-Mike Beecraft

Some guys can pull off a vest really well; I’ve never been one of them. Just can’t seem to be able to rock it. I’m more of a blazer guy—those I can wear well.

One vest I would wear is a bulletproof vest. Those have amazed me since I watched that classic scene, where the hero cop gets shot (*gasp*) but lo and behold, they’d been wearing a bulletproof vest all along. They’re designed to take the hit of the bullet and distribute the force so it doesn’t pierce the vest. Apparently, it still hurts like crazy, but it can mean the difference between life and death for the wearer.

We have a vest that means life and death as well—the breastplate of righteousness in Ephesians 6:14. But before we go further, we need to clarify what this righteousness means.

Normally we think “self-righteous,” which means feeling morally superior to someone else based on your own actions. But the righteousness Jesus gives us is based not on our actions but on Christ’s perfect actions on our behalf. The righteousness we now have has nothing to do with us, which should keep us from feeling self-righteous. Jesus earned righteousness through His perfect life, and now He takes us who are unrighteous and makes us right with God. Beautiful.

To be righteous means to be justified. To be justified means to be made as if we’ve never sinned. Which, if you’re anything like me, you’ll know is completely undeserved—because I sin a lot. Because of Jesus, the banner over you and me is “you are without sin.” Wow, thank you, Jesus.

Why do we need this? We need this so we can have a right relationship with God. Adam and Eve got the boot from the garden because when a perfect God dwelled with sinful mankind, the result was continuously the death brought on by that sin.

Then Jesus came to live among us in our broken humanity. When he died to satisfy death forever, it meant we could receive His righteousness, and be in right standing with God once more.

So, when we acknowledge our need for the breastplate of righteousness to guard our heart, we are reminded that Jesus has given us His righteousness to make us right. To make it simple, we were wrong and Jesus was right. Now that we are with Jesus, we are right with God. Make sense?

Let me put it this way. You sit down to a test, and the only way to pass is to get 100% to get everything right. As you nervously approach the paper, you realize every answer has been filled out and a check mark has been placed beside each one. The name at the top reads “Jesus Christ” on behalf of “insert your name here.” You receive the perfect score from someone else’s work.

You may be thinking, “That’s not realistic!” You’d be right. The gospel is such good news and extremely counter-cultural. In a world that demands we perform for what we get, Jesus comes in and hands us what we’d never deserve.

We will never earn our way to God, so Christ came to earn for us what we never would on our own. We were God’s enemies, period. Jesus came and made us His kids, period.

We have been made perfect, made as if we had never sinned in the first place. Total restoration, total perfection, totally not earned by us. That’s the gospel. When we were meant to take the hit Jesus stepped in and took it for us. Thank you, Jesus!