|Art by Andrey Mironov 2008|
Our church is blessed these last few weeks to have seven missionaries in residence, one of whom gave a message on “the just shall live by faith.” I have heard and read this verse many times, and yet hearing this dear brother from the Philippines speak it opened my heart to its meaning in ways I had not fully considered before. The first mention is in the Old Testament (Habakkuk 2:4), followed by three references to it in the New Testament (Romans 1:17; Galatians.3:11; Hebrews 10:38 ).
This verse is a clear example of triplet patterns in Scripture, for in three short words (just, live, faith) packed full of meaning it conveys a host of doctrinal truth. “Just” reminds us that no man can be justified on his own merit, for there is none that does good (Psalm 14:1,3; 53:1,3; Matthew 19:17; etc.); all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23); and none even seeks after God (Romans 3:11).
Only in Christ can sinful man be made just, or holy and righteous (Romans 3:24-26). He alone justifies us, or makes us just as if we have never sinned, for our sins are debited against His account and His righteousness is credited to our account (Romans 4:6-8). Thus, when the Father looks at a born-again believer (John 3:3-8) who has trusted Christ by placing their faith in His death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only way to Heaven (John 14:6), He no longer sees their sin, but only the perfect holiness of His Son.
Because we are considered just in Christ, we can live! We live in Him (Galatians 2:20), abundantly (John 10:10) and eternally (John 3:16). He rose again as the firstfruits (1 Corinthians 15:20-23), so that we now live in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6) even as we travel this earth. Our spirit will live in His presence when our fleshly body dies (Philippians 1:21);. At the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17), we shall live forever in a glorified body that will never age, get sick or die (1 Corinthians 15:35-50).
The apostle Paul tells us to die daily (1 Corinthians 15:31) to our sin nature so that we may rise again to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4); to crucify our flesh to live in the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 6:8-11); and to mortify (put to death) the “old man,” with his sinful ways so that we may live as the “new man” (Ephesians 4:24), obeying, serving, and glorifying God. In Him, we live, move and have our being! (Acts 17:28)
The verse we are studying concludes that the just (in Christ) shall live (physically, mentally and spiritually) by faith. Therein lies the crux of Christianity: we are saved by God’s grace alone through our faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), as promised in His Word alone (John 6:68) and not embellished or marred by human traditions (Colossians 2:8; 1 Peter 1:18). His mercy spares us from eternal death in hell; His love sent His Son to pay the price to accomplish that (Hebrews 9:28); and His grace freely gives us everlasting life.
All we need to do is believe that God is Who He says He is; that His Son has done all that is needed to save us; and that He will do what His Word has promised He will do (Hebrews 11). Keeping the law (which is impossible), doing good works (which can never make up for our sin), and being self-righteous (which is the worst form of self-deception) cannot save us (Luke 18:9-14).
And yet, once Jesus Christ saves us, our faith comes alive to others (James 2:17-26), who see that we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), doing good works in His Name, and following His path (Matthew 16:24). We have become God’s children (1 John 3:1), joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), and together we as the church are the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27).
He has made us His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), fellow laborers (1 Corinthians 3:9), and body (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:27) to go, teach and baptize (Matthew 28:19) When we live in Him, we walk in love (Ephesians 5:2), in the light (1 John 1:7), and in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16,25).
In the only Old Testament rendering of this verse, that the just shall live by faith (Habakkuk 2:1-4), the prophet begins the chapter by actively waiting for God to speak, listening for His Word, and considering how to answer when God corrects Him. The Lord tells Habbakuk to write down the vision He reveals and to make it clear to others so that they will respond to it. God explains that the vision is for an appointed time but that in the end it shall speak the truth; that Habbakuk should wait for it even though it seems to be delayed, and that it will come and not tarry.
In short, Habbakuk demonstrates his faith by waiting on God, Who answers him by promising him a future vision, and Who encourages him to continue to be faithful by waiting on His perfect timing. He contrasts the self-righteous, proud, disobedient man with the just who shall live by his faith. The former drinks himself to ruin, abandons his family, and covets the wealth of others, yet he finds dissatisfaction, death and hell. But the just man lives by his faith that the Lord is in His holy temple and all the earth should be silent before Him (v. 20).
Next week, Lord willing, we shall consider the three repetitions of this verse in the New Testament. In the meantime, may we remember that the just shall live by faith. If we follow that creed, we shall find the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), joy in the Lord (Psalm 35:9), and the lively, glorious hope (1 Peter 1:3; Titus 2:13) of knowing that the vision of Rapture to eternal heaven will one day become reality!
© 2015 Laurie Collett
I truly enjoy the things you share.
Thank you, Denise! You are such a blessing.
Love in Christ,
There is nothing I can add to your brilliant, God-glorifying article. Except to say that what the Lord did in justifying us was done for his own glory and to bring honour to his Name.
That alone can be the basis for Eternal Security in Christ.
I am blessed and honored by your comment. Amen to God justifying us for His glory and honor. He makes no mistakes, and surely He could not and would not lose us once He has saved us.
Thanks as always for your encouragement and insight.
I am so thankful we receive eternal life by faith and not by our own efforts, but I am also thankful we are able to live by faith in this world, trusting him to take care of what we do adn making it good enough . Great post.
Amen, Donald! We can have faith that He will work all things together for good in our life, along with so many other great promises of provision, protection and blessing. Thanks for your comment and God bless,
That is right Laurie,
we wait on the Lord, hear what He says when He speaks to us and trust Him by doing whatever He has requested of us, even if it is to wait for His promise to come about at His perfect timing.
Keeping our minds 'stayed upon Him', and not what our carnal mind is telling us to do, is what brings our peace and His promise.
I have this verse on my computer screen with a very peaceful picture of a valley and river, and it has proved true in my life.:-
'You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed upon You, because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord is the Rock eternal.'
Isaiah ch. 26 vs. 3,4.
My husband gave me a lovely tote bag with this verse (Isa 26:3) written on it, and I use it to carry my notes and Bible when I teach Bible study. Praise God for the perfect peace only He can provide, when we rest in Him in faith and put Him first.
Thank you for your inspiring comment, and God bless you too!
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