The saying, “the just shall live by faith,” is a familiar one to Christians. It originally comes from Habakkuk 2:4, which says, “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.”
This verse is quoted in several places in the New Testament:
- Romans 1:17 – “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
- Galatians 3:11 – “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.”
- Hebrews 10:38 – “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him.”
The Role of Faith
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” What this means is that, even though we have no direct evidence for something, we can have faith that it is true anyway. Faith as a Christian means that we trust God to provide for us, to protect us, and to shelter us with His love and mercy.
Whenever God spoke to His children throughout the Bible, they acted on faith that God would fulfill His promises to them, and their faith was always rewarded. From Noah to Abraham, Moses to David, Samuel to Elijah, the great champions of Christian history relied on their faith in God to sustain them even in hard times.
As human beings, we frequently express some level of faith all throughout our lives. When you are a child, your parents drop you off at school in the morning, and you have faith that they will pick you up at the end of the day. You have faith that, when you turn the faucet, water will come out; or you have faith that, when you flip a switch, the light will come on. Some of these things are based on repeated experience or learned knowledge, but we express our faith in other ways as well. We begin friendships and romantic relationships with faith that the other person will not hurt us in some way. We may never have complete and absolute assurance that they will always seek our good, but we place our faith in them to do the right thing.
God Proves Himself Faithful
As we discuss living our lives by faith, we should always remember that the object of our faith is more important than the size of our faith. We can place our faith in any number of world religions or philosophies, but God is the only One Who is a worthy recipient of our faith. He Himself is faithful to us every day, even when we break faith with Him. The way back to God is always available to those that are willing to turn from their sin and follow Him.
Living by Faith in God
In the book of Habakkuk, the prophet contrasts a godly person with someone who puts all of his faith in himself. When we rely solely on our own strength, we will invariably come up short, and our resolve will waiver. But placing our faith in God and living a righteous life dedicated to glorifying Him will never leave us unsatisfied.
Righteous living is encouraged throughout the Old Testament, and it should always be understood that this righteousness comes from a life lived by faith. When we devote our lives to God, we continually place our faith and trust in His will and His Word, patterning our lives based on the examples given in Scripture. When we do this, we tell the world Who we have faith in. The great examples of the Bible are heralded for their faith; the book of Hebrews has a famous passage that recounts the “heroes of faith” by detailing their total reliance on God to sustain their lives. Their faith is given as a model for us to follow.
So How Do We Live Righteously by Faith?
The first step of living by faith in having faith in Jesus Christ. He came to the world to live a perfect, sinless life that was the only acceptable atonement for our fallen and sinful condition. Through His death, burial, and resurrection, we can be made right with God and be restored to God’s original design for our lives. We must first place our faith in Jesus before we can fully access the power of God.
The next step of faith is to yield our hearts and lives to Him. This looks different for every individual, but at its core, we are told to deny our right to ourselves and acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Savior. He not only saves us, but He wants to guide and direct our lives to follow His will for us.
If we want to be counted as righteous, we must “work out our salvation” every day by constantly and consistently seeking God over our own selves. This kind of faith knows that God has our best interests at heart, that He loves us and wants us to have more of Himself, and that He wants us to desire Him above everything.
When we follow God’s commands as given in the Bible, listen to wise and godly counsel from others, and are sensitive and receptive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, we live out our faith in meaningful and powerful ways. This lets us be counted as righteous – not because we have earned it through our actions, but because the conditions of our hearts are subservient to the will of God and acknowledging Jesus as the only way that we can be made right with Him. This righteousness guides our lives in such a way that we cannot help but put our trust in God because we know that what He has in store is far better than anything we could produce on our own.
Bible Study on Galatians 3:11
Bible Study on Hebrews 10:38
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.