What the Bible says about
Just Shall live by Faith
(From Forerunner Commentary)
This is the original request Moses made to Pharaoh for Israel to be set free. The reason was that they might be free to sacrifice to their God. The same principle applies to us; this is why God has freed us. Recall that Romans 12:1 charges us with the responsibility, once we are free of our slavery to Satan and sin, to be living sacrifices.
The blessing of our God-given calling makes available to us the opportunity to dedicate our lives in service to Him. Its magnificent potential opens the door to positive motivation to counterbalance the somewhat negative sense that obligation to Christ seems to impose. Because He first gives us evidence of His love for us, it enables us to believe Him, to live by faith, and to live a life of self-sacrifice to glorify Him. It has provided entrance to the Kingdom of God.
The just shall live by faith because they know Him in His loving character. This causes any lingering negative sense that human nature has toward being required to keep God's commands to fade gradually into the background, freeing us to obey from the heart in sincere gratitude and joy.
John W. Ritenbaugh
A Priceless Gift
If we look at this in reverse, is it not saying that the proud are going to die? But the just will live by faith. Indeed, the just are humble. The contrast goes unstated, but it is nonetheless there, between the just person and the proud person. The just person submits to God by faith.
This is written in a way that indicates that the proud cannot live by faith. A proud person will live by his desires rather than in faith, humbly submitting to God. His desire is not to submit to God. Why? Because the spiritual qualities that the spirit in man can generate are essentially confined to the things of men: sight, sound, touch, hearing, and smelling—and being "tuned in" to demonic influences (Ephesians 2:2). Man's spirit is earthly; it has fleshly conceptions that never quite grasp the right, that is, godly concept. With all of his intelligence, man never quite puts the Word of God together correctly. He always misses it, and the miss may be as good as a mile. His relationship with God never quite has the proper footing. The proud meet with God more or less as equals, which is not a right basis.
Paul writes in Romans 7:18, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells." How can godly faith be generated from something in which is nothing good? How can godly righteousness come from something that has no good in it? How can anything that is godly—that leads to salvation and can be taken through the resurrection into the Kingdom of God—come from a spirit that is not holy?
What do we have that we have not received (I Corinthians 4:7)? What, then, do we have to be proud about? In the humble person is a proper recognition and acceptance of the fact that he is totally dependent on God for everything that can be taken through the resurrection. Does not Jesus say in John 15:5, "For without Me you can do nothing"?
The things of the Spirit of God are concerned with unseen things—things the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands cannot sense. They are heavenly things, spiritual things. We look for a city whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10). Our faith is in promises that have not yet materialized. Faith in these promises can make great demands on us, ones that we would never submit to or ever meet but for the gifts of God's Spirit. God's Spirit gives direction to our lives, motivating us to live by standards that we would never otherwise live by.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part Seven)
2 Timothy 3:16-17
God's instruction is given so that we are well-supplied with knowledge, understanding, inspiration, and motivation to live actually and practically by faith. Yielding to God's sovereignty is not merely the rationale for divine government. Doctrine means "teaching," and it is by means of these teachings that the great realities of our God and Savior are revealed to us. We are spiritually nourished by doctrine, and as we apply it, growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ occurs.
A couple of easily understood scriptures will help us understand how God's Word and living by faith work together to cause growth. Romans 1:16-17 informs us:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."
Add to this Jesus' words in John 6:63: "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life."
Jesus is characterized as the living Word of God. At the most basic level, like any book, the Bible is simply a collection of words. However, its words are specifically instructions from our Creator God who is Spirit and inhabits eternity. Because He lives and oversees our lives, the Bible's words are full of dynamic powers, if we believe them and use them. They will guide us to become like the eternal, spiritual God.
It is impossible to be formed into the image of Jesus Christ without His Word in us because we must voluntarily cooperate with God in His purpose in order for Him to do the forming. The forming must be accompanied by our knowing and understanding His will. We must never forget that Jesus says that truth sets free (John 8:32). God's truths set us free—free from ignorance of God and His purpose; free from the power of evil; free from the wiles of Satan; free from human nature.
The doctrine of God's sovereignty is foundational to Christian life because, as we move through a life lived by faith, we must firmly, even absolutely, know where we stand in relation to Him and His purpose, or our human nature will rise up and resist conforming to His will. We must know that He is close, that He is love, that He is wisdom, and that He has power over every situation in our lives. God says through Moses in Deuteronomy 8:3:
So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.
Notice how God's supplying of manna—symbolic of food and therefore implying eating—shows a spiritual need met in the wilderness. God's Word is just as essential to spiritual life as food is to physical life. Just as one must discipline himself to provide and eat physical food, so must one exercise discipline to seek, provide, and ingest spiritual food. If one will not do this, just as physical health will decline without adequate food, an inadequate spiritual diet will lead to spiritual weakness and disease.
God provides the Bible to promote righteous living and to motivate us to subjugate our carnal natures to His will. A major effect of seeking God and grasping His sovereignty, then, is that it promotes humility by means of the admiration and appreciation gained from comparing our puny lives and characters to His.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty, Part Three: The Fruits
The Hebrews had to be reminded in the strongest of terms that the just shall live by faith, and that God was not pleased with those who turned and ran in the day of battle. We do not want to allow ourselves to get in that fix. Nor do we want to become discouraged, thinking we will never measure up to what God requires of us and think, "This task is too hard."
Jesus, indeed, warned that the way is narrow and difficult, but it is not impossible because God has promised never to give us something that is too hard for us. God plays the game, as it were, according to the abilities of each individual. Though there is a standard against which everyone is judged, everyone is judged fairly—according to their natural ability and according to the gifts that God has given to them. Also, "to whom much is given, from him much will be required" (Luke 12:48).
So no one can look at his neighbor and compare himself with him, because no one knows exactly where the other person stands. There has to be some tolerance of and patience with one another. We must have an attitude of forgiveness, even of encouragement. We have to do whatever we can that might help the other person make it into the Kingdom of God. That is part of our responsibility.
Besides the fact that we know those things, there is also the "great cloud of witnesses" that is mentioned in Hebrews 12:1. That is, those who have gone before and are witnesses to us that God is faithful. How are they witnesses? They finished the race, and are awaiting the resurrection! God has given us witness of their lives, and how and why they made it. This witness illustrates His involvement in their lives.
He has recorded those things so that we can understand that God will deal with us in a merciful way. He has not called us to lose us but to save us. He is able to do what He sets His hand to do. We are in good hands—the best! We are in the most secure position that we could possibly be. That "great cloud of witnesses" witnesses to us that, if they did it, we can do it too.
So there is no need to get discouraged, even though the way for each of us is just as hard, just as difficult, as it has to be. He tells us in His Word that He will do far more—over and above what we can even begin to think that He is capable of doing—to ensure that we will be saved.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Conviction and Moses
"Now the just shall live by faith" is both a statement of fact and a command. It is not easy, but at the very least, God has gifted each member of the Body. It requires of us a great deal of focused and disciplined living to live by faith. To do it well, we must fully accept God's sovereignty, not merely as a random fact, but as a reality working in our lives of faith.
Recall that many Israelites failed along the way to the Promised Land because their faith failed at some point during their pilgrimage. But their faith in whom and in what? Of course, it is faith in God, but unlike them, have we fully accepted what He is and what He does? Jesus commands in Luke 14:26 that we must place Him before all else in our lives. What are His qualities and attributes? What is our vision of God's place in our lives?
Besides God's warning about the world, we must often be reminded that the carnal mind is not subject to Him, as indeed it cannot be (Romans 8:7). A major reason the Israelites in the wilderness failed is that it never entered their minds at the beginning of their journey that it would be so difficult.
Our positions as called children of God place us in a position in which we must determine who is regulating affairs on this earth. To whom will we submit our lives, God or Satan? It is not as though there is a struggle between them. The "contest" has already been decided. God won. However, He permits Satan limited leeway to test and try us. Which of these two—between whom we must choose—is supreme? Which will we choose to be sovereign over our lives?
Revelation 12:9 states that Satan has deceived the entire world. He is an accuser and the author of confusion. If we take an overview of conditions on earth, we see turmoil everywhere, providing a clear picture that mankind as a whole has given itself over to Satan.
However, this is not so with us. By God's mercy, our minds have been opened for the very purpose of freely choosing God as our sovereign and submitting to Him. So then, how much do we truly know about His attributes, character, and judgments as shown in His Word?
For instance, are we aware of what it says in Deuteronomy 28:63?
And it shall be, that just as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good and multiply you, so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to nothing; and you shall be plucked from off the land which you go to possess.
This is a side of God that is not often taught, yet it is part of the whole of what He is, and we must face it and choose. Judgments are often painful. God says in Deuteronomy 8:3 that He humbled the Israelites and caused them to hunger. Will He for His purposes bring similar judgments on us so that we must choose to accept His chastening and submit to Him as our sovereign?
Why might He rejoice in exercising His judgment against people? It is actually because of His merciful love. Peter reminds us, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9). Paul, in I Timothy 2:4, confirms this, saying God "desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth." Thus, He can rejoice in punishment because He knows that the punishment will be the means of drawing men to the knowledge of the truth by which they can repent and be saved.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty (Part One)
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