Last week we began studying the armor God gives to us as Christ’s followers and how it impacts our lives and marriages. (See Ephesians 6:10-20.) This armor allows us to “be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power,” and “to stand against the devils’ schemes” (Ephesians 6:10-11).
The Piece that Guards Your Heart
In the Bible times, the breastplate guarded one of the soldier’s most important organs–the heart. We can survive and live without many parts of our bodies, but one of the organs we definitely cannot live without is our heart.
The same is true of us spiritually. Paul’s readers would understand this to mean that we must protect our emotions, as our emotions flow from the heart, just as our thoughts originate in our minds. Our minds can control us (which we will discuss in a future post on the helmet of salvation). But our emotions can also control us and therefore are vital and must be protected.
Satan will attack us through our emotions. Emotions are not bad in and of themselves. But we must not allow them to lead us to think and act unbiblically. We must put on the breastplate that will protect us from what Paul will shortly refer to as “the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16).
Put on God’s Righteousness
What is the breastplate we must put on to protect us from Satan’s attacks? Paul tells us it is God’s righteousness. We are not talking about self-righteousness here. We are not to think we are better than someone else, including our spouses. We are to put on God’s righteousness. There is no righteousness in us. We “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Here is what God says about us in Romans 3:10-12: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
Our void of righteousness is why we all need God’s forgiveness through faith in Christ. It is why to think we are somehow better than our husband or wife is not only ridiculous, but sinful. It is why not forgiving our spouse is sinful. But that is exactly one of the ways that Satan works in our hearts and minds to lead us to sin, and to harm our marriages.
When we accept Christ as our Savior and Lord, we put on God’s righteousness. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” When we accept God’s gift of salvation, we are humbled by the fact that God would “not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all” (Romans 8:32). We are humbled that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This acceptance leads us away from our self-righteousness to God’s righteousness as the Holy Spirit comes to live within us.
Our self-righteousness leads us to unforgiveness, pride, and every other work of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21) that will destroy our marriage, which Satan delights in. God’s righteousness will lead us to real love, forgiveness, and all the other fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) that pleases God and protects our marriage.
Don’t Let Satan’s Lies Deceive You
Let me warn you, Satan will do his best to corrupt God’s perfect plan for marriage, as he did from the beginning with Adam and Eve. He does this so slyly. One example of this is the way we view love. Love is the first of the fruits of the Spirit. Marriage requires love. Even the world knows that. But the love of the world, and God’ love are very different.
The world’s view of love is all about emotion and feeling. We see the world’s love expressed clearly in popular songs. Indulge me by allowing me to step back to my younger days for two examples of the world’s type of love.
When I was in junior high school, B.J. Thomas recorded a song titled, “Hooked On a Feeling.” (For the full lyrics, click on the song title.) He sang about the way his woman made him feel–the feelings down deep inside. In the chorus, he claimed: “I’m hooked on a feelin’. I’m high on believin’ that you’re in love with me.” Notice that the entire basis for love is “a feelin.”
A few years later, in 1972, came a song sung by Luther Ingram titled, “If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don’t Want To Be Right.” The backstory of the song is about a married man who is “in love” with another woman. His feelings are so strong for her he doesn’t care what people say or who they hurt, including his wife and kids. Notice again that it is all about his feelings and emotion.
As I wrote earlier, there is nothing wrong with feelings and emotions. God gives those to us. If we are led by the Holy Spirit, emotions can be used by God in wonderful ways. But if we let them control us, then Satan uses them in sinful ways.
Know God’s Truth and Follow It
This is why we need the breastplate of God’s righteousness–to make sure we live with God’s truth as we find it in His Word.
Husbands, is giving yourself to a woman other than your wife wrong, as the second song asks? The clear answer from God’s Word is “yes.” It is sin. If we have the breastplate of God’s righteousness, we will know this and remain faithful to His Truth, and to our wives.
Wives, is it wrong to give yourself to another man? Again, the clear answer from God’s Word is that it is definitely wrong. It is a sin that will destroy your marriage and make Satan laugh with delight. But you will break God’s heart.
The breastplate of God’s righteousness will make certain that His truth as found in His Word will be the guiding influence in our lives, and our emotions will flow from that instead of the opposite. We will be led by God, not by our feelings. We will not go wrong when we do that. We will always go astray when we allow our emotions to lead.
So put on God’s righteousness by living by God’s command in James 1:21-22: “get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Study and know God’s Word, and then live it. This will protect your heart from Satan’s attacks.
Questions for Discussion
- Re-read the Scripture passages in this week’s teaching. Discuss what they tell you about what God provides to make your marriage the beautiful union He intends it to be. Discuss how Satan will try to destroy that, and how the weapons and tools God gives to you will fend off Satan’s attacks.
- Think about what controls you most–your emotions or God’s truth. Be honest with yourselves and with each other. Discuss specific ways you have allowed your emotions to control you rather than God’s truth. How did it lead to hurt in your marriage? Ask your husband or wife for forgiveness. Pray and ask God to help you to respond based on God’s truth and not your emotions when they conflict with God’s truth. Pray for each other about this.
- Talk about the way emotions can be good, and how they can be bad. Discuss the difference between emotions leading us along, and them following behind as we practice God’s truth. Which is a beautiful part of God’s plan, and which is harmful? Why? Which will you ask God to help you to do?
Next week we will look at the third piece of armor God provides to aid us in our battle against Satan–the gospel of peace.
Until then, may God bless you in all His wonderful ways,
Other posts in the PROTECTING YOUR MARRIAGE WITH THE ARMOR OF GOD series:
Part 1–We’re in a Battle
Part 2–The Belt of Truth
Part 4–The Shoes of God’s Peace
Part 5–The Shield of Faith
Part 6–The Helmet of Salvation
Part 7–The Sword of the Spirit
Part 8–The Power of Prayer
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.