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The Righteous Shall Live By His Faith
By Jon W. Quinn
"Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4). Judah had not been as faithful as a nation as they ought to have been. God has withdrawn His protection and promises they will be judged at the hands of the Chaldeans, or Babylonians. There will be great political and social upheaval, war, famine and destruction in the land. In the midst of this suffering and turmoil, whether poor or rich; hungry or filled, captive or free, God's righteous ones will continue to live by faith. Though this was written in a different time and during the old dispensation, there are many obvious applications can be made today; one being that the truly righteous individual is going to continue to love his or her God and live righteously whatever the outward circumstances be, good or bad.Reprinted From the Bradley Banner Bradley Church of Christ Bradley, Illinois October 15, 2000
Living By Faith in the Gospel Age
This phrase is repeated in the New Testament. Paul wrote; “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "But the righteous man shall live by faith." (Romans 1:16,17). In the social and moral depravity of the first century (see Romans 1:18-32) the righteous ones continued to live by their faith. Again, there is obvious application to our own time that we ought to make regarding our own conduct in a godless world.
Again, in the New Testament, this phrase first used in Habakkuk is used: “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by faith; And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:36-39). Here, again we are encourages to always live by faith and never shrink back. To do so is to destroy ourselves.
The great examples of living by faith are listed in the following chapter (Hebrews 11). “By faith...” these people lived out their lives, making choices that reflected their trust in God at al times. It is because they were seeking a better country, that is, a heavenly one.
Living By Faith and the Word of God
We have been looking at the phrase, “The righteous one will live by his faith.” We need to understand what this means. It is not just vague feeling or speculation. It is active commitment to the Lord's will in everything. There is no Scriptural way to separate faith in God from obeying His word, though many try to do so. Notice the thoughts expressed by the inspired words of the Psalmist in the 119th Psalm and commended to us by God as what our attitudes ought to be:
(33) “Teach me, O Lord, the way of Thy statutes, And I shall observe it to the end.
(34) Give me understanding, that I may observe Thy law, And keep it with all my heart.
(35) Make me walk in the path of Thy commandments, For I delight in it.
(36) Incline my heart to Thy testimonies, And not to dishonest gain.
(37) Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, And revive me in Thy ways.
(38) Establish Thy word to Thy servant, As that which produces reverence for Thee.
(39) Turn away my reproach which I dread, For Thine ordinances are good.
(40) Behold, I long for Thy precepts; Revive me through Thy righteousness.” (Psalm 119:33-40)
Now notice the following about this text:
First, It does not say in verse 33 to “keep them” but to “keep it.” It is not the statutes individually that we are told to keep, but “the way of Thy statutes.” The significance of this are many. All the commandments of God are important as they work together to create “the way.” This is why it is important to keep them all, and not to take it upon ourselves to dismiss some that we deem to be not as important as the others.
Also, verse 34 suggests that the way to keep God's law is with “all my heart.” There is no room for half hearted discipleship in God's kingdom, whether it be the Israel of old or the kingdom of His Son today. We are to develop a closeness with the word so it is always at hand. We are to be prepared for service, much as the Minutemen of the American Revolution, who always had their rifles at hand so at a moment's notice they would be ready.
The Psalmist asks in verse 35 that the Lord “make me walk in the path of Thy commandments.” This shows humility and inner strength and resolve. It is as if he is saying, “Whatever it takes, do it to help me be faithful.” God will not force us to obey Him against our wills, but He will help the willing to be faithful and righteous.
The Psalmist asked the lord to “incline my heart to Thy testimonies.” (36). An “inclination” is a disposition toward a certain direction, in this case, toward God's testimonies. Give a push in the right direction.
The Psalmist also asks for “revival” in God's ways (37). This means to be re-energized and refreshed. We all need our spirits rekindled from time to time.
Living by Faith and Obedience
The Lord said “My righteous one will live by his faith.” The Bible teaches that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of the Lord.” (Romans 10:17). Living by faith takes the same thing it has always taken: obeying the commandments of God. Note the 119th Psalm text again and see this recurring emphasis. It's so hard to miss! Who could possibly read this and come away thinking that faith does not entail obeying the Lord?
(33) Observe God's way
(34) Keep God's Law
(35) Walk in God's commandments
(36) Incline heart to God's testimonies
(37) Revive me in God's ways
(38) Establish God's word
(39) God's ordinances are good
(40) Long for God's precepts
This is how we live by our faith; by our keeping god's word, and keeping it with dedication, zeal and commitment. God's righteous ones live by their faith.