Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.— Habakkuk 2:4
This verse is the very centerpiece of the whole book. Not only does this mark the beginning of God’s central message and complete answer to Habakkuk’s prayer, the verse itself is a powerful transition that emphasizes a contrast that ALL BORN-AGAIN BELIEVERS MUST GRASP. The New Testament employs this verse 3 times as foundational truth to build doctrine upon. We will take a look at these instances in detail later, but today, we will consider only the first part of the verse – “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him.”
The Lord begins His reply to Habakkuk’s questions with the word, “behold.” THIS is something Habakkuk must see. Remember, throughout this study we have been keeping in mind that this book is a book of perspectives – the carnal, earthly perspective and the spiritual, heavenly perspective. Up until this verse, the focus has been on literal, earthly events which we can see with our own eyes. Habakkuk saw with his own earthly eyes the sin and violence of Judah. He would be able to see with his own earthly eyes the Chaldeans come against Judah. NOW, the Lord commands him to behold, not with his earthly eyes but with spiritual eyes.
The Lord then begins by contrasting two groups of people – the proud and the just. He proclaims, “his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him.” Picture a man balancing on a tightrope way up in the air 10 stories high. That man is lifted up, but what happens if he leans too much one way? He falls to his death. He is lifted up, but he is not upright. He will utterly fall. The word “upright” means to stay straight or to be morally straightforward. Pride seems to be the cause of many other sins. Lives of many Born-Again Believers are ruined by pride. Pride causes friends to split and families to tear apart. Divisions and contention in churches are caused by pride. God HATES it. Solomon begins Proverbs 6:16 with the words, “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea seven are an abomination unto him.” What follows is a list of seven sins. At the very forefront of this list is “a proud look.” Proverbs 8:13 says, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” In 1 Peter 5:5 we read, “for God resisteth the proud, and given grace to the humble.” God HATES pride and FIGHTS AGAINST it. The immediate context of this verse relates to the pride of the Chaldeans. God hated their pride and would fight against it. Their pride will be their downfall. They will be utterly destroyed. The same can be said of Born-Again Believers. Pride should be eliminated from the church house and the lives of its members. Anything and everything done in the church should be to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you give a gift, sing a song, preach a message, teach a lesson, or do a chore in the church, it should be to magnify the name of the Lord Jesus.
Not only do we find the Lord hating and fighting against pride, we see that pride is in itself the sure path to destruction. “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Based on these verses, what precedes the destruction and fall of a church? Pride. What precedes the shame of a church? Pride – People not willing to submit to one another in the fear of God. Members of a church should have so many things in common, but when they are not willing to submit to each other, they only see the differences. Pride kills churches. What precedes the destruction and fall of a spiritual life in a Born-Again Believer? Pride. What precedes his shame? Pride.
BUT . . .
The just shall live by his faith.
Ponder the contrast this verse offers. There are so many facets to this contrast! The JUST against the PROUD. Those who LIVE against those who DIE. Those who live by FAITH against those who live by SIGHT.
Which side of the contrast are you?