“Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith. Habakkuk 2: 4 (NKJV)

Many Christians quote the phrase “the just shall live by faith”, which was first used by the prophet Habakkuk. However, Apostle Paul refers to this truth in three places in the New Testament, and shows the importance of this principle to our Christian walk. For Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection have justified us before the Father, and we live by faith in Jesus, not by what we see or hear in the world or in our day to day lives.

In the Bible’s arrangement of epistles, the first time Paul expresses this thought was to emphasise the truth that righteousness before God is revealed and received by faith in Jesus (Romans 1:17). However, unbelievers in Paul’s time and even today, may grapple with this Truth and may not be comfortable receiving it because it restricts them from pride in self-righteousness or classist privilege. Paul’s makes it clear that righteousness is only possible by faith in Jesus, and if one is not born again, all one needs to do is to receive Jesus as one’s Lord and saviour.

The next time Paul wrote that the just shall live by faith, he was showing his Jewish readers and us, that people’s best efforts to keep the Law cannot please God, or make them righteous before God (Galatians 3:11). Indeed, our justification before God is only through faith in Jesus, and this is the reason why we have peace with God (Romans 5:1). The third time, God uses Paul to remind believers that having begun the Christian life by faith in the justifying work of Jesus, we must continue in faith because there is no substitute (Hebrews 10: 38). Believers need this reminder because when life presents challenges, people may erroneously begin to walk in anxiety and often resort to self-help, instead of embracing God’s rest by faith (Hebrews 4:1).

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