What Does the Bible Mean By ‘The Just Shall Live By Faith’?
A Lifestyle of Faith
The Bible gives several references to the term “The just shall live by faith.” This phrase is actually an admonition given unto all believers to live a life of faith in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, our Savior.
“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17).
Jesus Christ is our righteousness. He is how God sees us as looking at Christ, although in our own merit we are unrighteous, unholy, and altogether unlovely. Yet, Christ died for our sins (I Corinthians 1:30).
How is righteousness obtained? “From faith to faith.” Righteousness is received by faith in Christ Jesus and is in turn revealed in faithful living. Thus, in answer to the question, “How are the righteous to live?” Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4, “The just shall live by faith.” This faith implies more than mere acceptance of Christ’s righteousness for salvation. It implies a lifestyle that is characterized by faith and righteous living.
“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).
God did not design the law to be the means of justification; He designed faith for that purpose. Righteousness and faith are inseparable, law and righteousness are total strangers. Faith is not a substitute for righteousness; it is that heart trust that brings one into a new relation with God, that of being accepted in Christ (Ephesians 1:6) and which results in faithfulness, integrity, and steadfastness. The just shall live by faith… The righteous live by faith, not works. (LIBERTY BIBLE COMMENTARY, Volume II, p. 519).
The particular phrase “The just shall live by faith” is also found quoted in Hebrews 10:38: “No, the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”
A man must live by faith (cf. Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11). God will reward that endurance, but the reward cannot come without the perseverance. (LIBERTY BIBLE COMMENTARY, Volume II, pp. 342,703).