The Just Shall Live By Faith
The First Part Of The Lord’s Second Answer To Habbakuk
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, Mar-Aug 2014
Part 3 of 3

We’ve been looking at the first part of the Lord’s second answer to Habakkuk recorded in chapter 2 verses 2-5, which may be further divided into three sections, namely, the LORD instructs Habakkuk to write the vision (v. 2), the LORD instructs Habakkuk to wait for the fulfillment of the vision (v. 3), and the LORD gives the substance of the vision by contrasting the proud and the righteous (vv. 4-5).

I’ll like to draw our attention to two applications based on this passage.

First, let us be reminded to see things from the perspective of God and His word.

Habakkuk was very flustered and frustrated initially because he was locked into a very narrow and near sighted view of things. He could only see the present violence and wickedness of the covenant people and the even more wicked Babylonian army advancing on Judah.   

But the LORD essentially told Habakkuk to broaden his horizons and see things from His perspective. He assured the prophet that His decree concerning both the wicked and the righteous is certain and will not fail even though it may take a while before it is realised.

The LORD sees and knows all about the proud and wicked person. Such a person is not upright in himself. He is blinded and deluded and is never content in his ungodly ways. Although he may prosper for a season, he will perish in the end.

As believers we need to be reminded of this again and again because we tend to be very forgetful and because the realities of this fallen world can be very harsh and painful at times. But thank God for His word and thank God for His ordinances and means of grace to remind and encourage us.

When the Psalmist Asaph, in Psalm 73, was feeling very discouraged, he went into the house of God and then everything changed. He writes in verses 16-17, “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.”

Then in Psalm 92, which is a Psalm for the Sabbath, the Psalmist again anticipates the judgment of God’s enemies and the deliverance and rest of God’s people. Indeed, God has ordained that we come each Sabbath day to His house to worship Him, and to regain a right perspective of life and of things in this world. Through the ordinance of the Sabbath and the means of grace, we are strengthened and refreshed and enabled to better face the darkness and discouragements of life. 

So the first thing I’ll like to leave us with is the importance of viewing things from God’s perspective.

But second, I’ll like to encourage us to carry on living by faith and in humility.

The just shall live by faith. We are justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. And likewise, we are sanctified and sustained in our Christian lives by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We must never have what I call the jump start mentality to the Christian life. For the benefit of those who may not know what a jump start is: if you have a car battery that is flat or has insufficient power to start the engine, then what you can do to start it is to drive another car or vehicle alongside it, and connect the batteries of the two cars in order to jump start the first car. Then once that car is started, it can carry on driving on its own power.

Some Christians seem to have that mentality when it comes to the Christian life. They think that at regeneration, the Holy Spirit jump started, as it were, their dead spiritual batteries, and from then on, they can go on living in their own strength and power. The Christian life is entirely dependent on their own determination and will-power and resources.  

But that is not so at all. The just shall live, not by their works, but by their faith. Acts 26:18 says, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me (i.e. Christ).” Again in Galatians 3:3, Paul says something similar, “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”

The theologian Robert Reymond writes, “Christians can no more sanctify themselves by their own efforts than can sinners justify themselves by their own efforts. The Scriptures insist that it is God who must effect the Christian’s sanctification by his own grace and power.”

Faith is the instrument not just of justification but of sanctification as well. By the hand of faith, we receive from Christ the grace and power and strength that we need for our ongoing life in this world, both physical and spiritual. This means that we must constantly exercise our faith in Christ and in His word – believing and clinging on to His truth and promises. “Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief.”

This also means that we must be people of much prayer – sincere and earnest prayer. When we pray, we are saying that we have nothing good in ourselves to contribute and that everything that is good in us and for us must come from outside of us, even from the hand of Jesus.

And when a person lives this way, by faith and in much prayer, then he will naturally live in humility and meekness, for he knows that it is all of God’s grace and he has no reason to be proud and arrogant. Even the faith which he exercises is a gift which has been purchased by Christ and given freely to him by the Holy Spirit.

Oh may the LORD enable us all to live by faith and in humility, for that is the only way that God’s people are to live. “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.” Amen.

Linus Chua