the breastplate of righteousness as his spiritual defense. Paul’s background was anti-Christian, and he could never get completely away from that. He had been the most hostile persecutor of the church, and he must therefore have constantly run across families whose loved ones he had put to death. Perhaps there were many who doubted his claim to be an apostle. Some commentators claim that in 1 Corinthians 15:10, he was replying to such an accusation.

How does Paul react to this criticism? Does he succumb to discouragement? Does he say: “What’s the use of working my fingers to the bone for these unappreciative people? They don’t do anything but hurl recriminations in my face!” This is what the Devil would have liked him to do. But look at what he does. He says: “By God’s grace I am what I am” (1Co 15:10). Can you see what he is doing? He is using the breastplate of righteousness. He is saying, in other words: “I don’t need to do anything to protect myself; what I am is what Christ has made me. I am not standing in my own righteousness, I am standing in His.”

What a lesson this is in how to use the spiritual breastplate. You and I need to learn this lesson, too.

Prayer

O God, day by day I am catching little glimpses of what You are trying to teach me—that the more I depend on Your righteousness and the less I depend on my own, the better off I will be. Help me to learn it—and learn it completely. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 73:1-28; 2Co 5:7-21

What brought discouragement to the psalmist?

How did Paul encourage the Corinthians?

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