Gregory Dickow - Putting On the Breastplate of God's Approval
Father, I thank You that You know what everyone is going through. You know each of their needs. You said as we seek first Your kingdom, as we look to You first, You are our Source. You are our trust. Our confidence is in You. I thank You; You'll supply all of our needs. All these things will be added to us. All these things will be added to each person connecting here today. I thank You that all of their needs are met according to Your riches in glory in Christ Jesus, amen.
Well, I want to ask you a question today. What is the biggest concern in your life right now? What is the biggest concern in your life right now? Because God has an answer for it. Is it your finances? Is it your health? For many people, it is their finances. For many people, it is their health. Is it your family? Is it mistakes that you've made in the past? What is your biggest concern? Because I really want to expose the enemy that is trying to rob us of our victory, and rob us of our happiness, and rob us of our greatest sense of worth, and our greatest sense of victory. I really believe the devil understands something that most Christians don't. And here's what it is.
There's this obscure verse in the Bible in Acts, chapter 13, verse ten. And Peter is talking to somebody who's trying to misuse and abuse the power of God. But he says something in this verse that grabbed my attention. And he says, "You son of the devil". I'm not saying anybody should be calling each other that, right? But he calls this guy the son of the devil. He says, "You enemy of all righteousness". Notice what he says. This man, as in describing him as a son of the devil, he says what the devil is. He is the enemy of all righteousness.
Now notice the Bible doesn't call the devil the enemy of all success. It doesn't call the devil the enemy of all health and healing. The Bible doesn't even call the devil the enemy of all peace, or the enemy of all wisdom, or even the enemy of all love, or the enemy of all joy. No, the Bible calls the devil the enemy of all righteousness. Why? Why does the Bible call the devil the enemy of all righteousness? Because the devil knows that the righteousness of God that God gives to us as a gift in Christ Jesus, it is the secret to all of God's blessing, all of the victory that Jesus has paid for, all of the success in your life, all of the things that concern you. That one thing when I asked you at the beginning, "What's the one thing that concerns you most"?
Righteousness is the key to all of it. This is why this is so vital in our spiritual warfare. In Ephesians, chapter six, it calls this piece of weaponry the breastplate of righteousness; the breastplate of righteousness. Wow, but I love what he calls it in the New Living translation, it is the breastplate of God's approval. He tells us to put on the breastplate of God's approval; the breastplate of righteousness. Wow, righteousness refers to how God approves something in His eyes. When God approves of it, it's righteous. It doesn't matter what we think, or what other people think in their eyes. We're approved by the blood of Jesus in God's eyes. And this is what protects our heart. Because it's the breastplate of righteousness to protect the inner vital organs, the heart, especially. Proverbs 4:22, 23 says, "Watch over your heart with all diligence".
You see, righteousness, this gift; this word, righteousness, is the cure to every inferiority complex you'll ever have. Righteousness is the cure to a prayerless life; a life without prayer, without power in prayer. Righteousness is the cure to unhappiness. Wow, when you get ahold of this... The Bible says in Romans, chapter 14... I have a verse for each of these, but let me go through this real quick. Righteousness is the cure to the following things: an inferiority complex, a prayerless life, unhappiness, approval addiction, and failure, and defeat. So, in Romans, chapter five, verse 17, how is righteousness the cure to an inferiority complex? Because it says through the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness, we reign as kings in this life. We reign as kings. That means we're royalty in God's eyes. We're royalty and God's family. And royalty destroys inferiority. When you realize you're royal, you lose your feeling of unworthiness and low self-worth.
You see, it's the cure to inferiority. It's also the cure, righteousness is the cure to prayerlessness. The Bible says that the prayers of a righteous man avail much. We won't pray if we don't think we're righteous. We won't pray with power if we don't realize and believe that we are righteous. Not because we do everything right, but because we're made right in God's eyes through the blood of Jesus. Righteousness is the cure to unhappiness. And I really think we need to grab ahold of this. Because it says happy is the man.
Romans 14, verse 22, "Happy is the man who does not condemn himself". Please get ahold of this. That, we talked about this all of last week; last Sunday. That condemnation robs us of the desire to pray. It robs us of so much. It's how the devil, it's what the devil uses to keep us trapped. Happy is the man who does not condemn himself. When you know you're the righteousness of God, you stop condemning yourself. And what guess what flows from that, happiness. And we need to fight for this. We need to fight for this revelation of righteousness. The next thing that it cures us of is approval addiction. Because people are constantly, we are constantly thinking that people, we need people's approval. We need somebody to like us. We need somebody to think great of us. We get into this people-pleasing addiction to people's approval.
But notice this is called the breastplate of God's approval. And when you wear that, you no longer need the approval of people on social media. You no longer need the approval of people because of the choices that you make, or what you believe in your soul. Even if it goes against what's politically popular. It goes against what might be popular in media, what goes against what's popular in Hollywood, or wherever. Even among some of Christianity. Sometimes we get into what's popular rather than what's truly biblically accurate. And when we put on the breastplate of righteousness; the breastplate of God's approval, it protects our heart from needing everybody else's or anybody else's approval. And then righteousness is the cure to feeling defeated. Righteousness is the cure to being defeated; to failure.
The Bible says through the abundance of grace, again in Romans 5:17, and the gift of righteousness, we reign. We reign in life. We don't fail in life. We reign in life. If we fail, we fail forward. And we get back up. Because a righteous man falls seven times the Bible says in Proverbs, chapter 16, verse 24, but he gets back up. Wow, what a promise from God's Word. Get back up. Do you feel like you've fallen? Do you feel like you're on the ground? Do you feel like you're fallen and you can't get up; you're down and you can't get up, you're down and you feel out? Well, you're not out. You might be down, but you're not out. You can get back up because you are the righteousness of God the moment you accepted Jesus as your Savior.
So, if through this abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness we reign in life, why aren't we reigning? Why aren't more people reigning over life? Why is life defeating us? Why is life depressing us? Why is life pulverizing or punishing us? Because, number one, we are not reigning in life because of our unfamiliarity with the gift of righteousness. We're not familiar with how to use this gift. We're not familiar with this gift enough, and we're not familiar with how to use it enough. And that's why I want to take you to this other amazing verse. And so, number one, why aren't we reigning in life? Number one, we're not reigning in life because of our unfamiliarity with the gift of righteousness.
And in Second Corinthians, chapter six, verse four, Paul says as servants of God, we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, in hardship, in distress. We're trusting God through all these things, he says. In verse seven, "in truthful speech and in the power of God". And then notice this, "with (the) weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left". Notice what he says, "with (the) weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left". In other words, we have to learn to use both hands in our life. We have to realize that the gift of righteousness is not meant to just be used half of the time. It's not meant to just be used with our strong hand. It's meant to be used with our weak hand also. In other words, righteousness is the greatest weapon we have because we are holding it with both hands.
Not only is it a breastplate that protects our heart. But it is also a weapon that we hold in our hand to defeat and destroy the limitation, the limited thinking and the wrong beliefs in our mind about who we are, and what we're capable of. Righteousness, this is the key word throughout the New Testament. Do you know that this word righteousness is used 555 times in the King James Bible? 555 times, and what does righteousness mean? It means... What does righteousness mean? It means the ability to stand in the Father's presence; to stand in God's presence without a sense of fear, condemnation, inferiority, or shame. To stand in God's presence without a sense of fear, condemnation, or inferiority, or shame.
Some people kind of, they just kind of try to get their mind off of God, so that they won't feel condemned, or shame, or inferiority, or fear. We don't have to get our minds off of God to be free from these feelings. We can have our minds completely on Him and be free from inferiority when we realize He has welcomed us. He is an almighty, all holy, perfect God. But He has paid for our sin, so that we can come to Him freely at any time without fear, without condemnation, without guilt, without inferiority, and without shame. And we need to be like cutting through. We need to be having like, a person, like movies where you see somebody with two swords just cutting through a forest, or cutting through the enemy. We have to be like that with the gift of righteousness in both hands it says. The gift requires the use of both hands. It needs to be our "go to" weapon. It needs to be our "go to" weapon.
Everywhere we're going, every thought that we think, we need to be cutting down these wrong thoughts. Cutting down this low sense of self-worth in our lives. We cut down this lie that says, "You're not, you don't deserve God's blessing". To cut down these thoughts that tell us that, "You are disqualified for coming into God's presence". We need to cut down these thoughts that say, "You're defeated. You're never going to make it. Look at your past. Look at your failures. Look at your mistakes. Look at what you're hiding in your heart. Look what you're hiding in your closet. Look at what you're hiding here; hiding there". We need to cut through all those lies and stand with our two swords in our right hand and our left with the weapons of righteousness. You get ahold of this and you are winning in spiritual warfare. Because everything that goes wrong in life, and everything that stays wrong in life is because we feel we deserve it to be wrong.
When we realize God has made us His righteousness, we begin to attract and draw victory to our lives because we believe in who He said we are. And your identity is the number one thing the devil hates about you, that you're a son or daughter of God and that you have the gift of righteousness. That's why the Bible calls him the enemy of all righteousness. You think about it. Righteousness when it comes to your family, does this really matter in any way? Yeah. Look at what Isaiah 54, verse 13 and 14 says. And your children shall be taught of God, and great shall be the peace of your children. How many parents out there need your kids to have peace? You want your kids to have peace. Great shall be the peace of your children. In righteousness they shall be established; and they shall be far, and you shall be far from oppression.
For you will not fear and you'll be far from terror, for it will not come near you when you're established in what? In righteousness. I know you're saying, "Pastor, do you have any other topics you talk about"? Not really, because when you get ahold of this, you get ahold of everything. When you get ahold of this, you are equipped to reign in life rather than having life reign over you. Instead of your emotions controlling you, you're controlling them. Instead of finances controlling you, you're controlling them. Instead of life controlling you, you're controlling it. Instead of your feelings controlling you, you're controlling your feelings. Instead of tribulation and tragedy controlling you, you're controlling it.
And Satan is doing everything he can to keep you blinded to this, or to keep it sort of as just a topic rather than a weapon. It's a weapon in both hands. Satan wants to keep you aware of your sinfulness. He wants to keep you aware of all the wrong you've done. He wants to keep you aware of sin consciousness, rather than you keeping yourself aware of the gift of righteousness. Satan is the accuser. He is the accuser of the brethren. Listen, my brother, my sister watching, the devil is an accuser. He is constantly accusing us. He's called the accuser of the brethren in Revelation, chapter 12, verse ten. "Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, 'Now salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser (of our brethren, the accuser of) our brothers and sisters has been thrown down.'"
And what is he doing and why do we need to throw him down with these weapons of righteousness in our left hand and in our right? Because he is accusing them. He says here, he is accusing them before our God day and night. He's accusing them day and night. So, number one, why aren't we reigning in life? Because of our unfamiliarity with the weapons, not just the gift of righteousness, but the weapons of righteousness. Number two, the second reason we're not reigning in life is because we're not talking back to the things that the devil is accusing us of. We're not talking back to the things the devil is accusing us of. We're being accused by the devil, "You're not this, you're not that," or "you're this and you're that".
But we're not talking back to those things. And I want to take you to a verse that tells us exactly what things he's talking about, and what things we should be talking to, and what we should be saying to those things. In Romans, chapter eight, verse 31, as a matter of fact. He says right here, "What shall we say to these things"? "What shall we say to these things"? the Scripture says. Romans, chapter 8:31, look at that. What shall we say to these things? What things? What things is he talking about in verse 31 when he says, "What shall we say to these things"?
So, not only is he going to tell us what to say to these things, but he's going to tell us what things, we're talking about talking to. So, the devil is accusing us constantly in our head or through others. And we're not talking back to the thoughts. We're not talking back to the accusations in our head. What things is he talking about? The accusations of the devil. That you're condemned. That you're separated from God. That you're defeated. You're disqualified. You're busted. You're disgusted. These are the things. What things is he talking about?
Look in verse 35. What things is he talking about that we need to say something to? Verse 35 says, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ"? And then he gives us a list. "Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, (which is trouble and danger) or (the) sword"? Which means being attacked in some way. He says, "What shall we say to these things"? What things is he talking about? Tribulation, anybody going through tribulation? We need to start talking back to it. Anybody going through distress; distressful emotions, distressful relationships, stressful life? We need to be talking back to those things. Persecution, something's chasing you? Something's pursuing you? Something's bothering you? Something in your past keeps coming back to haunt you?
It's persecution. People against you? That's persecution. What shall we say to these things? What things? Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine. We need to be talking to famine. We need to be talking to our lack and telling it to be abundant. We need to be talking to our lack. He says these things are the things we should be saying something to. Nakedness, not having your needs met. Your failures, your mistakes, embarrassments. Peril, trouble, danger, whether it's physical danger, financial danger, emotional danger, people danger, physical danger. Or the sword, being attacked. Having something coming against to threaten your safety, your family, in some way, emotionally, physically, spiritually.
These are the things, therefore, what should we say to these things? First, we need to establish these are the things, because we are all dealing with stuff like this. What shall we say to these things? And then I've made a list based on these verses. Here are the things we should say to these things. So, what am I going to say to condemnation when it comes against me? What am I going to say to persecution when it comes against me? What am I going to say to the feelings of distress that come against me? I'm going to say, "If God be for me, who can be against me"? I'm literally going to take what Paul says and I'm going to say what he's saying. Because when you start saying what God's Word says, you start experiencing what God's Word promises you can experience. What shall we say to these things?
See, a lot of people are just listening to a message like this, and it's just like, oh yeah, going in one ear and out the other. Or you agree and say, "Yeah, that's right, that's right, that's right". But are you saying these things to these things? Are you saying to lack? Are you saying to condemnation? When you hear this thought that accuses you, are you saying out loud, "If God is for me, who can be against me"? Because this is God's gift to us, the power of the tongue. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Why aren't we reigning in life? Because we either are unfamiliar with the gift and weapons of righteousness, or we are not talking back to the things that are talking to us. It's time to talk back to lack. What do we say to lack here? What do we say to famine? What do we say to not having enough?
Here's what we say. Verse 32, If He didn't spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, He will freely give me all things. Paul asks these things as a question. If God is for me, who can be against me? And He who did not spare His own Son, but freely gave Him... How will He not also freely give us all things? He's asking rhetorical questions so that we can use these questions as really the answers to what we should say to these things. So, what should we be saying to lack? We should be talking to lack; talking back to lack, and saying, "If He freely gave me His Son, He will freely give me all things; everything I need". What should we say to these things? The next thing we should say is, "Who is condemning me? I cast him down. I command the lies of the accuser, the devil who's condemning me, to come down in Jesus' name. Because Jesus doesn't condemn me". We should be saying this, "Jesus doesn't condemn me. He justifies me. And He has made me righteous".
Hey, this is the answer. What should we say to these things? Say it. If God be... Let's just do it right now, hey, right? "If God is for me, who can be against me? I speak to condemnation. I speak to feeling alone. I speak to feeling like I'm surrounded and outnumbered, and I declare God is for me, not against me". Say this out loud. "I say to lack, God freely gave me His Son. He will freely give me all things in Jesus' Name. I say to condemnation, Jesus is the one that justifies me. Jesus is the one that makes me righteous". Say this out loud. Say, "Jesus is at the Father's right hand. (the next verse goes; says) Jesus is at the Father's right hand, interceding for me. I am seated with Christ in heavenly places, and Jesus is seated at the Father's right hand".
These are the things we should be saying to these things. What should we say to these things? The next one is, "Nothing can separate me from the love of God. I speak to these lies that tell me God is far from me. I speak and declare; nothing can separate me from the love of God". What shall we say to these things? Say this out loud. "I am more than a conqueror". I'm taking these, right from the verse. What shall we say to these things? And then he gives us a list of the things we should say, and a list of the things we should be saying them to. What does this next one? Say this out loud. Say, "I am more than a conqueror through Jesus and His love for me".
Say this out loud from verse 38. Say this out loud. "Neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities..." Say that, "Neither death nor life, nor angels, no principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate me". Say that. "Nothing shall be able to separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, my Lord, in Jesus' Name". That's what you should say to these things. We're out of time. Talk this way. Believe this way. Speak this way. And you are going to reign in life. Yes, you! Come on, if you're not saved; if you're not sure you're going to heaven when you die, be sure. Pray this right now with me. For those of you that have never prayed this prayer before, say:
Heavenly Father, I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I believe Jesus is risen from the dead. I believe Jesus washed away all my sins. I believe I am now a child of God, in Jesus' Name.