â€œBehold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.â€ Â Â (Habakkuk 2:4)
This great principleâ€”â€œthe just shall live by faithâ€â€”was the Scripture that so inflamed the soul of Martin Luther that it became the watchword of the Reformation. It occurs first here in the small prophecy of Habakkuk, but is then quoted three times in the New Testament. The term â€œjust,â€ of course, means â€œjustifiedâ€ or â€œrighteous.â€ God says a person is enabled to live righteously by his faith.
The nature of this faith is clarified by three quotations. The first is Romans 1:17: â€œFor therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.â€ The phrase â€œfrom faith to faithâ€ means â€œfrom the beginning of faith to the end of faith,â€ and the context indicates that the foundational item of faith is faith in â€œhis eternal power and Godhead,â€ which â€œfrom the creation of the world are clearly seenâ€ (Romans 1:20).
Similarly, in the last occurrence: â€œNow the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in himâ€ (Hebrews 10:38). Then the writer notes that the basic item of faith is special creation: â€œThrough faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appearâ€ (Hebrews 11:3).
The middle occurrence is Galatians 3:11: â€œBut that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.â€ Paulâ€™s lengthy explanation to the Galatian legalists begins withÂ Galatians 2:16: â€œEven we have believed inÂ Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ.â€ Thus, justifying, saving, living faith begins and centers in Jesus Christ, first as Creator of all things, then as the Savior who â€œhath redeemed us from the curse of the lawâ€ (Galatians 3:13). HMM