Life of Faith
“Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.” Habakkuk 2:4
The last half of this verse is well known because of Paul’s use of it in three of his epistles (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).
Those who know church history recognize that this verse, as quoted by Paul in Romans 1:17, played a part in helping Martin Luther understand the gospel, and, through Luther, influenced the Protestant Reformation in Europe. The verse divides mankind into two categories: the proud and the just. He describes the proud as having a soul “lifted up” or “puffed up.” Because he is contrasted with a justified man, it would be reasonable to think that this man rejects the walk of faith. He has confidence instead in the labours of his own hands before the law of God. There are multitudes of religious men and women who are lifted up in pride before God. His condemnation of them is clearly spelled out, “His soul is not upright in him.”
In contrast to the proud, the just or righteous man is humble in God’s sight. Humility is found in the path that leads into God’s kingdom (Matthew 18:3–4). Nothing is more humbling than to see your soul condemned for sin and to be helpless to change your condition before God’s law (Romans 3:23; 5:6; Ephesians 2:1–3). This humbling drives the sinner to look for righteousness outside of himself. The gospel or good news is that God is able to make a man just or righteous in His sight by imputing to him the spotless righteousness of Christ. Because the believer cannot see this imputed righteousness, he must walk humbly by faith all his life (2 Corinthians 5:7). Yet, it is faith in this unseen gospel that allows a believer to be truly upright before the gaze of God.
Quote: The foundation of your trust before God must be either your own righteousness out and out or the righteousness of Christ out and out. – Thomas Chalmers