Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.Ephesians 6:14-17 NIV
The second piece of armor that Paul instructs us to put on is the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate covers the core of your body. At least when you are facing the enemy. It protects the bulk of your most important parts. So having a breastplate in place when engaging the enemy is important.
What does this breastplate represent for the believer? It could be the righteousness of Christ that is imputed to us when we believe. And indeed that is essential for us as believers. But I don’t think that is what Paul had in mind here.
Instead, I believe he is referring to personal righteousness. My personal righteousness will do me no good as far as my salvation is concerned. But I don’t believe that Paul is talking about that here. Instead, I believe his focus is on how I conduct my life. How I interact with other people and with the world at large.
In 1 Timothy 1:18-20 Paul tells Timothy to fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience. And that some have abandoned these and shipwrecked their faith. I think the good conscience in this passage to Timothy is the same as the breastplate of righteousness referred to here.
The enemy is going to attack me, just because he is my enemy. But when I do not live a righteous life, I make his task so much easier. He can discredit me, and in doing so, discredit my Lord and his church.
Have the breastplate of righteousness in place. Give the enemy nothing to use against you. Live an upright and godly life while you wait for the Lord’s return.