I grew up with a Dad who was a great coach. He, himself, made the TCU (“Horn Frogs”) basketball team but malaria contracted in World War II became devastating to his body. So, once he had two boys, he became our coach, and we almost always won in very competitive youth environments regionally, divisionally and nationally. The thing he repetitively told my older brother and me and our teams was “Boys, do it right and winning will take care of itself.” Guess what, he was right.
As we are learning, Paul the Apostle commands Christ-followers in Ephesians 6 to put on the full armor of God so that we can stand against the devil and his powers in darkness. He tells us in verse 14, “Stand therefore, having put on the breastplate of (His) righteousness.” Our 2nd piece of armor protects the vital organs of our body. This is a huge piece of our armor. Paul tells us that “righteousness” protects the vital parts of our spiritual being especially the heart. In essence, Paul is saying what my Dad told us, “Do it right and winning will take care of itself.” Right-living is fundamental to winning in spiritual warfare. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:22-24 a three-step process to create “right-living”:
- “22Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires.” All of us were born with a sin nature and as a result developed sin behaviors and habits that are not consistent with the nature of God. Romans 3:23 states, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” While we lived life without Christ, “our old self” took up sin patterns of this world designed by the devil and his forces in darkness. Paul says to fight successfully in spiritual warfare, we have “to put off your old self which belongs to your former manner of life”…because “they are corrupt” driven by “deceitful desires.” Psalms 66:18 makes this point bluntly, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear.” If you live a self-centered life, Jesus speaks simply to us, “I’m not going to listen to your self-centered pleas and requests.” If we are going to win in spiritual warfare, we have to “throw off the old self.”
- ” 23To be made new in the attitude of your minds.” Once, old self is thrown off, the Holy Spirit can change the attitude of your mind. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).
- “24 Then, put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Now that the old man is put off and the Holy Spirit is positioned to change your mind, “put on the new self.” Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:18 what this operationally looks like, “Be filled with (surrender to) His Spirit.” Galatians 5 states it this way in verse 16, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” You will walk in “true righteousness and holiness.” Put off the old and put on the new.
Remember, the righteousness we are talking about is not “self-righteousness.” In Revelations 3:16, you discover that a church which practices self-righteousness is vomit (literal meaning) to Jesus. Uh, Rick, that’s a bit graphic and gross…simply telling you what it says. During His ministry on earth, the one group that was “nauseating” to Him was the Pharisees who were self-religious leaders. This righteousness comes out of self, the old/flesh man. The righteousness that we are talking about is from faith, putting on the new self, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Guys, each day “put on the breastplate of righteousness.” Do it right, and winning will take care of itself.