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).

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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