What does the phrase “the just shall live by faith” mean?

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The phrase “the just shall live by faith” first appeared in the Old Testament in the book of Habakkuk (ch. 2:4). In that passage, the prophet confirmed that the upright, meek man will live in faith, trusting the wisdom and providence of God. And he is contrasted with the proud man whose “soul … is lifted up” and who distrusts the wisdom and justice of God’s dealings with people (ch. 1, 4). While mainly this verse referred to those who, because of their faith in the Lord, were to be protected from the Chaldeans and will still find peace, though Judah be ruined, in a larger sense the verse offers a truth that can be helpful in every age.

Without faith it is impossible to please God

In the New Testament, Paul quoted this passage when preaching on righteousness by faith (Romans 1:16, 17; Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews10:38, 39). The apostle stated that “the just” are to “live by faith” while awaiting the Second Coming of Christ. Because there are two different worlds, the visible and the invisible, a person walks by what he sees when he is under the influence of the physical things in life, but walks by faith when he is under the influence of the heavenly things.

Paul taught that “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Therefore, Christians are admonished to “Walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). They are to think and act by faith (Matthew 6:24–34; 2 Corinthians 4:18). Thus, by faith the kingdom of God becomes the inheritance of the righteous.

Faith is not blind

True faith is always built upon the strong basis of enough evidence to secure confidence in what is not yet seen. By faith the Christian sees himself already having what has been promised him (Matthew 21:22). His full trust in the One who has made the promises leaves no doubt as to their fulfillment in right time. Faith empowers the believer not only to claim God’s promises and blessings but to have them now. Jesus said, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24). Thus, the hoped-for promises and dreams become present realities.

How to increase faith?

The apostle Paul taught that faith comes by “hearing,” and “hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Faith is our conviction about things that we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1,6,13,27,39), and this conviction must be founded upon the knowledge of the Word of God. Therefore, as a means of developing a strong and lasting faith, believers need to study the Bible daily.

It is impossible for a believer in his own strength to overcome the weaknesses of the flesh for all men have fallen and come short of the holy standard of God (Romans 3:23). Jesus said, “without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). But He promised, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me” (John 15:4). Therefore, having a daily relationship with Christ is essential for growth in the Christian life. It is not right for one branch to depend upon another for its life; each must keep its own personal relationship to the vine (Galatians 2:20).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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