Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.— Habakkuk 2:4
Romans used this verse in its discourse on justification. Hebrews quotes this verse in emphasizing the life of a Born-Again Believer. We now turn to the book of Galatians to see how the verse is used to expound upon HOW we are to live.
“But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
– Galatians 3:11
In this portion of Scripture, Paul is making a contrast between Law and Faith. The Law said, “This do, and thou shalt live.” The Israelites in the wilderness replied, “All that the LORD hath spoken we will do” (Exodus 19:8). But they didn’t! They couldn’t! They tried and failed, each and every one of them. They could not keep the Law. The Law said “you must DO this!” But Faith said, “Christ has DONE it!” So what good is the Law? Paul says a few verses later in Galatians 3:24-26, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” He says in Romans 3:19, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” The Law condemned us. The Law has taught EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the world that he is guilty and deserves punishment. The WHOLE WORLD is guilty! “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20). PRAISE THE LORD! Look at what’s going in the world today. Is not sin abounding? Sin is abounding more than ever! People are doing that which is right in their own eyes. The Lost of this world are becoming more and more open and unashamed of their sin. Sin is abounding everywhere we look! But . . . where sin abounds, grace does MUCH MORE abound! There is MORE grace than sin! It’s bad out there, but Jesus STILL saves! Jesus STILL reigns!
Now, back to our verse . . . Paul writes that it is evident that no man is justified by the Law. This is obvious. No one can keep it. Paul was dealing with those who were trusting in their works. There were many lost Jews Paul was dealing with who were trusting in their works. However, he was also dealing with SAVED, Born-Again Believers who were trusting in THEIR works as well. We are to trust in the LORD. We must place our faith in the LORD, not our works. Today, there are saved Born-Again Believers who live a very devout, outwardly-righteous life, but inwardly they live a defeated spiritual life.
There is never a problem to have more standards. Most of us would do well by adopting more standards. James says, “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (2:20) Works MUST accompany our faith. But works should EMANATE from our faith. Works in itself does not make us spiritual. A great illustration of this can be found in a marriage relationship. The man is to provide for his wife. The man does things to please his wife. The wife respects her husband and does things to please her husband. Now, the husband and wife could do these things for each other out of their responsibility to each other, and the marriage relationship may function wonderfully from an outside viewpoint. However, the relationship is much deeper and richer when these acts are fulfilled not just out of obligation to fulfill a responsibility but instead from a heart full of love and devotion to each other. Our faith in the Lord should be of such strong, passionate devotion that our reliance and trust in Him is the motivation for our good works.
We do not live by works. We live by FAITH – full, complete, and resolute reliance on the Lord with full surrender! Yes, we should obey the Scriptures and set standards for ourselves, but instead of mentally focusing on what laws we should keep, we should focus on cultivating a deeper, more authentic love for our Lord. It is then that our spiritual nature will know how to please our Lord and have a desire to please Him.